“The Biggest Inconsistency”

June 11th, 2021

Sean Murphy-Bunting

The GraveDiggers will not be happy with the words from a former Buccaneers star receiver.

Yes, once upon a time blocking icon Michael Clayton was the 2004 Rookie Of The Year for our beloved Bucs. Then Chucky drove him mental, his hands got slippery and he bolted for the Giants where he won a Super Bowl ring.

Clayton has been back full-time in the Tampa area for years and sometimes checks in on WDAE radio to talk all things Bucs.

He was doing just that this week on Beckles & Recher, where he shared a lot of love for the Bucs and some pointed concern.

Clayton is adamant that the Bucs have a superior mix of veterans in place to police the locker room and beat back complacency in 2021. But Clayton isn’t sure that’s enough to overcome the Bucs secondary, aka The GraveDiggers.

“One thing that I do worry about, the biggest inconsistency that I saw last year was our secondary,” Clayton said. “If those guys continue to grow and get better, we should be able to compete. But the thing is, when you are at the top of the mountain, everybody is finding antidotes and formulas to beat you. So you are the standard. And you gotta think that people are drafting, and people are building their rosters to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now. And a lot of that has to do with pass protection. So we gotta continue to get our older guys motivated on the D-line to go out and play great football week in and week out.”

Did Clayton just say “we should be able to compete” if the secondary improves? Jiminy Christmas, the Bucs just won the Super Bowl!!

Still, Clayton isn’t sold on the defensive backs collectively. “The only thing that you worry about is your weakest link,” he said.

As for Clayton’s pass rush point, he will get no argument from Joe. Those guys have to keep the heat coming if the Bucs want a February date in Los Angeles.

56 Responses to ““The Biggest Inconsistency””

  1. Chris from Gainesville Says:

    If we play hands on and physical is the key. If we play off the receivers and allow them to get off the line freely all the time is when the secondary struggles. We should be as handset as the refs allow. That’s when the d is at its best IMO.

  2. BerrickDrooks Says:

    Gravediggers is a horrible name, this isn’t a 90s hip hop group…

  3. Joe in Michigan Says:

    I had high hopes for SMB after he showed promise at the end of 2019. His 2020 season didn’t start off well, but ended well. Although I like him and hope for the best, I’m not really sure what player we’ll see in 2021. His confidence has to be good, and that’s one key factor.

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    SMB is on track to have more career receptions (interceptions) than Clayton…..but he doesn’t block as well….I’ll give Clayton that.

  5. SB~LV Says:

    Hey….I can still hear Michael Clayton , who scored his first NFL touchdown running 30 yards without his helmet on, defending #3 every Sunday morning yelling excitedly into the microphone
    and Oh yeah while it is not his fault
    he was the 5th WR draft in the first round at pick 16….simple math tells me there were top ranked positional player still on the board
    desperation pick

  6. mark2001 Says:

    Too bad all opposing receivers cant be of the caliber of Clayton. Then we would have no problems, except possibly in running plays.

  7. ModHairKen Says:

    Michael Clayton, Michael Clayton, where have I heard that name? . . . Oh yeah, George Clooney! He was great in that movie.

  8. Bird Says:


    Im dying !

  9. Medicated Pete Says:

    Michael is fantastic on the post game show when at first i didn’t like him. This whole season is gonna be a mental test for all the guys w/ their 1st taste of success. Can’t wait to see how they handle it

  10. dmatt Says:

    I’m still not sold on JDean. He seems to play timid, passive, n confused. He doesn’t know how to use his speed n height to his advantage. He’s just too soft n play with a lack of awareness.

  11. lambeau Says:

    He’s right–the Bucs secondary is vulnerable.
    Don’t forget , as Brady said this week, the playoff games (except SB) came down to 1 or 2 plays, and could have gone either way. Dean and SMB will be targets.

  12. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Clayton was great as a rookie and then he couldn’t catch a cold. I will agree the biggest concern is the secondary for this team, other than special teams.

  13. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Our secondary is gonna be as good as our pass rush allows.
    The bottom line is this – Any NFL QB can and will pick you apart, if given enough time.

