Tampa Bay’s second-year cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III has come under fire this season – and not just from opposing quarterbacks. Hargeaves has also taken some friendly fire from his coaches over his poor play, too.

Pro Football Focus currently rates Hargreaves, who has surrendered 404 passing yards and three touchdowns this season, as the No. 110 ranked cornerback in the NFL with a grade of 38.4.

According to PFF, Hargreaves allowed 50 passing yards against Arizona, which was actually his second-lowest yardage allowed of the year, but he allowed a catch on every pass thrown his way and played terribly soft against the run, missing three tackles. Hargreaves allowed Adrian Peterson’s 17-yard run to bounce outside of his contain in the first quarter. The Cardinals scored a touchdown on the next play, and Peterson gained 57 yards of his 134 yards rushing on eight carries off left end, targeting Hargreaves, who was playing right cornerback.

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves – Photo by: Getty Images

Last Wednesday prior to the Arizona game, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith revealed that Hargreaves’ penchant for giving up too much cushion was the cornerback’s own doing, and not part of his defensive scheme.

On Monday, Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter said that he was “extremely” concerned about Hargreaves’ play.

“Vern is not in a very good streak of games right now,” Koetter said. “We asked Vern to be more aggressive this year and to be more aggressive with his coverage and he started out doing that. He started out doing that in OTAs and training camp, but he has not played his best football these last three games.”

Smith agreed with Koetter’s sentiment on Wednesday.

Later that day in the open locker room session, Hargreaves joined the chorus.

“Definitely being more aggressive,” Hargreaves said. “At the end of the day I’ve got to make more plays. I’ve just got to make more plays. It’s plain and simple. It’s not rocket science.”

Hargreaves has been targeted 37 times this season and has just one pass defense. In 21 starts in Tampa Bay the Bucs’ first-round pick in 2016 has recorded just one interception.

“He should be,” Hargreaves said when asked if Smith was upset with him. “I’m not making any plays, I’m not producing. This league is about production.”

When asked what specifically he and his teammates have to do to halt a two-game losing streak and beat Buffalo on Sunday to improve to 3-3, Hargreaves said:

“We’ve got to tackle better. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to get our hands on more balls.
“I know this business. I know what I have to do to get better. I know what I have to do to start making more plays. It’s on me. I have to make more plays.”

Hargreaves was asked why he gives up so much cushion to opposing receivers when that’s not called for in Smith’s defense.

Bucs QB Vernon Hargreaves - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves – Photo by: Getty Images

“That’s a good question and that’s just something on the field or something I’m seeing or something that I think might happen,” Hargreaves said. “It’s a hard question to answer, to give you a direct answer. That’s something I have to watch on film and realize I have to scoot up some more.”

Hargreaves realizes that he’ll be targeted plenty playing opposite Brent Grimes, but he has to improve.

“Of course,” Hargreaves said. “I wouldn’t throw at that guy, either.”

“He was the most targeted corner in the NFL last year according to some statistical analysis,” Smith said. “I’ve mentioned it many times, when you have a guy like Brent Grimes on one side, you’re going to get targeted. As a coaching staff we have to do a better job of making sure we can level the playing field in terms of how we approach it. We can’t just put it on one player. It’s has to come down us helping him as best we can.”

If he doesn’t turn it around quickly, Hargreaves may find himself on the bench in favor of veteran Robert McClain or second-year cornerback Ryan Smith.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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seat26
seat26
4 years ago

Without any pass rush, marginal Corners get exposed. He benefited from a Defense that was a little more aggressive overall last year. It is not just Hargreaves. Alexander not being on the field has made a huge difference. No one fears our front 7. Quarterbacks have all day to throw. Luckily we have Grimes, and David back. Grimes being the age he is at, obviously, Corner is going to have to be a priority in next draft. DE as well. I think this could be a lot worse. Beckwith has played well, Evans seems to be showing some ability. If… Read more »

76Buc
76Buc
Reply to  seat26
4 years ago

They fear McCoy, so they triple team him.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  seat26
4 years ago

You’re dismissing Kendall Beckwith, he’s playing very well for a rookie middle linebacker. He will necessarily get better with more games, but he’s no slouch. He’s considered by most commentators in the media as one of the stars of the 2017 rookie class. He does not make VHIII play off coverage.

Vernon recognizes a problem, his coaches recognize a problem. The coaches have to coach, and the player has to make plays. if he doesn’t get better he will not be a starting corner in the league, simple as that.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

The Hargreaves wasn’t the only one that was being picked apart.

nybuccguy
nybuccguy
4 years ago

VH3 = bust. Bench him

Sneedy16
Sneedy16
4 years ago

“Definitely being more aggressive,” Hargreaves said…. I don’t know, but playing 10-15 yards off the ball don’t seem aggressive.

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  Sneedy16
4 years ago

And then says he has to “watch more film”. Dude, do you not see how far away you are in the game?!

Sneedy16
Sneedy16
Reply to  cgmaster27
4 years ago

I’m like he’s not even on the TV screen half the time. You would think it was a free WR on his side.

WiltheBrewer
WiltheBrewer
4 years ago

It’s definitely been a disappointment after he seemed to have his act together in the preseason…