Looking For A Hole Or Looking For The Sideline?

October 25th, 2022

Bucs returner/receiver Jaelon Darden.

Jaelon Darden is one of the more frustrating Bucs of recent years.

Most small dudes (Darden is 5-8, 175 pounds) made it to the NFL, in part, because they are tough as nails. That fearlessness helped them overcome their size (and many naysayers) to reach the highest level of the game.

Some, however, shy away from contact once they start playing on Sundays.

For Joe, Darden is that guy who prefers the sideline. He’s not an every-blade-of-grass warrior.

It can be wise to cut your losses and not struggle for an extra yard as a returner because that’s a great way to fumble. But Darden does it too much, and on Sunday he looked like he wanted no part of contact when he caught “a pass over the middle” on offense.

In reality, it was a one-yard flip from Brady as Darden went in motion from left to right behind the line of scrimmage.

The result is in the video below from @LedyardNFLDraft. Darden passes up holes for positive yardage around the NFL’s best right tackle in favor of where he’s most comfortable — out of bounds and on his feet.

Perhaps Joe is being too harsh and Darden lacks experience and vision more than he wants a clean jersey? Regardless, in the middle of his second season, Darden looks like a guy who will fight for a roster spot every year.

64 Responses to “Looking For A Hole Or Looking For The Sideline?”

  1. DungyDance Says:

    Jacquez Green 2.0

  2. Christina olive Says:

    Omg it is Jacquez lol

  3. Pops Malone Says:

    This guy should not be in the team. He has one decent punt return which came against the Bears last year and adds nothing on offense at all except a threat of speed. He’s a weakstick that is afraid of contact and it’s blatantly obvious. Cut him now and play Miller. He sucks and belongs in the USFL. Give me a break.

  4. Hodad Says:

    Don’t know what the Bucs see in him. Total bust. Give Thompkins a shot.

  5. Beej Says:

    He’s probably afraid a LB will strip him

  6. Statistically Insignificant Reader Says:

    That was not a good look.

  7. Biff Barker Says:

    Man this guy is afraid of his own shadow.

    Cut his ass aready.

    Biff would have cut these guys yesterday morning..

    Jane Tryon

    Byron, Todd and the special teams bozo would have not taken the team plane.

  8. Panhandle Buc Says:

    We call him Sideline Darden in my Sunday circle!

  9. Letsbucinggo Says:

    He could have cut it up the field and gained 2 or 3 yards instead of losing 2. I don’t see any positives with him at all.

  10. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Darden is middle of the road with excellent ball security. Bucs REAL problem is Oline and Dline and the GM’s FAILURE to acquire talent in those areas, and until we start winning the battles in the trenches, Bucs will lose games-PERIOD

  11. Todd Says:

    Sideline 17
    Darden 0

    “Yeah, coach…keep betting on him. I have $100 down in Vegas that the sideline remains undefeated against Darden the rest of the season. Call me when I’m rich!”

  12. ChiBuc Says:

    Darden is a true sideline to sideline player. Unfortunately, there is nothing in between

  13. Wild Bill Says:

    Geez it’s been obvious from day one he fears contact. His only positive attribute is his good hands at catching kicks and not fumbling. But otherwise he is a puss who fears contact. Bucs need to ditch this guy pronto.

  14. dmatt Says:

    Yes he’s another Dexter Jackson/Jacques Green, scare of contact n always look for the sidelines. If you watch the tapes of Deven Thompkins, he’s smaller but tough as nails. He embraces contact,as a matter of fact, he looks for contact wherever he has the ball in his hand. He is tough as nails. He’s an example of dynamite comes in small packages. Don’t know what coaches see in Darden but it sticks out like a sore thumb that he’s afraid of contact when he consistently frequents out of bounds whenever he has the ball.Thompkins will us regret having Darden on the field.

  15. Oneilbuc Says:

    He sucks because he’s scared out there that’s why he looks for the side line every time he gets the ball.

  16. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Uh, Jacquez green had a few yrs where he had 800 yards on only 50 catches. He was a downright productive deep threat and averaged 15yrs per punt return one yr . Darden isn’t even 10% of him. Find a better comparison.

  17. HC Grover Says:

    Gaping holes and he runs right to the sideline. Just cut him. That is all.

  18. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Jacquez Green actually had a 90 yard TD return against the Packers in the playoffs to put the Bucs back in that game-SO LAY OFF MY GATOR.

