Has “The Wall” Floored Mark Barron?

November 19th, 2012

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen hauls in a pass in front of Bucs safety Mark Barron Sunday.

Joe had flashbacks yesterday as the Bucs rallied to beat the Stinkin’ Panthers, flashbacks to when he was a baseball writer.

When Joe was a beat writer covering the Kansas City Royals — seems like another lifetime ago — Joe almost always worked on deadline, meaning for night games Joe had a short window to write and file a story so it made the next day’s paper.

Periodically, a team would make a comeback from a large deficit late in the game. This proved troublesome, as Joe often had his story(ies) all but written and would have to start from scratch with sometimes 20 minutes until deadline.

Joe had a mental list of stories he was going to write about from what appeared to be an uglier than ugly Bucs upset loss at Carolina yesterday. Josh Freeman struggling, the team had a rash of turnovers, a mortal sin in the New Schiano Order, and how awful of a day Bucs rookie safety Mark Barron had.

Of course, thanks to quite a few Bucs players, those stories were set aside. Except for Barron’s.

Joe changed his mind about writing of Barron’s struggles when he read Wolf Heard’s piece on Buccaneers101, where Heard basically asks out loud, “Has Mark Barron hit the rookie wall?”

Barron, who was drafted No. 7 overall by the Bucs in April, has struggled in the passing game as of late. He seems to be out of position way too much and has had trouble covering tight ends, which is something a fast, young player like himself should be able to do.

Barron also hasn’t learn a very simple principle that all defensive backs need to do – get your head around when the ball is coming. Last week, Barron got flagged for pass interference after he didn’t turn his head toward the ball while knocking down a pass. The flag was picked up so no harm was done.

But he got called for the same thing on Sunday against the Panthers while trying to cover Greg Olsen in the end zone, and this time it cost him. Running back Jonathan Stewart punched it in from 1-yard out to give the Panthers a 14-10 lead after Barron’s penalty.

Now Joe knows Barron hasn’t been the greatest defender of the pass, though he didn’t stink up the joint. Yesterday, Barron played pass defense badly. This has been a recurring problem that may or may not be worsening.

After all, it could be that teams are targeting Barron more on the pass, thus it appears on face value he is getting beat more only because he is being targeted more.

This doesn’t explain Barron’s sudden whiffing of tackles. Prior, Barron was an absolute rock on the run game and an effective blitzer (remember how he buried RGIII into the turf of the Stadium on Dale Mabry Highway). Barron wasn’t as lethal against the run Sunday and in one play, Cam Newton juked Barron in the open field so bad, Barron’s jock was left behind. Joe thought sure it was Myron Lewis at first, and not Barron, but the eye in the sky of replays doesn’t lie.

Two weeks ago, Bucs coach Greg Schiano noted he was concerned about the “The Rookie Wall,” and said that right about now rookies have played essentially what amounts to a full season of college football, when one factors in training camp, preseason games and the NFL’s regular season.

Schiano said he was hoping to limit Doug Martin’s carries as a result and was keeping an eye on Lavonte David, who rarely comes off the field on defense.

Maybe Schiano ought to be paying attention to Barron as well? Perhaps he could use a little less work in practice, or maybe a half-day off or so to help rest his bones?

The Bucs are going to need Barron these next six weeks.

29 Responses to “Has “The Wall” Floored Mark Barron?”

  1. Ian's Gay Lisp & Ron's Drinking Problem Says:

    Barron must be banged-up.

  2. Have A Nice Day Says:

    Barron hasn’t been good in coverage all year. It just so happened he was targeted a bit more in this game. The Barron we saw yesterday is the same Barron that has been out there all year. He is great against the run but weak against the pass. He is still a rookie, so there is plenty of time for him to get that part of his game up to par.

  3. Luther Says:

    I’m really not going to pass judgement on a rookie safety. He has shown flashes of what he can become. I would give him another season before I’m comfortable with giving him an opinion. Safety is a different position and it’s more than just instincts. Bottom line is this kid is not the second coming of Piscatelli.

  4. buccanay Says:

    IMO, Barron and the entire secondary is being put in very difficult situations, considering their experience, or lack of it. Only ONE of these guys, Barber, was even playing in the NFL last year, and Barber was at CB. Yea, Wright was a Lion but, he’s been in and out so much, he doesnt even seem like a regular anymore. Barron, IMO is being asked to do WAY to much. He seems to be counted on in run defense and also seems to be playing more deep pass coverage than a SS should be. Ronde seems to be free-lancing with little responsibility. I think we need a complete FS, which Ronde clearly is NOT. Barron is being asked to play both S postions, while Barber freelances. I agree that Barron’s play has regressed a bit, but he’s not getting much help either. Honestly, getting a quality FS is as important as getting CB’s this off-season. How many times do you see Ronde running deep covering a receiver? That is what a FS does! Do I blame Barber..hell no..but I do blame Sheridan.

