The Mystery Of Barrett Ruud

May 5th, 2010

There are certain hot-button issues with Bucs fans that are sure to get a reaction; positive or negative.

Raheem the Dream, English kickball and blocking icon Michael Clayton will certainly get a quick response from Bucs fans. Nothing else needs to be said. Just mention those subjects, and the words flow.

Another subject is Barrett Ruud.

There is no question that Ruud is a great guy. Pleasant, polite, down-to-earth. That’s not the issue. Ruud at times flashes brilliance on the field. His downfield interception at Chicago playing bump-and-run coverage on a wide receiver in 2008 was one of the greatest plays by a linebacker Joe has ever seen.

The second half of that season, Ruud virtually disappeared. Even he admitted it to Joe prior to the 2009 season noting he was trying to figure out why his numbers dipped.

Last year Ruud became a focal point of sorts to the horrifying disaster that was the Jim Bates Experiment. Ruud, more often than not, looked like a man trying to chase down his frightened Labrador after it had broken loose from its leash. Rarely was Ruud seen stopping a ballcarrier within the second or first level. Often, Ruud was trying to run down ballcarriers from behind.

Many fans began calling Ruud out, probably unfairly, for holding out in offseason workouts in a contract dispute, thus, being unprepared for the wretched Jim Bates Experiment, thus leading to woeful play.

Off the field and on paper, Ruud had a wonderful season, racking up a lot of tackles. Critics rolled up that same paper, threw it in the trash, popped a DVR recording of a Bucs game and pointed out that as a middle linebacker, Ruud should have shed blocks better and made tackles in the box more, not at the third level.

Other fans felt sorry for Ruud, pointing the finger instead at the Bucs terrible play up front on defense. This premise was reinforced when newly created rock star and current Bucs general manager Mark Dominik drafted two defensive tackles with his first two picks in last month’s draft.

Regardless of why Ruud had a subpar season, eye-RAH! Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune blogs that this year is a pivitol year for Ruud, both on and off the field.

Tampa Bay’s 26-year-old middle linebacker found himself under siege after a 3-13 season, with many Buc fans accusing Ruud of making too many stops considerably past the line of scrimmage. As one of the hundreds of potential unrestricted free agents who found themselves still tied to their existing clubs in March because of clauses in the labor agreement, Ruud became a restricted free agent still seeking a long-term deal.

Although only San Francisco’s Patrick Willis boasted more tackles in 2009, Ruud needs to show Buc management he is unquestionably a core player as the Bucs continue to rebuild. According to team statistics, Ruud made only two stops for losses in 2009. Couple that with only one interception and one forced fumble and it’s clear that Ruud needs to generate more impact plays on a young defense.

With the addition of rookie defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, the Bucs should receive more of a push up front, occupying blockers and helping Ruud to make more plays in the backfield. Everyone on a 3-13 team has much to prove, but Ruud is under particular scrutiny before the Bucs decide whether he merits a long-term commitment.

It will be interesting to Joe to see how or if Ruud’s play improves with the acquisition of defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. Anyone knows that it helps a linebacker to have solid players up front, thus keeping bodies off of the linebacker.

Despite this, it does make Joe wonder how a middle linebacker, no matter how subpar the play up front was, could only have two tackles for a loss in a 16-game season.

As far as Ruud’s contract, Joe believes Ruud just might get compensated fairly by Team Glazer, so long as Ruud’s play on the field improves.

33 Responses to “The Mystery Of Barrett Ruud”

  1. the_buc_realist Says:

    Just like Micheal Clayton is the blocking Icon. Rudd is the Best Coverage Linebacker in the Game. Translation, He is soft! Easily gets blocked out of the play. The lack of tackles for loss, is not as bad as the not taking on anyone at the point of attack.

  2. Jonny Says:

    Ruud is mediocre. MLB is certainly a position that can be upgraded, but I do not see a need to do it right away.

  3. superd Says:

    Ruud did alot better once we switched back to a defence he was used to. I’m sure he will do much better this year.

  4. TJ Says:

    Rudd makes the plays he is suppouse to but rarely makes spectacular plays. Just like it says he is making tackles 5 or 6 yars hopefully getting these Dt’s can keep blockers from driving him across the street. My thing is I am shocked the bucs have not locked him up long term they have given far more unproven and inconsistent players big contracts.

  5. bucfanjeff Says:

    Ruud is above average, but when you have a poor DL the LB’s will get exposed more. If McCoy and Price provide significant improvement to the DL, Ruud will be much better. One guy can’t do it alone.

