Are They Enough?

February 25th, 2019

Can Justin Evans improve and carry Bucs’ secondary? (Photo courtesy of

Thanks to injuries, the Bucs went through a lot of safeties last year.

Will two from last season be enough to take on the NFL for 2019? Joe isn’t sure and is leaning toward no. But Scott Smith of tries to make a case that two returning safeties just might be sufficient for 2019.

The Buccaneers’ pass defense was not strong in 2018, and the safeties are not absolved from that, but there were some reasons for optimism. [Justin] Evans made some big plays early in the season and [Jordan] Whitehead came into his own late in the campaign. [Andrew] Adams, a third-year player cut by the Giants in September, was snapped up by the Bucs for depth after the Conte injury but ended up leading the team in interceptions and proving he could play at several spots on the field.

The Buccaneers need better results on defense in 2019 and hope that a new coaching staff led by head man Bruce Arians and Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles can make a big difference. There will be changes in personnel, too, and the Bucs could seek upgrades at any or all three levels of their defense. Still, there are some young and interesting pieces to work with at the safety position.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves with Andrew Adams. Sure, he had four picks to lead the Bucs  — three in one great game. No other Bucs player had more than one, which is pretty sad.The Bucs ranked No. 27 in pass defense last year, which to be honest represents a helluva turnaround given how truly awful they were under defensive coordinator Mike Smith until he was run after five games.

Justin Evans, at this stage of his career, is just a guy. He’s OK at times, makes some splash players, but that’s about it.

Jordan Whitehead hits and Joe loves that. And Joe is pretty sure fan favorite Chris Conte has been stiff-armed off the roster.

Could the Bucs use an upgrade at safety with a free agent stud? Yes.

30 Responses to “Are They Enough?”

  1. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    I certainly hope that Andrew Adams can open with the team this season. He was actually a bright spot in our defensive backfield when he got his opportunity.

    It’s a shame that the last (and lasting) image we have of Conte is what it is. Haha. It looked ugly, but at least he was trying to be aggressive. The lasting image we have of Miko’s spouse is a season’s worth of flinching every time he saw a running back or tight end with the ball.

  2. OneBuc55 Says:

    Bring in the Honey Badger…

    Id love to have Landon Collins in Tampa but he’ll probably be to expensive; and more than likely, there’s no way he excapes a franchise tag…

  3. tbbucs3 Says:

    This defense needs size, they are too small at Linebacker and in the secondary. Its not a good thing when you go to the games and Chris Conte stands out as the biggest one out there. Adams brought size but hes gonna be a rotational player. Landon Collins would be nice.

  4. Bird Says:

    I love me some Jordan Whitehead. Hope Bowles turns him into a one man wrecking crew.

    This is make or break year for Justin Evans although he hasn’t done enough for another team to whoo him away next year for big money.

    He has been just mediocre. A common theme on this team. We can’t award middle of the pack anymore for big bucks. Middle of the pack depth is fine.

  5. AlteredEgo Says:

    All 3 of those rookie DB’s played well considering everything….they will only get better…all that playing time will pay huge dividends this year….

  6. I'm a Tandyman Bucs Fan Says:

    Told you guys 3 years ago Evans wasn’t the answer. Better resign Tandy while he’s got about 3 good years left. He always was the better safety of all of Smith’s scrubs but was to stupid to play him and look where it got him.

  7. Joe Says:

    Better resign Tandy while he’s got about 3 good years left.

    Keith Tandy, who couldn’t secure a starting spot on the NFL’s worst defense with the Bucs, is currently unemployed not quite a year after the Bucs released him. Let’s not pretend he’s the next Larry Wilson and just overlooked.

  8. Easy Says:

    Justin Evans reminds me of Sean Jones. Hes just out there and never makes impact plays.

  9. R.O. Says:

    You can say every team that does not have a Pro Bowlwer or All Pro at Safety can use an “Upgrade”. Also need to take in to account the bad secondary coaching these players have received. Do they all have a lot to prove.. Yeap. Same as all these new coaches. They will sign a vet safety but it will not be a Splash. If they sign Tyrann Mathieu he is playing inside. He can’t hold up at safety.

  10. tnew Says:

    I have seen some reports that the Bucs are already considering a position change from MJ Stewart. That could be another Safety. I hated Evans as a draft pick but he has done things to prove me wrong. Not good enough in the run game, but lets see what he will do out of the Mike Smith defense. MJ on the other hand, shows a true desire and willingness to compete but also lack of the raw skillset to do at this level. Still shocked he chose Stewart over Oliver who looked to be coming on late as his snaps started picking up.

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Look for the Bucs to sign DJ Swearinger…….he’s affordable…..the Honey Badger isn’t……

  12. Justafan Says:

    Licht hasn’t had a clue about drafting for the secondary, hopefully Bowles and Arians can help in that regard. I dont think anyone in the secondary should feel secure about their jobs.

