Confidence Problem For Hargreaves; Ex-Bucs Coach Weighs In On Hargreaves & Other Bucs

May 4th, 2018

Good news & bad

A former Buccaneers defensive coordinator and a renowned defensive backs guru had plenty to say about the Bucs’ recent draft and shared his inside track to the inner workings of the team yesterday.

Of course, Joe was listening.

The man of the hour was Doug Graber, who ran the Bucs defense for three seasons (1985-1987) before becoming a head coach of Rutgers and in NFL Europe, where he won a World Bowl title. He later coached defensive backs for the Jets under Herm Edwards.

Graber, 73, now spends a chunk of his time training defensive players during their pre-draft process in Pensacola.

Graber hopped on WDAE-AM 620 last night and said he’s still a big Bucs fan and talks often to one of his former players, current Bucs defensive backs coach Jon Hoke.

With that in mind, Graber said Vernon Hargreaves was a guy he coached two years ago and he believes confidence is what’s afflicting Hargreaves now.

“The one thing at playing corner, buddy, you better have a short memory. He had a few bad experiences,” Graber said of Hargreaves. “In talking to Coach Hoke about him, you know, when he came back and was playing in the slot, he played great. Very good.

“He’s got a lot of talent; he’s very explosive, and he’s smart. … So, you know, hopefully get over that [confidence] glitch and he’ll come back and be the player he should be this year.”

Fingers crossed, Bucs fans.

Some more nuggets from Graber, who worked with Bucs second-round rookie cornerback Carlton Davis this offseason, as well as Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (drafted No. 11 overall by Miami), and Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith last year, along with safety Justin Evans.

*On Davis, Graber said he’s big, physical and “with a lot of skill,” and likely better at press coverage than off-coverage. Graber clarified to say he can’t tell how guys will really play when the whistle blows, but he can evaluate smarts, work ethic and physical traits, and Davis hits the marks.

*On Fitzpatrick was a late arrival to the pre-draft Pensacola camp and walked in and became the leader of the group immediately, a group that included Davis. Graber said the Bucs liked Fitzpatrick and he speculated the Bucs might have drafted him over Vita Vea, if Fitzpatrick hadn’t been taking one pick earlier.

*On Beckwith, Graber said he remembered trying to slow down Beckwith, who was recovering from an ACL injury. Beckwith was unstoppable and fearless in pushing himself to get back into form.

*On Evans, Graber likes his burst, smarts and toughness but said Evans needs to learn more about when to — and when not to — take his shots because missed tackles are unacceptable.

*Lastly, Graber said he got to watch Chris Godwin train in Pensacola last season. And while Graber didn’t coach him, Graber walked away floored by Godwin’s daily training regimen. “I think that kid can be a superstar. I really do,” Graber said. “Hey, I’ll tell you what. I loved him. I watched him workout every day up in Pensacola when he came out. He’s a class act and a tough kid. I think he’ll be a hell of a player.

55 Responses to “Confidence Problem For Hargreaves; Ex-Bucs Coach Weighs In On Hargreaves & Other Bucs”

  1. blind melon Says:

    I’m liking everything about this post.

  2. johnnybuc Says:

    minkah was never going to be the pick it was between vea and derwin. licht did a sit down interview with PR basically saying those were the 2 guys they keyed in on after the top 3 (nelson,chubb,barkley)

  3. AlteredEgo Says:

    Yep…I suspect Fitzpatrick would have been the pick had not the Dolphins grabbed @ 11….spot on with VH3 spinning between his ears….he’ll rebound and play proud….he needs a few picks….D backfield has good rookie talent…IMO…the team will arrive mid season 2019

  4. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    The Tampa Bay Bucs are vastly improved over last year, thanks to the drafting of Jason Licht.
    Vita Vea simply makes our entire defense much better.

  5. ShutTheBucUp Says:

    Hargreaves is entering “bust ” territory

  6. passthebuc Says:

    Great article

  7. SOEbuc Says:

    Off the subject of this article, I was on looking at photos from practice. Didn’t see one pic of Jameis lined up with the starting line. Saw multiple of Fitzpatrick. One more thing to make me nervous.

