December 6th, 2018

Bucs CB gets praise.

Everybody seems to want to know why the Bucs defense has been playing better, even with dudes the team dragged out of a Walmart after the season started.

About the best answer Joe got came last week. Defensive backs coach Jon Hoke told Joe he thought it was a combination of guys finally getting more comfortable with what defensive coaches want and the Bucs, through the accident of injuries, stumbled upon a combination of players that play well together.

But the common denominator to the defense turning the corner is former Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith is gone and Mark Duffner took his place.

Sunday in the second half, the Bucs had four guys playing in the secondary and none had been starters. Yet the secondary easily had its best game of the season, picking off pouty Cam Newton four times.

One defensive back with a pick was Javien Elliott. Yesterday, Duffner seemed to indicate it was Elliott’s passion and drive that leads him to play big when the Bucs need him.

“When he’s been called on to play, he’s played pretty well,” Duffner said. “He’s a football player. I think he walked on at Florida State and when you see what he did there and then he came in here as kind of an unheralded guy. He just made noise with his actions when he came into the program.

“He’s again, a focused player. A guy that’s got ambition to be as good as he can be and he’s following through with it in terms of the preparation and the way he’s playing.”

It almost sounds to Joe as if guys like Elliott, reserve players, bring a fire and passion to the game that perhaps wasn’t there with the starters, and that excitement has translated into play on the field.

Joe knows NFL personnel guys always look for players who “love the game.” You will hear that a lot in the coming months as draft season approaches. You know, play with heart and passion.

Could that have been a missing ingredient in the Bucs defense when Smith was running the unit into the abyss?

19 Responses to ““Ambition””

  1. WyldKat Says:

    I’m amazed at how bringing Mike Smith back for this year keeps looking worse, weekly. I mean, I should have hit the rock bottom feeling about that by now.

  2. Kaptain Morgan Says:

    I think it also has to do with its toward the end of the season and most “starters” are a bit banged up, tired and not fully at 100%. When you throw in “youngry” guys who are a bit healthy, eager and still have NFL talent the difference between starters and reserves even out a bit. Keep rotating in the players who want to play and we may just yet catch lightning in a bottle.

  3. 813bucboi Says:

    i liked elliott when he first got a little action back in 2016……

    imo, the biggest difference is these guys seem to believe in their preparation thru the week of practice which shows up during the games….players arent running around looking confused…arent running 5yards behind wr’s or te’s…..

    imagine what our secondary would look like if elliott, harris, adams, ryan smith, VHG, c.davis and mj all had competent coaching…..their development would be thru the roof…..

    and folks thought licht was getting players that lacked talent…..lol….no, dirk hired a friend who couldnt coach or develop players….


  4. Iron Wombat Says:

    I think by bringing Smith back in the off season Dirk basically caused his own demise, also giving up the play calling shows he’s really not needed. Since the one game he called this year they scored 3 points.

  5. 813bucboi Says:

    i think the philly players had the best sang: hungry dogs run faster…..

    duff is hungrier than smitty and harris, adams and elliott are just as hungry as duff….they all have something to prove, which should be the mindset of the entire team…..instead their passive just like their dirk….

    KRIS RICHARD 4 HC!!!!!


  6. 813bucboi Says:


    thats a great point…..

    -he didnt call the plays when we were scoring lots of points…..
    -makes bad coaching decisions on a weekly basis…
    -hands off on defense….
    -hasnt developed winston….the main reason why he was promoted


  7. Blogtalkfootball.com Says:

    Remember when our Youngry defense played lights out for a stretch? Same thing here, guys who are hungry are more likely to do what it takes to eat.

    That’s why when I hear of players who sit out bowl games so they can concentrate on the combine, it makes me rethink that player’s passion for the game. A real football player with passion for the game can’t wait to get out there and play, even if it is a risk to his potential livelihood.