  5. thegregwitul Says:

    I think Mark Barron, like Morris Claiborne, hasn’t just hit a rookie wall; he just seem to be playing like a rookie. I don’t think it’s the end of the world; with more reps and experience I’m confident he’ll get better. It’s a credit to the ‘rock star’ GM Mark Dominik and Schiano and the rest of the coaching staff for basically drafting (and developing) three first round caliber talents in the draft in Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David.

    As fans, we are very fortunate to see Doug Martin and Lavonte David play like star veteran players that have changed the entire franchise for the better, but I think it’s more common to see a glimmer of potential flash through periods of learning and developing (and struggling) in a rookie season, like we have from players like Barron, or Claiborne or Justin Blackmon as opposed to a guy like Doug Martin coming in and tearing up the league or Lavonte David essentially becoming the super productive leader of a young defense, both guys playing beyond their years.

    It’s too early to press the panic button, but I’ve definitely noticed Barron’s average at best play the last few weeks. Here is hoping that he starts getting back on track against Atlanta, we could really use some tough defense on Gonzalez, Julio and Roddy.

  6. buccanay Says:

    Let me put it this way. Barron is being asked to play more FS than SS, his natural position, whereas Barber is playing more like a SS. We need a real FS!

  7. bucfanjeff Says:

    He better shake it off quick…here come the Falcons.

    Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Gonzalez with our rookie DB’s?

    I hope our DL can find a way to keep the heat on Ryan.

  8. raphael Says:

    Barron needs to step up this week, its the dixie chicks and Gonzalas..

  9. Macabee Says:

    barron will be okay but it’s going to take a little time. Notice the difference between Mason Foster this year and last year. Based on our expected year-end record, I think we pick between 15 and 20 next year. If we get an experienced CB in FA ( DRC or Asomougha expected to be cut by Philly), then I could see us taking a big safety like Eric Reid who has SS size, can hit like Barron and can cover like a corner.

    If we still need a top CB, we could always move back into the first for a Rhodes, Banks, or Poyer should one of them fall to us. There are also lots of quality safeties in the 2013 draft – T.J. McDonald, Kenny Vacarro, Tony jefferson, and Bacarri Rambo. Not to worry, we will get this fixed.

  10. bucfanjeff Says:

    @Macabee “If we still need a top CB…” – just remove the “If”

  11. Sneedy16 Says:

    He is just getting overwhelm a little. He isn’t used to playing against this caliber of talent. He is a rookie after all. With more practice he should be able to improve his skills.

  12. mikeck Says:

    You have to remember, in College, not only did these guys only play about 12 games….but half were against directional schools that offered little challenge. For Barron, the pros is the equivilant of playing LSU every week for 10 weeks so far. It can be mentally taxing as well. He is a stud and will be fine.

    Safety isnt what it used to be. With moderbn defenses and teh new modern tight ends, it is a coplex positioon that is effected by teh coverage calls as well as what tthe TE and RB are doing. He will get it.

  13. raphael Says:

    mikeck ..wtf happend to thet las paragrah ???

  14. KD Says:

    @Joe –

    I wouldn’t say Cam “juked him out” so bad his jock was left on the field. It’s pretty obvious Barron slipped just as he was squaring up to make the tackle. He was one of the many players that slipped on that wet Carolina surface. It wasn’t a juke…it was a slip. Watch it again. There’s no way you can honestly tell me Cam shook Barron…just a bit of bad luck with his footing on the field.

  15. mikeck Says:

    uhhh..got a little sloppy with the keyboard there…

  16. skp Says:

    Barron vs Tony Gonzalez will be a bloodbath. i have very high hopes for the kid, but as i was watching him in coverage today, i was thinking about roy williams, the dynamic and physical safety who was basically forced into obscurity when teams adjusted and just started throwing on him

  17. kh Says:

    To add perspective, Ronde Barber didn’t even see the field his rookie year.

  18. terry4505 Says:

    Watch the LaFell TD again, and you will see Barber running with the receiver on the sideline, who was clearly already covered by the CB.