  8. Trench War Says:

    Sometimes being drafted very high can put pressure on a player to perform at a high level. I feel Hargreaves confidence wavered trying so hard to live up to the billing. Let’s hope he plays lights out this year!

  9. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    HE’S A BUST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    … might as well come out and say it joe

  10. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Hopefully the competition lights a fire under him.

    We’re flexible at least either way with competition now at both key spots.

    Outside CB next to grimes: Davis/VHIII/Stewart/Smith
    Nickle CB: VHIII/Stewart/Elliot

    May the best men win. And the loser(s) will likely be valuable insurance as Grimes at 35 is no guarentee to play all 16 games.

  11. Reality_43 Says:

    I’m just NOT ready to give up on Hargreaves yet.
    I believe he has a ton of talent and confidence is the key for sure.

    You can see right through his celebration and he needs to quit thinking about being in the spotlight or he will continue to be for all the wrong reasons.

    There is still time for him to turn it around. Hoping he balls out and gets a early interception that sets him off.

    If he doesn’t make HUGE strides this year, then I feel CB and RG will be our biggest needs next draft. Unless of course injuries play a part.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Great article Joe (anything featuring Doug Graber’s analyses is always fun to read and super informative). Everyone seems to be making a big deal over VHIII lacking confidence, not being good at outside corner, etc, but I don’t see why that’s a big deal right now. Coach Hoke said that he played great in the slot. Duh … keep him there & let him be a backup outside CB. If the swagger comes back & his confidence gets restored, maybe he’ll be in a position next year to replace Grimes (if he retires).

  13. 813bucboi Says:

    once again we drafted another man press CB’s and will force him to play soft/off coverage….lol….I doesn’t make sense!!!!!…..

    VHG is a man press CB…..wonder why he played better in the slot?…because he was right at the LOS where he could get his hands on the wr….is entire UF tape he was in man press but now he’s being forced to play off…..brilliant!!!!

    Ryan smith is a man press CB that was forced to play safety….now they are forcing him to play off coverage…..he’s looked horrible because he’s been forced to play a position and technique that’s foreign to him…..he’s never played off until the nfl….great!!!!!

    davis is a man press CB with long arm and plays very physical…..but he will be forced to play soft off coverage something he didn’t do at auburn and doesn’t allow him to play to his strength……not surprised one bit!!!!!!

    MJ has and can play the slot so he wont look like a fish out of water….

    until smitty plays man press, the only CB that will look great in his scheme will be grimes…..all other CB’s are man press CB’s…..smitty is putting them in position to fail right off the bat……SMDH!!!!!


  14. 813bucboi Says:

    with the talent and depth we have now teams wont have time to sit back and scan the field…..they’ll be looking to get the ball out quick…..hitches…quick slants….

    smitty needs to change his scheme and force the CB’s to play up at the LOS…..the only CB that should be given freedom to line up everywhere he wants is grimes obviously……all other CB’s need to be right in the wr’s face… cushion….no freedom….


  15. BucEmUp Says:

    813bucboi you are 100%ON the money. I LISTENED TO this guy yesterday and he pointed out that once Vernon was moved to the slot ( which is where he was playing closer to the line and tighter coverage) he started to return to the corner they drafted him to be.

    Jason Licht threw a wrench in my hopes getting raised when he was asked if they were planning on playing more press and he just replied with” we are gonna play our guys based on their abilities”. In other words Koetter Doesn’t want to make SMITH feel butthurt so he will continue to allow him to put his corners 10 yards off and ruin every db we draft.

    But no…its.not Mike.smiths fault….the players can line up where they feel most comftorable….yeah BULLCRAP!!!! The last two years of getting burned and embarrassed will carry over into 2018 of they keep playing 10 yards soft zone….BET MONEY ON IT!!!

