Byrd Chirps “The Litmus Tests”January 30th, 2014
Joe enjoyed his chat yesterday with new Bucs cornerback Gill Byrd. It’s always great to talk to a top NFL veteran and lifelong football man. Byrd is highly intelligent, very philosophical, self-deprecating and he’s got a sense of humor.
Byrd was clear that he believes there’s only so far film evaluation can take him when evaluating the current Buccaneers. Byrd said he absolutely has to see how guys move in person, though he offered a shining early scouting report on some of his new students.
“I’m excited about the things that [Johnthan Banks] is capable of doing within the system we run. He’s a good talent. I like him. I really do,” Byrd said. “I saw a guy that’s a willing tackler who’s not going to shy away from contact, so that’s good to see. We always say to be a tough defense, the litmus test is, ‘Do your corners tackle?”
“To be a defense that pursues, the litmus test is, “Do your linemen run to the ball?’ So those two things work hand and hand. And we want to be a team that is relentless to the ball, so our linemen have to run, and are tough as nails. So our secondary, specifically our corners, have to tackle. and I think they’ll embrace that challenge.”
Asked about Leonard Johnson, Byrd quickly praised his “versatility.” Byrd made the point that there aren’t a lot of guys in the NFL that can play inside and both outside corner positions. “You may think it’s an easy transition, but it’s not. And Leonard can do that, so that excites me.”
Byrd said he doesn’t think he’s seen on film any corners shying away from contact. He also acknowledged that the New Schiano Order Bucs were well coached on takeaways, which led to the Bucs being third in the NFL in takeaways. Byrd said there’s still plenty of work to do so the Bucs can lead the league, like Lovie Smith’s teams did a few times in Chicago.
To give fans a bit of an ideal of Byrd’s quick wit. A reporter asked him about what may or may not be tougher about playing corner now versus 20 years ago. Byrd, who shadowed Jerry Rice during his day, responded, “Who’s the receiver?
Byrd did acknowledge that conditioning is far more a factor for today’s cornerbacks, with more spread and hurry-up calls, as well as the elimination of the three-yards-and-cloud-of-dust mentality.
Joe will have more from Byrd this week.