No Hole At Safety

May 8th, 2017

Piñata for statheads.

It seems the stat nerds have developed a pattern with the Bucs.

When they aren’t crying for mom to give them a lift to the local Star Wars dress up function, they absolutely beat up Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith as if he e-mailed them a virus that hijacked their hard drives.

And if it isn’t Smith’s Fathead they are whacking with a lightsaber, they are whining about the safety play of the Bucs.

It really does help to watch games and not read spreadsheets, you know?

The Football Outsiders crowd, which Joe respects, went on a rant about Bucs safeties and claimed safety is the biggest hole on the roster. Yeah, really.

It seems strange to say it after the team invested both a high draft pick and a high-profile free-agent signing in the position, but Tampa Bay still has concerns at safety. Last season’s better starter, Bradley McDougald, is now with the Seahawks. Last season’s lesser starter, Chris Conte, has been rather mystifyingly re-signed. Last season’s top backup, Keith Tandy, never left, but Tandy has never really looked like much more than a reasonable backup at any point in his five-year Buccaneers career. Reputed safety conversion project Ryan Smith, who did not play a single snap on defense last year despite Conte’s struggles, is returning to his natural position of cornerback.

All of which means that the Buccaneers probably will have to look to their new arrivals for improvement at the position. J.J. Wilcox, signed from Dallas early in free agency, is pretty much a like-for-like replacement for McDougald — a fine strong safety, but not a player who will provide the deep range that the Buccaneers most noticeably lacked. Second-round pick Justin Evans could eventually be that guy but will have to significantly improve his tackling, technique, pursuit angles and play diagnosis — a lot to ask of a young player in his rookie year. So Buccaneers fans will likely continue to see a lot more of Conte than they would hope, and the defense will still have issues in deep coverage.

How many times does Joe have to type this? Safety play wasn’t a weakness last year.

When the Bucs figured out how to understand each other communicate, safety play was actually a strength. Chris Conte — who seems to be winning off the field — played really well until he was hurt, and Keith Tandy played like a Pro Bowler.

Throw in a second-round pick at safety and, you know, the reason it sounds “strange” to suggest safety play is a roster hole is because, well, it is strange!

If there is a hole in the roster, it is the rushing attack that was fourth-worst in the NFL at yards-per-carry. Not sure why the statheads are ignoring that glaring stat?

54 Responses to “No Hole At Safety”

  1. meh Says:

    How many times does Joe have to type this? Safety play wasn’t a weakness last year.

    You can keep typing it over and over. That still doesn’t make it true. Safety was a huge weakness last year, probably the biggest weakness on the team.

  2. Joeypoppems Says:

    If Justin Evans pans out then I agree with you Joe. Safety would no longer be the biggest weakness, pass rush will be.

    I will do my Realist impersonation and predict the obvious. Pass rush will be a priority next offseason.

  3. danr Says:

    Safeties were bad. Made hatgreaves look bad.

  4. tdtb2015 Says:


    People still holding on to the old Bucs are holding on to the defense performance during the first half of the season.

    Let it go Bucs fans. Enjoy the ride. All is right on track!

    Breathe and release!!!! It doesn’t have to be hard. Just put on your sunglasses. Everything is gonna be alright..

    In Licht we trust!!!

    Go Bucs!!!

  5. SB Says:

    You keep banging on the run game as if our stable sux. I am telling you now, Zeke couldn’t have run much better for us last yr because the box was always stacked!!!!! Nobody respected our pass game with only ME13 out there.
    Line up ME13, DJax, OJ Howard, Brate and Humphries………….
    Tell me what DC will stack the box with all that on the field!!
    Our Run game will be just fine.

  6. James Walker Says:

    Any NFL QB will pick apart any NFL backfield if they have time to throw.

  7. Joe Says:

    Any NFL QB will pick apart any NFL backfield if they have time to throw.


  8. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    I felt like our Safety play last year mirrored what happened last year with the entire defense.

    Poor first half of the season strong finish. One might suspect that the guys were finally catching on to Smitty’s defense! And as Joe pointed out….”communicating”. It sure looked simply like guys grew in confidence in the understanding of THEIR responsibility and the TEAM began to play better.

    Now that he’s had that year for his guys to grow and understand his defense I’m anxious to see how Smitty does with them this year.

