Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It was only weeks ago that we passed along a report outlining the difficult road ahead for Quincy Black. The seemingly routine hit he took from Ryan Mathews during the 2012 season quickly became a serious medical situation, as Black’s neck was impacted in exactly the wrong way. With the NFL Draft Combine providing media members with a chance to talk with NFL coaches and GM’s, journalists finally got the chance to sit down with Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano this week and ask about, among other things, the future of Quincy Black.
The Tampa Tribune posted an article online that features less than optimistic quotes from Mark Dominik, who had this to say about Black’s future:
"“You generally like to walk out of any surgery and say that it was a successful surgery, but the reality is, that because of the nerve damage and the nerve grafting and everything, you won’t know if it’s successful or not for several months… It’s a tough injury and a unique injury and, at the same point, it’s hard for us to have any timetable or feel for it.”"
He would go on to list some of the players that could fill in for Quincy at the strongside linebacker position. These statements together seem to imply that there is little to no hope for Quincy Black to play in the NFL in 2013. The fact that he’s months away from knowing if his surgery was successful likely means his timetable for a return would more closely resemble that of Peyton Manning, who spent a long time on the sidelines recovering from a neck injury. The Buccaneers have no guaranteed money left to pay Black, which means that the wisest move from a business standpoint would be to release him before paying his 2013 salary, freeing up funds to sign a replacement.
The strongside linebacker position is the first to come off the field in nickel and dime situations, so in all honesty a strongside linebacker who cannot shift to defensive end or middle linebacker is not the biggest piece of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. The run defense is bolstered by a force at the position, setting a strong edge and allowing Mason Foster and Lavonte David room to cut through gaps and make tackles. However, the pass defense replaces the strongside backer with a defensive back, which is why Qunicy played 50% or fewer of the team’s defensive snaps in 5 of the 8 games before his injury in week 10.
Mark Dominik lists Adam Hayward, Jacob Cutrera, and Najee Goode as possible internal replacements for Black. Considering how little the defense used the position in the 2012 season, it might be worth it to plug Hayward or Cutrera in for run situations, and use Mark Barron in what Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times refers to as the “dollar” position (a safety who plays up in the box, leaving a single high safety) in other situations. It could also be beneficial for the Buccaneers to find a player who can line up as a strongside linebacker in running situations, and shift to a pass rush specialist on more obvious passing downs, to help bolster a very weak pass rush.
Black’s career as a Buccaneer is almost certainly over, but we here at the Pewter Plank wish him the best of luck. He’s never been the biggest named player on the field for the Buccaneers, but he was a solid contributor, and I hope that he has a full recovery and can resume his playing career, if he so desires, once he’s back to 100%.