“I Think Mason Will Be Better In The Middle”

April 14th, 2012
Ronde Barber says the Bucs not signing a linebacker in free agency means they believe in the current available talent — and their coaching talent.

Sure, the Bucs’ linebacker play was atrocious last year, headlined by a rookie in the middle who didn’t have an offseason, one of the biggest free agent busts of the 2011 season, and a linebacker (Geno Hayes) who got benched for a while and is currently unemployed at 24 years old.

That’s why Bucs fans are quivering knowing the Bucs haven’t addressed the position in free agency and might not add a new LB until Day 2 of the NFL Draft.

So what does Ronde Barber think of all that?

“I think that shows they believe in our talent,” Barber said during an exclusive interview with J.P. Peterson of WQYK-AM 1010 yesterday. “They believe they can coach these guys up.”

Perhaps giving a glimpse into what will happen in 2012, Barber said, “I think Mason will be better in the middle.”

None of this suprises Joe. As a former linebacker, Greg Schiano might very much believe he, Bryan Cox, and the rest of his staff can realize the talents of Foster, Quincy Black, Adam Hayward and Dakoda Watson. As for Watson, Joe has heard credible rumblings that the organization is very eager to develop him.

40 Responses to ““I Think Mason Will Be Better In The Middle””

  1. Brad Says:

    That’s not going to excite the fan base in the least. Dominik needs to wake up and realize what everyone in Tampa knows, these guys suck and other than maybe some depth need to all be replaced with new starters. I have to believe this is just Mark trying to prove he’s still in control. His ego will end him getting fired by end of the year. IMO of course.

  2. ben Says:

    I like Watson, im not sure what he can do given the chance but him and Clayborn were about the only ones playing hard during that dallas game when they were behind 3 TD’s, They want guys that play 60 minutes. You can have the right talent and the wrong scheming and coaching. Im interested to see what they do regardless if they sign or draft anyone or not. They probably went back on some tape from 2010 instead of last year and saw some of what they liked(on black not foster i know he was not here).

  3. jvato24 Says:

    I feel Watson is the reason for holding back to some degree in FA. I still would have added someone and traded Quincy Black for the Mr. Irrelevant pick.

  4. Pete 422 Says:

    Yeah, I have been curious for some time what kind of impact Brian Cox has on the linebackers, especially Quincy Black. I suspect there won’t be any option, but to play hard & responsible.

  5. jvato24 Says:

    Brad , Schiano has a lot more input than you think. If Dom didn’t pick up any FAs I’m pretty sure Schiano was on board with it. Well see how the draft plays out.

  6. SensibleBuc Says:

    Optimist: Improved D-line play and scheme will have a positive effect on the LB play and make them serviceable. We can get enough out of Black this year to avoid having to replace two LBs. Hayward, Dakota, Curran can be capable backups. Mason ran a 4.75 coming out of college but he was a Kuechly-like tackling machine so he probably needs to stay on the inside while we draft an OLB out of a deep LB class or take an LB from secondary free agency. All is not lost.

    Pessimist: Black has proven to be completely clueless in all 5 years with the team and needs to be cut immediately; he’s unsalvageable. Advanced stats say Foster was our worst LB last year so he probably needs to be moved to Sam because he doesn’t do well shedding blockers but they won’t do that because they believe they can “coach him up” (lol). They won’t need to draft a Will linebacker until Day 3 because Dom found another one of his “scrapheap gems” in Rennie Curran to play the position. If we roll out Curran, Mase, & Black as our starting backers w/Hawyard, Watson & 5th Rd. Rookie X we really would have the worst LB corps in the league…again.

  7. Rrsrq Says:

    LB or hybrid Safety/LB in first three rounds, they have to either for starter or quality depth, no matter what they say. Though I do believe there is talent in what we have and the coaches will know early on, Brian Cox and “coach/consultant” Butch Davis knows what linebacker play looks like in the nfl.

  8. LovesBrain Says:

    He Effin better do better!!!

  9. Thomas2.2 Says:

    Schiano can coach. Rahrah couldnt have been more clueless. So that will certainly make a difference. I think Watson can play.

