There are many elements of the Bucs’ 2017 season that made it a disappointment. One is certainly the signing of defensive tackle Chris Baker to a three-year, $15.75 million deal and then cutting him a year later. Another is the whole lost bye week thanks to Hurricane Irma.

And another example would likely be the lack of production from safety T.J. Ward, whom the team signed after he was cut from Denver in August of 2017. The team was hopeful that Ward was going to come in and be an upgrade to their strong safety spot, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Ward started just five games for the Buccaneers and recorded just 30 tackles with no forced fumbles and no interceptions. That lack of fit and production led to the Buccaneers not offering Ward a contract, making him a free agent in 2018, where he currently remains unsigned.

On Wednesday, Ward was a guest on Sirius XM radio where he said he was misused by the Buccaneers and appears to blame the team and the coaching staff for one of the worst statistical years of his career.

There was plenty of criticism for Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith in 2017, so you buy that from Ward? Or is there more blame on him for his poor stint in Tampa Bay than he’s admitting?

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

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]
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nybuccguy
nybuccguy
4 years ago

He was cut last year and is still unsigned this year. That shows what the league thinks of him. His career is on the fringe of being over and hes talking like hes a somebody.

BuccaneerBill
BuccaneerBill
4 years ago

Blaming others isn’t a successful strategy.

makski
makski
4 years ago

I agree with both of you, but I have to believe he is telling some truth. While I agree that maybe he isn’t quite the player he thinks he is, I don’t think it was all his fault. We all have our complaints about Mike Smith, so why wouldn’t he be at least partially to blame? I feel Ward was not the only player on defense that was used incorrectly, that was part of our problem last year. How many of our CB’s are much better at playing press or man than zone? All but 1 ??? So what coverage… Read more »

Honey Bear
Honey Bear
4 years ago

He’s unsigned, washed up, and had a felony arrest last year. Ego defending itself. Sad.

Ken Grant
Ken Grant
4 years ago

Being there is a huge glut of good, veteran safeties available I don’t find his unemployment status alone to be a convincing enough indictment on his play. I also don’t think its much of a stretch to say Mike Smith has history of not getting the best of his defensive backs and stubborn adherence to scheme over personnel is pretty clearly a major culprit. I have no problem acknowledging TJ Ward did not have a great season last year, but I also don’t recall us doing much to maximize his skill set. How many blitzes, press assignments, box alignments, etc.… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
4 years ago

I saw him miss a number of tackles and get run over a couple of times. He was beginning to look like Mark Baron. Sorry, he had a whole season to do something and did nothing except complain.
If he was as good as he thought he was, he would have already been signed by someone.
Denver knew what it was doing when they waived him.

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
4 years ago

There was a reason Denver CUT HIM.

GoldsonAges
GoldsonAges
4 years ago

Withour question, Mike Smith doesn’t play to the strengths of his players. Ward is a downhill safety and far too many times he was played out of position last year. This is nothing new. How long did it take him to figure out VH3 was best playing nickel?

scubog
scubog
4 years ago

I wasn’t allowed to be the fan I wanted to be either. Many of us hoped to squeeze a year or two out of the former quality Safety, but I never saw anything special with the exception of one big tackle. I’m pretty sure the team wanted him to solidify the position, but he couldn’t beat out Chris Conte.

fredster
fredster
4 years ago

Smith is an idiot and somewhat guilty of not using safeties well for sure. That said Ward is a pot head and I don’t think he was 100% healthy with us. Teams don’t let good players walk usually…..

Jonathan Cornwell
Jonathan Cornwell
4 years ago

I’m a 35 year Broncos fan who is converting to the Bucs because I live in the Tampa Bay area now. I watched every game TJ Ward played in Denver. He was powerful part of the No Fly Zone both as a lockdown safety and the leader of the secondary. Yeah, Denver cut him but for the same reasons other great players get cut: that risk-management hedge formula of salary cap impact, age, and new talent coming up. Denver learned they made a mistake cutting Ward because the new talent (Parks and Simmons) wasn’t quite ready fill the talent and… Read more »

Charlie
Charlie
4 years ago

Mike Smith is an old beligured relic who couldn’t settle on any personnel groupings or how to proper evaluate his players strengths vs weaknesses. Another reason we’ll still underachieved this year. The guy just doesn’t seem to get it.

Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983
4 years ago

I believe him. Mike Smith should have been fired.