  9. BuccaneerByBirth Says:

    The fact that we signed a FA and drafted one basically proves it was kinda an issue….stop Lee

  10. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Mmm was it a issue, maybe. I just can’t get over for a six week stretch last season we lead the league in points allowed, sacks and turnovers. I feel J.J. was brought in for a specific role. Intimation. Desean said he hated playing against him. I feel my guy Justin was drafted for his playmaking ability. Those two additions and bringing back Conte and Tandy safety isn’t much of a concern to me now. I always like the question can anyone name the starting safeties of the Strahan lead giants that beat the pats in that superbowl without looking it up.

  11. ElioT Says:

    If safety was such a huge weakness don’t you think Licht would have gone after a higher caliber FA or traded up for a Jamal Adams?

    The Bucs biggest weakness if their pass rush and hopefully J. Smith can stay healthy, Spence can continue to develop, Ryan Russel and contribute and G. Johnson can do SOMETHING!

  12. Supersam Says:

    Pass rush makes everyone look better, our pass rush was not good enough last year. Safeties will be fine as long as we can generate some heat up front.

  13. JAB83 Says:

    Its getting harder and harder to find weaknesses on this team… Playoffs…. Playoffs…. Can we start talking PLAYOFS!!!!

  14. Kobe Faker Says:

    Cornerback! Cornerback! Cornerback!

    That is our weakness

    Our avg cornerback height is 5′ 5″

    “I would rather have miko grimes suit up !”

    Kobe Faker

  15. Support Conte Says:

    I´m with Joe. In The great streak of wins we had las year the safeties were maybe the best of that defense. Rememeber all the INT’s they had against Seattle, KC and Chicago.
    At the beginning of the year they were a disaster as well as the rest of the defense.
    Time will tell but at this point i’m more worried about the pass rush and the corner depth

  16. The Buc Realist Says:

    The day kobe troll became kobe liar!!!!!

    Kobe Faker Says:
    November 20th, 2016 at 8:31 am
    Tampa def cant defend tightends. Hello kelce
    Tampa def cant defend slot wrs on slants. Hello tyreek hill
    Tampa def cant defend north/south rbs. Hello spencer ware
    Tampa def cant defend good QBs. Hello alex smith & his legs

    31-13 Kc blowout

    Kobe Faker Says:
    November 20th, 2016 at 10:42 am
    Yes, i will sacrifice myself in behalf the the tampa bay bucs.

    If tampa wins i will not post here ever again

  17. The Buc Realist Says:

    There was a “hole” at safety,, But has that hole been plugged????? NFL GM Licht made moves!!!!! Just like The Buc Realist told the sheep last year!!!!!

    The Buc Realist Says:
    August 9th, 2016 at 10:57 am
    NFL Draft 2017 WR, TE, Safety!!!!!!

  18. Bobby M. Says:

    There’s this bizarre perception that the team must have super stars at every position. The salary cap, particulary when building a team through the draft, makes that impossible as we have to budget for resigning our own successes in the near future. The team is going to be built on both sides of the ball with the goal of top tier performers at positions that make other areas look better. Jameis Winston is expected to make the WRs and RBs look like Pro Bowlers…..The D-Line is supposed to create enough pressure so avg safeties can take advantage of mistakes by a QB under constant pressure. Every team has “holes”…the key is the strength of the unit as a whole.

  19. Ryan Thompson Says:

    Ummm lightsaber is spelled as one word, thank-you-very-much! 😉

  20. Fsuking Says:

    You (Joe’s) are losing your collective mind if you are trying to say safety was a strength last year. Clearly the biggest hole on our team going into the year. If the coaches are happy with our running backs, I am happy with our running backs! What I want to know is how you can even justify an article like this after what the coaches did. They got 2 safties who could start but waited to take a roster bubble running back in the 55th. Are you Joe’s over there thinking you know more than the coaches and GMs?

  21. owlykat Says:

    Had Licht gotten us a great DE in free agency, or at least with that second pick in this draft, we would have been just fine with the Safeties we had last year. However, Licht has made a pattern every year of blowing his second pick and also of ignoring the biggest needs of this team. We would have already been to the Playoffs last year if we had not blown the 2d pick and the picks to move up there, and instead filled our top needs.

  22. A-Train Says:

    Is the rushing attack a RB problem or a blocking problem??

    I think with a blocking RB and TE this year will be different..

