Will T.J. Ward Start Sunday?

September 4th, 2017

When will he start?

Joe is already getting Twitters from Bucs fans wondering if newly acquired safety T.J. Ward will start?

It’s a good question. And this Labor Day morning, Joe isn’t sure.

On paper, it’s a no-brainer. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler.

But think about this: Ward has never played for Mike Smith; has no idea what Smith’s defense entails. To Joe, it would be a slight reach to expect Ward to start on defense after only a week of practice.

Remember last year in the first half of the season, when Keith Tandy got badly clowned by Tavon Austin and fan favorite Chris Conte struggled? Because they didn’t yet fully grasp the defense. Once they figured it out, boom! Tandy and Conte shined.

And it isn’t like Tandy and Conte were some raw rookies. Tandy was drafted by the Buc sin 2012. Conte has been in the NFL for six seasons.

The NFL, to the surprise of quite a few, isn’t Madden where dudes are plug-in-and-play.

We might find out officially later this week when the first Bucs depth chart of the regular season is released.

22 Responses to “Will T.J. Ward Start Sunday?”

  1. bucster Says:

    It’s football – not rocket science or finding the cure for cancer. He’ll start.

  2. J mone sec 147 Says:

    He starts !

  3. Roy T. Buford Says:

    I’d expect if he is healthy (nursing a hamstring), he’ll play, but I don’t think he’ll start. The Bucs don’t need to fall behind in the season opener because of a busted coverage. I think Tandy and Conte (and even Evans) are more than ready. East Ward into it.

  4. Easy Denman Says:

    He’s not going to start. HE Will see playing time on the field if Heaney ready tho

  5. Buc50 Says:

    No way he starts. He will simply blow assignments because he doesn’t know the defense yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in on certain plays where the assignment is pretty well defined.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Does it really matter? Would Wilcox have started?…..If healthy, he will see some snaps.

  7. Joe Says:

    Does it really matter? Would Wilcox have started?

    You may be missing the point here. Wilcox had a full offseason program and training camp with the Bucs. Ward just got here.

  8. No_Bucs_Given Says:

    No way he starts. Our starters are our starters right now.

  9. Pickgrin Says:

    No way Ward starts on Sunday.

    He will likely get some snaps if he’s healthy enough but it will take a few weeks for him to catch up to the playbook and be anywhere close to as prepared as Tandy and Conte are to play 50+ snaps a game.

    Ward is the most talented and experienced Safety on the roster – but the mental aspects of understanding how all the defensive positions work together towards a common goal on any given scheme or play takes some time no matter how experienced a player is.

    If we didn’t have 2 reasonably talented and experienced starters already in place – or if 1 gets injured quickly – then yea, they would probably go ahead and throw him out there to wing it and learn on the fly. But there’s no need for that.

    Let him play 8th man in the box on obvious run downs for a few plays the 1st couple weeks and wing it a bit doing what he does best which is get to the ball and knock people around.

    I would expect to see Ward in as a starter by mid season or perhaps sooner if he picks up all the nuances of the defense quickly or obviously if either Tandy or Conte gets hurt.

    But as of today and as of this coming Sunday – Tandy and Conte as starters gives the Buccaneers the best chance to win a game. Simply because they are the most prepared.

  10. unbelievable Says:

    Perfectly said pickgrin.

    He won’t start, but he’ll play in some sub-packages and 3 safety looks.

  11. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Not knowing the defense and being in different playing shape comparing Denver climate to down here are drastically different and it will be miserable in south florida and if he has hamstring problems that won’t be best time to test it out

  12. darin Says:

    He only practiced a few days in denver, comin off torn hammy. I doubt he starts either. I dont think he even plays week 1. Hopefully he will be ready after that tho. Go Bucs

  13. rayjay1122 Says:

    I do not see any reason to throw him out there week one unless injury calls for it or if the coaches feel he is ready enough to perform at the same level as Tandy and Conte. He is a 3 time pro bowler but as Joe mentioned, he will have at least a small learning curve and for that reason I have to believe Tandy and Conte will start but I do see Ward starting sooner than later.

    Also, I already know that if he is rushed into action before he has time to adjust to a new defensive scheme that several impulsive fans will start with the bad move, he sucks, he is washed up, another poor decision by Licht, why did we take him when he was deemed expendable by Denver crap.

    If he does start it will be because the coaches feel like he gives us a better secondary. I agree with Pickgrin’s comment above.

  14. Fsuking Says:

    Idk if it’s even important if he starts, he WILL play! If he takes around 50% of the defensive snaps I’ll be happy. It’s not like he doesn’t know what a safety’s job is. You fly around and hit people without letting any of them get behind you or you CBs

  15. Fsuking Says:

    And have we all forgotten that Chris Conte is not a starting caliber NFL safety? Every time I tell someone we have a good D, they throw Chris Conte in my face and I’ve yet to find a rebuttal… until now!!!

  16. Curry-Winston Says:

    Im sorry but Chris Conte is horrible….opposing QBs purposely pick on Chris because they know he cant cover…he’s a tackler and dats it…we just signed a 3x pro bowler…maybe not this week because of him not knowing the exact language of mike smiths d…but definitely next week…year b4 last and even last year i remember watching chris and thinking how bad this team is because of him…lol if we f this up imma b so pissed…u see what tandy did last year, how many games we won just because of his safety play and how he was able to break on balls and play the position..imagine and stronger more aggressive tandy on the opposite side….yall know chris would never be able to do what tandy or TJ can, did, or will do….we really have the potential for something great….Go Bucs

  17. SOEbuc Says:

    I’ve hated Conte for a long time and think he got lucky on a few plays at the end of last year. I really think/hope Tandy got a hold of that defense and continues to play well. Ward and Evans will get playing time but it’s Conte and Tandy starting.

  18. I'm a Tandyman Bucs Fan Says:

    Tandy and Ward are going to be considered one of the best Safety tandems in the NFL by seasons end!! Wouldn’t surprise me if they are both voted to the All Pro Team. Ward could be the missing piece we need to get us over the hump!! Just wish we had a Ju Watt , Jevon’s Kearse kinda freak athlete as a Pass Rusher

  19. Defense Rules Says:

    Some fans amaze me in their criticisms of players like Conte & GMC. New DC last year & it took Keith Tandy awhile to figure out the new defense before everything clicked. Most everyone seems to be good with that. Hmmm, I wonder if the same might be said for Chris Conte, VHIII, our LB corps & even some others on the defense. Fully expect that TJ Ward will replace Conte sooner rather than later (assuming of course that he stays healthy), but also believe that Conte is a pretty good safety in his own right. Gut feel is that we’ll see a LOT of 3 safety packages with Ward, Tandy & Conte on the field. Justin Evans will end up in the mix eventually, but not until he learns how to consistently tackle.

  20. SOEbuc Says:

    D Rules I usually haven’t criticized GMC in a bad way since he’s been with us. I have criticized Conte in a bad way since he’s been with us because whether it’s a run or pass he’s always about 20 yards from the ball.

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    @SOEbuc … “whether it’s a run or pass he’s always about 20 yards from the ball.” Didn’t Conte have 2 INTs plus 1 or 2 game-saving plays last year? Not bad for ALWAYS being 20 yds from the ball.

  22. Curry-Winston Says:

    We dont need a lot of 3 safety packages.. we are having a hard enough time as it is getting to the QB…Conte sucks period no need 2 try 2 satisfy him wit that crap.. we’re trynna make the playoffs…once we’re in we will make a run and TJ could b dat missing piece