Mike Smith Says Soft Coverage Is On Hargreaves

October 11th, 2017

Defensive coordinator Mike Smith pointed a finger today when talking about an issue in pass coverage.

That doesn’t happen often. 

That giant-sized cushion cornerback Vernon Hargreaves has been handing out like Halloween candy? That’s a Hargreaves call, Smith said.

Remember what former Bucs cornerback Ricky Reynolds said Sunday, that Hargreaves was playing scared? Smith was asked today about Hargreaves giving a lot of cushion because maybe he is lacking confidence.

Mike Smith didn’t dismiss that notion.

“I don’t think [the soft coverage] by design in terms of what we’re asking our players to do. We give our guys a little bit of flexibility in terms of where they fell comfortable.There’s ranges in where we would like them to line up,”Smith said. ” We don’t say, ‘hey, we want you to be right here in this specific defense.’ We do give them, because based on their skill set; you know, Brent Grimes is going to play it different than Vernon Hargreaves.

“And again, I think Vernon, he had a lot of snaps last year. I think he continues to learn. Like I said, he gets a lot of opportunities because of who we have [at cornerback] on the other side.”

Smith did praise some of Hargreaves’ work and acknowledged there’s good with his bad, continuing to emphasize Hargreaves is getting a lot of action because teams are avoiding throwing at Grimes. “You’re going to win some; you’re going to lose some,” Smith said of Hargreaves.

At this point, Joe has fingers crossed that Hargreaves gets the message pounded into him by coaches all spring and summer: Play more aggressively, which plays to your first-round talent.

Arizona presents another big test for 22-year-old Hargreaves.

55 Responses to “Mike Smith Says Soft Coverage Is On Hargreaves”

  1. LakeLand Says:

    The Bucs offense is struggling more than VH3

  2. AlteredEgo Says:

    No problem coach talk….training wheels off VH3…

  3. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Wow, so it would appear he is afraid to get beat deep, as another poster pointed out, in a previous thread.

  4. unbelievable Says:

    Can’t play scared, son. Or this league will eat you up.

    Really hope he can take the next step… It would be nice to only need to find 1 starting corner this offseason, not 2.

  5. Erik w/ Clean Athletics 'The Kwon Alexander of Bucs fans' Says:

    Best Cover Corner in the 2016 NFL draft???? Poppycock!

    He is honestly great against the run/screen game, but his ability to straight-up-athletically cover a receiver is looking like the bottom of the barrel in terms of ability.

    He needs that Vet wisdom that Rhonde and other guys like Brian Kelly acquired in a couple seasons, but it seems he’s just not there yet, mentally, which isn’t allowing him to overcome his physical limitations (pure quickness and speed).

    He needs to wise up quick, so he can start aggressively attacking the ball.

    C’mon, VH3, you’re killing us out there!!!

  6. Buc1987 Says:

    I’m not worried about a 2nd year player yet. It’s concerning that he’s all they’ve got right now though. Grimes and this little rag doll scrapper. Whoever said the other day the secondary goes to hell if Grimes goes down is correct.

    More concerned and have been for 10 plus years now about the pass rush.

    More concerned about Koetter being able to use all these “weapons”during the same game. I think he’s overloaded. I think both of them have overloaded themselves JW and Koetter. Time to simplify things.

    Like others have said. Don’t abandon the run so early Koetter, just cause you have all these “weapons”.

    More concerned about just being a Bucs fan and watching the season unfold.

  7. Erik w/ Clean Athletics 'The Kwon Alexander of Bucs fans' Says:

    *Ronde, my bad…

    Rhealist got that stupid spelling stuck in my head Lol

  8. DC_BUCS_FAN Says:

    Well Smitty if you see him playing too soft of coverage how about making an adjustment and having him move closer

  9. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I know how badly we needed a cornerback when we drafted him, but at a draft day party, some were surprised we took him so high in the draft.
    One reason for that is his speed.
    He only runs a 4.5 40
    In the Minnesota game, Diggs really exposed his lack of speed.
    There were several cornerbacks with 4.3 speed we could have taken instead, and could likely have got them w/o using our number 1 pick.
    Many of us at the draft party were hoping for a 1st round pass rusher to help out McCoy, before his career is done.

