Buccaneers make the right surprise decision on defense in Week 4 vs. Patriots
By Rob Leeds
The Buccaneers show their hand on one of the weakest secondaries in the NFL.
The Buccaneers signed Richard Sherman days after a significant loss to the L.A. Rams to stem the bleeding in their secondary. Tampa hasn’t been able to stop anyone through the air this season, and Sherman was the best free agent available.
While most players would require some time to acclimate to the roster before they were ready to play, Sherman is not most players.
We heard from the coaching staff and the media that Sherman was dressing but not set to play too much this weekend for the past few days. Everyone who paid close attention to the situation saw otherwise.
Now, Sherman is set to start against the Patriots, according to Ian Rapoport on Twitter.
“Starting” is the only part of this quote that actually comes as a surprise, but it doesn’t take long to see why this is the right decision.
The Bucs were left with very few options in how to handle this matter. With Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean out for sure, and with Carlton Davis as a game-time decision, the Buccaneers could be without any of their starters from last season in one of the biggest games of the season.
Would Tampa rather play Dee Delaney, who knows the system but has a low ceiling, or Richard Sherman, who may not know the system inside and out, but he immediately has a much higher ceiling?
The Buccaneers made their decision by giving Sherman the start, which was the right decision, even if he gives up 200 yards.
Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles have built a mulligan into their defense. If Sherman and the defense get torched by Mac Jones, which is on the table based on the Bucs’ history with rookie quarterbacks, this will be a “learning” game. In the long run, losing this game does not matter; Tampa just has to get their projected playoff starters as comfortable as possible.
If losing this game on defense is the price to pay to get Sherman up to speed as soon as possible, go for it.
On the other hand, Sherman could come out and make an immediate impact. The future Hall of Fame corner is only a year removed from being the best in the NFL, and his ability to flourish in zone or man fits the defense like a glove.
This is certainly not a position that most defending champs want to be in, but the Buccaneers have to roll with the punches. Even without the weeks of practice, Sherman is still the best option to support the Tampa defense today, and this game will show a lot about whether he can help turn this unit around from its historically lousy pace.
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