Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves - Photo by: Getty Images
Cover 3 is a weekly feature column written by PewterReport.com’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat writer Trevor Sikkema published every Tuesday. The column, as its name suggests, comes in three phases: a statistical observation, an in-depth film breakdown, and a “this or that” segment where the writer asks the reader to chose between two options.
Case Freakin’ Keenum – the Buc Killer.
Keenum and the Vikings had a nearly flawless day against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense on Sunday, and the one question surrounding his performance is: How?
How does an NFL journeyman who has been a back up for a good portion of his career have such pedestrian numbers against every other team in the NFL, and yet when he plays the Buccaneers, his numbers go through the roof?
Keenum's career averages (compared vs. Bucs)
COMP %: 58.2 (+9.85)YPG: 199.7 (+12.3)TD-INT: 24-20 (4-1)QB RTNG: 77.8 (+44.7) https://t.co/T1L1zxEL1u
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) September 22, 2017
Keenum's career averages (compared vs. Bucs)
COMP %: 58.2 (+9.85)YPG: 199.7 (+12.3)TD-INT: 24-20 (4-1)QB RTNG: 77.8 (+44.7) https://t.co/T1L1zxEL1u
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) September 22, 2017
Those were Keenum’s inflated numbers against Tampa Bay, and that was before his third stellar performance against the franchise on Sunday, which led to the Bucs suffering their first loss of the season.
As funny as it is to pin it all on one team and label Keenum this Buccaneer killer, it’s not like there’s a curse involved. However, there might be trends, trends that other teams could use to devise a blue print for how to beat he Buccaneers defense if things aren’t changed.
(via NFL Next Gen Stats)
Completing 25-of-33 passes for 369 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions is an incredible day for any quarterback against any team, and even for Keenum against the Buccaneers, this was his best performance to date.
So, how? How did this happen?
To have good stats against a team you certainly have to be able to hit those short-to-intermediate throws to keep the chains moving, however, going average-to-above average in every deep third of the field is what allowed Keenum to have the day he did, and is the same formula that allowed him to have success against the Bucs in the past.
Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves – Photo by: Getty Images
The Bucs play an off coverage style of defense. What that means is that their outside cornerbacks are anywhere from 6 to 10 yards off the line of scrimmage as to not give up anything over their head and keep everything in front of them to limit explosive plays. They like to be able to play damage control, read-and-react, and hope that good anticipation and recovery speed can force some plays on the ball and some turnovers here and there.
However, this is where Keenum has become the Buc killer. On the first passing play of the game, Keenum went deep down the sideline to wide receiver Adam Thielen, who beat Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a big gain (even though Hargreaves played it pretty well, he was just a step late).
This all started the chain reaction that sealed their fate – yes, on the very first throw.
The Bucs were without their top cornerback,Brent Grimes. So, on the outside, they had Hargreaves, who is only a second-year starter, and Ryan Smith, who was a backup getting his first career start. Because of the inexperience of both of these players, their confidence is vulnerable – get beat a few times deep and they’ll get super conservative.
That’s exactly what happened.
Hargreaves and Smith both got beat deep on different occasions, and you started to see that six- or seven-yard cushion turn into eight or 10 yards off. That extra space allowed for more room in the intermediate throws, which gave way to easier completion passes throughout the game.
But, Keenum’s deep ball stats and progressions aren’t the only stats worth knowing.
Keenum hitting that first big pass truly sent this game into a spiral. The Buccaneers pass rush and run support really wasn’t doing all that poorly early on in the game, but that one completion caused everything to move negatively for them.
As the corners began to play more conservative after that first big pass, that opened things up underneath. Then, even when there was good pass rush (though it wasn’t too often), Keenum could get the ball out of his hands quickly. In fact, Keenum’s release average was 2.44 seconds, which was well below the league average of 2.644 (you may not think that’s a big deal, but it really is).
Knowing that his release was quick, scroll up to the chart above and see that, of the four starting defensive linemen, the only one who had a quarterback time better than average was Robert Ayers – McCoy and some of the other interior defensive linemen get doubled a lot, which is why theirs is lower, but still.
Vikings QB Case Keenum – Photo by: Getty Images
So, not only was the rush not getting to Keenum, but he was already getting the ball out of his hand so fast anyways because the corners and safeties were giving so much space. Then throw in the fact that the Bucs had to try to blitz to get pressure, and that just opened up more shorter routes and check downs to running back Dalvin Cook once Keenum connect a few more times deep.