  6. TJ Says:

    The more I think about it is me or did it seem like Rudd was having more of a impact playing alongside 55

  7. Aesir Says:

    That 2008 Chicago game play was on a rookie Running back to be precise not a WR. Not trying to take anything away from Ruud though.
    I’m in the ‘he can only be as good as the players around him’ -boat. There are so many more glaring needs on this team, to even consider replacing a very SOLID and productive, although admittedly unspectacular player right now.

  8. JimBuc Says:

    He has been solid every year but last year. May be prudent to withhold judgment.

  9. Louie Says:

    Wow! I agree with JimBuc for a change!

  10. DeeDo Says:

    Was this the interception you were talking about ?

  11. Joe Says:

    Yes, DeeDo, good find!

    And yes, it was Matt Forte, a running back, that Ruud was with step-for-step.

  12. Eric Says:

    I think you almost have to throw last year out, given the confusion.

    Run defense ought to be better with the new guys and staying in the right system this time.

    He is one on the cusp of potential purge treatment given his age and current youth movement.

  13. MichiganBucsFan Says:

    Ruud is an excellent coverage LB. I like the idea of the Bucs bringing a tough, mean, run you over MLB in and sliding Ruud over to the OLB position.

  14. Apple Roof Cleaning Says:

    I agree with BucFanJeff. Improved play on the Tampa defensive line will make Barrett’s play better. Big 240 lb running backs exploding untouched through our D Line will make any linebacker look bad.

  15. Radio Mushmouth Says:

    not any Linebacker , Apple roof….

    Watch an all-pro like Patrick Willis sometime.

  16. JimBuc Says:

    Louie, welcome to the correct side of the equation! 🙂

  17. thomas Says:

    Barrett Ruud is a very good middle linebacker, he is very tough, works hard and is not the reason the run defense is so poor. He is also an asset in the passing game.

    Get off Barrett. If he leaves, which for his sake I hope he does, in the right situation he will be a pro bowler.

    Schematically the Tampa 2 is vulnerable against the run without strong secondary support, it is a gap responsibility defense. many of Barrett’s tackles 4+ yards down field are tackles made by helping in other gaps (mostly Sabby’s weak support).

    You idiots are clueless if you are blaming Ruud. Arguably, he is the best player on the defense, at least he, talib or Jackson.

  18. tampa2 Says:

    I beleive that Ruud & Piscatelli will be much improved this year if the line can hold.

  19. thomas Says:

    tampa 2:

    i think i know what you mean re if the d line can hold. i am assuming you mean better penetrate their gaps thereby better disrupting plays in the backfield . agreed.

    i have been catching heat re my belief that mccoy and price will not be an improvement over sims and hovan this year. year 1 is a big adjustment for almost all d tackles even sapp. hovan sims wilkerson were experienced pros even if less talented.

    so the prospects for improved dt play this year is not good. i even had a trusted football guy say that he is convinced that price is better suited to have an impact in 2010. steve white?

  20. Nukepineisland Says:

    Here is what is wrong with Ruud .

    That is crap . How many starting MLBs in the NFL given a chance to light up the opposing QB at the goal-line get blown backwards?

    The line had NOTHING to do with that right there , and the film don’t lie .

    The Bucs could do far worse than Ruud , but they sure as hell could do better.

  21. thomas Says:

    First of all – why nuke pine island?

    second, what did that video prove other than ruud in pass coverage leaving coverage in the endzone to be THE ONLY ONE interested in hitting the qb at the goal line. so what if rogers knocked him back – they are both 230lb guys one with a 20 yard head of steam and one starting virtually from a standstill.

    If you have ever played, then you would know that the guy with less momentum when size is relatively equal gets the worse end of the hit.

  22. Nukepineisland Says:

    A) Pine Island should be “nuked” because it is a maniac factory . I’ve lived here my whole life , and I’ve become convinced the apocalypse’s origin will be found west of the Matlacha bridge.
    So basically its a PI joke.

    B) The video to me shows that one of Ruud’s best qualities(pleasant demeanor) as a person is the thing that will keep him from being great in the NFL at MLB .
    I just think he lacks the anger or fire it takes to play his position , I’ve played enough football to know if I got a clean shot on the other teams QB I’m taking it ,damn the torpedoes. Ruud had a full five seconds from the time Rodgers crossed the LOS to the goal-line which was more than enough time for Ruud to react and close , and since Rogers crossed the LOS Ruud did not have to worry about the ball going over his head.

    C) Maybe we are over thinking this ,if Ruud for whatever the reasons can’t stop a QB nearly the same size as him, during a play like that how is going to stop a RB on a draw play drawn up the same way?

    The answer ; He won’t.