  10. 813bucboi Says:

    well, that explains it….and im happy smitty cleared that up….

    the major difference between the way VHG plays off and grimes playing off is that when the ball is hiked grimes really doesn’t back pedal until he knows slants, quick outs, quick ins are out of the question…that’s route recognition…something that comes with being a savvy vet….and he’s looking right at the qb…something you can do if you have confidence mentally and physically….

    VHG begins to back pedal at the snap of the ball(sometimes before) and keeps his eyes on the wr(which isn’t bad IF your watching his hips) which causes him to guess what route the wr is running and by then its too late…he’s beat….

    VHG has to play his game….in college he was best at playing close to the LOS and getting his hands on the wr….he has to start disrupting the wr…he’s allowing a free release and isn’t touching the wr until he catches the ball….he’ll get beat every time…

    I think smitty should instruct VHG to get his hands on the wr at the LOS and keep them their for at least 5 yards…hand check after 5 yards…GO BUCS!!!!!!!

  11. Wausa Says:

    It’s not going to help this year, but I think the Bucs are going to have to get another corner in the draft or free agency after this season and move VH3 to the slot corner position.

  12. Locked In Says:

    Hoping Carson Palmer doesn’t go all ‘Case Keenum’ on us.

  13. Brandon Says:

    Victim Hargreaves was picked on constantly by the Pats. It didn’t matter what formation they lined up in, where Vernon was, they always managed to successfully find him when they needed to. He played a terrible game… he’s played several terrible games this season. Anybody that doesn’t think his play is a problem hasn’t been paying attention. He’s straight up trash right now.

  14. BucsFan90 Says:

    Taking a short, slow corner over Tunsil is starting to look almost as bad as the reach for Aguayo. Licht is comically overrated

  15. Pick6 Says:

    with grimes all the way back and their full complement of safeties, they need to give VH3 help over the top and tell him to play off the WRs less

  16. Kobe Faker Says:

    “I cant wait to see VH3’s celebration when the Arizona receiver flys past him by 5 steps and drops a easy TD pass when it hits his hands”

    Kobe Faker


  17. JJBucFan Says:

    1987 I agree with the abandoning the run but also can use short passes and dump offs to the RBs as our run game. See KC and NE for that as well as others.

  18. Pickgrin Says:

    Way to support a young talented player when he’s been thrown into the fire out of necessity and is not playing his best ball early in his 2nd year Bucs “fans”.

    Hargreaves will be OK. We will see improvement this year.

  19. Wausa Says:

    Licht has without a doubt made some mistakes but overall he has done an outstanding job. Even if VH3 ends up being a bust Licht has more than made up for it at other positions that he has drafted extremely well.

    I think people forget that The Bucs were the worst team in the NFL just three years ago. Since then the Bucs have gone 17-19 and over the last 12 games the Bucs are 8-4

    MY biggest issue with Licht is the Bucs had several glaring holes that were not addressed this offseason that were very evident to most:
    Running Back, Edge Rusher and depth at corner. The kicking situation has been an enormous problem but I think it was also some bad luck.

    The Bucs desperately needed help at pass rusher and running back and did nothing at either position while also not getting any help in free agency.

  20. D-Rome Says:

    Good story. Thanks Joe.

  21. REAL Says:

    VHG will get better I believe he can become a good or even great corner he needs a confidence boost hope this game is it for him hope him getting beat at times doesn’t mess with his head it’s football you can’t win them all but you shouldn’t lose them all either lol I think he should go back to what got him to the pros GO BUCS

  22. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    10 year left tackle, laremy tunsil was available and the crafty licht passed due to the gas mask bong and went with the average corner…as uf gator watched hargreaves and the other UF corners over the years, and aside from quincy wilson theey all have been helped by great DL and safety play

  23. MarineBucsFan Says:

    Hargreaves is a smart player with great instincts and ball skills. IMO, he lacks athleticism and key measurable (height, weight, and speed which are things he cant do much about) to be a great outside corner. With that said, I agree with the crowd that thinks he is a nickel corner.

    If indeed that is true, then we need a FA corner and to draft a corner next year.

