Sep 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib (25) returns an interception in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
I have been a Buccaneers’ fan since I was 8 back in 1998. During that time I’ve had the privilege to watch some great cornerbacks. In my mind, Aqib Talib ranks in the top three of that list.
1. Ronde Barber – 16 Years – 47 Int, 166 PD, 1025 TKL, 15 FF, 28 Sacks, 8 TD
2. Donnie Abraham – 6 Years – 31 Int, 16 PD, 266 TKL, 2 FF, 2 Sacks, 2 TD
3. Aqib Talib – 5 Years – 18 Int, 52 PD, 159 TKL, 1 FF, 0 Sacks, 3 TD
4. Brian Kelly – 10 Years – 22 Int, 75 PD, 335 TKL, 2 FF, 3.5 Sacks, 1 TD
5. Darrelle Revis (He hasn’t done anything as a Buccaneer yet, but he will)
Talib might have let up big plays from time to time, but every time quarterbacks would throw to his side, I would lean towards the T.V in anticipation for the camera to zoom out. Because at any moment Talib could make a game changing play. The most amazing interception I’ve ever seen is still his pick against Joe Flacco.
Sep 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib (31) breaks up a pass in the end zone intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) in the final seconds in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Patriots won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Despite his many points of frustration within the fanbase, Greg Schiano has also proven his outstanding ability to develop and teach players. I remember watching in awe during last season when comparing the differences in tackling and ball protection for the previous regime. But my one big beef with him is that he let go of Talib during the no-tolerance regime change.
Now I’ll be the first to admit, Talib and his off-field issues were a concern, you can’t have the player who forces the most turnovers and scores the most points on defense missing games because of stupidity.
What also makes me mad at Schiano for the departure of one of the most athletically gifted corner backs I’ve ever seen is that he pretended to stick by Talib.
This was just another example of the “say one thing and do another” Coach Schiano that has surfaced in the media in recent days. Schiano also supported Talib during the assault incident he was found innocent of before the Adderall suspension.
“I want him to be a Buc. I understand there’s been issues before I arrived.” said Schiano. “I’m not naive to that.”
“The thing that I can tell you is since I arrived here January 26, he’s been awesome. The way he’s worked, he’s been here every day. I hope that it’s left behind him and there isn’t anything and that we can move forward because, again, I can only judge people since I’ve been involved.”
Talib was then traded him before the last week of his suspension. Schiano did the same thing recently with Josh Freeman. I understand that’s part of the job, but I doubt the players like it.
It also bothers me when Schiano admitted that one of his biggest advisors in his first year in Tampa was Ronde Barber, and Barber was one of the only Buccaneers who went in the media and defended Talib when he was facing a major suspension. Barber not only supported Talib, but he praised him highly.
"“[His football I.Q.] is unbelievable, and I have to work at it. He doesn’t work at it. He knows what he has to do on a football field. He just gets it. He understands it. Obviously, I’m doing a couple more things than he is doing, like knowing five positions,but if you ask Aqib what Cody Grimm is supposed to do in Puma, or whatever [the defense is], he knows it. It is unfortunate that a few or a myriad – or however you want to look at it – of incidents away from his profession really cloud people’s opinion of him.”"
In the same article Talib’s teammate at the time, E.J Biggers, also spoke up for Talib and commented on how unbelievably athletic he was.
"“Aqib can run with anybody and he can stick with bigger receivers and he can stick with smaller, quick receivers, too. He’s probably one of the most athletic DBs I’ve ever seen. Just watching him and listening to him, he has one of the smartest football I.Q.s I’ve ever been around. He’s just like Ronde.”"
Could you imagine how amazing our defense would be if this was our depth chart:
RE – Adrian Clayborn
Sep 22, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib (31) defends a pass against Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams (19) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
DT- Gerald McCoy
DT – Akeem Spence
LE- Da’Quan Bowers
ROLB- Lavonte David
MLB- Mason Foster
LOLB- Dekoda Watson
RCB- Darrelle Revis, Johnthan Banks
LCB- Aqib Talib, Leonard Johnson
FS- Dashon Goldson
SS- Mark Barron
That is the sexiest defense I have ever seen on computer screen.
So why wouldn’t Schiano or Dominik listen to them, especially to Barber! They should have at least realized that they could get a better value for Talib.
The worst part is we didn’t even get anything good in the trade. We got a pick that we used to draft William Gholston. Gholston has a lot of upside but that doesn’t mean anything because the Buccaneers are built to win in the next three years. I would rather have Talib in his prime NOW than a potentially effective pass rusher in three years. Its also would have been nice to have some solid depth at corner.
Talib’s current contract is only five million dollars for a 1 year deal with the Patriots, money that the Buccaneers currently have (next year will be tight). If we kept Talib this would have been a great value for a great player. If he messed up again under Schiano we would have only been out five million, and if he preformed well on and off the field, we could have traded him for a much higher value or moved players around in order to keep him. Having two number one corners is also the most effective way to use Revis, as the Jets have shown when they acquired Antonio Cromartie.
Its really a win-win situation. If Revis goes down because of his knee we currently don’t have anyone who could shut down a number 1 receiver; not even CLOSE. But if we had Talib I would be fine with Leonard Johnson or Jonathan Banks covering the number two wide receiver. Also from the other side of the spectrum, if we had Talib and he did prove to be the trouble maker that he isn’t, it’s no big deal, we still would have Revis. Just thinking about it is like metaphorically bashing my head against a concrete wall.
When the trade happened, I hoped that the move wouldn’t backfire. I strongly believe most of the moves the Buccaneers make are the right ones. But this move is the worst I’ve seen since drafting wide receiver bust Dexter Jackson. Talib is killing it in New England. He even had a great pick-six in his first game. There is also no doubt in my mind that the New England Patriots would have won the Super Bowl if Talib had been healthy against the Ravens.
He hasn’t lost a step this season, he forced three turnovers against the Jets and he made 3 big plays against the Buccaneers last Sunday including the interception off Josh Freeman.
To end this article I’ll leave you with another complimentary quote by the G.O.A.T., Ronde Barber:
“A lot of players that people say are great just aren’t technically sound. Aqib is pretty technically sound and he’ll always be a good player because of that. “