Tougher Job, Same Expectations

August 26th, 2020

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For years, perhaps decades, the Bucs have been trying to corner the market. Their long search may be over.

Through the draft and free agency, Tampa Bay decision-makers looked in vain for the next Ronde Barber. Even the next Brian Kelly would do nicely.

In their fruitless quest, the Bucs traded for Darrelle Revis, signed Alterraun Verner and drafted Vernon Hargreaves.

Mistake, mistake … big mistake.

Brent Grimes had two decent seasons at corner, but M.J. Stewart was a flop and Ryan Smith is relegated to special teams, where he excels.

Suddenly, there is hope in Tampa at one of football’s most demanding positions.

Carlton Davis expects to be the Bucs’ No. 1 corner

Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting are young, aggressive and teeming with promise. They played well down the stretch in 2019 and have been sharpening their skills by practicing against Tom Brady every day.

What are some common characteristics of standout corners? Long arms and short memories.

No matter how good you are, you’re going to get beat, so fuhgeddaboudit.

Receivers know where they’re going — corners must react. The playing rules are stacked against them and every breakdown is obvious for coaches and fans to lament.

Yes, they’re on an island. Cutthroat Island.

“That’s just a well-known thing,” Davis says. “Playing corner is a tough job. We know that.”

Stacked Deck

It’s gotten considerably tougher because the NFL Competition Committee keeps thinking up new ways to free receivers and penalize physical cornerback play.

Check out these league numbers.

NFL Stats A Decade Apart   2009            2019
QB completion percentage           60.9              63.5
Team passing yards/game          218.5              235
Pass attempts/season                   532                557
TD passes/team                               22                  25
Avg. interceptions/team              16.4                12.8

As you can see, clubs are throwing more and seeing fewer passes picked off. Tampa Bay’s tantalizing trio is out to reverse that trend.

Buc cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross earned two Pro Bowl berths and posted 38 interceptions during a 14-year career at corner. He’s proud of the work and dedication shown by his group after the Bucs ranked 30th in passing yards allowed last season.

“You have a lot more passing involved in the game right now,” Ross says. “A lot more spread formations, teams have a better way of exploiting your weakest guy out there. You just have to be ready at all times for everything.”

Dean and Davis got their hands on a lot of footballs in 2019, especially during the final six games, yet they combined for only three picks. Dean estimates he should have had at least five interceptions instead of two — finishing one theft behind team leader Murphy-Bunting.

“Playing cornerback in the NFL can be the most physically challenging task in professional sports,” says ESPN analyst Domonique Foxworth, a former corner for the Broncos and Ravens. “Cornerbacks never come off the field. They chase around receivers who shuttle in and out of the game, getting rest. Corners are expected to prevail, despite biased rules and referees.”

No slack from Todd Bowles

Former NFL safety Todd Bowles isn’t cutting Buc defensive backs any slack just because they have a tough job. They have to be on it from the start because Dean, Davis and Murphy-Bunting open in the Superdome against the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. Michael Thomas, who just shattered the NFL single-season record with 149 receptions.

And oh by the way, Thomas has a history of torching the Bucs.

“I don’t think it’s that difficult,” Bowles says. “It’s still the same thing as back when I played. You have to understand where your help is, you have to be able to tackle, you have to be able to read routes and you have to make plays when they arise. That hasn’t changed.”

What has changed is a set of rules annually designed to favor receivers.

“It does, but within the rules, football is football,” says Bowles.

“You can’t chuck after five yards – we get that. It still comes down to covering, blocking and tackling.”

And forgetting.

Bill Currie Ford
5815 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.
Tampa, FL 33614

Ira Kaufman’s column is presented by Bill Currie Ford. Click on Ira to visit

15 Responses to “Tougher Job, Same Expectations”

  1. 813bucboi Says:

    the defense turned the corner once jpp came back….he made the pass rush better which improved the secondary….

    they improved the second half of the season so im hoping they can carry that over into this season….practicing against brady sure does help….

    as long as we dont see smitty on the side lines, the secondary will continue to develop and improve….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  2. Mike Says:

    Wait, the number of Interceptions has been going down? Smh looks like all of the work our former quarterback did to raise those numbers was for not.