    But really guys, lets focus on the now. Hargreaves is serviceable and the defense is playing well. We have a playoff team RIGHT NOW!!! Go Bucs

  24. mike10 Says:

    I watched this presser, and when I heard Mike Smith say that, my jaw dropped! I couldn’t believe he actually said the soft coverage was vh3’s choice…

    Well there is no more uncertainty… VHS better start playing w more confidence.

  25. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Mike Smith is making EXCUSES. Does he not know the responsibilities of a coach? It’s to make IN game adjustments, not let players do whatever they want if it’s hurting the team.

    If he has an issue with VH3 playing so far off , then he should’ve addressed in the game, not 1 week after the game. That’s a red flag of lack of management over the team by both Mike Smith and Dirk. Poor in game management is a familiar trait of the Lovie smith regime.

    Sorry, Mike Smith does not get a free pass on this one.

  26. Duke Says:


    I don’t disagree with your observations of Har looking slow. Personally, I didn’t like the pick at the time, don’t now, hoping I like it in the future.
    My point is that if you didn’t like the pick because of the 4.5 vs 4.3 it’s not the reason that He’s not playing well.

    First, a 4.3 guy at CB is not someone who is available in every round. In fact, 1 per draft is more the norm than the exception. Second, a 4.3 translates 100% to the field in you’re talking receivers. Corners need to be fast, but that’s not the type of speed measured in a 40. I’ve seen a guy who is the fastest kid on the team in the 40, at corner He’s slow because He cant turn well

    BTW, 4.5 -4.3=.2 obviously. That margin is half the time it takes an avg adult to blink. What you’re thinking is the gap is huge when it’s not and more importantly can be easily remedied by playing a yard away.

    Point is, if Har is a legit 4.5, I don’t believe He is, speed isn’t the best answer to the question of what is his malfunction.

  27. Capt.Tim Says:

    As I posted earlier
    NO coach is ever gonna tell a CB” line up 10 yards of the reciever, and give up 7 yard passes when ever they want! Also, on 2nd and 25, give up a 19 yard reception!”

    Hagreaves is small and Slow. You can live with one. Not both.

    Hope Im wrong about him. I really do.
    But Im not.

    Eli said they were targeting him.
    You never hear NFL players call each other out like that. Brady threw at him 6 times, completed all 6 passes.
    Reynolds is right.
    “He cant do any worse”.

    Start Ryan Smith. Bigger, Faster, and playing better

  28. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Hey Mike Smith, you are the coach. If VHIII chooses to give too much cushion you need to tell him to stop. If you are not going to correct something that he is obviously failing at why are you getting paid. That would be like a sales manager telling upper management that he gives his salesman without a sale flexibility to use his own approach. Upper management would say WTF are you going to do about. Smith’s response to that is absurd when he has a 1st round pick flailing around out there. Coach him up!

  29. Bucsfanman Says:

    I often glance right over Kobe’s posts but I have said that to a few people.
    “Why is he celebrating a WR dropping the ball that he’s covering when he would’ve been burnt like toast had the WR not dropped it?”

    It’s like Gholston beating his chest after making a tackle 3 yards downfield. You failed. He got 3 yards. Tackle him BEHIND the LOS then beat your chest!

    I’m concerned with VHIII’s play right now.

  30. Tbbucs3 Says:

    If a quarterback is only throwing screens and checkdowns, is a good coach going say “that’s ok, I’ll let him keep doing that because that’s what he’s comfortable with” .

    That’s a sign of a soft and undisciplined coaching staff. It reflects in our offense too. We are too afraid to turn throw interceptions to the point where is affects our passing attack. We are running a scarred offense out there, and it starts for the first 10plays of the game, they are all under center, either run plays or dinky pass plays. How is that gonna set a tempo for the rest of the game and getting Jameis in a rhythm? It’s not. All it tells the defense is that the offense is scared of them and that gives the opposing teams defense confidence from the very start of the game. Play calling has been a joke. We only start to open things up once get down by a couple scores. We have to start aggressive and finish aggressive. That’s when the Bucs offense and Jameis are at its best. Good offenses in the NFL all play with an aggressive and fearless approach. Even they do throw an interception they bounce right back with the same approach. We not going to win unless Dirk wants to change his approach to games. We need to build a consistent intermediate passing game and find a way to get Djacks involved.