    Heck our new TE is bigger than the LBs

  23. Lamarcus Says:

    What in the world does Joe watch on his Sunday during football season?? Espn? Redzone? Nfl network. Man, come on, safety was/is one of most weakest position. Cost us games man. Constantly getting burned. Joe or both u guys are the only ppl thinks Conte is somewhat not bad. His angles are worse than Sabby. One play he almost concussed Kwon on a poor angle landed right on Kwon head. Kwon was dazed. Conte then last game left the locker room early. Conte is a not a great resign

  24. Pickgrin Says:

    I just hope our defense starts off this year looking like it did during the 5 game win streak towards the end of the year.

    If the starters on this team can stay relatively healthy this year – we can beat most any team in the league week in and week out. If injuries start piling up like they did at DL and RB and RT last year or any position for that matter we are not in great shape with our back ups.

    There are few glaring holes left on this team but there are a bunch of positions with sub par back ups – especially on defense.

  25. LargoBuc Says:

    Our safeties improved as the year went on. It seemed like after the second falcons gsme, a flip was switched and they seemed to get it. Hell, Keith Tandy and Chris Conte were two huge contributors during our win streak. Unfortunately our pass rush was streaky, living and dying with rookie Noah Spence. And our run defense was average at best. Dallas completely mauled our front seven. Hopefully having an anchor at 1 tech in Chris Baker will help. But safety a weakness? I say not so much and early on they were no more a weakness than our pass rush.

  26. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Safety definitely was not a strength last year although I think tandy excelled in what he was asked to do, but if the pass rush and the DL was so terrible and could not get any pressure what did Licht do in the offseason to address rush ends? Atlanta sure did and the panthers are loaded there, but Licht stands status quo or expect J Smith to make a miraculous ACL recovery?

  27. Pickgrin Says:

    Why would Jac Smith’s ACL recovery be “miraculous” Dusthty?

  28. LargoBuc Says:

    Pickgrin- I specifically got week 4 vs the giants circled. Time to show everyone that ME13>OBJ. No way do we let old man Eli shred us. Especially when he has no running game to lean on. Our first three home games Rmare vs Chicago, New York and New England, three of the most obnoxiously entitled fan bases in the country. I am determined to see the Bucs kick their arse while they get cozy in our stadium!

  29. FutureBucsGM Says:

    I don’t know that people understand the difference between solid and stellar safety player. We were lacking a play maker last year in the backfield but most teams are aside from the Earl Thomas, Eric Berry, and the likes…

    Mike Glennon is a solid quarterback but Jameis is a play maker.

    Hopefully people understand the analogy.

  30. Destinjohnny Says:

    Jason thinks the d and 0 line are better then they are

  31. Pickgrin Says:

    The first 5 games aside from the Chicago game are a pretty tough way to start the season with Miami, NYG and Pats all being 2016 playoff teams and the Vikings were competitive even without Bridgewater and AP.

    Our defense better be pretty good to start the year or we might just find ourselves in a hole we don’t want to be in starting off the 2017 season.

  32. Joe Says:

    Had Licht gotten us a great DE in free agency, or at least with that second pick in this draft, we would have been just fine with the Safeties we had last year.

    Yannick with the Jags was a second round pick and he would have led Bucs in sacks.

    Joe knows Yannick was certainly on Bucs radar.

  33. Bucsfanman Says:


    “Any NFL QB will pick apart any NFL backfield if they have time to throw.”

    I don’t care if you have pro-bowlers at both CB and S, NFL QBs will torch you if you don’t get pressure.

  34. Devildogbuc Says:

    Our hole is at defensive end we only have one pass rusher and it’s only his second year in the league we can’t win anything if we can’t get to the qb

  35. Bucsfanman Says:

    Semper Fi Devildogbuc!

  36. Not there yet Says:

    I wouldn’t say we have a hole at safety but they do have a lot to prove sort of like our pass rush. The passing threat instantly upgrades our run game especially in a two tight end set. I can’t wait for the season to begin

  37. Brett Says:

    Haven’t seen this Evans play… but reading he is a hard hitter who misses tackles sounds like a recipe for needless penalties and big touchdowns. I know nothing more about this guy other than what I read, but the Bucs passed on DeMarcus Walker who will be a Pro Bowl caliber DL. Evans? Maybe, maybe not.

