No one of the Bucs defense takes more criticism from fans on social media and sports radio than No. 23.
Even going back to his days of playing with the Bears, safety Chris Conte has been a target of blame for everything from giving up touchdowns to to unrest in the Middle East. When something goes wrong, just blame Conte.
One person who doesn’t agree with the fans and even a few in the media is one of the men who shape the Bucs 53-man roster, head coach Dirk Koetter, who talked about Conte on Saturday afternoon following Tampa Bay’s loss to the Lions on Friday night.
Bucs FS Chris Conte – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“He’s better than you think he is, that’s what I’ll say,” Koetter said. “That’s an example right there where most fans watching that from the sideline would think that was his play just because he ended up being the deepest guy. When you look at the tape and then you know what happened, really what it was was Chris Conte saved us four points right there. His hustle saved us four points.
“He also had, I think, eight tackles last night. I think Chris Conte’s playing the best football in the four years that I’ve been associated with him. You can’t do anything – there’s plenty of examples of what people think and then what reality is and we can’t do anything about that. But, Chris is a better football player than a lot of people think he is.”
When Koetter mentioned Conte saving the Bucs four points, he was talking about a busted coverage in the secondary during the first quarter by rookie Carlton Davis. Some fans don’t seem to understand that what happens with the 10 players in front of affects Conte or any of the Bucs safeties.
Bucs HC Dirk Koetter
“Carlton had a little hiccup on the one long pass,” Koetter said. “We made a check, he didn’t get the check and he stayed on his man. We checked to a zone coverage and eventually that guy that got deep behind the secondary, to set up their first field goal, that should’ve been him.
No one is saying Conte is a Pro Bowl safety, but the constant beating he takes isn’t necessarily fair according to Koetter. The Bucs head ball coach talked about why he thinks Conte is playing better than ever.
“I think confidence is a good word for it,” Koetter said. “I’m sure being in the same system, now going into three years, also helps, but I think confidence is probable the biggest thing. I think Chris, as he’s gotten older and more experienced as a player, I think from my vantage point, I think he’s matured some as a player.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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