    However, the signs on Jane Black and foster are not good. I would never put foster back in the middle but would move him to Will. Let Watson start at Sam. Draft or sign a MLB – and send Jane packing.

  10. Patrick Says:

    You can’t fix his inability to tackle!

  11. Thomas2.2 Says:

    You tube Jacquizz Rogers versus Mason Foster.

    It is a185lb scat back blowing Foster up in the hole. At least Ruud got run over by a 230lber.

  12. Macabee Says:

    I trust Barber’s opinion, but let’s be sure of what he said. He thinks Foster will be better in the middle. With a year of experience and an up-coming off-season, I too would expect for him to be better – that is better than he was last year. But will that be good enough to QB the defense, cover in space, and stop the run?

    Sounds like the old adage “square peg – round hole” to me. However, some may rationalize that when you’re in the middle of a lake, it’s the same distance across as it is back to shore! Risky assumption to say the least!

    I would hope that if it is the decision is to play Mason in the middle, they would have made it on extensive tape review and man-skill-position fit rather than my middle of the lake analogy. The last thing I want to believe is that Dominik is forcing this decision because of his ego or a need to save face.

    Next to QB and possibly LT, the MLB position is the most mentally demanding position on the team. This decision must be well-thought out and the right man has to be there or a good team can look very bad very quickly!

  13. jvato24 Says:

    Thomas. Foster was off balance when he got hit. I have seen Ray Lewis get trucked when flat footed. I’m pretty sure that was the same game he completely stonewalled Mike Turner on 4th down to keep the game somewhat competitive. If you can’t tell the difference between someone being off balance and truly getting trucked then you are dumber than I thought.

  14. RustyRhino Says:

    @Thomas 2.2
    The great Dick Butkis got blown up a time or two, in the hole by a small RB. Even our own Derick Brooks got blown up a few times in the hole by a small RB. It happens, does it happen every play no but it does happen now and then. As I recall Rudd got blown up by Big Medium and Small RB as well. Get over it.
    Looking forward to seeing Curran play OLB

  15. Pete Dutcher Says:

    jvato24 Says:
    April 14th, 2012 at 11:27 am


    …If you can’t tell the difference between someone being off balance and truly getting trucked then you are dumber than I thought.


    Dang…Thomas just got schooled, pwned and owned all at once! Nice, jvato!

  16. Pete Dutcher Says:

    I’ve said it all along…I’m willing to accept the coach’s wisdom on Foster, but personally I don’t think the kid got a fair shake last year.

    This year, he’ll have an entire off-season to learn and prepare. He’ll have a REAL playbook, not a scrapbook of plays that MIGHT work (and didn’t).

    Raheem = Scrapbook

    Schiano = Playbook

    Thomas = Wrong book

  17. thegregwitul Says:

    I think Mason Foster will be fine with some good coaching going into the season. Will he be in the middle or the outside? I’m not sure yet, and I think the Bucs feel that way as well. And what’s the real rush? The draft hasn’t happend yet, so you never know if a player drops down to Tampa that could fill in one of the LB spots. Don’t forget about the second wave of free agency, which may involve a move at LB for Tampa. I’m also quite high on Dekoda Watson, I think he has a great motor and shows promise. I think Quincy Black gets one more season to justify his bloated contract, unless he really craps the bed in camp, and the other guys will provide depth.

    If this were Chip Kelly coaching the Bucs, I would be concerned with the lack of moves made so far, but with coach Sciano at the helm, I have faith the LB unit will be much improved, and it has to be if this team intends on winning football games.

  18. deminion Says:


    You tube Jacquizz Rogers versus Mason Foster.

    It is a185lb scat back blowing Foster up in the hole. At least Ruud got run over by a 230lber.

