Not everyone gets a second chance, but Buccaneers’ cornerback Johnthan Banks will with the new coaching staff in Tampa Bay.
For whatever reason, Johnthan Banks found himself in the Lovie Smith dog house last season, in favor of corners like Mike Jenkins, Tim Jennings, Jude Adjei-Barimah, and Sterling Moore. Both Banks and fellow corner Alterraun Verner couldn’t seem to get on the field for any significant time and it appeared as if they were both headed out the door in 2016. Then Smith was fired, replaced by offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, and former Falcons’ head coach Mike Smith took over the defense. Both Banks and Verner were told they would return in 2016, as they should have.
There was no reason either player should’ve been released, seeing as how both are very good corners, trapped in a purgatory known as the “Tampa-2”. Banks made his feelings known on the coaching change known in recent weeks.
Needless to say, Banks was not the biggest Lovie Smith fan and is excited to get to work in his fourth season with the Bucs. It’s a contract year and Banks is already on a mission to prove he was unjustly benched under the previous regime. That’s a recipe for disaster for opposing wide receivers.
In the first two years of his career, Banks, in 20 starts, had seven interceptions, sixteen passes defensed, 90 tackles, and a touchdown. In his third year, Banks started only seven games with one pass defensed and no interceptions. Something just didn’t fit. No one has that massive of a drop off for no reason.
The reason became rather clear recently and was explained a bit more in the Pewter Report Friday morning. Banks told Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds, “Honestly, I don’t even care anymore. That was a big, big, big fiasco, but I’m over that. I just want to move on and try to go out and make some plays this year. I’ve got a new coaching staff and a fresh start and have some guys that I actually feel like they want to be in Tampa. I’m excited to get back to work. I’m ready to go.”
There’s little motivation more powerful than trying to prove someone wrong, especially when you feel they wronged you to begin with. Add in the motivation he has from trying to show Koetter, Mike Smith, secondary coach Jon Hoke, and defensive backs coach Brett Maxie they made the right decision to bring him back. Finally, as I mentioned before, it’s a contract year, so Banks is aware that a performance like last year, albeit not entirely his fault, will drastically affect the contract offers he’ll get in the off-season.
Johnthan Banks is an incredibly talented cornerback. He has Pro Bowl teammates Verner and Brent Grimes lining up with him, teaching him, coaching him. This kid has all the tools and resources to become one of the best corners in the division, maybe even the NFC…maybe the NFL. All it takes is the work he’s shown he’s willing to put in and the opportunity he’ll be presented this season.
Screen shot this, bookmark it, save it in the archives, favorite it, retweet it, whatever, but I’m telling you all right now: Johnthan Banks is having a break out season. Not only will he make his first Pro Bowl, but he will lead the team in interceptions. The addition of Grimes will likely lead to more passes thrown Banks’ way and I fully expect him to make quarterbacks pay for that.
This is Banks’ year. Book it.