Casillas, Watson Fighting For Starting Gig

August 21st, 2013

Dekoda Watson (pictured) is in a fierce battle with Jonathan Casillas for the starting position at strongside linebacker.

In the offseason the Bucs made it abundantly clear that the starting strongside linebacker gig was Dekoda Watson’s to lose. After Quincy Black’s career with the Bucs came to an abrupt end with nerve damage, it left a void and the Bucs wanted their special teams ace to get the job.

As is usual with Bucs coach Greg Schiano, he wants competition. And Schiano got that at the position when the Bucs signed veteran linebacker Jonathan Casillas from the Saints.

To hear Schiano talk now, the race for that starting job is a virtual dead heat. It’s not that Watson is playing himself out of a job, but that Casillas is doing so much and playing so well that he is a serious candidate for the job.

“I think it’s great competition,” Schiano said. “If you’ve noticed, they’ve even taken turns going with the ones [starters] and stuff. They’re driving each other, and if we play two of them, that’s fine with me, too, because they’re both key special teams contributors. [Linebacker] Jonathan [Casillas] does a little more in our sub-package, too. I think there’s going to be plenty of plays to go around for those guys, but they’re two key guys in our entire picture there.

“Remember, I have a long history with [Casillas], so I kind of thought he’d be a good player for us. That’s why we signed him, so I wasn’t really surprised. I’m glad he’s playing at a high level though. He’s a very physical player. There are some plays in games and practice where you just say, ‘This guy loves contact.’”

Casillas insists there is zero animosity despite the desire both he and Watson have for the starting job.

“I have a lot of respect for Dekoda,” Casillas said. “He’s a guy I have been going against since I was in New Orleans on special teams. I have a lot of respect for the character he brings to the table. It’s good to go out there and compete against him. He’s a good guy. We are bringing out the best in each other.”

Despite being a newcomer to the Bucs, Casillas said he now feels part of the team.

“I am very comfortable with the defense but if you asked me that at the start of training camp, I may have had a different answer,” Casillas said. “I’m learning all the ins and outs [of the defense]. Little things that show up. The preseason game this weekend will be a good test to my knowledge as well. Hopefully I add to it and continue to get better.”

Schiano constantly preaches about competition. This is proving to be a virtue at strongside linebacker. Whoever wins the job may not be much better than the guy who lost out. And on those broiling days in September and October, both men can rotate in and keep each other fresh. And if the unfortunate happens and one goes down with an injury, there shouldn’t be any measurable drop off.

Honestly, knowing how Casillas and Watson are going at it for the starting job, it makes Joe rest a bit easier at night, despite the late-night onion rings and beers.

12 Responses to “Casillas, Watson Fighting For Starting Gig”

  1. Jacko101 Says:

    Long as they make us better keep the comp going. Rotating may keep them fresh over the year. Go Bucs

  2. YourMom Says:

    Why did Hayward get the majority of starter snaps last week then?

  3. Jonny 2.3 Says:

    As usual, there will be a lot of off season chatter about Dekoda and now his twin Casillas, but come regular season they will be irrelevant and confined to STs.

  4. The 300s Says:

    What are you talking about Joe? This was a huge weakness a month ago! You said I had no idea what I was talking about with regards to Watson, Casillas, or Hayward.

    Glad you are on board now!

    But that depth at DE……… that’s another story.

  5. Mike J Says:

    YourMom , I was wondering about that too; & he managed to be out of position more often than not. Could be Hayward is on the roster bubble & the brass wanted to give him a fair look.

  6. FlBoy84 Says:

    Noticed Casillas really laying the wood on some of his tackles last couple of weeks. Reminded me a bit of when Nickerson patrolled the field years ago. Love those violent hitters.

  7. Mike J Says:

    FlBoy84 , Casillas does seem involved in more plays than the uninstinctive Watson–I just wish Jon was trying to get a weakside gig.

  8. teacherman777 Says:

    Imagine if we had drafted Luke Kuechly in the first.

    And still got LaVonte David in the second.

    And we shifted Mason Foster to SLB?

    We would have the best young 4-3 LB core in the league.

    But we missed a once in a lifetime LB like Kuechly to get a slow SS like Barron.

    We really messed up by not taking Luke Kuechly.

    Big mistake.

  9. SacBucs Says:

    DW has been a do what you need kinda linebacker (for rah) but Greg has yet to use him. I been a fan of Dekoda for a while. He was better then Black to me years ago and never got a chance. Its mental with this guy. It has to be because its taking to long for him to grasp any D. Rah knew he didnt need no mental rushing the passer.

    Thats just my take on it dont start that punk sh!t!

    I think we shood start Castillas and use Dekoda as a third down situational pass rusher we meed the speed off the edge a la von miller.

    Just trade him to Denver so he can do it for them then so I can watch yall face turn.

    I hear you know it alls now…Watson is no von miller! Ask yourself had he really had a chance with Hayward’s mental at all linebacking position.

    You google heads and go watch this on youtube babies find that game where DW crushed Fig Newton on a stunt play. Then go find the game in San Fran when the Bucs went down there and blanked the niners in candlestick. First time it ever happened.

    Freeway played in that game too. You josh haters!

    My point; Dekoda had to take Black spot and he did a masterful job guarding one of the best TE in the game today. He went step for step with a 4.3 guy! Give the guy a chance to play damm.

  10. Joe Says:


    What are you talking about Joe? This was a huge weakness a month ago! You said I had no idea what I was talking about with regards to Watson, Casillas, or Hayward.

    Glad you are on board now!

    On board with what? Where exactly did Joe write that’s a strength? Hell, two weeks before the regular season and the Bucs don’t even know who is starting yet.

  11. The 300s Says:

    Sorry Joe, I thought you were sleeping better.

  12. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    Watson is the better athlete but Casillas is the better linebacker.