Dekoda Watson is one of the most impressive physical specimens inside the gates of One Buc Place. But looking the part and actually performing are two different things. The former Nole is excited to take the next step in whatever capacity head coach Greg Schiano asks of him and thinks 2012 will be an impact season.
Buccaneers outside linebacker Dekoda Watson is a physical specimen. One would be hard pressed to find many with the athletic skills and physique that can match Watson anywhere inside Tampa Bay’s locker room. So why hasn’t the ability and physical skills translated to on-field success?
Several factors could be the cause – some Watson controls and others he doesn’t.
First, the contract of current starting strongside linebacker Quincy Black certainly may play a part. With Black signing a five-year, $29-million contract prior to the 2010 season (with the first two years guaranteed), the Buccaneers are giving Black every opportunity to earn that money on the field as opposed to standing on the sidelines.
Secondly, sources have told PewterReport.com that Watson just hasn’t developed into a three-down linebacker, struggling in pass coverage at times and limited to being a one-dimensional situational pass-rusher as a result.
Lastly, sources also told PewterReport.com that at times last season Watson struggled with maturity to a degree and frustrated his coaches by getting down when things didn’t go as well as Watson liked.
This season, however, signs are pointing to Watson finally perhaps becoming an impact player for Tampa Bay – even if it happens in small doses.
“I feel like right now—I tell myself 10 plays,” Watson said. “If I get 10 sacks I feel like that’s more than enough for the team. At the same time I feel like it is going to be a lot more to come. 10 big plays. That’s 10 plays that I need, but it's other things that comes with it. Of course with the tackling, maybe an interception, you never know.
“At the same time I am not going to minimize myself just because I am not a starting linebacker right now or anything like that. I am going to play hard wherever I go [whether it is] special teams, defensive end, strong side linebacker it doesn’t matter.”
While 10 sacks – or 10 big plays – are goals Watson is striving for, he knows there is still much to learn in the new Bill Sheridan defense.
“I can’t necessarily say that I am comfortable (in the new defense),” Watson said. “I am never going to be comfortable in this. My mindset that I always have is if you get comfortable you start to get comfortable (in your goals). You get what I am trying to say? I am trying to stay on my ground. Just make sure that I get familiar with the defense and continue to stay on the ball at all times.”
Head coach Greg Schiano has been pleased with what he has seen from the former FSU star.
“I think he’s been (making a case for more playing time) since the beginning,” Schiano said. “He’s been playing in our first rush group, so he’s continuing to make that case that he should be there, justifying the case is really what it would be. I mean, he looked great in one on ones and he ripped it up. That’s good.”
Being a seventh-round draft pick in 2010 has been a source of motivation ever since Watson entered the league, and he uses it daily in an effort to get better.
“Every day,” Watson said. “Every day. To this day I still write down on things 217, 217, 217. That’s the number that I got picked and I take that very personal. But at the same I am not mad at anybody. I am just going to show everybody that I am worth more than that. [I] am worth more than 217. It has always been a fight. I would rather be the underdog than just live by name. I am not saying anybody out here is, but I know for my personal value, I would rather work for mine.”
Assistant coach Bryan Cox has taken on a similar role that former Viking great Keith Millard held last season, being in charge of improving the Buccaneers anemic pass rush (just 23 sacks in 2011). Watson, who was just 13 when Cox retired, smiled when asked about his first time meeting Cox.
“I didn’t know who he was when he first walked in,” Watson said. “I didn’t really care for him because I was like, ‘who is this guy trying to tell me what to do’? Probably didn’t play a down of football in his life. [I] looked him up (online) and, uh slap in the face!
“So I really respect him. I respect what he is teaching me. I respect him because he knows what we are coming from. What we are going through and everything. He has really helped all of us out, speaking especially for the linebackers through this camp.”
The Aiken, South Carolina native knows that despite some success in training camp and the preseason, it won’t matter unless it translates to the field when the regular season starts.
“Personally I just look at it like this – we are still in camp,” Watson said. “We are still trying to get better. I mean none of these numbers count. The sack that was made or the things that we did these past two previous games it means nothing right now. Everything matters when we play the Panthers. Right now we are just trying to make ourselves better. Take it one day at a time and then we will go from there.”
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