  23. topdoggie Says:

    If Rudd lights it up this year he might tell the Bucs to take a hike.Better to get a big contract on a good team than one on a bad team that gave him the contract snub.

  24. Formerbuc Says:

    After going back and watching some games last season I can honestly say that there is a clear reason there weren’t many tackles in the backfield, and it all starts up front. Both tackles got manhandled at times, and Roy made some rookie miscues that didn’t help Rudd’s cause either. That said, Rudd is a solid tackler and has a good understanding of Monte’s cover3, cover2, and quarters alignments. Bates two-gap……not so good, but that’s to be expected. This is the biggest weakness in Barretts game, as I see it:

    The middle linebacker needs to be a LEADER! The guy in the middle is in the best position to line everyone up, and make audible adjustments. But it’s not just about formation adjustments. It’s setting a tone. It’s laying a running back out on the first play and letting him know he’s going to get it all day long. It’s calling teammates out when neccessary. When you think of great defenses like the yearly Bucs, the 85 Bears, The Ravens, The Steel Curtain, what’s the common denominator? They all had pro-bowl MICs.

    Leading by example is very noble. D Brooks did it for years. Being a LEADING FORCE on the field is something of a whole other realm!

  25. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    Anyone who is talking trash about this guy is nuts. He is a dominant player on the field. Last year our D Line was so bad even the top LBs in the game wouldve struggled. They were pathetic. With McCoy and Price now in the middle things change. He will be right back to his game just like everyother year. He is our best LB and so what if he doesnt want to be a leader. Our frontoffice wont commit to him with a new contract and maybe he isnt a leader. Who cares. Other people can fill that void and he can still get his 150 tackles a year!!!!!! We need to resign this guy and quit being penny pinchers!!!

  26. thomas Says:

    I really like P.I. been there many times. I can think of a few other places where I would expect the apocalypse to begin – maybe 1 buc place starting with the hires of rah and dom.

  27. Formerbuc Says:

    Funky’s entitled to his/her opinion, as is everyone, but let me put it like this..If you, as the MIC, are the guy who’s job it is to line someone up on the field or change their set, what happens if they don’t do it? What happens if they don’t listen? Should Ruud run and stand behind Ronde to point the finger?
    Someone HAS to lead in battle. It’s the natural order of life. People need to be lead. And someone on the field has to do it. It’s called accountability. How can you bark orders and not be in command? It’s like being the CEO of a company and letting an assembly line worker make the decisions.
    I understand Barrett may not have that demeanor. Some are not natural leaders in life, but it kinda goes with his role. He’s one of the elders in this D now. Maybe that’s why the front office won’t commit, aside from the collective bargining agreement running out.

  28. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    I think his play outperforms the need for him to be a leader. I wish he was more vocal but he is not. I totally understand your whole statement and I`m not arguing that. I just believe he is too talented and we have no one even close to his talent currently on our roster. He deserves a large contract. We also have atleast two other LB`s who could be vocal and see everything as well. I know you want your MIC to do that but it`s not like that in everyplayer. The only thing positive that would come from losing Ruud next season in FA is we would get a 3rd round comp pick because you know he will still get his 150 tackles a year. I love this guy and hope we resign him!!

  29. Radio Mushmouth Says:

    He can’t hold Hardy Nickerson’s jock , the guy is soft if you ask me.

  30. Formerbuc Says:

    Point well noted Funky. I do agree, that its one of the hardest positions to learn in this defense because of what’s asked of him, and he’s not easily replaceable. I guess I just envision him taking the next step in his development and becoming a leader of men. It’s what would bring this team back around with so many young guns.

  31. RahDomDaBest Says:

    Ruud is the best MLB we have on the roster… but the best on a 32nd rank defense doesn’t say much.

    Ruud is not very dominating though… no sideline to sideline tackles… his arms are too skinny imo.

  32. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:


    I am with you. I would love for him to be a vocal leader. But, if he hasn’t done it yet, I don’t see it happening. God, it would be AWESOME if he would. But maybe Dekoda can help. He was very vocal at FSU. Also, McCoy is our new “leader” and I know he can’t see everything since he will be on the line. But how many vocal players can you have. If one of our LB’s can help and McCoy calls the line. Our D should be in proper position and hopefully make the plays and STOP THE RUN!!!!!

  33. tampa2 Says:

    I hear you, But as I was reading your post I believe the description of the leader is more apt to fit Morris than Ruud. All these good players we got in the draft will be for naught if they aren’t properly developed & trained. My lack of optimism for 2010 is due to coaching, not players. And I feel that instead of having a qualified General for a head coach, we are going into the 2010 season with Elmer Fudd as our Leader.