  31. Capt. Blighe Says:

    Thank you smitty. And to all you guys who have been saying. “You don’t know football, The scheme is why he plays off. Buc off. The problem with VH3 is he doesn’t trust his footspeed. And for good reason he doesn’t have the suddenness to play man. An average zone corner is the best he will be and it’s not going to get better. Bulk up and try safety maybe.

  32. Greg Says:

    If he keeps giving a 20 yard cushion he needs to get off the field

  33. jerseybuc Says:

    Watched him since we drafted him and I am convinced he is a nickel, not an elite outside corner. Too interested in wagging his fingers too. He will be targeted until he proves he shouldn’t be. I hope he gets better but I think we are seeing what he is-an average NFL DB.

  34. Capt.Tim Says:

    The way hes playing,
    He cant play nickel,
    Because hes not worth a Nickel!

    I hope he improves. I really do.
    But dont be surprised to see McClain or Smith taking over that outside CB spot.

    When your Coach calls you out like Smith did Hargreaves- you are pretty much done.

  35. LakeLand Says:

    Jason Licht isn’t worth a nickel for wasting the 11th pick on VH3. Licht is the worst GM in the NFL, when it come to drafting players.

  36. DoNUTS Says:

    I agree Coach Smith is playing mind games with VH3. I also think it is a mistake to treat him the same as Grimes when coaching up the CBs. Grimes is a Pro bowler and has earned the right to make some decisions based on his knowledge. I made note of that nuance in his statement on VH3.

    VH3 needs to be told this is where you should be. They need to take away his freedom of decision until he can show he can manage that aspect of the game. At this point, he is guessing on where to be on a certain coverage and its getting him toasted. He is thinking way too much.

    I enjoy Ira K pods a lot but he is nuts thinking this team is about to go on a 5 game win streak. How about we get them to get 5 first downs in a row then worry about the game streaks. I dont see this team beating either the @Bills or Carolina. We just are not that good at the moment and there is no switch.

  37. Defense Rules Says:

    JerseyBuc, I’m also convinced VHIII would do much better as a nickel CB. He doesn’t appear to have the quickness or recovery speed to play outside against some of the better WRs. Also convinced that being ‘picked on’ play after play has affected his psyche … playing opposite an All-Pro like Brent Grimes who every QB tries to stay away from might do that to anyone. Personally I think he’d do better playing much more man-to-man with extra help over the top but I’m sure they’ve probably tried that already. His replacement isn’t on the roster right now so VHIII is gonna have to suck it up & find a technique that works best for him, because what he’s doing now isn’t working.

  38. Pistol Pete Says:

    Well….McClain had a good first game pick 6.
    Palmer throwing 40+ times a game….really a matchup nightmare coming for VH3.
    I’m a checkers player, not chess…but maybe move him to nickel and let McClain have a shot at CB2 for the near term?
    Things hurting us that have led to the bullying of VH3:
    Grimes is still elite, no one throwing his way.
    No consistent pressure on opposing QB’s, plenty of time to read and pick on him.
    Liability at the Safety position, could lead to low confidence (playing soft not to get beaten by the deep ball) he has no reliable help over the top.
    He will improve but could be a move the nickel while we develop a pass rush, get Ward healthy may just help him break out of the funk he’s clearly in.

  39. 813bucboi Says:

    @capt. tim….

    im not ready to give up on him at cb but safety may not be a bad option….don’t think he’s suited for nickel…the best part of his game is that he doesn’t miss too many tackles…he’s pretty solid in that regard…GO BUCS!!!!

  40. Pryda...sec 147 Says:

    I think he will get better soon enough

  41. gilhealy Says:

    I think Evans is gonna keep an eye on VH’s area. That kid is gonna make a difference. Him and TJ could be a nice combo.

  42. BigMacAttack Says:

    Vern will have 2 picks on Sunday.

  43. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Surely, Arizona will target him, like the rest of the NFL has, since the Minnesota game. Larry Fitzgerald getting covered by Hargreaves one on one is a scary thought, especially with Carson Palmer’s arm strength.