It was the perfect storm.
I said before the game that there was no way Keenum could repeat his well above average numbers against the Buccaneers like he had before. Well, he did – and it was no fluke this time. It was all a part of a game plan that worked perfectly.
Minnesota’s plan all along was to start the game with Cook, take some deep shots downfield, hit one or two of them, then play a fast-release game from then on to counter the Bucs’ inevitable blitzes as the would try to manufacture pressure with some of their starters out. That carved up the Tampa Bay secondary down the field, got the players’ confidence down, and allowed Keenum to continue to hit deep once the Bucs were sucked in.
It was chess versus checkers.
Click to the next page to see a film breakdown of exactly what I’m talking about with types of coverages and pass rush, and what needs to change to avoid this in the future.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
I do blame Coach Smith for not making the adjustment once it was 14-3. I think just about everyone was yelling in the TV to get the corners and safeties up closer to the LOS.
Honest to God, I thought Lovie Smith was calling the defensive plays.
My thought is to play tighter especially early.
What about a 3-4? This is based on no pass rush and our I hurt situation.
We have to sign another DE and bring up or try the on the PS?
With Spence and Smith both out, we wouldn’t have a pass rusher to bring off the edge in a 3-4. We’d be trying to use LVD or Beckwith as pass rushing OLBs, which just isn’t what they are, at all. Sunday was bad, but we’re better off with our pass rushers being McCoy and McDonald from DT and Ayers and Gholston from DE than we would be with counting on LVD and Beckwith to beat OTs one on one off the edge. The 3-4 is mostly a bad idea for us anyways, I think, but with neither Smith nor Spence coming off the edge as OLB’s, it would be a genuinely awful idea.
Good article! Yes, I saw the same soft coverage on Sunday and also saw it get longer as the game went on, but wondered if that was scheme or something else. I never considered loss of confidence by the corners, but in retrospect, I should have thought of it. Missing Kwon and Grimes was going to make this a long day anyway, but if the game is about confidence, Case broke our corners and we didn’t break his – and that might be the reason for the great stats. Once any quarterback starts to gain confidence, he can be very hard to beat and we didn’t do that to Keenum on Sunday. I hope we see a better plan next Sunday against the Giants.
Yes – we have been trying this same brand of stuff for nearly a dozen years – SchiaNo/Sherridan, Lovie and now Koetter/Smith.
It works when you can line up Sapp/Rice/Brooks/Lynch/Barber…but otherwise, it’s nearly impossible to rush 4, and play soft coverage and expect good results. We used to be able to play “bend but don’t break” because we had a fantastic red zone defense led by those HoFers.
We don’t have that anymore…one or the other of the rush (i.e., blitz packages) or the coverage (i.e., figure out how to get some semblance of play out of our safeties) needs to adapt.
One thing is for certain – it’s not just Brees that will carve up this scheme for 700 yards, Manning and Brady will too.
I wasn’t initially a fan of the Hargreaves pick (I wanted Rankins or Karl Joseph) but I’m hopeful he works out. But, as this Cover 3 illustrates, the scheme is doing him no favors. I don’t think he’s an off coverage CB at this level. I’d be much happier with the coaches moving him up and being more aggressive in press coverage. He had 38 PD and 10 INT in 3 years at UF. Let him attack the WR. He has great feet, great instincts and good hands. I just don’t think he has the recovery speed to play 7-10 yards off. It’s maddening.
It’s looking more and more like a mistake to move Smith to safety last year and stunt his development at CB. It’s basically his rookie year and he’s being asked to guard Diggs. We should have shaded a S over his way all game. Hopefully his baptism by fire will be a good thing and he’ll come good. Hard to gauge his potential after 1 game.
I really hope we scrap this soft coverage scheme depending on the team we’re playing. Clearly our front 4 isn’t getting the pressure for soft coverage to work. In game adjustments are what make great coaches. I know we were down four starters and that sucks, but keeping that status quo against the Giants & Pats will spell disaster.
I don’t think they had much choice because Conte and Tandy aren’t good. We kept them for another and then reached for Evans in the 2nd rd. How did we not pick up snother DE off season and draft a De in the 2nd or 3rd round; bonehead move by meathead. Our Defense is weak and it’s going to hurt us badly, unless the Offense can take it to the next level. Go Bucs!