  3. Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:

    I really hope these guys excel this year. It would be so awesome and un-Buc like to have probowl triplets playing corner.

  4. No Risk It No Biscuit Says:

    Arians improved Licht.

    We need to get BA a trophy this season.

    Go Bucs!!!

  5. Alanbucsfan Says:

    What has changed is a set of rules annually designed to favor receivers.

    Every team has to deal with that fact.
    What has changed for the Bucs is a healthier, more experienced and more talented roster and a QB that doesn’t turn it over.

  6. Buczilla Says:

    Good article Ira. For me, the pansy rules that the NFL has implemented and the constant stoppages will ruin the sport far sooner than any political activism on their part.

  7. SB Says:

    LOL @ the “Defense wrecked our Season” crowd!
    I just read a stat in an NFL Network video that said that the Tampa Bay Defense had the WORST starting position in 2019.
    “Things that make you go hmmmm.”

  8. SB Says:

    OH……….also the D finished 5th in the NFL in DVOA
    #1 Run D too.

  9. TheBradyBunch Says:

    Lol at Buczilla! Head trauma is no big deal right. Would love to see what a pansy you would turn into if you were out on the field with all of those pansies! What political activism are you referring too? Is there a particular race you are thinking of when say you don’t want to see them activated?

  10. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Avg. interceptions/team 16.4 12.8

    I’d like to know how many interceptions were called back due to “roughing the passer”? Perhaps that 12.8 would climb a bit.

  11. Buczilla Says:


    Dude, you are the poster child of why I left Facebook and never bothered with Twitter. Head trauma? How about getting shot at daily or risking your a$$ for another human being? These guys are blessed with the ability to do what they do. The guys that can play football at a high level are rare AF and they are paid accordingly. There are no free lunches man and the game is being ruined by all of the yes, pansy rules. Head trauma and the myriad other injuries both short and long term are part of the deal. Look man, I’d give my left nut to be able to play football at a high level (too old now, but just saying).

    Which particular race was I thinking of? Well, technically, I’m Hispanic, Cuban specifically, and 60% of my relatives would be considered African American if given a cursory view.

    Activated? I never mentioned that, but since you brought it up, I’ll just say that my family and I (well most of em anyway, always an oddball here and there), are not “activated” in the slightest. I’ve had about zero good encounters with law enforcement, but I’m not about to support the NFL’s endorsement of the BLM movement. These folks are for things that I will never get behind.

    There are legit issues with the criminal justice system (I have felt it personally, but that is a story for another day) and some much needed change looks like it’s coming due to all of the attention that has been drawn to it recently.

    Look TheBradyBunch, I’d almost gosh damn guarantee that you and I would get along just fine in person over a couple of beers (or buzz of your choice), so there is no reason to be rude to me on a gosh damn blog (best blog EVER btw). Peace.

  12. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Bowles is the right DC for this team. I like him. No BS.

  13. TheBradyBunch Says:

    My point is that when you refer to them as pansy rules you imply that making it somewhat safer for the players out there is unnecessary because they make a lot of money. Look I am an avid football fan and love the game but I also know that many of players will have life long issues because of the game. I have to admit I used to love watching John Lynch light up the slot receiver trying to make a catch over the middle. However, if a few players don’t end up with CET because of it and don’t end up like Junior Seau or Mike Webster in their 40s I am ok not seeing those types of hits. As for BLM, the actual movement, not the organization, what is so horrible about people saying that police killings of black people shouldn’t be tolerated and change needs to be made. Nobody is saying that other lives don’t matter, they simply want black lives to matter too.

  14. Mike Says:

    Then that should be the name of the movement “Black lives matter too”

  15. Buczilla Says:


    No, what I implied is what I clearly stated. The pansy rules are the ruining the sport by making it less enjoyable to watch. Money has nothing to do with it and I hope that these guys get every dollar they can. There is risk and reward in life. Nowadays players know what the risk is and if they choose not to play (as some have) because of it, then someone else will take their place.

    A lot of people have their heart in the right place when it comes to BLM and I agree (as stated above) that change is needed. However, I rarely take anything at face value, so I did some research on the organization and it’s founders. If you have read their charter and still want to support them, then that is your choice. Mine is to never support them.