  38. ndog Says:

    Brett I love DeMarcus Walker but he produced quite often with effort plays which wont work very often in the NFL. He is not a true DE or DT and that will be his biggest issue in the league. IF we got him in the 3rd round that sounds about right but where he was picked is just a little too high for a guy that I’m not sure has the speed for the edge rush or the size to plug the middle. Great effort, great man, great leader, but just not sure where he is best suited to play and produce. It see him as a better version of Bejorn Werner. Again for you folks wanting to rip me a BETTER version of B. Werner.

  39. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    @ Elio – No!

  40. Mo_Downs Says:

    The TEAM will be better this season.
    The pass rush will be better.
    The OL play will be better.
    The RB’s will be better…even without Joe (Madden 19 Cover) Mixon.
    The secondary will be better because the pass rush will be better.

    Coaching will be better. This is the “take a breath” part of their contracts.
    And, Jameis and “AIR Koetter” will be AMAZING (Jaboo needs a new word).

    Madden NFL is “THE TRUTH”.

    GO BUCS…!!!

  41. I'm a Tandyman Bucs Fan Says:

    Start Tandy and let the Bucs start the season where it ended last year….. A bunch of wins and like him or not he was part of the reason we won those games with his play. Can’t understand why everyone is geeking on the Safety position. I’m telling you and I do know what I’m talking about!!!! Keith Tandy is a winner… If it works don’t mess with it is what my Pops taught me. Just hope the Coaching staff does the right thing because Tandy has earned his right to be a star in this league!!!!

  42. unbelievable Says:

    Damn, conte’s girl ain’t too shabby.

  43. Call Me W Says:

    Joe I agree with a lot of what you say, but when you say we DID NOT have issues at safety it makes me think you are part of the Watergate gang lol

  44. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    Are there any vet DE’s pegged for being cut due to the draft / cap casualties?

  45. NFLNut Says:

    The biggest weakness on this team is DEPTH at the CB position, period … if Grimes or Hargreaves gets injured, ouch!

    We are DEEP at safety, DL, DT, OL, WR and RB … the corner group is extremely top heavy though and some depth would be nice …

  46. Devildogbuc Says:

    Semper fi bucsfanman

  47. Cobraboy Says:

    “Who are these guys, and why are they following us?”

  48. DB55 Says:

    If there is a hole in the roster, it is the rushing attack
    Yet, look at who got drafted immediately after Evans (S) in the 2nd round.

  49. NFLNut Says:

    ^ Nope.

    RB: Doug, McNichols, Quizz, Sims and Barber … that is a deep and talented corps right there that most teams would love to have.

    CB: Old man Grimes, young pup Hargreaves, junk, junk, junk … that is a weak corps right there that would scare most teams to death!

  50. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    While I agree with everyone here that we could use more DL rush I’m not sure we won’t be getting to the QB.

    If Smitty opens up the D like Koetter does the O it could get interesting. Who knows how many sack LVD has in him. I see a lot of Ronde in VHG…who knows if VHG could contribute a couple blitzing?

    I’m not sure we have a superstar pass rusher but I do believe our overall numbers and results will improve.

  51. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Yes we have plenty of defensive ends on this team. One was a 2nd round pick that was somewhat of a steal, we have a veteran that is decent and a guy that is returning that can definitely get pressure. I don’t think DE was much of a need at all. I think that guys are just repeating a narrative without thinking it through. I think DE was probably the least important position to draft for outside of an absolute stud like G Myles.

  52. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    And the draft kind of proved this out when not a single DE was selected.

  53. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    I’m sorry but that was kind of spot on. Conte sucks, Tandy was a 1 month wonder, Wilcox and Evans will be our starters. But Evans has a lot to learn he is a rookie. That means Conte will play more which hurts us. He is One of the worst covering safeties in the entire league.

    Evans is going to be great and Wilcox is a thumper so we will be fine but we will have some growing pains with new guys learning each others tendencies and how they like to do things.

    Moving Smith back to CB will also help our secondary. Smith and Jude will give us 2 good guys to have in the 3-5 spots.

    Last, I’m expecting big things from VHIII this season. Its going to be his coming out season where he puts his name on the big stage.

  54. I'm a Tandyman Bucs Fan Says:

    Funky Monkey…. Got any money to bet….Tandy will start and Competion between Wilcox Conte and Evans will decide the other starter. One month starter was a Dandy wasn’t he? You will see when the smoke clears. Don’t understand why with the way Tandy played that your not convinced he’s the real deal. But that’s ok as you will get on his band wagon when he plays all season like he ended last season and you can call him a one season wonder…..