  14. alton d green Says:

    100% correct! one of the most important things Tom brought with him from NE is the “do your job” mentality. Yes the corners was a weak spot last year but they improved near the end. Lets just pick up where we left off. I read a lot lately about Tom telling the team what defence the other team will play. LISTEN TO HIM!!! The man has been to 10 SB’s. If a team fools him, my hats off to them

  15. Tackleblockwin Says:

    ^ What Chris said

  16. Dewey Selmon Says:

    The pass rush makes the secondary look better.

  17. SOEbuc Says:

    I think he’s right. They were damn good, especially in the playoffs and SMB, with amazing pass rush. But does everyone remember we were seriously lacking in even coming close to the QB without the true defensive anchor Vita Vea. But I am also assuming they’ve been in the zone focused and working for this year like the rest of the team.

  18. Bellingham Bucs Fan Says:

    You lost me at “Michael Clayton.” Anxiously awaiting regular hot takes from Keith McCants and Myron Lewis to add to those from the likes of Clayton and Ian Beckles.

  19. David Says:

    Claytons career was screwed because John Gruden is the most overrated over paid coach. He’s got his good moments but the guy is clueless on how to actually run an offense. Hell, he can’t figure out how to get two good receivers on the field at the same time. Clayton was a damn good receiver and he turned him into a blocking tight end. On top of that, Gruden has no clue how to develop a quarterback.
    Clayton is right. The pass rush was inconsistent and the DBs had a lot of bad games, gave up a lot a big plays. They need to step it up, like they did in the playoffs, week in and week out

  20. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Bellingham Bucs Fan: Hahahaha, totally agree!

    I remember asking a friend who is an LSU fan about Michael Clayton after the Bucs drafted him. He said Clayton was slow by NFL WR standards, and his hands were inconsistent. That was pretty much what we saw in his NFL career.

  21. Rob Says:

    Sorry, I like Clayton’s commentary in general, but I don’t know how you comment on a team that just won the Super Bowl when you barely saw the post season as a player.

  22. geno711 Says:

    I actually feel that once back in the Tampa Bay area that Clayton has been a Buc’s troll. When you do not make the playoff’s, the Clayton troll opinions work’s well on talk shows, blogs and media.
    But now… not so much.

    This is probably the most positive article that I have seen concerning Clayton and his opinion on the Buc’s.

  23. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    The Bucs’ secondary turned the corner 3/4 into the season and excelled during the post season. They should continue to grow this year.

  24. Joe in Michigan Says:

    David: Clayton only had a catch percentage of 56.3% for his career, which is well below average. He also had 6 fumbles in his first 5 years. You say Gruden made him a blocking TE, I say he shouldn’t have been on the field altogether.

  25. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Gravediggers is a silly name for a secondary… just sayin.

  26. Tackleblockwin Says:

    Gilbert Brown was the Gravedigger.

  27. mg Says:

    The opponents will be passing quite a bit. Trailing by 3 scores at the half – tossing the pigskin will be the only option. D-backs need to be in shape.

  28. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Steven Jackson was the pick over Clayton…but I digress. SMB showed us something during the playoff stretch. I’m going to give him the benefit of any doubt until proven otherwise.

  29. K2 Says:

    I have a big problem with Clayton trying to call out other guys. He had a total of 2 catches in his time with the Giants for 19 yards total. Claytons problem was not Gruden…it was Clayton. I have a ton more confidence in SMB than Clayton.

  30. DrunkInYbor Says:

    Clayton had a amazing rookie season. I wrote up this whole article how he will be the next Jerry Rice. LOL I’m still embarrassed about to this day. I don’t know what happened to the guy. His most famous play is the John Lynch play where Lynch didn’t unload on him but tapped Mike on the back but he has gotten his knee of and ran for a touchdown. Besides to that I remember he could block well and well that’s it oh and he wore number 80I think.

  31. Pickgrin Says:

    Remember when Dom told Brooks and Hillard and a bunch of quality vets to BEAT IT – and proceeded to sign Clayton to a big, overpriced 5 year 2nd Contract – claiming his BLOCKING was elite – and then the Bucs wound up taking a big loss and CUT Clayton before the next year’s season even started….. because he sucked as a WR…..

