Secondary Not Too ShabbyJanuary 11th, 2017
If there was one Bucs element fans couldn’t stop ragging on (besides the offensive line), it was the secondary.
Fans continually dragged Chris Conte through the streets, even when he had a pick-six against Chicago and saved an upset win with a pick in the end zone late in Kansas City. And it seemed Bradley McDougald got little respect.
Brent Grimes? Fans groused him about until he shut them up with his stellar play and too many Bucs fans wanted Vernon Hargreaves benched, which was crazy talk.
It seems the numberscrunchers at Pro Football Focus are not as dismayed. Their spreadsheets tell them the secondary of the Bucs was middle of the pack.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (25 [last season])
Top overall grade: CB Brent Grimes, 90.8 (No. 4)
Top coverage grade: CB Brent Grimes, 89.9 (No. 6)
Top run-defense grade: CB Brent Grimes, 83.5 (No. 3)
Most snaps: CB Vernon Hargreaves III, 1,038
Switching teams in the offseason apparently revitalized the elite Brent Grimes we last saw in 2013. Grimes led the league with 18 combined interceptions and pass breakups, helping him to the fifth-highest grade among cornerback in 2016. Unfortunately for Vernon Hargreaves III, Grimes’ exceptional coverage meant more passes thrown his way—to the tune of a league-high 113 targets and 80 receptions. With that sort of volume, Hargreaves unsurprisingly gave up more receiving yards than anyone, as the only player to top 1,000 yards allowed (1,069). Chris Conte looked more like the player we saw during his last season in Chicago before Keith Tandy took over at free safety. The swing in performance from Conte to Tandy was about as big as it could have been. Conte ranked 90th out of 91 safeties in overall grade, while Tandy was the highest-graded safety over the final five weeks of the season, allowing a passer rating of just 34.3 into his coverage.
Joe has a hunch Conte’s days are done in Tampa Bay. Keith Tandy will likely enter offseason workouts as a starter.
Joe is convinced Hargreaves will be just fine. Think about it: Why would teams throw on Grimes when they can throw on a rookie? That’s just Football 101.