Bucs safety Mark Barron had an up and down 2012 rookie season. Having veteran Ronde Barber as a teammate most certainly was a benefit but the additions of Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis should make Barron – and the entire defense – much better in 2013.
While we can't say for sure what Buccaneers safety Mark Barron’s personal religious choice is, if he is of the praying variety, the former University of Alabama star most likely says a prayer of thanks for his new teammates when his head hits the pillow each night.
As a rookie in 2012, Barron lined up and learned from the legendary Ronde Barber, one of the better defensive backs in the last decade (or in Barber’s case, decade and a half).
Knowing 2012 was most likely Barber’s last season, as it eventually proved to be, Barron must have felt he won the job lottery last March when the Buccaneers added former San Francisco Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson as his new safety teammate. Then in April, when Tampa Bay pulled off the blockbuster trade with the Jets for Darrelle Revis, Barron had to be as giddy as kid on Christmas Eve.
Barron, who recorded 88 tackles, 17 pass breakups, one forced fumble and one interception in 2012, started the season off with a bang. Against the Carolina Panthers, in the opening game of the 2012 season, Barron delivered a bone-jarring hit on Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith, then in the second half made a potential touchdown-saving pass defense, coming nearly from sideline to sideline to bat away a deep ball from Cam Newton.
A couple weeks later, against the Washington Redskins, Barron wrapped up and planted rookie phenom Robert Griffin III into the green turf of Raymond James Stadium. Although it drew a questionable, 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, the RGIII tackle, and hit the on Smith, served notice that Barron was a physical safety who wasn’t intimidated by neither a veteran superstar receiver, nor an NFL Rookie of the Year contender.
But somewhere along the way Barron seemed to lose some confidence and swagger. The Mobile, Ala. native struggled at times in run defense, and also pass coverage. Part of the struggle may have been the overall troubles the Buccaneers secondary had in defending the pass. While it is easy to assume Barron blew a coverage without the benefit of knowing the exact play call it is impossible to know for sure.
One source told PewterReport.com this offseason that the Buccaneers were pleased with Barron overall, and the mistakes he made were to be expected by a rookie in a struggling defense. The source also agreed with PewterReport.com’s assessment that Barron, at times, tried to be in two places at once. Safeties are faced with split second choices and have to dissect coverages in an instant. Not getting caught in no man’s land is rule No.1 for NFL safeties. Even if the read is wrong, the safety needs to commit 100 percent to an area of the field in most cases. When playing unsure – or trying to cover up a mistake on the front end – it can make a safety look bad, something that happened to Barron several times in 2012, when the rookie appeared to be in between, hesitant and a step behind.
As a rookie, under the tutelage of Barber, Barron did hold his own for the most part. With Goldson and Revis aboard, Barron instantly becomes a better safety. Not only does the addition of the two Pro Bowl defensive backs make Barron and the secondary improved, it should also make the pass rush better which in turn makes the entire defense better.
Barron recently spoke to PewterReport.com about the upcoming 2013 season and what having Goldson and Revis as teammates will mean.
“Knowledge [is what they bring to the table],” Barron said. “Just like with Ronde Barber (last year). There were certain things I wanted to learn from him as far as just studying the game. And I picked up some things from him and now I have two different players I can pick up more things from. I just feel like I am in a great situation where I can learn from different players and pick up a lot of things.”
This season should see Barron make a marked improvement in his play. Not only because of another year in the Bill Sheridan system, but because of a player lined up beside him named Goldson and one in front named Revis. Divine intervention or not, Barron has to feel liked a blessed man.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.