Tandy is fine as a FS. He played really well last year. Conte in coverage is not a great outcome for the defense. Much better shading down. Evans is a good player, but definitely a year away from contributing. I was surprised they didn’t grab a DE in the 2nd or 3rd. Defense is thin at certain spots. Especially at CB and that was a more glaring “miss” this offseason for me. Need Kwon, Grimes & Jacquies back asap.
Tandy should be starting!
I agree. He’s getting out snapped by T.J. Tandy has much better FS skills than Conte and T.J. does too. He’s not great in coverage either, but he’s better in run support than Conte.
The last three HCs tried to do off coverage with no pass rush and it did not work out. Why Smith this would be different I have no clue.
Also, the Bucs asking the safties to help out the LB’s is a mistake as the Bucs have LBs that are “okay” but CB’s that need way more help in comparison.
In short, schematic failure was 80% of the problem and the rest was lack of pass rush and lack of discipline by the CBs.
Agreed. Looked like the Bucs expected the Vikings to attack us underneath and lean on the run game. But they have one borderline great WR in Diggs & another very good WR in Theilen. With Grimes out and knowing the struggles of Conte in coverage, why wouldn’t the Vikings attack deep? Total schematic fail on Sunday.
I’m pretty sure it was NOT the intent of Coach Smith to have no pass rush. He didn’t have the players either on the field or operating at anywhere near full strength to create a pass rush. There’s an excellent reason why starters are the starters … they’re way better than the backups.
I sure hope it is the scheme and not the player because to me it looked like an awful pass rush by awful players and awful coverage by awful corners.
Scheme or personnel?
I’ve always heard it said, and believed myself, that excellent defensive backfield play starts with the front seven. If the front seven isn’t getting it done, any decent quarterback in the league can carve up any secondary. With no pressure on the quarterback, he’s fee to make all his reads and throw the ball with impunity at whoever is open, or can get open. If the receivers are also competent, game over.
Given the decimated state of our front seven through all or much of the game (both linemen and linebackers), it would have been a tough day even our best, and last year’s league-wide best (as measured by pass defenses) CB was playing. Take him out of the equation too, and I’m surprised it wasn’t a 52-7 beatdown instead of 34-17.
If you don’t have the personnel, it really doesn’t matter very much what scheme you’re using. It’s equivalent to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as the band plays “Nearer My God to Thee”.
Absolutely it was the scheme. Mike Smith needs to answer for this garbage. Awful play didn;t help but Smith made it way too easy on Case Keenum. Instead of bringing the pressure and challenging Case, they decided to play soft zone and hope he made mistakes – which he didn’t. Grow a pair.
Nearly everyone saw this. Your extraordinary detail confirms what even a casual viewer could see. The question is why. Coach Smith is not an idiot. Perhaps as you say, he made it too easy, but it would not have as easy if our offense had kept us in the game. I didn’t expect to beat the Vikings in Minnesota, but I also didn’t expect the Vikings to dominate. Scheme is one factor, but so is “want to,” and let’s face it, the Buccaneers were not prepared to play. They had a poor week of practice and four defensive starters out. They had been battling the flu and, judging by my own household in Tampa, they had an Irma hangover. This is human and understandable. My gosh did anyone look at how miserably the Dolphins played. Motivation is key in football, especially Pro Football, where the talent levels are not all that decisive. Our top 22 can play with their top 22. Put our 18 can’t match up to their 21, and they were coming off a loss., and then we lost our one decent pass rusher on the first play. OK, I know this sounds like sour grapes, but that’s the empirical truth. Can we reverse this in a hurry and beat the Giants? I doubt it. They are desperate and hungry. If Grimes is out and Spence is out, and David we know is out and McCoy is playing with one good ankle–and yes, he’s a warrior with little help–and it could be two or three more weeks until Alexander returns. The only hope, admittedly a remote one, is that the offense keeps us in the game and the offense puts up 30 or more points. Losing to the Giants and Patriots will be discouraging, not doubt, but that’s not the end of our season if some of wounded get healed. Next year will be a draft for defense and perhaps a running back. If our young players continue to improve that will put us on the right track to be a serious contender in a year or two. We’re just not there yet. Too much bad luck with injuries and inferior or too young backups.