    Actually Mason tried to stand him up at the goaline cuz if he wud hve tackled him the Rudd way it would have bn pointless

  19. Que589 Says:

    Dekota will be good. MLB is Foster’s best position, don’t like him on the outside, he’ll be fine in the middle. Our 2nd or 3rd round pick will be a LB that will compete against Black and Hayward for the other OLB position. The rookie will probably win the starting job

  20. Sensiblebuc Says:

    Rachel Watson > Dakota Watson 🙂

  21. Thomas2.2 Says:

    Just rewatched the 45 second viral youtube video.

    There was NOTHING off-balance about Foster when he got flat trucked by a 185lb scat back. It was worse than I remembered.

    The fact that he got trucked is not a big deal, except it was by a player that he had a 40lb size difference on.

  22. Thomas2.2 Says:

    Anyone who thinks Foster played 1/2 as well as Ruud’s worst year here is drunk.

    I give Mason a pass because he had no coach and was out of position, but make no mistake his play was horrendous.

    Look back: I was huge on Foster out of College, he was all over the field at Wash – but he needs space and simple assignments so he doesnt have to think, he can be allowed to use his instincts.

    Otherwise, you get 2011, ugly.

  23. Pete 422 Says:

    People who want the entire LB corps replaced have top realize that just isn’t possible in one year. We need the back 7 retooled & that will take a few years.

  24. Lion Says:

    I guess I am one of the few that think our LB core will be fine under Schiano, I still see us drafting a LB somewhere. But I’m not worried about the position next year, I think we will be just fine there. Black can be better than he was last year (he does have the tools needed to be a solid LB), the team was so misguided last year I’m not sure I can blame some of linebackers. I am dying to see what Dekoda can do, I hope he get’s a lot of reps and playing time in the preseason. Mason Foster will be fine, he is going to be a very solid LB in the NFL. The scheme under Raheem was terrible and he obviously had no clue how to coach up players and exploit their talent.

    I am far more concerned with the safety position than I am with the line backers. Ahman Black could be the wildcard though.

  25. Cmurda Says:

    The coaching staff believes in themselves. They believe the talent is here but with a coaching staff that was more out of position than Foster himself, it is not inconceivable that the new coaching staff can get 1000% more out of these guys. I’m excited about Watson so how could I blame Schiano and company for believing his potential is through the roof. The choice was spend a lot of money on decent LB’s or develop what could end up being great LB’s that are currently on our roster. We landed V-Jax, Nicks, Wright and Amobe. If you think I’m upset, you’re crazy. We will be drafting at least 1 LB to develop. If we can nab Martin in the 2nd assuming MO is available at #5, we could be changing the culture of this team quickly. I don’t think CLE will actually trade the 4th pick. The danger is the Rams moving up to get MO.

  26. OptimisTroll Says:

    Based on the play of the Buc’s defense at the end of last season, I am surprised that Rogers was touched, let alone had to break a tackle.

    Broken tackles happen from time to time, especially when the running back is able to freely get up to speed, pick his matchup, and then get lower than his tackler.

    Give some of these players a break. If you watched that game, and you honestly thought that play was the most embarrasing of that game by a defender, you need to have your eyes checked.

    And just because a video is on Youtube, doesn’t make it viral. It has 4500 views. Viral videos are ones that spread like wildfire through the various contact mediums on the internet, and rack up millions of views because the content of the video shows something extraordinary, not a ordinary, routine broken tackle.

    Thomas 2.2:

    Please stop exaggerating.

  27. Lion Says:


    I don’t think we are in any sort of danger with the Rams trading up and taking Mo. They most likely have their sights on Blackmon.

  28. Cmurda Says:

    @ Lion. I’m hoping the same thing. They need WR’s more than a CB but I think MO is more of a possibility for the Rams than the Browns. Im hoping there are no trades in the Top 4.

  29. BigBear Says:

    @thomas2.2 that was one play…plenty of other plays where he makes solid tackles. Also “Rodgers runs with surprising power and has great leg drive. He is an effort player that gives it is all on each run and each play. You think you have him down but those legs of his don’t stop moving. Rodgers has good speed and quickness. He is a good inside runner and also has the speed to bounce things out wide. Rodgers shows good vision and excellent balance.” not exactly a typical scat esp when doing goal line runs…

  30. So. Ill. Bucs Says:

    I’ve been pulling for Dekoda ever since we drafted him, he plays with a fire in his belly, and I think he could do great things for us given a few more opportunities.