  16. AlteredEgo Says:

    813…smitty has had to cobble together a defensive line up and work with the leftovers as the Bucs surrounded #3 with offensive weapons….Smith finally is getting some roster attention….he knows more about schemes than you or I will ever know….I am a way over glass half full guy for the Buc defense this year…things are going to shown big improvements mixed in with rookie mistakes….this year is going to be very encouraging for the future

  17. BucEmUp Says:

    Yes Grimes knows even though zone rolls the coverage off to the safety, he runs and plays tight and doesn’t let the wr get away from him. He also usually lines up 5 to 7 yards off the los….not 10 to 12 yards.

    Mike Smith is a joke at DC. I’m not getting my hopes up, but what really blows my mind is that with the new dline (which is what Mike Smith supporters claimed was wrong with his defense) they still won’t put the blame on him when the secondary continues to get carved.

    Simple solution play tighter coverage and everything else will fall into place!!!

  18. BucEmUp Says:

    Only other thing that needs to happen…pretty critical is give Godwin more snaps. He has earned them

  19. SOEbuc Says:

    Both Stewart and VH3 gonna have to work his ass off to win that spot. They didn’t draft a slot corner in the second to sit on the bench.

  20. teacherman777 Says:

    If he hustled more and tackled harder I would respect him more.

    Also, his arms haven’t gotten stronger since year 1.

    He is not working hard to get stronger and tougher.

    Ronde after retiring “I just want to be remembered as a tough guy.”

    Ronde was also a film junkie.

    Vernon is blazing too much. 1 joint a day is fine. But only before bed.

  21. 813bucboi Says:

    I don’t want to hear, smitty gave him freedom to line up where ever…..

    if I gave my son the freedom to go to bed whatever time he wants and he continued to wake up late, be tardy for school and his grades start slipping, im not going to sit there and tell my wife and his teachers, “he has the freedom to go to bed whenever he wants”……im the parent….I tell him what to do, how to do, and when to do it!!!!!!

    same concept applies to VHG and smitty……smitty had to notice the kid was struggling… he should step in, switch things up and tell him, “look, I catch you playing 7,8,9,10yards off the ball again im sitting you on the bench…..get in the wr’s face, get your hands on him and stay in his hip pocket…the balls coming out soon….get your head around”… know…actually try to coach him up instead of moving him around….he wasn’t drafted to play in the slot…..


  22. AlteredEgo Says:

    813….what a cuckoo analogy…VG# was playing with a bad hammy…a messed up head and surrounded by defense full of holes…do you remember how much time opposing QB’s had ?

  23. 813bucboi Says:


    you got it!!!!!!….I hope for the fans and the cb’s sake smitty gets it……or like you said, nothing will change…..JPP will be baring down on a QB only to have to QB get off a quick pass because the CB’s are playing so far off…..

    tighter coverage…smaller windows….


  24. Oneilbucs Says:

    To me if you can’t play man to man then you are not a good cb.

  25. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    *Lastly, Graber said he got to watch Chris Godwin train in Pensacola last season. And while Graber didn’t coach him, Graber walked away floored by Godwin’s daily training regimen. “I think that kid can be a superstar. I really do,” Graber said. “Hey, I’ll tell you what. I loved him. I watched him workout every day up in Pensacola when he came out. He’s a class act and a tough kid. I think he’ll be a hell of a player.

    That’s why we should move DeSean Jackson, and use the additional cap space to sure up a few holes.

  26. Oneilbucs Says:

    I know pass rush can help to.

  27. Oneilbucs Says:

    I say move d. Jackson to slot or trade him he is 31 years old. Let’s get younger. Godwin should be the starter. Let him play more he dose catch the ball n run for yards after the catch that’s why I say start him at number 2 wr and Jackson to the slot.

  28. buddy Says:

    @SOEbuc- In regards to your post Jameis isn’t throwing because they have shut him down because his shoulder has been bothering him. But they won’t tell the media that. It’s known in the building but not outside

  29. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    #Repost (Concerning Godwin)

    June 2nd, 2017 at 6:25 am

    I know player comparison can get out of hand sometimes.
    Especially when using NFL Legends to validate your point.