  8. Nprbuc Says:

    Smith was the cancer. Dirk should have buried the “ friendship” thing at the end of last season. It was obvious to guys sitting in the bleachers that he was not working out but not to the coach? That’s petrifying! As I have said before- if Smitty was REALLY a friend he would have resigned when all the heat came down on Dirk. Smith knew he had no answers yet he left his “ friend” hanging. Friends don’t take friends down with them. Smith knew he was toast and just didn’t care what happened to his buddy because of him. An honorable man would have said Sorry I let you down and resigned. He didn’t. Dirks biggest fault is his unwarranted loyalty. Best of luck to Duff. GO BUCS

  9. SOEbuc Says:

    What’s gonna happen when old man winter returns this week? He doesn’t have the energy or speed as these young guys and is only good playing off in a Mike Smith scheme.

  10. 813bucboi Says:


    thats a great question…..

    ive been saying grimes has been holding this secondary back since last year…..

    VHG, c.davis, ryan smith, d.harris are all man press cb’s….and duff has been letting them play at the LOS….duff has been putting the secondary in position to be successful…..

    when grimes is in the game, he’ll play off, get beat for 1st downs and scores and whiff on tackles….we’ll lose, not necessarily because of him but he’ll play a huge part in it, and folks like @realist & @bonzai will say that duff never made a difference, the defense is still trash……


  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I am convinced that we can do well with younger players with passion…..once in a while you find a FA vet…..like JPP but more often than not you end up with the TJ Wards and Swaggy Bakers of the NFL.

    I also feel that if we change coaches we need to go in the younger direction…..don’t give me some of these retreads

  12. Rayjay1122 Says:

    Perhaps the guys who started should remain starters until they don’t deserve to be any longer. While cares about how they came to be here or what name is accross their backs. The players who perform the best should start…..period.

  13. ATLBuc Says:

    I think the aggressive play of those reserves will rub off on the starters this week. The latter has been playing tentatively and cautious The former played aggressively and went after the ball as if they knew their brothers had their back if they whiffed, which happened a couple times

  14. El_Buc941 Says:

    Maybe just maybe we have found depth for the secondary. Yea Gmac man not he having a season compared to JPP but.i guarantee you every single guy on defense is giving him credit for their success.

  15. Brandon Says:

    I remember going into the offseason two seasons ago how worried many people were that Mike Smith was going to take a HC job. I for one was all for it… I’ve know forever that the guy is a fake and that the five game stretch in 2016 was a fluke. The guy CAN’T coach! He took the blueprint for the 2000 Ravens D and applied it to Jacksonville (where their D was good with studs at every level of the defense) and then to Atlanta (where they were usually in the awful to below average range) and then to Tampa (where they’ve just been awful). The Ravens had a great D in 2000…. they were especially (as in historically good) at stopping the run… but they weren’t even the best D in the league that year (the Titans were)…. and despite how GREAT they were, they feasted on a schedule of terrible offenses including playing four games in their own division against the two worst offenses statistically (by far) in the NFL that season. Those Ravens were great at stopping the run… which forced teams into passing situations where great players could perform their duties in obvious passing situations. This is a different NFL. His system is outdated and not suited for today’s NFL.

    Anyways, Smith never had a defense in Atlanta, that was his own doing and a reflection of him. I may have been the minority but I desperately wanted Smith to get a HC job after 2016 while the majority of you guys wanted him signed to a big contract to keep him in Tampa. You guys got what you wanted. Thank god, you guys also didn’t get Trent Richardson or Mo Claiborne… or Johnny Manziel… or some of the other slop you guys had wished for…. but you did get Vernon Hargreaves… how has he turned out for us?

  16. Bucs Nihilist Says:

    Kid looks quick…reminded me of #20 on that pick.

  17. JimmyJack Says:

    Joe it sounds to me that the coaching change has been able to start finally developing our Corners.

    I remember you saying last year that our staff couldn’t develope corners. It looks like you are being proven right if you ask me.

  18. JimmyJack Says:

    Now what I will love to see is how the 2 rookie corners can develope. It would be nice to see them get back onto the field this year.

    Maybe we can even see Hargreaves take a step in developement next year. Cornerback may wind up being less of a direct need then any of us thought.

  19. ATLBucsfan Says:

    Glad for the two recent wins. Let’s see what this young secondary can do against a very accurate passer in Brees. We’ll need a quick push up front and holding up the WR’s to get to Brees before he unloads it!