With the waiving of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, one of Tampa Bay’s most experienced defensive backs, Tampa Bay will be forced to rely heavily on the young and inexperienced players in their defensive backfield.
When defensive coordinator Todd Bowles stepped to the podium at One Buc Place on Wednesday the key topic was those young players stepping up in a secondary that’s allowing 298.9 passing yards per game.
“They’re getting better every week, they’re working hard,” Bowles said. “They learn some things on the field, a lot of things they know going into the game but as a player you’re going to learn something new every week when teams do something different. They’re very intelligent, they work hard, they study hard so I look forward to getting them better.”
Rookie Jamel Dean, after allowing three touchdowns in coverage against the Seattle Seahawks, reportedly showed up early every day the following week to watch film with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Dean was then the league’s top-graded defender by Pro Football Focus in Week 10 following a game against the Cardinals where he racked up four passes defended while bringing in a game-saving touchdown.
“It’s always good [to watch extra film], especially the way Dean started out, the game he had against Seattle,” Bowles said. “To bounce back and come back and played a game like he player and says a lot about the player and a lot about the man, from a confidence standpoint. [Sean Murphy-Bunting] is very studious in his own right as well. They all watch a lot of tape back there, not just the younger guys but the older guys too, they’re helping them out. It’ll be a group effort back there. There’s 11 guys over there, they know how to play [defensive back], they came into the league as [defensive backs] so they’ve got their chance.”
The film work, improving the little things, they’re all a part of the process that rookies go through as they truly learn how to hone their craft and become a pro. It’s different for everyone, when and how each player learns according to Bowles, but it’s putting in the work to fix those little things that make all the difference.
“The coaches always request you watch extra film,” Bowles said. “Whether it be with other coaches or other players or by yourself, you always need to study and watch the game. Everybody’s big, strong and fast, that doesn’t give you an edge. If you can’t anticipate plays and you don’t know where you’re going, it’s going to be hard to make plays. As a rookie coming in they all learn differently so [Dean] understood that even more so after the Seattle game.”
“You can’t focus on everything, you learn some things,” Bowles said. “Sometimes you just get beat and you play well and the guy who beat him had a better play but he’s got to focus on the little things that he can grasp. And you learn, as a coach, how to teach certain players differently and how to watch film with those guys. You can’t watch them all the same because they’re different and they learn differently. Dean has his own way of learning and we understand where he is and I know how he has to learn so we give it to him that way.”