    It looked to my untrained eyes like Barber jumped the route too soon vacating the middle of the field and putting Barron in an impossible situation.

    I like Barber’s instincts, but like with Polumalu, every once in a while, you get burned guessing (see Tebow, playoffs).

    Barron is going to be fine. The kid is smart. He works hard. He is physically gifted. He is adjusting and it will take some time. I think he was playing a bit over his head earlier in the year (the big hit on Steve Smith and RGIII come to mind) and has come back to earth a little bit.

    Like was mentioned above, it is a bit unfair to compare a rookie to the performance of LVD and the Muscle Hamster. Did anyone truly think these guys would be among the elite of their positions 10 weeks into their careers?

  19. Brad Says:

    I’d be more worried how are linebackers keep getting faked on the play action leaving the middle wide open. Barron’s a rookie. Leave him alone Joe. He will be fine. After an unlikely win and a great comeback, you can leave all your negative stories for another day. Give us a damn day too be exuberant before you crash us back to earth.

  20. Joe Says:

    After an unlikely win and a great comeback, you can leave all your negative stories for another day.

    “Unlikely??????” The Bucs should have blown out that garbage team. Never should have come down to overtime.

    “Negative” or accurate?

    Joe calls ’em as he sees them. Don’t like it, maybe you will be better off with this site.

    Might want to stay away from PewterReport.com as well. They are planning to publish a story tonight focused on Barron’s bad game yesterday.

    If a guy is in a starting lineup, Joe doesn’t care if he’s a rookie or a 10-year vet; a first-round draft pick or a free agent pick up.

    As Leonard Johnson said, “When you are on the field, it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been in the league or when you were drafted.”

  21. sapp'sdapp Says:

    We may not have the best group of DB’s in the league, but were still better off without Talib. Yes we need depth at FS and DB but i think the issue at right tackle warrants our first roundpick. Joe’s always talking about how there arent any good FA offensive linemen. Well in that case we better draft one. With our new OL coach, weve seen the sucess with second rate linemen, what if 22 and 27 could run off the right tackle too?

  22. buccanay Says:

    Your arrogance, and derogatory statements to some of your critics will inevitabley be the downfall of this site. There is no such thing as “a garbage team” in the NFL. For someone who writes professionally aout the NFL, you seem vastly ill-equipped to do so.

  23. McBuc Says:

    Everyone has a bad day. It is like Penn said, “The other guy gets paid too”.

  24. Joe Says:

    There is no such thing as “a garbage team” in the NFL.

    So the Panthers — fighting for the first overall pick in the draft — are elite?

    Your arrogance, and derogatory statements to some of your critics will inevitabley be the downfall of this site.

    And yet Joe’s traffic continues to climb. Strange.

  25. Brandon Says:

    For those thinking Barron hit a wall… if he has, that wall is not physical., it’s mental because his technique is bad and he has been guessing way too much, squatting on routes and taking bad coverage angles.

    If Schiano is such a stickler for technique, you have to think it is one of his top priorities to clean up Barron’s horrible techniques in coverage. That last PI in the endzone against Barron had Barron lining up right over top of Olsen in press, then Olsen took off straight for the pylon, Barron didn’t get a hand on him and even reacted slow to run after him. I was at the stadium so the only replay I saw was on the Jumbotron, but even though Barron got abused, I didn’t think he interfered.

    Another player that deserves some play in pass coverage is Mason Foster. he is horrible. Those plays where the receivers split the two deep safeties probably don’t happen as easily if Foster does a better job of getting downfield in his zone drop. he gets very little depth in his drops and it shows when we see plays constantly made in the deeper middle (11-25).

  26. Stanglassman Says:

    He should get his head turned around but I do think it is worth mentioning that he didn’t touch the WR and that it was a bad PI call this week. Last week it was close and the contact was slight and would not have been called if he turned his head, I hoped at the time the coaches would have corrected it in film break down.

  27. buddah Says:

    Someone ought to look at the tape again. It was Barron who tackled Cam a yard and a half short of a first down on the Panthers last drive. he doesn’t make that tackle and we’re not celebrating today!

  28. Donut Glazer Says:

    Barron hasn’t hit the rookie wall, he is just a rookie… How can someone hit a wall by doing something they never done before? I never understood that analogy.

  29. Joe Says:


    Barron hasn’t hit the rookie wall, he is just a rookie… How can someone hit a wall by doing something they never done before? I never understood that analogy.

    That’s exactly why it is called a rookie wall.