    LOL – what a typical “rock star” move.

    That was at the very beginning of “The lost decade” (which frankly had started about 5 years earlier realistically).

    Its almost hard to remember how deep that valley was with our current view from the mountaintop….

  32. Howard Cosell Says:

    So we have Mark Dominick criticizing Licht
    and now Clayton criticizing the Grave diggers?
    (Awesome name!)

    In keeping with that spirit, Howard will criticize Joes sports writing.
    See…if Howard (GOAT commenter) ran the site he would yadda yadda etc

    Maybe we can get Spinal Tap to criticize Led Zeppelin
    and Ryan Leaf to criticize Brady?

  33. Howard Cosell Says:

    GraveDiggers are very good. The only people that should be worried about them are opposing TE’s and WR’s

  34. JimmyJack Says:

    Clayton is one of my favorite guests they put on AM radio. He descripes the game very well.

  35. Howard Cosell Says:

    Yes Clayton is an entertaining radio personality, no doubt.

    Just silly that any ex-Bucs from the shameful years would criticize anything about th2 2020 team

  36. Reddington Neck Shores Says:

    I got a signed Clayton jersey from a buddy as a gift and I was like Oh man thanks that’s awesome but inside I was like ahhh this is so cool to be a signed jersey but Clayton? That suuucks….it sucks to think something that should be cool sucks. Just like how I felt after his rookie season.

  37. August 1976 Buc Says:

    The Gravediggers works BOTH ways, they can either bury the other team or they could be the reason the Bucs Get Burried. You are only as strong as your weakest link.

    It is Refreshing that JBF will post BOTH sides of the story, good and bad, like the ‘JOES’ have with this post and many others. Whether it be this post about the Secondary or other subjects that have been posted.

    BTW the Brady Moniker has both sides of the Story about our Beloved Farm Animal, The 7 Ring GOAT Brady, lol lol

    It is on the Secondary BIGTIME to carry their own weight. They improved in the post sesason (except WFT) It imperative that the Secondary continue to step up. The Secondary is the area that opposing teams are going try and to go after and attack the most.

    All the more It is critical for the Front 7 to be Dominant even more this year with a consistent pass rush and continue shutting down the run.
    Like you have stated Joe, a pass rush is the great neutralizer, SEE.. the Mahomeboys Super Bowl LV. lol lol

    So again the Gravediggers can Bury others or be the reason the Bucs get Buried.

    With that being said, I believe the Secondary will get better and more consistent.

    With the Bucs offense dominating the Time of Possession,
    it is going to give this defense more rest this year than last.
    That is an area of improvement that no Talking head ever mentions when the subject of the offseason for the Bucs is mentioned. But the bottom line is a rested defense is a huge part of consistently winning.

    GO BIG BAD AZZ WORLD CHAMPION BUCS!!!!!! 20-0 {28-0 Run}

  38. Swampbuc Says:

    Clayhands should stfu. He was the ultimate failure. Don’t blame Gruden, Clayhabds decided he’d arrived. Gruden was patient with him, probably too much. And he didn’t win a ring, I think he was inactive for the SB. Certainly didn’t have a target. What an ultimate waste of talent. Clayhands should pick a different team to bee pert about.

  39. August 1976 Buc Says:

    This statement by Clayton is just pain great to hear.

    “So you are the standard. And you gotta think that people are drafting, and people are building their rosters to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now.’

    It sure is awesome that the Bucs ARE the current STANDARD, and now are entering year 2 of the GLORY YEARS of the Bucs 47+ year history. Enjoy it Bucs Fans, some teams have never had a GLORY YEARS like what the Bucs are currently in.

    And the fact they know they have to put in the DAILY WORK, that nothing is handed to you, will keep the Bucs Championship GLORY TRAIN rolling as the winners of Super Bowl LVI.
    Get your tickets now for riverside seats at 2022 World Champion Boat Parade.

    BTW lol lol The Bucs set the STANDARD for awesome pro sports championship parades lol lol Even Lebron said “hey I want one of them”.

  40. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Swampbuc…. Clayton was drafted after the Super Bowl, he was not on the team.

