After the Bucs shipped Barron, their first-round pick in 2012, to St Louis in 2014 for a fourth- and sixth-round draft selection, Barron immediately took a shot at former Bucs coach Lovie Smith. He called Smith’s defense “passive,” expressing his frustration of its perceived soft coverage.
One would think Barron, now a linebacker, would just be happy he’s out of Tampa and move on – after all, he’s at a position now that allows him to be more aggressive and surround the ball. But, two years removed, the trade still rubs him the wrong way.
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“It was just the way everything happened. I didn’t ever feel like it was the way it should have happened.” Barron said during a conference call with members of the Tampa Bay media Wednesday. “I just didn’t know anything about the situation. I didn’t even know that it was being talked about.
“I didn’t feel like it was respectful at all, in my opinion. But I’m happy it happened. I feel like it was one of the better things that happened to my career actually.”
It’s hard to argue with that last part. Since transitioning to linebacker in Jeff Fisher’s defense, Barron has thrived in his new role. He recorded a career-high 116 tackles in 2015, 16th most in the league, and forced another three fumbles.
The Alabama product, originally drafted by the Dominik-Schiano regime to cover the likes of tight ends Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen, even managed to defend five passes last season and has another three in just two games this year.
While his time in Tampa was a disappointment – from difficulty adjusting to a new defense to reportedly late for a few meetings – the Rams have clearly found a way to use the talented pro effectively.
“We put a couple packages together early when we had him and then once ‘Tree’ [Ogletree] went down last year early in the season, Mark got an opportunity,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said over conference call. “We took advantage of it. He loves the defense, he understands the defense and he’s just been outstanding. Again, great teammate, I was really glad that we were able to get him re-signed during free agency.”
Barron, for his part, said there are similarities between safety and linebacker. He still drops in coverage and reads his keys, only now he’s closer to the ball – which, he says, allows him to make more plays.
As for his ties to Tampa, Barron said he’s not as familiar with the Bucs revamped roster. And as for the players he does know, Barron only referred to them by position – “I know a couple receivers, I know the running back.” Now wearing blue and gold, the most important thing for Barron to know is how to stop his former team this Sunday. He has an idea.
“They’re definitely a team that wants to run the ball, so definitely have to stop that,” he said. “They have [quarterback] Jameis [Winston] and you most definitely want to keep everything under control.
“We feel like he’s a streaky type of quarterback, so you don’t want to let him get going. That’s it. You stop the run and try to force them to pass, but don’t let them get going in the passing game and we feel like that’s all we need to do to get a win.”
To do that, “You want to make [Winston] uncomfortable, by getting him off his spot, keep pressure in his face,” Barron continued. “You want to disrupt him in every way you can.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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