  31. Thomas2.2 Says:

    I like Jacquizz Rogers as a player, but he is hardly a power runner. He is much more Warrick Dunn than Brandon Jacobs.

    That was a play you expect your 240lb MLB to make against Rogers.

    Also, I admit not knowing the number of views to make a video viral but there is more than 1 – so add the views up then tell me if I am still off.

  32. Capt. Tim Says:

    This is Dominick- again not wanting to admit he failed on these LBers/Safeties/ CBs

    He Better wise up soon. He has done NOTHING to improve the worst back 7 in the league last year.
    Schiano loses games 42 -10, like we saw last year, and he won’t last the season.
    And Dom won’t survive this time.

    He better get this coach some players on defense.

  33. teacherman777 Says:

    If Vontaze Burfict is still there in the 5th round, we have to pull trigger.

    Most 5th rounders dont succeed anyway, so why not?

    With the right atmosphere. He could be great.

    Its worth the risk.

  34. SensibleBuc Says:


    The consensus is that Burfict will go undrafted. We can get him as a UDFA.

  35. Miguel Grande Says:

    I just think our linebackers need to run faster, hit harder, think quicker, stay youngry and fight the power!!….. Radio Raheem

    Draft Kalil #1 and our linebackers will be hanging out on the sidelines with our cheerleaders. Can you say Yugly!!

  36. OptimisTroll Says:

    capt. tim

    Do these count as changes?

    Cut safety
    Let free agent safety go
    Have injured safety heal

    Sign new corner

    Let free agent walk

    Fire entire coaching staff
    Hire new coaches all around

    For a gm and an average season , that seems like a bunch of change.

  37. bucs55 Says:

    Draft ether Davis or Wagner in the Second and I Agree with Burfict if he is in the 5th round i would pick him up running the 40 time fast dosent make you a great player hes a hidden Gem in my Opinion If he can get help from the linebackers Coach and try to keep his emotions on check might come out to be one of the best linebackers to come out the draft he plays like a animal and thats what you need in the middle

  38. Capt. Tim Says:

    No. That doesn’t count as improving anything- unless you think Eric Wright is an NFL starter.
    And no one I’ve heard believes that to be true.

    Firing an inexperienced staff, and hiring an in experienced staff, isn’t going to make horrible players better

    Jimmy Lake is considered a great Secondary coach. With Lots of NFL experience!
    Ron Cooper has never coached in the NFL Before.

    But even that isn’t the problem. Worst back 7 talent wise( omitting only Ronde Barber) is the issue.

    Winning in the NFL is simple. 1) have the best players. 2) coach and motivate them.
    1) defensive back 7- we have the worst
    2) no idea what this staff can do- especially defensively. But if number one is worst players- we’ll never know. And that isn’t fair to them.

    Dom has shown an annoying trend of defending his terrible picks/ signings
    You can track the Michael Clayton, Kyle Moore, Derrick Ward, Quincy Black, etcs.
    He has not only aquired horrible players. He has forced them into undeserved playing time- even Starters( Kyle Moore).
    And everyone else -Everyone!!- knew this guys were failures, and hurting the team, before Dom seemed willing to accept it.

    I realize the draft should bring some help. And I really love the FAs he’s added on offense. Love the young DT we signed.

    But the worst part of this team- by far- was the LBers and secondary. Both units were ranked Lowest in the NFL.

    Draft won’t solve enough. Trading back might help- if available.
    But our need for a MLB , not named Foster, is so extreme, I can’t believe we haven’t addressed it yet.
    Freeman is happy! We still don’t have our Defensive QB. That’s scary.

  39. MTM Says:

    Developed Watson and pick some FA veteran LB’s.

  40. Brandon Says:

    I’m glad to hear that Joe hears the organization is anxious to develop Watson… all he’s ever done when in the game is make plays. He just doesn’t get in the game enough. That has to change.