Has “The Wall” Floored Mark Barron?November 19th, 2012
Joe had flashbacks yesterday as the Bucs rallied to beat the Stinkin’ Panthers, flashbacks to when he was a baseball writer.
When Joe was a beat writer covering the Kansas City Royals — seems like another lifetime ago — Joe almost always worked on deadline, meaning for night games Joe had a short window to write and file a story so it made the next day’s paper.
Periodically, a team would make a comeback from a large deficit late in the game. This proved troublesome, as Joe often had his story(ies) all but written and would have to start from scratch with sometimes 20 minutes until deadline.
Joe had a mental list of stories he was going to write about from what appeared to be an uglier than ugly Bucs upset loss at Carolina yesterday. Josh Freeman struggling, the team had a rash of turnovers, a mortal sin in the New Schiano Order, and how awful of a day Bucs rookie safety Mark Barron had.
Of course, thanks to quite a few Bucs players, those stories were set aside. Except for Barron’s.
Joe changed his mind about writing of Barron’s struggles when he read Wolf Heard’s piece on Buccaneers101, where Heard basically asks out loud, “Has Mark Barron hit the rookie wall?”
Barron, who was drafted No. 7 overall by the Bucs in April, has struggled in the passing game as of late. He seems to be out of position way too much and has had trouble covering tight ends, which is something a fast, young player like himself should be able to do.
Barron also hasn’t learn a very simple principle that all defensive backs need to do – get your head around when the ball is coming. Last week, Barron got flagged for pass interference after he didn’t turn his head toward the ball while knocking down a pass. The flag was picked up so no harm was done.
But he got called for the same thing on Sunday against the Panthers while trying to cover Greg Olsen in the end zone, and this time it cost him. Running back Jonathan Stewart punched it in from 1-yard out to give the Panthers a 14-10 lead after Barron’s penalty.
Now Joe knows Barron hasn’t been the greatest defender of the pass, though he didn’t stink up the joint. Yesterday, Barron played pass defense badly. This has been a recurring problem that may or may not be worsening.
After all, it could be that teams are targeting Barron more on the pass, thus it appears on face value he is getting beat more only because he is being targeted more.
This doesn’t explain Barron’s sudden whiffing of tackles. Prior, Barron was an absolute rock on the run game and an effective blitzer (remember how he buried RGIII into the turf of the Stadium on Dale Mabry Highway). Barron wasn’t as lethal against the run Sunday and in one play, Cam Newton juked Barron in the open field so bad, Barron’s jock was left behind. Joe thought sure it was Myron Lewis at first, and not Barron, but the eye in the sky of replays doesn’t lie.
Two weeks ago, Bucs coach Greg Schiano noted he was concerned about the “The Rookie Wall,” and said that right about now rookies have played essentially what amounts to a full season of college football, when one factors in training camp, preseason games and the NFL’s regular season.
Schiano said he was hoping to limit Doug Martin’s carries as a result and was keeping an eye on Lavonte David, who rarely comes off the field on defense.
Maybe Schiano ought to be paying attention to Barron as well? Perhaps he could use a little less work in practice, or maybe a half-day off or so to help rest his bones?
The Bucs are going to need Barron these next six weeks.