    But the reason why I spoke about this kid at nausea before the draft. Godwin’s work ethic, attention to detail, grit (savage crack-back blocker), and overall talent; is rare This young man could be the focal point of an offense.

    • You can put outside at the “X” if Mike goes down.
    • You can put him on the move at “Z” if Jackson pulls a hamstring.
    • He could beat out Hump at the “Y.”

    By comparison look at how the Oakland Raiders use 2nd year WR Amari Cooper in their offense. They line this kid up; in multiple positions throughout the course of a game. It drives defensive coordinators nuts.

    So for sh!t in giggles lets look at the measurable of both prospects.

    1st Combine

    • HEIGHT: 6’1’
    • ARM LENGTH: 31 5/8’
    • WEIGHT: 209 LBS.
    • HANDS: 9 1/8”
    • 4O YD DASH: 4.42
    • VERT JUMP: 36 INCH
    • BROAD JUMP: 126.0 INCH
    • 3 CONE DRILL: 7.01 SEC
    • 20 YD SHUTTLE: 4.00 SEC


    • HEIGHT: 6’1’
    • ARM LENGTH: 31 1/2’
    • WEIGHT: 211 LBS.
    • HANDS: 10”
    • 40 YD DASH: 4.42 SEC
    • VERT JUMP: 33.0 INCH
    • BROAD JUMP: 120.0 INCH
    • 3 CONE DRILL: 6.71
    • 20 YD SHUTTLE: 3.98 SEC

    *Damn near Identical across the board eh?

    Now lets check out college stats for both prospects

    2nd Career College Stats)

    CHRIS GODWIN (WR) PENN ST. (Career College Stats)
    ==> PLAYS FROM SCRIMMAGE: *157 | 2435 | 15.5 | 18
    • REC: 154 | YDS: 2431 | Avg: 15.7 | TD: 18

    AMARI COOPER (WR) ALABAMA (Career College Stats)
    ==> PLAYS FROM SCRIMMAGE: *234 | 3514 | 15.0 | 31
    • REC: 228 | YDS: 3463 | Avg: 15.2 | TD: 31

    Note: The Plays from scrimmage for both players.

  30. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    Solid article Joe.

    I am not worried about VH3, what I am worried about is our DC playing our CBs 12 yards off the line. Vernon is a press corner who thrives off of it. He is an in your face machine not a zone CB.

    I honestly believe him and Davis will be our 1 and 2 after this season with hopefully MJ in the slot.

    I wanted us to draft Godwin and I’m so stoked we did last year. As soon as DJax is gone and he gets to become our #2 watch out. They can double Mike all they want cuz Godwin will smash it on the other side.

    I personally believe DJax should play more out of the slot and have Godwin and Evans on the outside. Imagine the havoc DJax could cause if only his pride wouldn’t get in the way.

  31. OneBucPerson Says:

    I don’t understand how the Bucs’ coaching staff haven’t figured this out yet, VH3 is a PRESS-MAN CORNER. Just put him at the dang line of scrimmage every play to jam a receiver and let him work, it’s literally that simple.

  32. 813bucboi Says:


    with all the knowledge smitty has about scheme, ask yourself, does it make sense to draft a man press CB and have him play off coverage?……not in my eyes….and not in many others judging by the comments…..

    that’s just like forcing Winston to run a RPO offense out of the spread and then calling him a bust……lol….he’s been a pro style QB all his life….then expect him to adjust his game to something he’s never been before at the highest level of football……that’s the definition of setting a player up for failure….

    lovie knows more about defenses than the both of us…..that doesn’t mean his defense are productive…..same with smitty…..just as everyone thought the game pasted lovie by, I think the same has happened to smitty….

    you can be optimistic and drink the koolaid that’s over flowing from your cup all you want…..I need to see it first, before I believe in smitty…..


