Mb Nfl Lock Of The Szn Pewter 728x90 Jpg

New Buccaneers safety T.J. Ward expressed his discontent with how he was being used – or not used – after Tampa Bay’s 30-27 loss at Buffalo on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine.

“I came here to be an impact player,” Ward, who was a three-time Pro Bowler in Denver, told Laine and other reporters after the game. “I can’t do that if I’m not out on the field.”

Listed as a free safety but playing more of the strong safety position, Ward played 24 snaps on Sunday, which was 35 percent of the snaps. Justin Evans, the team’s second round draft pick, played all 68 snaps on defense, while Chris Conte, the team’s other starter at safety on Sunday, played 39 snaps, which was 57 percent of the plays on defense. Keith Tandy played five snaps (seven percent). Evans had six tackles on Sunday, while Conte and Ward each had three tackles. Tandy did not record any stats.

“You have to ask [defensive coordinator] Mike Smith and [coach] Dirk Koetter about that, but I’m at my wit’s end,” Ward said. “I did not come here to rotate. I did not come here to be a part-time player.

“I’m only playing every two series,” Ward said. “I’m not out there all the time. There’s a lot going on. I’d love to help, but I can’t. It’s very frustrating.”

Ward was on the field in coverage when tight end Logan Thomas scored a 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give the Bills a 17-6 lead. Buffalo ran a pick play and Ward got rubbed in coverage and was a step behind Thomas all the way to the end zone. Last week in Arizona, Ward bit on a play-action fake in the red zone that allowed Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald to score a touchdown uncovered.

Ward has missed some time with a hip injury has has 15 tackles and two pass breakups on the season.

“Each week there is going to be a different dynamic,” Smith said, explaining the rotation at safety. “T.J. was coming off an injury. He missed some time the previous week. He missed some time in practice. We’ve got, I think, very good depth at the safety position. I think each one of the guys has a different skill set that is going to help us based on who we are playing and how they are trying to attack us. I’ve said it many times – there are more than 11 starters on the defense.”

To make matters worse for Koetter, whose team is 2-4 and reeling with three straight losses in a season filled with playoff expectations, is the fact that Ward isn’t the only veteran defender voicing his displeasure. New defensive tackle Chris Baker retweeted an ESPN tweet with the Ward story, saying: “FACTS I feel the same way Bro.”

Is Baker simply agreeing with the fact that Ward has been underused, or is Baker upset with his own lack of snaps on defense? Baker finished with four tackles in Buffalo, but played just 30 snaps (44 percent). Defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald played 66 (97 percent) and 20 snaps (29 percent), respectively. McCoy recorded one tackle and McDonald didn’t record any stats.

Share On Socials

About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
Subscribe
Notify of
17 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
surferdudes
3 years ago

The ship is taking on water. Cracks along the starboard, and port side. If the losses keep piling up she’s bound to split apart, and sink to the bottom. Will the crew get jettisoned, or will it be Koetter, and Licht that go down with the ship? Time will tell, stay tuned me Bucco’s.

pinkstob
3 years ago

I’m unhappy with Ward’s lack of efficiency when he does get playing time. The blown plays by Ward listed in the article emphasize my point. I don’t like the way any of our safeties are playing. I have not liked what I’ve seen from Evans so far so I don’t know what he’s done to earn 100% of the snaps besides being a 2nd round draft pick. That Johnny-on-the-spot INT against Brady means nothing to me. Those are the type of plays that show up on the stat sheet and the casual observer thinks he’s playing well, but if you… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  pinkstob
3 years ago

There’s a lot to be said in having consistency. Safeties need to be comfortable with their teammates in the backfield, and get into a rhythm with them, just as running backs need to get into a rhythm. If there is one area where I strongly disagree with the current coaching staff is their tendency to not stick with the stars and let them gain both confidence and “rhythm”. Doug Martin should be getting 80% of the RB carries. TJ Ward is a proven all pro talent and winner who should be on the field virtually every snap. Playing guys like… Read more »

deeznuts
Reply to  pinkstob
3 years ago

yeah I agree 100%. He got burned on a play-action-pass for a TD two weeks ago. Not a good look to give up 6 then turn around and complain about PT. He’s got talent but Mike Smith calls the same defense 65 plays a game

Horse
3 years ago

I’m in no hurry to dump Koetter or Licht; I’m in a hurry for Smith to make some adjustments and get his defense right. I don’t give a crap if you need to find more players; find them just don’t waste any draft picks. I remember a Coach by the name of Belechik that was young and green in Clevland and he was run out of town early and look what happen. I relate this to Koetter & Licht. Be patient. As for Defense all player should keep their mouths shut and quit whinning; learn how to tackle on your… Read more »