  19. alton green Says:

    are you sure you’re not talking about our punt and kick-off returners. Like the saying “water follows the path of least resistance.” (the sideline)

  20. Chuckstutz Says:

    Yep. Head to the sidelines quick!

    Or do the one step slip n fall.

    Dude is terrified.

    Damn coaches.

  21. alton green Says:

    I read an ESPN article that said there is no fire within the Bucs offense OR defense. DUH!!!!! see the statement by Bowles? “I will not consider changing coaching” Folks this is Wokeness at it’s worst. As Forest said “that’s all i have to say about that”

  22. Anonymous Says:

    The gravy train is over for fans and local media alike.

  23. tampabayallday Says:

    Huge waste of a pick. Aguayo did more

  24. SB~LV Says:

    Hole !
    He looks good to me!!!

  25. SB~LV Says:

    No new photos of Bowles representing the Bucs on the front page

  26. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Jaquez Green was an absolute stud and comparing this slug to him is lazy and ignorant. Darden should have been cut last year; this is another one of the Jason Licht thinks he knows more than the rest of the NFL draft picks. While you are firing Darden let the Special Teams coach take a long walk out the building too as that guy is and has been a total failure

  27. FairMinded Says:

    Cut. Immediately. No upside. Every punt or kickoff return wasted

  28. Anonymous Says:

    He always runs out of bounds lol I understand he doesnt want to make a mistake but dude literally always runs out of bounds

  29. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    What’s missing here is how awful that play was……no opening whatsoever…..and that’s also what Darden is looking at on punt returns…

    I think he’s doing a decent job on punts…..with little help.

  30. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Go back and watch the first punt, the defender cut off the sideline forcing him to run up the middle. I could smell the shat in his pants all the way up in New England. Another poor COACHING decision. We all see it but coaches don’t???

  31. Allen Lofton Says:

    Potential has to prove itself and Darden doesn’t give it his ALL – Set examples by getting rid of him and send a message to everyone All IN or you are OUT

  32. rrsrq Says:

    In the one good return he had, he could’ve turned up field but chooses the sideline, who’s fault is that, yeah he doesn’t fumble, but that’s coaching and scouting. If he only has one purpose, surely there is an XFL player that can do what he does without fear

  33. Ken Says:

    He easily had 4 or 5 yards available there cutting it up the field. Everyone was blocked too, he wouldnt even have taken a hit. Could have just fallen forward for 5 yards.

  34. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Dardung is a pu$$y and yet another waisted roster spot. This was not Licht’s best off season. There’s flat out too much dead weight on this 53. Wholio Jones and NotSeen Hicks are injury prone and over 30. It was a horrific decision signing them.

  35. Show Me the TDs Says:

    @ Biff. Agreed. What is the point of not getting rid of unproductive players? Are the Bucs afraid they might start losing? Hahaha

  36. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Mickens was better and he played hard. Cut this freaking guy. Enough chances. WTH are they doing? Let White do both return jobs.

  37. Statistically Insignificant Reader Says:

    2020 Avocado tequila is tainted with the weak sauce

  38. Nprbuc Says:

    I am sure that he holds the NFL record for the fastest time to the sidelines of any punt returner. Couple that with the fact that when he is FORCED to take the ball upfield, he will invariably trip over a hash mark prior to any contact. If he doesn’t trip then he will turtle dive like last week but he holds on to the ball! He is petrified of being hit. Period When I can see it from Pasco I gotta believe that coaches can see it from yards away. Why he is here is a complete mystery.

  39. Erik Hesson - Fine Artist - City of St Pete - Founder of UniqueModernArt.com Says:

    Waste o a valuable roster spot.

    He sucks

  40. Davenport Says:

    Ya, we’ve all seen enough. He shouldn’t be in a contact sport.

  41. The Big Sombrero Says:

    @ NPRbuc, well said!!! Let’s just be done with this non-sense.

  42. ClwJB Says:

    This is a prime example of why the players won’t buy in

    They see this punk too and they know he shouldn’t be out there

    They know Jones and Hicks are toast

    They know the interior OLine needs a shake up

    But the coaches all stick their head in the sand or plainly don’t know what to do without Daddy’s red pen

    Bowles has now clearly proven he is only a DC not a HC

  43. Anonymous Says:

    Darden gets tackled by a blade of grass facing the wrong direction. At least he doesn’t fumble opening kickoffs.