  33. Pickgrin Says:

    “Doug Graber, who ran the Bucs defense for three seasons (1985-1987) ”

    Man – those were dark times. The Leeman Bennett years (and 1st year of Ray Perkins) I shudder at the painful memories of suffering through those games. The 1986 Buccaneers defense was literally one of the worst defenses this league has ever fielded.

  34. JimmyJack Says:

    Some battles will be fun to watch unfold in Preseason. Cappa and Vea, DE battles come to mind.

    Our battles for secondary will not be fun to watch. It will be a situation where we are scared to watch. I’ll be watching with both eyes shut.

    Did anybody notice in the draft what our division rivals did? Both us and N.O. went out and got 2 defensive lineman so Atl and Car took advantage of our young developing secondary’s and got the 2 best receivers. We shall see who wins the mismatches created from those 1st Round choices.

  35. Duke Says:

    If your defense can’t pressure, yet alone sack, a QB … can’t play press.
    Sorry Guys it’s not hard to understand this simple concept.

    If the team can produce pressure, there’s nothing to suggest that it won’t be able to, the new DB’ s will be in press . Doubtful that it will be full time, 60%-65% is probably more likely.

  36. Roy T. Buford Says:

    Need to both Hargraves and N. Spence step up and earn their draft place…I don’t give a hoot about whether a guy has a “confidence” problem in the NFL.

  37. 813bucboi Says:


    you believing in smitty is flat out cuckoo……

    if you say VHG was injured than how was his confidence lacking?…..he was injured right?……that’s why his play dipped……

    folks say Winston’s injury caused him to look lousy but not once did they say he lacked confidence……this whole thought of him lacking confidence is BS…..its scheme related…..if you cant see that after he was productive playing at the LOS in the slot, than you must be a smitty homer….

    luckily, we’ll see soon enough if its scheme or the players……if c.davis comes out looking like a fish out of water than smitty is to blame…..


  38. firethecannons Says:

    Wow this dude has good stuff, you ought to get him a column, thinking about that where is Rock Riley these days–he was good to watch too.

    But this guy knows everybody–they all end up at his place in Pensacola. good job!

  39. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:


    You are correct but that is not VH3 fault. It is the coaching staff and front office. Licht has done great things this off season and fixing our d line is 1st among them. We will be able to press more which paired with our hopeful pass rush, will lead to easier work for our DBs. Instead of trying to cover for 8-10 seconds we should be more like 3-5.

  40. Papa578 Says:

    Part of of what makes a good coach is knowing where to play your players on the field and what scheme fits the talent that you have to work with. Our current coaches have failed in this part of the game. Hargreaves is talented, play him where he’ll be the most productive. You don’t buy sour milk because you’d like to have some cottage cheese. You buy cottage cheese!
    One thing is for sure, fail this year and we’ll have new coaches next year. Say what you want about continuity, it’s winning that counts.

  41. Destinjohnny Says:

    Minkah is the real deal man.
    Like what he said about Justin.
    He will flash due to athletic ability
    But he is lacking in consistency.

  42. BucEmUp Says:

    Yep agreed, I think Realist is the only one who thinks that even with a completley new dline, added pieces to the secondary that if the defense still sucks it won’t be Mike Smith’s fault. Is he Brian baldinger under a different alias defending his brother n law? Got me. Seems like everyone is finally starting to demand some press coverage. The other 31 teams in the league have figured it out. Most Bucs fans have figured it out, now it’s just a waiting game to see if Koetter can grow a pair and tell his bff to quit screwing around, stop making excuses and trying to throw his players under the bus when really it he who can’t adapt to today’s NFL offenses, which have done a really good job adapting to the outdated scheme that lovie ran and that he continues to run. .


  43. Duke Says:


    Let’s hope so……

    I don’t blame VH3 , nor smitty to a point.
    Still Lot’s of calls for press man, same thing all year long. Same people mostly still continue…to blame smitty or mention VH3 is a cover corner………If you can’t see what just happened to the d. and reverse think it , it should be self evident that this isn’t going to be the same defense as last yr.