Injuries are a poor excuse. I don’t mean for Sunday, because what happened to us health wise that day was absurd. But long term, if we’re without a couple of defensive starters, we have to deal with that and be able to execute despite it. It’s football. These guys are modern day gladiators. Which is to say – pretty much every team has guys get hurt. Injuries are absolutely going to happen, pretty much every year. As long as it doesn’t get absolutely crazy (which it hasn’t yet), we need to be able to play at a a high level despite those injuries. If we never can, then we’ll never be good, because they will ALWAYS happen. It comes with the territory of the game. Gotta roll with it.
We don’t have the players, that’s what Smith’s scheme tells you, he doesn’t have confidence in our backups so when more than one or two starters go down he feels forced to play not to lose instead of playing to win.
If you want to put the blame for this on someone it’s the GMs and scouts and coaches preceding K&L. Licht may have drafted a little better than average (relative to other teams, which puts him well ahead of his Buc peers) since arriving but he has whiffed on far too many reaches to overcome a solid decade of poor drafting in just a few years.
We will get better but it will take several years, during which JW will mature (hopefully) and, unfortunately, some of our talented butnalready long in the tooth players will have to be replaced as well. Licht needs a better batting average or he may not be here for the real turn.
The personnel issue with Grimes, Alexander, and Smith out put them in a bad position for this game. Why Jacquies Smith? Because as soon as Spence went out there was no established pass rusher outside of the guy on one ankle.
BUT, I still lay the lion’s share of the blame on Smith not preparing a proper game plan given these factors. The game’s complexion changes with Spence in the game, but once he went out, the game plan had to change, regardless of whether short corners are designed for a cover 3 system, and didn’t. So I don’t know if Smith doesn’t have confidence with a backup and a shorter corner in Hargreaves to play press man, but the corners HAD to move up to give the pass rush help under the circumstances. To me that means they need a mix of corners they keep on their roster to make this possible for them or Smith didn’t recognize the need to adjust. They met their initial objective of limiting the run and forcing Keenum to beat them, but once it was clear that he could… All day long, the gameplan needed to change imo.
I don’t think the offense did the defense any favors in this game with drives cut short with INTs, little run game, etc. But as Horse already stated above, at 14-3 it’s clear expecting different results with the same strategy is the definition of insanity at that point. Adjust!
I agree! If the game plan wasn’t working, Smith has to scrap it and try something new within our system.
If the o-line is struggling mightily, we don’t just expect Dirk to keep dropping back with 5 lineman blocking and let Jameis get punished. We expect Dirk to bring in OJ and Stocker to help pass protect and with the run game. As well as calling plays to get the ball out quickly.
So if the pass coverage is struggling why would we not expect Coach Smith to move the corners up and give them help over the top? As well as expecting him to call more blitzes to generate a pass rush.
I am hoping (desperately) that this was the perfect shit storm. Irma wrecking havoc (in more ways than one) and forcing a schedule change. Flu. Injuries. A big high following the Chicago game. Getting our asses handed to us from the opening kick a week later. More injuries to top personnel. Trump’s BS. McCoy, et al dealing with disrespectful, shitty fans.
Sunday and Thursday will show us what our men are made of. I’m guessing Jameis is fuming over his INTs. I’m guessing the coaches are fuming over their performance, as well. In years past, the Bucs may have overlooked the G-men with Brady’s crew coming in on Thursday. I don’t think that happens here. I think they bring it against NY. Whether it’ll be enough or not, we shall see.
Win or lose, I want to see the boys bring it. They left it in Tampa when they boarded the plane. Let’s hope, they don’t make the same mistake again.
I think we got outcoached, plain and simple. And not because of the original scheme, just because there weren’t any, game changing, adjustments made. I think a great coach makes in-game adjustments.
We were dominated in the second half in just about the same style of play that we were in the first half. I believe if we are going to get beat in both halves then it should be in two different ways. If they are killing us through the air by primarily their two receivers in the first half. Then at halftime we should make adjustments and take that away from them.
But we played pretty much the same coverage for the whole game. If we could see it from our couch that the soft coverage wasn’t working.. Why couldn’t the coaches from the booth. And if they did why didn’t they try to adjust that?
I think a great coach can not be afraid of scrapping the whole game plan and making adjustments within a game to put his players in a place where they can compete and play to win.
With that said… Our defense played very poorly but our offense still had multiple opportunities where they could have bailed them out. The firs int by Winston was a huge potential game swing as well was the second. If we get touchdowns on either of those drives, doesn’t even have to be both, this could have been a completely different game. Especially since David and Ward were making some big plays there for a couple series in a row to give our Offense a chance to make a play.
