Mid-Season Report: Secondary

The Buccaneers secondary has been solid this year.
The Buccaneers secondary has been solid this year. /
The Buccaneers secondary has been solid this year.
The Buccaneers secondary has been solid this year. /

We continue our mid-season breakdown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by examining their secondary.

The Buccaneers secondary has played the best on any unit on the team, all things considered. That’s a bold statement but when you look at what this unit has accomplished and the circumstances they’ve done it in, you can’t help but be impressed. Ronde Barber is the senior statesman, there’s no telling how much longer the Bucs will have services of the ageless one, but he is the leader of this unit.

Ronde Barber’s form of leadership is perfect for a unit, it doesn’t work for a whole defense which is why I’ve been critical of Barrett Ruud before, but for the secondary Barber’s leadership can’t be understated. Just watch the gristled veteran go to the sideline and help breakdown the previous defensive series with his teammates. He’s almost a coach, he makes the players around him better. You don’t think he’s been a good influence on Aqib Talib? Just this year he’s helped Cody Grimm develop considerably just since the start of the season.

This secondary currently ranks 12th in the NFL against the pass. That’s not that impressive on the surface but delve a little deeper and you see that this unit is playing almost in spite of the Bucs defense. The Buccaneers so far on the season have been unable to generate any pass-rush or stop the run. That means against constant threat of play-action and with opposing quarterbacks having plenty of time in the pocket, this secondary has held its own.


The Buccaneers corners have played exceedingly well this season. I’ve said many times that I think Aqib Talib is one of the most underrated corners in the NFL. He currently has five interceptions and has been locking down receivers for most of the season. A lot of defensive coaches, the Mike Nolan‘s and Rex Ryan‘s of the world, believe you need to have one alpha corner to run a truly effective defense, somebody who locks down half the field.

Aqib Talib is becoming that guy. The Buccaneers have moved back towards more of a Tampa-2 style defense that allows them to play more to their strengths (and renders Ronde Barber so much more effective) but Talib’s capability to shut down receivers and play impressive coverage gives the Buccaneers much more flexibility with their secondary.

Ronde Barber is ageless.
Ronde Barber is ageless. /

Barber has had a good year as well, he’s arguably the Bucs best defender agaisnt the run. If you ever see a run-play get stuffed, chances are Barber is in on the tackle. He knifes in better than any of the linebackers, sets the edge as well as any of our ends besides Stylez G. White and he never shies from contact. He also covers tight ends as well as any of the ‘backers and safeties. Barber is easily the most versatile player on the defense and as I’ve mentioned he provides great leadership to the secondary.

The other corners look promising as well, I think both EJ Biggers and Myron Lewis have good futures in this league and should develop nicely, I don’t know yet whether either will develop into a starting caliber corner to eventually replace Barber, but they should at least be capable of holding down the nickel and dime sets for the next few years. I like Lewis because of his size, but whether that translates into an effective boundary corner remains to be determined.


It’s easy to get down on the safeties because of a few bad plays, but all things considered this safety group has done a good job of overcoming some adversity. When Tanard Jackson was suspended that dealt a major blow to the unit, he was the clear-cut starter and replacing him was not going to be easy. But Cody Grimm has really come through and is developing into a solid safety.

Grimm was really up against it too. Coming out of college Grimm was a linebacker at Virginia Tech, he was pressed into service as a starter just months into the transition to safert and was asked to make his first career start against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had a rough first game, but he’s actually bounced back well. He’s got 42 tackles on the year and two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown against the team his father, Russ Grimm, was calling plays for.

Sean Jones has battled injuries but is serviceable when he’s in the game. I don’t necessarily know that Jones is the long-term answer at the other safety spot, but he’s been solid so far. Even Sabby Piscitelli has turned in some good game for this team. Depending on whether or not Raheem Morris welcomes back Tanard Jackson next season (which it looks like he will) then you will probably see Cody Grimm slide over and play opposite Jackson.

Final Thoughts

This secondary unit has played exceedingly well when you consider what they’re up against. They get very little help from the front seven but still hold opposing team’s passing attacks in check. They even come up and give good run support when need be. Of all the units on the Buccaneers, offense or defense, this is the unit that has been the best.

Grade: A

The lone A I’m giving out. If this unit wasn’t playing at the level it is, the Bucs wouldn’t be sitting a 5-3 right now.