Naplesfan
3 years ago

The bottom line is the defense is playing poorly in most games this season (the Pats game and the Chicago game being the two exceptions). Which means something isn’t working. I have been supportive of Coach Smith to date, even last season when we started out slow. I recognized that it takes at least a half a season for a brand new defensive scheme to get installed and start producing. But I did not like Coach Smith’s remarks concerning the TJ Ward complaint, “We have more than 11 starters on this defense”. That makes no sense. No defense is so… Read more »

stlbucsfan
3 years ago

TJ Ward should be pissed, why sign him if we were not going to play him. I’m not sure what the loyalty to Chris Conte is about but if they want to play Evans so bad then he’s the one that should be on the bench. They said when we acquired him that he upgraded the position so put the guy on the field. Tandy, Conte and Evans should be battling for playing time not this guy. Not going to hold the missed plays against him because we saw plenty of growing pains from Conte before he settled in as… Read more »

surferdudes
3 years ago

Naplesfan, if we played the Bears again, I don’t think our defense would hold them. We certainly wouldn’t hold the Pats to 19 again, and I’d have to pick both teams to beat us if we played next week. So even our two victories would be in doubt right now. Not much to hang our hats on.

Alldaway 2.0
3 years ago

Evans needs to sit and learn.

Ward needs to play more and rotate Conte and Tandy if you have to.

AZ_BUC_FAN4LIFE
3 years ago

The starting safeties should be Ward and Tandy…….Tandy is the only one that earned the right to start. But because he wasn’t a household name, they decided to play this rotational thing. He is a much better tackler than Conte or Evans. Ward needs to pick his play up before running his mouth. He has only made one splash play since he has been here. That is not enough to run your mouth. On another note. Had Hargreaves been on the outside last game, he would have made that tackle late in the game. Even with all his faults, he… Read more »

SCLOBERNOCKER
3 years ago

More than 11 starters? I see a solid 5. Ward is right. He needs to play better, but he needs to see more field time.

EastEndBoy
3 years ago

Well something odd is going on – Ward doesn’t exactly have Ed Reed ahead of him on the depth chart. Either he’s totally lost it and can’t even beat out Conte/Evans, which seems unlikely, or this is another one on Coach Smith…try something different Smitty, your defense is atrocious!!!!

scubog
3 years ago

Apparently T.J. Ward came riding in on that Denver white horse mascot (not the poster) after being dumped by the Broncos and thinks he should be anointed the starter even while injured and learning the defense. Have to start calling him Mighty Mouse. “Here I come to save the day”. I’m fine with T.J. wanting to take leadership as someone once said, “just throw me the damn ball”, but complaining to the media isn’t how he should make his point. Swaggy Baker? Like the song says, “Ain’t seen nothing yet” .

Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
3 years ago

Sorry Scu, but your comment is out of line. No reason to invent ad hominem story lines to fit your prejudices against a player who speaks his mind. These are not young kids, college players who are not professionals and are expected to shut up. He’s a pro, not only that, Ward is an All Pro. Ward is a proven performer, he has exactly zero apologies to make for his proven performance on a great defense, best in the league, with him as one if its best players. Ward is ready to play every snap. He cannot develop rapport with… Read more »

tnew
3 years ago

Ward is lost in coverage. Watching the coach’s film for the past two weeks he is directly responsible for three easy touchdowns. He is playing better against the run than the others but he’s just not cutting it versus the pass. Tandy, looks tentative. He was playing very instinctive last year. Now not so much. He’s not playing the run as bad as Conte or the pass as bad as Ward, but he isn’t playing the pass as good as Conte or the run as good as Ward. Those of you roasting Evans, he’s actually playing pretty good and I’m… Read more »

tnew
3 years ago

Scott, you were kind. You could’ve also mentioned the second touchdown versus the Cardinals when he let Niklas break across his face to give an easy touchdown. Either Beckwith or Ward or both really screwed that play up. With the play in front of him, not sure why Ward gave up the middle so easily there. Beckwith was sliding to the outside to cut off the out pattern.

Dave
3 years ago

Ok well it’s on Smith to scheme up a defensive plan that allows Ward to do what he does, which is stuff the run. Not play deep in coverage. He’s one of the best run stopping safeties in the league. That’s where good scouting and game preparation comes in. Obviously Smith is awful at that. Seeing as the Bills are the 2nd most run heavy team in the league, and the 3rd worst passing offense. So in a game facing a team that wants to run more than they pass, you play Ward 24 of 67 snaps. That’s called, Mike… Read more »

Mb Nfl Lock Of The Szn Pewter 728x90 Jpg