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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

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.”

 

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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 mark@pewterreport.com
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nelsoale
3 years ago

Koetter and Licht are taking a massive risk continuing to trust Conte to perform as a capable starter in a year where they likely need at least a winning record to keep their jobs. While Koetter may be right that he is “better than (we) think he is,” that doesn’t mean that he is good enough to be a starting member of a secondary that needs to be at least competent for the team to contend for a playoff spot this season. Conte is 29 years old and is unlikely to suddenly breakout as an above-average starter at this point… Read more »

surferdudes
3 years ago

I don’t know about any of you but Koetter’s vote of confidence doesn’t make me feel any better. On a side note Derwin James just picked off Brees.

Wausa
Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

I hope Vea ends up being great, but I was very confident Derwin James was going to be and that interception of Drew Brees shows how great of a safety he is.

Hank Scorpio
Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

You know who else has picked off Drew Brees? Vernon Hargreaves

BucWonder
3 years ago

I like Conte. I think he will benefit from a better pass rush. Looks like it will be Conte and Evans at safety. I’m good with that. I think the whole D will be improved this year.

drdneast
3 years ago

BucWonder, You nailed it. A secondary is only as good as its pass rush. Conte brought a lot of bad press with him when he came here from Chicago because the press up there had to find a whooping boy for an overall bad defense. As you have seen from their losses to the Bucs in the last two years, It hasn’t gotten much better since his departure. Anyone who thought Conte was responsible for that blown coverage last night doesn’t know squat about football or defensive schemes. I suspect a couple of the people who posted above fit into… Read more »

BucWonder
Reply to  drdneast
3 years ago

The crap Conte gets from fans reminds me of how OT Kenyatta Walker was treated. Kenyatta has a ring.

Jeffbuc
3 years ago

It is t the blown coverage that worries me most about him. It is the missed tackles as a safety he is the last line of defense and to many times he gets juked and winds or bounces off of a guy. And as for the Derwin james homers. That interception was as easy as they come Brees floated a ball into double coverage. Conte could have easily made that pick also. It wasn’t some spectacular int by him. He ran 10 yards while the ball was in the air to the int. If he wouldn’t have got it the… Read more »

76Buc
3 years ago

Haters will hate.

fredster
3 years ago

I think when you factor all the intangibles about Conte the best you can say is average overall. His tackling is for sure below average.

Yes The whole defense will improve from a better pass rush. How much better our pass rush is remains to be seen. It will be better than last year but that ain’t saying much. Lol. How much better is one big question mark.

Agree on the Derwin Jones int. He didn’t do anything special.

76Buc
Reply to  fredster
3 years ago

“….the best you can say is average overall.” An average overall DB is a blessing on this team.

MCBRICKEL
3 years ago

Team sport, team is only as good as the weakest link. My untrained eye says Conte is not the weakest link.

drdneast
3 years ago

First he is bad in coverage. When that is disproved oh, let’s say he is a poor tackler. Conte has made more TD saving tackles than anyone else on this team. I have seen him give up his body to make a tackle for this team. You want to know who misses more tackles on this team than anyone else? Kwon Alexander according to one of those NFL sites that tracks those things. All you guys who want a whipping boy to blame the entire teams woes on just exhibit how ignorant you are, Most of you were probably part… Read more »

Schwifty9
3 years ago

My biggest concern for our defense isn’t Chris Conte. He’s no probowler, but he’s solid, at least most of the time anyway. He does give up big plays in unfortunate moments every now and again, but overall is a positive player. My actual biggest concern for this defense continues to be Mike Smiths obsession with his Quarters shell off coverage look that he seems to trot out at least 65 percent of time. And seemingly every time an opposing offense throws against that look it’s at least an 8 yard gain to a wide open man. The day Mike Smith… Read more »

Horse
3 years ago

If we don’t have a pass rush with two All Pro’s and 2 Superbowl Champions signed in Free Agency, then look no further than DC Mike Smith!

owlykat
3 years ago

If Smitty is running his old stupid defense as just a vanilla defense and is hiding the defense Buckner has likely shown him to beat New Orleans FINE, but if he loses our Saints game playing his same stupid defense, Koetter better have the guts to tell him retire or be cut to protect both his and Licht’s job. Then promote Buckner to replace him.

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