  44. David Says:

    My problem is this, when u take a big corner, he better be athletic and long. Be able yo out physical most receivers. When u take a small corner, he better be aggressive fast, quick twitch, and full of confidence. With Hargreaves, it seems as if he’s not big, not small, not fast, not quick twitch, not long, not agrressive or full of confidence!! So what is he gonna be?

  45. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    A Safety maybe ?
    Only did 15 reps in the bench press, at 210 lbs, so he is not especially strong.
    He is a coaches Son, so his football IQ is there.

  46. Reach87 Says:

    This cb has made plays for the team and will again this year. When he does I’ll be asking myself, “wait, isn’t this the guy so many buc fans called a scrub? So many posters are as flaky as can be… way too willing to throw someone or anyone off the team when we are 2-2, have better personnel, and have 12 games to play. Borders on shameful…. Go Bucs!

  47. LakeLand Says:

    VH3 is a decent corner, he’s tied for 2nd on the Bucs in tackles. His problem is similar to many of Jason Licht draft picks. He was over-drafted and the fan base has high expectations, because of his draft position.

  48. firethecannons Says:

    what happened to Javien Elliot, last year he was getting good toward end of season

    my gues is either vh3 will have a breakout day against cards (unlikely) or he will have an injury and come out somethings got to give

  49. Joe west Says:

    He is the worst pick from last years draft

  50. yrbndr Says:

    I say give VHIII more time… I am sorry but those posting on here giving recommendations on how to play corner are hilarious! Any corner in youth football is taught don’t get beat deep… It will take him a while to trust his abilities… No he doesn’t run a 4.3 corner but he has the skills to make up for that. He doesn’t have the confidence now obviously. He will be fine… yes he is too demonstrative at times because he is young… Our lack of Dline pressure does not help. Grimes is a stud but he did not start out that wayl Barber was a bust till year three. Relax…

  51. Capt. Blighe Says:

    He is a good tackler. Tell him next year to come back about 225 and play safety.

  52. Capt.Tim Says:

    Sorry brother, but that wasnt what Ronde said. He said he didnt really know what he was doing, Until year 3.
    Ronde knew how to cover a WR, one on one, from the day he got here.
    It took him 3 years to be comfortable with the technical asspects of the Defense. Tampa was playing a Cover 2. Monte Kiffens cover 2 was a complicated defense for a CB.

    Mike Smiths defense is a cover 2 Zone. It isnt complicated for the CBs. It is really cerebral for the safeties.
    Smiths defense is basically a man defense, with a rotating safety Zone behind them.

    At this level, Coaches dont tell you how big of a cushion to give. Players have played Football for many years. A CB knows how he needs to cover a WR one on one.
    Only exception is at the end of a game, in a hail mary prevent situation.

    Ricky Reynolds is a former NFL CB. And a very Good one. And still involved with the Bucs.
    For him to say” he cant get any worse”, about a fellow Buc corner
    When Eli Manning says they were targeting Hargreaves by name.
    When asked, Coach Smith straight tells the Media, that he isnt telling VH3 to play scared like that.

    Then I Dont know how many more opinions anyone could possibly need, to know that Hargreaves is hurting this defense

  53. Capt.Tim Says:

    – smiths Defense is a Cover 4 Zone, not cover 2 zone.

  54. Crockett69 Says:

    Don’t give up on him yet. Look at all of the other players in the past that our franchise has given up on yet went on to have very successful season(s) and Super Bowl rings for other teams. I truly believe VHIII is a late bloomer. He’s gonna take his licks, that’s for sure. Look at the positive fellas, even if he becomes a slot corner he has that “it” factor for a crazy spectacular game changing play. He needs to find Grimes mojo canteen and take a sip or two.

  55. David Says:


    I hope u weren’t referencing my post. I was never telling him HOW to play corner. I was simply pointing out what most teams look for in a corner. How do I know, well I talk to college scouts and assist and head coaches who come to scout my son playing HS football here in Jax. The same thing they look for in college is the same I hear M. Mayock talk about in draft coverage. So I’m not giving up on the guy, I’m just saying where is his ceiling? Hes not a prototypical corner and if his confidence is not there, how long will it be before he becomes a head case and can’t cover squat?