So even though the score and game itself felt one sided. I think we were very close to making that a very close game. Which is why I still have a lot of confidence in this team.
Agree with everything you said in both posts. The lack of ANY adjustments while we were getting absolutely carved up was troubling. We just kept beating our heads against the wall.
The offensive execution was pitiful. Winston needs to be better. He absolutely can be, and he needs to be. Before the end of this season, this should absolutely be a top level offense in the league. If it’s not, then we have a very big problem.
I try to give every rookie we draft 3 years before I form a final opinion of them. Sometimes exceptions have to be made (i.e. Aguayo) so I’m trying to do the same with Hargreaves and Smith. I’ll just say so far I’m not impressed with either of them. I think Hargreaves is best in press coverage in routes that don’t go more than about 13 yards down the field. I think that is a fairly limited skillset for a #1 CB. I don’t know what Smith does best. Hopefully they prove me wrong by the end of year 3.
As for Grimes, from what I’ve seen this offseason he’s gotten worse than Hargreaves so I don’t think he would have helped much last Sunday.
BTW TS, I appreciate you emphasizing the poor play of the secondary and de-coupling that from the D-line play in your article.
Don’t know how you can judge Grimes since he missed virtually the whole preseason. Unless his legs are gone, he’ll be fine. He’s a warrior. We saw that last year. No team we play all year will be any angrier than the Giants. Predicted to be a playoff team, they’ve played three stinkers. Unless Jamies gets his head screwed on and we score in the 30s, it will be another long, brutal day. As for Coach Smith, don’t count him out. I think he looked at the personnel he had to play with and said “now’s not the time. It could only have gotten worse. Also, let’s not forget, Minnesota started 5-0 last year without a running game. They are definitely a top 5 defense. They could very easily win their division. Let’s also not forget how bad our defense looked against Arizona, the Rams, and Denver in successive weeks last year, and what happaned as the season progressed. That’s how I judge coaching. I think when all is said and done, the consensus will be that we improved during the season and that the lack of a bye and the time off before we played our first game really hurt. By the way, the Patriots are last in the league in defense, giving up over 400 yards per game. If we can get our offense clicking, we can win some games.
I agree the coaching over the course of the season is the most important measure of the staff. I just feel like here the defensive scheme needed tweaking because of injuries on the field but ultimately didn’t. In Smith’s defense after having a bit of time to reflect, this early in the season with backups playing, it’s not like they have probably spent very much time practicing a press scheme. They’re still trying to tweak what they do best and not overwhelm rookies/backups with too much. Now lets hope they show some bounce back after a very humbling loss. If they’re 1-2 after next week BUT MATCH the Giants intensity, I can live with that. A win would be amazing.
If Winston realizes he can’t do it all + plays within himself we can beat that NY team with 0 wins
I agree Inspecto!
Teams will let Winston try to beat them passing. Also IMO Winston is trying to get the ball to D. Jax and over looking O.J. and and others.
Regarding Grimes, I can judge him based on the fact I attended training camp and saw him play when he was healthy.
In order to play press coverage you need long, physical corners which we don’t have. Press coverage also does you no good if you don’t have a pass rush. As bad as the secondary was, it would have been 70-17 if we had tried to go press man. The main thing I take away from this exceptional article is that we need to play 2 deep safeties. The corners had no help on the back end. These are both young corners that are going to have growing pains, and leaving them out on islands does nothing for their confidence. The injuries have highlighted the complete lack of depth on this defense. We are not a playoff team at all. Not even close. We need better depth and we aren’t getting it in the draft. There has been a series of miscalculations on personnel at OBP and it’s coming back to haunt us now. We need Grimes, Kwon and Spence back asap.
There is moderation between extremes. We didn’t necessarily need to be playing true press man, but when bringing a heavy blitz, and especially when telegraphing that blitz, you can’t play your corners 10 yards off. You’re just inviting the QB to nullify the rush by throwing easy 5 yard completions that have the potential to turn into more with YAC. And that’s exactly what happened more and more as the game wore on.
So, no, we didn’t need to play aggressive press man. But even if the corners had just been aligned normally, i.e. 3-5 yards off the LOS, it would have helped on those plays a ton, because they would have been a threat to jump any short, quick routes and been able to force Keenum to hold the ball longer, giving the designed blitz a remote chance of getting home and causing actual disruption.
