Down On Davis

October 30th, 2019

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Sorry, coach, it ain’t fixed. Not by a longshot.

Bruce Arians was so giddy about Tampa Bay’s young secondary after voluntary workouts this spring, he embarked on a victory lap.

“Probably secondary. I think we’re really, really good,” Arians said in early June. “With Carlton Davis and Vernon Hargreaves, we knew we had two solid corners, now we’ve got five solid corners. I think Ryan Smith came a long way. So, yeah, I think, earmarked as a problem set back in January, that’s totally fixed. Let’s knock on wood they stay healthy.”

Five months later, health isn’t an issue. Playing competent pass defense … a major issue.

Hargreaves’ struggles have been well documented on this web site, but Davis has also emerged as a huge concern. He hasn’t taken a step forward in his development under Todd Bowles. In some ways, he looked better as a rookie — working with a different coaching staff.

No one is more surprised than Davis, who was eager to play in a more aggressive scheme that was supposedly better suited to his press corner skills. In training camp, Davis couldn’t say enough about Tampa Bay’s new defensive coordinator.

Carlton Davis is underwhelming, writes Ira Kaufman

“He’s really cool,” Davis said of Bowles. “Obviously, he’s like a genius when it comes to defense, but he’s a really cool guy. He allows us to be ourselves. I feel like he’ll lean more towards us when it comes to play calling and really calls plays how it fits our strengths.”

106 Freebies

As the Bucs hit the midpoint of their season Sunday in Seattle, Davis and Hargreaves have fallen way short of the expectations of their head coach or a battered fan base. An array of backup quarterbacks have taken turns dropping dimes on the Buc secondary and Hargreaves may soon be shifted to nickel — by his own request.

Meanwhile, Davis has been flagged down more often than a highway patrolman on I-75.

Through seven games, Davis has been whistled for a team-high eight penalties, six more than any other Tampa Bay defensive back. There have been four pass interference flags, two for defensive holding and one apiece for illegal use of the hands and a facemask penalty.

That’s 106 free yards for Buc opponents, contributing to a 2-5 start.

Three of the pass interference calls have come on third down, extending drives and keeping a weary defense on the field.

“We have to be able to control what we can control, which is playing defense,” Davis said after Sunday’s setback in Nashville. “Every time we are on the field, we have to defend every blade of grass and however it shakes out is however it shakes out.”

Cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross

Buc fans shook their heads in disbelief as Davis was flagged for consecutive pass interference penalties against the Titans. On both snaps, Davis ended up with the football after apparent interceptions, only to see the takeaways nullified.

Arians unloaded on the secondary after the game. He didn’t call out Davis personally (though he did on his Tuesday radio show) but the message was clear: get your act together.

“I get paid to play ball,” Davis said when asked to respond to Arians’ public comments. “I don’t really get paid to go back and forth through talking. Obviously, we have to go back to the drawing board.”

Davis capped his frustrating afternoon by allowing A.J. Brown to get past him for Ryan Tannehill’s third TD pass of the day.

The Bucs have used five premium picks on defensive backs in the past two drafts, with little to show for that commitment. Davis isn’t the first young cornerback in this league to experience a difficult start and the Bucs would be foolish to give up on him. He has the talent and temperament to be a good NFL player, but he’s not there yet.

If the Bucs ever turn this ghost ship around, Davis could be part of the resurrection. He needs better technique. He needs more film study.

He needs more physicality.

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In short, he needs fixing.

Ira Kaufman launched his professional NFL coverage in 1979, back when Earl Campbell was the toast of the NFL and Lee Roy Selmon was defensive player of the year. After a lifetime at the Tampa Tribune, “The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports” joined in July of 2016. His twice-weekly podcast and three columns per week appear here year-round and are presented by Bill Currie Ford. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter is a regular on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio and a part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show, in addition to his other appearances. You can hang out with Ira during every Bucs road games at Buffalo Wild Wings. His schedule is linked here.

28 Responses to “Down On Davis”

  1. Lamarcus Says:

    Well are receiving corps haven’t gotten separation all camp long and thought our secondary played nice. Fooled him. Now our receivers still can’t get separation and secondary gets smoked because VH3 is no Bueno

  2. TheBucsAnthem Says:


    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Press Corners will never excel as Cover Corners

    Why the hell are we doing the same thing like Mike Smith was doing???

    This Secondary is just Mike Smith 2.0 with blitzing

    Cmon dammit….fix thus sh!t Brucie!!!!

  3. Sarasota Garey Says:

    Bucs had no salary cap room for a veteran corner this year, thats not Arians fault, its lichts. Last year we had Brent “I dont get paid enough to cover a number 1 receiver” Grimes. What is Arians supposed to say before the beginning of the year, our cornerbacks suck? Next year should be alot better. We should be able to get a #1 corner.

  4. pelbuc Says:

    Another screaming indictment of Licht’s incompetence.

  5. doctor_berto Says:

    Dont think Davis has been that bad outside of the ticky tacky pass interference penalties. Hargreaves on the other hand has been trailing his receiver by a few yards on every play and pretends to slip so he doesn’t have to tackle or has an excuse as to why he didn’t make a play.

  6. TOM Says:


  7. Pickgrin Says:

    I can’t be the only one who saw Carlton Davis playing good ball on Sunday.

    But what about the flags? Well, 3 of his 4 PI penalties this year were BS calls for starters.

    Davis is a LOT more reliable than VH3. At least he stays with his man and makes plays on the ball – Hargreaves is almost always trailing and making tackles after the catch….

    Just sayin…..

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    We all need to remember that Carlton Davis is only a 2nd year guy, and that he really hasn’t had any veteran to lean on for leadership in his position group. I think he’s done outstanding given the situation that he’s operating in.