  41. Swampbuc Says:

    August – his ring came from the Giants. I realize lay hands was a 2004 draft pick. Waste.

  42. Cobraboy Says:

    EVERY secondary is as good as th4 DL allows. Sheesh…

  43. David Says:

    So according to some of you EX players and coaches shouldn’t criticize teams that they played for or if they never won a Super Bowl. OK. Whatever.

    He brings up a damn good point. The gravediggers were extremely inconsistent and gave up a ton of big plays throughout the year. They were well prepared and got turnovers in the playoffs. Consistency needs to step up big time

  44. David Says:

    Must remember-
    There were a few games they could have won last year but there were several, including every single playoff game except the Super Bowl, that they could have lost.
    They have a chance to be a dominant team this year if they put their mind to it and work at it. They were nowhere near dominate last year.

    DBs Improved but they were definitely the most inconsistent unit

  45. David Says:

    Joan Michigan

    Clayton‘s rookie year
    Targeted 122. Receptions 80
    That’s about 7 targets a game with 5 catches a game.
    He put up almost 1200 yards and 7 touchdowns.

    That was it. After that he was only targeted between 40 to 60 times a year. He had a couple drops, got in the doghouse and was used to block.

    Gruden is great destroying young talent with mind games

  46. Pewter Power Says:

    Did a bunch of rookies get drafted that will destroy our secondary help me me understand Clayton!!!

    We weren’t a playoff team last year so I guess teams weren’t really giving us everything they had huh🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Your worried to the point we won’t get back to the playoffs? More worried about our secondary than the chiefs which was pure garbage but they managed to have the best record in the league off the backs of the offense. Pass rush was inconsistent and so was our offense but everyone stepped up you dope

  47. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    How about Bowles Trolls or Bowles Ballbusters???? Secondary will be fine , must remember they will all be a year more experienced and have confidence and familiarity with the system.

  48. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Michael Clayton can say what he wants, but the fact is he was terrible for 5 of the 6 years he played for the Bucs. Personally, I’d rather hear from an ex-player that wasn’t dreadful at football for most of their career. Admit it David, or go look at the game tape and stats, any other year than his rookie year, Clayton didn’t belong in the NFL. At all. As a poster mentioned above, just give Myron Lewis, Sabby, or Chris Conte their own show, let’s see what they think, too.

  49. David Says:

    Pewter power-

    Why the hate for a critique??

    He is right. The worst unit on the field last year for the Buccaneers were the dB. Yes, they got better. They stepped up in the playoffs with turnovers. Aaron Rodgers torched them most of the game though.
    Throughout the year they were in the bottom 3rd.

    I’ve been saying it since the day after the Super Bowl. The pass rush and the DB need to be more consistent.
    I think the DBs will step up even more because they’re so young.
    Hopefully the pass rush is more consistent as well

    What I don’t get is why people are hating on Clayton just for offering some constructive criticism that is completely valid.

    You think Brady sitting there content?

  50. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Clayton wasn’t targeted because he was too slow to get open, and dropped passes often. You actually wanted the Bucs to continue throwing to this Bozo? It’s nice you have someone to blame in Gruden, but you fail to mention how Clayton didn’t do anything anywhere else after Tampa Bay wised up way to late and got rid of one of the worst receivers they ever had.

  51. Joe in Michigan Says:

    *Too late

  52. #1bucsfan Says:

    When our pass rush gets to the QB our secondary plays decent maybe even better than decent. I know we won a super bowl but there were games where our pass rush didn’t show up and our secondary got toasted. Still lots of room for improvement but they played lights out in the playoffs when it counts the most. Will be interesting how things go

  53. Bucbeats Says:

    Uhhh ray he did win a super bowl

  54. TOM Says:

    I think there will be great battles for DB’s in training camp. I also think that Stuard has a good chance to make the team. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  55. Tc Says:

    If there is a weakness on this team, it is the inconsistency of the young db’s. They can play lights out one week and then suck the next week. Defensive rush will have to bring it every week.

  56. Jmarkbuc Says:

    The secondary’s nick name should be…

    The Brig. As in locked up in the Brig..