  13. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    Bowles rus more of like a 3-3 defense as do many in the NFL this year so it will be interesting to see what he comes up with this year as he is very flexible with his defense. Obv they need to stop the run against the teams in the NFC South as they all have an excellent running attack but then they all also have better talent at WR than the bucs do on the back end, so bowles and BA got some work to do in the facility and hopefully they are not hungover on too many days

  14. Jonzey Says:

    Evans is great all we need is the Honey Badger next to him. resign Alexander, get a top DE in the 1st or White from LSU (beast) the fastest LB in college. David-Alexander-White best in NFL.

  15. SOEbuc Says:

    It wasn’t just Adams three picks against Carolina. He played a good backup role as safety. He has good range. Better not Robert McClain his a$$ and get rid of the best backup secondary player. Other than that, the entire secondary depth needs to be take a hike. Tired of this Javion Elliot, Isaiah Johnson type sh!tty players. We need cheap depth that has started games to rotate in if a starter goes down.

  16. AlteredEgo Says:

    Folks the whole of the defense did not work together….be very careful picking out individual pieces and drawing conclusions ….3 rooks tossed out on the field on an overall poor defense….be very careful

  17. 813bucboi Says:

    the secondary is decent….bowles will coach them up…..the front 7 needs work….thats what worries me the most…


  18. Jonzey Says:

    You are right SOEbuc we do need depth

  19. Pickgrin Says:

    Mathieu, J. Evans, Whitehead, Adams

    That’s a very talented group of young safeties!

    Believe it or not, Mathieu is only 26 years old…

    Honey Badger will make a HUGE difference on the field and in the locker room.

    I know I’m jumping the gun a little – but I’m almost positive Mathieu will be announced as a Buccaneer shortly after free agency officially commences.

  20. SammyRebel Says:


  21. Kobe Faker Says:

    “Brent Grimes can tackle better than Justin Evans…hell, miko is better

    Jason Gump is the worst GM in the NFL

    we would rather have Derwin James than our complete 2018 draft class

    total joke

    we are going to build a playoff team with this clown picking the draft?

    just blame JW”

    Kobe Faker

  22. TOM Says:

    Don’t think safety is a top priority. Mathieu would be a nice luxury. Evans, Whitehead & Adams should be adequate. Don’t get me wrong would love to see Mathieu a Buc.

  23. Jonzey Says:

    Pickgrin you are right on. I love that group with the Honey Badger

  24. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Hard to evaluate Evans or these young CBs when they were playing so far off the ball most the time.

    Evans tackling has been bad at times but honestly haven’t seen that as much of a problem. He’s still the rangiest coverage secondary player we have and has that baseball outfielder coverage type ability IMO.

    PFF graded him as above average last year and top 50 S. Considering our pass D overall / that there are at least 64 starting safeties and maybe 80+ with significant play time that’s somehow better than I’d have thought.

    Our LBs were the worst in terms of missed tackles/angles IMO.

  25. Trench War Says:

    Mathieu, Whitehead, Evans, Johnson, and Adams …not bad considering the money.

    I’m surprised Isaiah Johnson got no honorable mention.

    Both Whitehead and Johnson were 2nd and 3rd in total tackles behind L. David

  26. Pickgrin Says:

    Trench – I actually thought about mentioning Johnson – as a likely member of the practice squad to start the season – an honorable mention of sorts…. But didn’t.

    Johnson, if he sticks around needs a bit more development time IMO. He wasn’t ready for prime time last year when he got playing time in real games. That was pretty obvious to me. Doesn’t mean he can’t improve. He likely will. They all will.

    I’m excited about the futures for both Justin Evans and Jordan Whitehead. I like those two for starters coming into year’s 3 and 2 respectively if Licht decides to “stand pat” at Safety for monetary reasons…

    Honey Badger would be an instant upgrade to most any team’s backfield though. He’s smart, tough, fast, great coverage skills – the whole pkg for what you want in a modern day NFL safety.

    Mathieu has a history with BA and with Bowles – he knows the defense well – he would be an invaluable asset as a “coach on the field” for these younger safeties. It just makes too much sense. Go get him Jason Licht.

  27. TexBuc Says:

    With limited cap space and draft capital would rather spend on the front seven and OL.

  28. uckinator Says:

    From the ’85 Bears, the front 7 are the most important. With their QB getting “happy feet” through blitzes and miss direction coverages, the back 4 just gobble up the interceptions. Don’t care if you run a 3-4 or a 4-3, BLITZE BLITZE BLITZE ! DLs and LBs are the most important positions on your defense.

  29. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Larry Wilson…

  30. Jonathan Lipnicki Says:

    Bustin’ Evans has a couple of flash plays…picked off an errant Tom Brady pass and returned a fumble for a td vs the Saints in last seasons opener. Beyond these plays…I’ve seen many o’ missed tackles and some missed games due to injuries. Licht Weight has been the NFC South’s ( other than the Bucs of course ) favorite talent evaluator.