Aren’t we missing the obvious here? The game plan on defense was to focus on stopping Dalvin Cook and daring a back-up QB to beat us. But the Vikings had other plans that were revealed on basically the first play. Trevor was absolutely correct on that first completion being a confidence builder for Keenum. Even Cook did as much as a pass receiver as he did as a runner. It was a double edged sword. We just didn’t think one side (passing attack) would be so sharp. That worked against he Bears because Glennon plays so cautiously.
The Vikings defensive game plan was just the opposite. Knowing our collection of RB’s is no threat, it focused on limiting the passing and keeping it in check. Once we got behind the trap was set. Until we get a real RB (hopefully Doug Martin) this is what we’re going to face.
Gotta disagree with you Scubog, normally I don’t. The defensive scheme was incorrect for this game and there was no adjustment to it. We beat ourselves. Cook nor Weedon were the reasons. They simply took what we gave them. We had too many distractions, really weren’t focused on the game, gave up quickly, got no coaching support. That’s how you lose.
LOL anyone that suggests Mike Smith doesn’t know what he’s doing is out of their mind. Just before the season started some people were saying the biggest offseason addition was not losing him to become HC somewhere else, now because we had a bad game he needs to change schemes? Mike Smith knows our personnel better than anyone in this chat including those writing the articles. I saw enough from him last year that I trust he knows how to best utilize these players. To suggest VHII struggled because of off coverage is laughable. He’s a small CB with no makeup speed so playing him in off coverage actually should play to his strengths which are his instincts and footwork to recover. I have said all along that he wasn’t worth the draft pick and he’s simply confirming it. As a Gators fan I saw plenty of Vernon and he was routinely taken advantage of by the better WRs in college. I trust Mike Smith who turned this defense around last season and refuse to act like VHIII deserves some sort of pass bc the coverage didn’t favor his skill set. We need Grimes back so that we can tilt coverage his way so that we can mask what appears to be a terrible draft pick thus far. Ryan Smith was drafted to be a safety, is in his second year but is our backup CB, seems like we should have been better prepared at that position bc he doesn’t appear to be ready for the big lights just yet.
I don’t think anyone is tearing the general scheme apart. But playing 10 yards off with your corners while bringing 5 and 6 man rushes is just bad football. Seriously, this isn’t even higher level stuff. That’s defensive design 101. For the blitz to have any chance of getting to the QB and causing problems, there needs to be some initial closeness between the defenders and their marks. Yes, VH3 played very poorly Sunday. So did Ryan Smith. But the coverage design when we brought pressure was just terrible. It just was. Whether Mike Smith, Monte Kiffin, or Bill Sheridan set it up that way, it was bad. I still really like Smith as our DC, but that doesn’t mean he’s immune to criticism when he plans and sets up the defense poorly, which he did Sunday.
lol if Hargreaves is losing confidence on the 1st play of the game…might be a bigger issue than what scheme were running
Just jumping in here after finishing cover 2.
No doubt the scheme was terrible. I don’t understand why you’re playing 10 yards off with your corners while bringing heavy blitzes. It was obvious that was happening during the game, without even having to go back to the coach’s film. It was idiotic.
Now, that said – you kinda touched on this, Trevor, but the corners were horrible. And it wasn’t just because of the off coverage they were being tasked with playing. That first play where VH3 was beaten deep, we were obviously in cover 3. It’s immediately clear from the way one safety crashed down into the middle while the other dropped into the deep middle third of the field, and the two corners were playing deep. VH3 blew that play by getting beaten deep. It just shouldn’t happen with a player as skilled as he is, when his whole assignment is that deep third.
In other instances, even when they were put into position to succeed, he and Smith failed. I kinda expected that from Smith. But a game that had from VH3 was very disconcerting to me. And this is coming from someone who is typically a staunch VH3 defender. We need him to take a big step this year and become the corner he needs to be while playing across from Grimes (once the latter is healthy). If he plays all year like he did Sunday, then this pass defense is going to be in trouble far more often than it should.
I still think he’s good enough, but Sunday birthed some real doubts about him for the first time for me. I expected struggles like the ones he had last year as a rookie. Sunday, he was just consistently beaten by less than stellar receivers and a below average QB.
IMO Bucs were selling out on the run and probably thought K.K could not beat them passing. SO MUCH FOR THAT IDEA! WHY did we not sign K.K as our backup QB!
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