  44. Thisisouryear!!! Says:

    Just my opinion, but I think we are being too harsh. I think he’s playing head and shoulders above where he was last year. I think this kid is going to come into his own and be a very good receiver. The wheels are falling off the bus and we are looking to blame everyone. If it weren’t Brady, I’d feel like we are done, but if anyone can do it, he’s the one.

  45. SB~LV Says:

    Darden is gonna make a lot folks here eat their words

  46. sasquatch Says:

    He didn’t have anywhere to go and he doesn’t have the strength to run into people. Maybe this play should be run by a stronger player.

  47. JimmyfromNY Says:

    What management is looking at? This guy is 100% afraid of any contact bring back Cyril Grayson down the field threat that had a good connection with Brady. Build on that instead of this useless guy

  48. EEK Says:

    He’s fine
    That play was read before the snap

    Did he fumble? No
    Did he lose yards? No

    Bad play call and nothing there. Darden is a smaller guy and a speed player.

    My question: what was the goal there?

  49. unbelievable Says:

    @EEK – the goal was for him to cut through one of those holes and gain more than 1 pathetic yard.

    But Darden is literally afraid of the opposing team. Every single week.


  50. unbelievable Says:

    @SB – I’ll believe it when I see it. And I’m hungry too.

    All talk with no production for 2 years so far

  51. EEK Says:

    Darden is like the 12th to 15th best player on offense.

    He weighs like 150 pounds and he is not someone who breaks tackles.

    Fear has nothing to do with physics. Darden is not running through tackles. His game is to run away from defenders and there was no place to run there.

    Big and strong breaks through holes. He is neither big nor strong for an NFL player.

    Again question: What was the goal there?

  52. matthew a veal Says:

    ok i agree with the naysayers on this one

  53. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Returning punts, has to be the “low man on the totem pole” job.

    Bucs would replace Darden, but no-one else wants to do it, probably.

    Life expectancy of punt returners, prolly ain’t very long, lol

  54. Rod Munch Says:

    Jacquez Green made one of the best catches in Bucs history in that all-time classic MNF game in 2000, when in a critical situation, he perfectly got his toes down in bounds on the sidelines and then was steamrolled by a Rams defender but held onto the ball.

    To compare Darden, who has literally done nothing, to Green, shows some real stupidity.

    Also, to mildly defend Darden, he was better at returning punts on Sunday, and actually seemed to be running north and south, and had ONE good return. With that said I don’t really know why he’s on the team other than Licht just protecting his draft pick record.

  55. captivajim Says:

    ask Licht –why is he still on the roster ……

  56. Ed Says:

    There isn’t a team in the NFL that would take him off the streets if the Bucs cut him. You can be athletic but not be a football player. For whatever speed he has, he doesn’t use it on the field and isn’t fearless enough to be a returner.

    They would see an improvement if they put Miller back on punts instead of the guy who is constantly running to the sidelines.

  57. Buczilla Says:

    Keeping seemingly gutless players like this is a big reason why we are in the hole that we’re in.

  58. Nicky666 Says:

    Hard to think we kept this dude and let ty johnson walk for NOTHING – all because of his value as a returner – which as it turns out isn’t very valuable AT ALL

  59. Manny Says:

    Hey if someone sees my comment, please explain to me how darden was picked over tyler johnson and cyril grayson??? Both of them finished the year pretty strong last year. I was pissed when darden was picked over them and now looks like im right

  60. Pete Says:

    Wasted roster spot. Bring back Grayson.

  61. LakelandSteve Says:

    Comparing this dude to Jacquez Green is an insult to Jaquez Green if that can be such a thing. To me he is just a little better than Dexter Jackson from Appalachian State. Everyone remember him?

  62. Jgar Says:

    I just saw tape of him in college saying he doesn’t like to be touched so he has to have quick feet to not get touched. He needs to show that. Use him more on offense and see what happens. I bet he can get open and it couldn’t be any worse than what we have been seeing. I haven’t seen him drop anything, but see a lot of drops on Sunday!
    If he doesn’t get open or starts to drop passes, cut him. I don’t think he would save the season by not running out of bounds on punt returns. But if he fumbles, it sure wouldn’t help.
    Catch the dang ball!

  63. Kelvin Waters Says:

    Jalen Darden is not good at punt returns.He always run to the sideline.The punt returns that get ran back for touchdown in the NFL.The returner always stay in the the middle of the Field then you work your way to the sideline.

  64. Carl L Says:

    How does a guy with the record of Todd Bowles get a head coaching job? Is it because we are woke? How many chances does this guy get? How woke can we be?