  44. Buccaneer scotty Says:

    It’s only been 2yrs ! I ‘m so happy not to know must of you people your so depressing! Your negativity is very sad and I feel for anybody who even has to know you and your poor families with your sorry attitudes

  45. Topdoggie Says:

    Pickgrin remember a linebacker we drafted in 89 Brodrick Thomas? I think his third year he had 11 sacks. Then the coach decided not to blitz him anymore. Still never figured that one out.

  46. Duke Says:


    Last year I don’t believe that any corner missed a slant. If you are worried about the team’s CB playing off and not covering slants it’s not an issue at all.

  47. Patrick 1 Says:

    I have to agree with you

  48. Hodad Says:

    Licht said Vea was ranked fourth on his big board, and I believe him.

  49. Mike Johnson Says:

    Based on Hargreaves performance thus far, I would have unloaded him this year.He’s proving to be more of a liability than anything. Not quite a Bust yet. But certainly headed in that direction. I hope he’s benched if he starts that softplay..disappearing act he’s noted for. He’s in the pressure cooker this season for sure. Hope he wakes up and smells the coffee for his own sake. If not, walk him on the plank to be fed to the Gators!! We need WINS. Cold? Yes. But the ship must have hitters and Playmakers.

  50. The real JuJu Says:

    Look, as a former defensive back I can tell you this. It is impossible to cover a Wr for the amount of time the Bucs Db’s were asked to cover last year. The Bucs were dead last in the NFL for Qb pressure and obviously sacks, as a DB yes you can try and play some games with the Qb as far as where you line up, play off coverage and slide up, show press and slide back etc….. if you press the majority of the time with no pressure your going to get beat deep, it you play off coverage and there’s no Qb pressure and least you can keep plays underneath you. With the big changes to the Dline this will hopefully create pressure and sacks which will now allow your Db’s to play to their strengths. I’m not defending Smith in any way. I’m just making a case for what the Bucs has to work with last year on D.

    Okay, now on Djax, Djax is not the issue. Yes Godwin is a stud no doubt , but if there was any lack of production from Djax it was due to many missed opportunities. How many times did Winston miss him on go routes? Quite a few, Yes Jameis was hurt and could have been part of the problem, Winston is a tireless worker and I hope the best for him. Godwin could easily beat out Hump for the 3rd receiver spot. I think the Bucs will vastly improve this year, I’m hoping for big things.

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  51. denjoe Says:

    great post!

  52. Bucsforever Says:

    I totally agree with both u guys. As far as more press coverage that is definitely a necessity for our defense but also. No way our corners could hold coverage that long. I do see why they lined up so 10-12 yards off the line. I still have faith in smitty an this is why. It boils down to pressuring the qb. We actually have sum guys that can cause pressure an even get sacks. An now pose a threat to the qb. Now the philosophy changes i kno we will get the press coverage we all want. An wanted all lastyear i havent gave up on smitty yet. With the talent we have aquired i eexpect us to give them hell.

  53. Bucsforever Says:

    I want us to blitz a little more. An start run defensive plays where we disguise our blitzs instead of the mordern u see me coming blitz nothing wrong with overloading the A gap every once in a while but the. Um only blitzing one man an u kno its me cuz um running bak an forth trying get a good head start is uuseless he beats his man of coarse. But element of suprise will give us the slite edge.

  54. Bucsforever Says:

    I love the bucs i have high expectations this year meaning playoffs. But as far as how we have brought new talent to the team. Praise the gm jason he is a genius. An i kno we will see playoffs this year even with the 4th toughest sch in the nfl. Doesnt matter no excuses. As far as our offense goes. Defenses are afraid of us been like dat since we drafted mike evans. Todd monkin needs to turn up the heat. Less conservative. More pressure throw on first down keep the defense on their heels. I dont have to tell u this u kno it well stop holdin us back an lets win sum football games #GOBUCS

  55. Bucsforever Says:

    #VH3 will be fine trust ya instincts i watch u play. I acutally have seen u in a games ball is coming your way an u know its coming u see it an u kno it. But no reaction to the ball if u kno its coming go take that ball for us. Much love