    But yes you’re right Joe, he needs better technique so he doesn’t get tagged with so many penalties. In his defense though, several of those were BS calls by the refs, and that might’ve gotten into his head. But I think he’s playing quite physical. I mean heck he’s got 6 PDs (only Whitehead has more with 7 PDs but with more def snaps) and he also has 28 solo tackles (only VHIII with 30 & LVD with 32 have more). And without knowing how much time he’s putting in on film study, it’s a little unfair to say he needs MORE.

  9. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    @ Pickgrin

    I will admit Carlton Davis is better at man coverage……..but not by much….he’s step away from getting burned.



    VHGIII looks like child out there playing amongst grown men

    VHGIII just has very bad technique in coverage….

    Carlton Davis and VHGIII are not speed demons and the only reason Carlton Davis is playing better is because he has way better technique…..that and he he's at 6'1 versus VHGIII who's only 5'11….

    So in review VHGIII is short and slow by NFL standards…'s no wonder why he only excels in the Nickle

  10. JP_09 Says:

    It should’ve been 5 premium picks on the trenches…..

  11. FortMyersDave Says:

    um, Licht drafted him right? Chances are he is a bust…. Move on. Fire Licht! Fire Licht!

    I wish we had guys like Joe Benigno & Evan Roberts who blast the Jets week after week pound their hate of ineptitude into our fan base to wake people up and try and change things…. Of course I have to admit they have had little to work with but they are hilarious to listen to; its like the TMax od NY and any banned Joe troll who cover the Jets…. Good comic relief if you are sick of the Buc negativity and want to see how it is like in a big =market team that is as bad as the Fins…

  12. Petty Officer Buc Says:

    Davis is the only DOG in the secondary. He isn’t amazing but at least you look at him and know he belongs in the NFL. Thank god Grimes negativity didn’t rub off on him from last year. I knew I liked Carlton Davis when he got that taunting penalty last year against Carolina. This is a man who DOES NOT like being disrespected which is exactly what I want in my CB. Unfortunately, he is the only starter in our secondary because the glorified scout masquerading as a GM has refused to get a quality veteran CB to help out.

  13. Mike Johnson Says:

    Somewhere There are 3 guys named Lovie, Koetter and Smitty smiling going, there are plenty of vacancies at our exBuc fishing hole.

  14. Bucamania Says:

    Davis has potential and some grit. VH3 is worthless outside, serviceable at nickel.

  15. unbelievable Says:

    2 of those PI calls were complete dogchit, but yea the rest are on him.

    Really though we’d see him take a step forward in year 2. But sadly Davis, like the rest of the team (besides Godwin and Whitehead) look to have regressed badly under this staff.

    Doesn’t matter who we hire, this organization is a suck fest from the top down.

    Too bad we can’t fire the owners and get someone who actually knows a thing or two about football.

    Guess they’re just banking on people in London knowing as little about the game as they do, and just being happy with to have a team over the pond, even if it’s complete crap.

  16. 813bucboi Says:


    an article is written about how our other CB is getting burnt, giving up TDs, committing penalties and missing tackles and everyone makes excuses for him….lol…

    if VHG had committed 2PIs and given up 2 TDs folks would be blasting him….lol….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  17. Easy Says:

    Davis is a solid player and those 2 PI calls were ticky tacky. He’s by far the best we have.

  18. Hodad Says:

    BA thought the secondary was fixed because they were picking off Jameis’s passes left, and right in training camp. What a fool BA is, now he knows Jameis throws picks to the other team on Sundays too! That’s what Jameis does best, throw picks. It wasn’t your secondary that was fixed Bruce, it’s your QB that’s broken.

  19. NPRSageBoy Says:

    As a Buc Fan, it’s beyond frustration at this point. With Perriman’s goal line tackle of OhMyGodWhyIsHeEvenPlaying, it’s beyond comedy.

    This team is dead and deserves to be buried. Please call the Undertaker.

    RIP, Bucs

    Peace, out

  20. Petty Officer Buc Says:

    Beautifully said Hodad!

  21. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    You don’t think you have great corners when you use both a second and third round picks on more corners. If Arian thought it was fixed he must not know much about defense. I would say he was just lying to the fan base when he made those comments. As for Davis, I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t trash him. He sucks just as bad as Hargreaves IMO.

  22. JustBucNwin Says:

    Arians doubled down when he endorsed this sorry secondary!

  23. NPRSageBoy Says:

    Can’t wait to see how a legit top 5 QB like Russell Wilson carves up this pathetic DB group.

    I expect it to be ugly, indeed.

    Peace, out

  24. unbelievable Says:

    813bucboi Says:
    October 30th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Must. Defend. VH3bust. Always. In. Every. Article.


    We know 😉

  25. Dlavid Says:

    There are so many sorry aspects to this team ! Just go ahead and BLOW it up and say so ! Start the heck over from scratch ! That would be honest and buy team Glazer some loyalty and respect from a weary , bludgeoned fan base .a fan since ‘76 that would appreciate a winner one more time !

  26. D-Rome Says:

    The one takeaway (har-har) that everyone should come away with after reading this article, if you haven’t figured it out already, is to never pay attention to the off-season verbal diarrhea by the organization.

  27. 813bucboi Says:


    stop the BS, i didnt post that BS chump…..

    but this article backs up what ive been saying for 3 weeks now…..

    if only we had a QB that threw to the right team….

    JW IS A BUST!!!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  28. firethecannons Says:

    at least Davis has the balls to make plays even if he causes a damn penalty–needs to clean it up alot! what about vh3–where is he and all the other corners?