When hired in January of last year to take over the Bucs defensive backs, Tony Oden may have had one of the toughest jobs in the NFL. But since that time, the organization has completely revamped their secondary and Oden will now coach two Pro Bowlers in Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson.
When offered the job to take over the NFL’s worst secondary last January, new Bucs defensive backs coach Tony Oden must have known it would be a huge challenge. But since that day when Oden signed his name on the bottom line, the former Jags DB coach must have felt he won the lottery with the additions of Pro Bowlers Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, in addition to the drafting of Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks this past April.
Oden probably has pinched himself a few times since then.
“I became a better coach quickly,” Oden told PewterReport.com recently with a huge grin of his face. “I am definitely very excited. We have a great room, just in general. That is one of the first things I found out. And adding him (Darrelle Revis) into the room is awesome. He is a great player and he is an even better person. From Day One he sits right next to me in meetings. We bounce ideas off of each other, and when you have a guy like that, it makes you become a better coach because he has been there and done that. I want to bounce ideas off of all the guys in the room in general, but especially a guy who has seen a lot.”
Prior to his one season in Jacksonville, Oden spent six years in New Orleans and witnessed first hand the transformation that the Saints organization quickly made, including winning the Lombardi Trophy in 2009. Oden said there are some similarities between his previous employer, and his current one.
“That would be the key thing,” Oden said. “When we first got there [to New Orleans] we had a bunch of free agents come in, Scott Fujita, Scott Shanle, obviously Drew Brees and those guys. Those were veteran guys who had been to other places and came together and they all had one thing in mind, and that was winning ball games.
“They worked extremely hard in practice and they approached the game like professionals no different than when we added Revis, or added Vincent Jackson last year. Obviously Dashon Goldson, Carl Nicks, so you have those guys who have done it, and competed at a high level. So they bring that kind of urgency to meeting room, that sense of urgency to the practice fields. Those are the things that I think bleed over to the other players. They see the big dogs doing it, so they want to do it also.
“They [veterans] know the window is so small. Each meeting is precious. Each day is precious. Each practice is precious. So if you let those things get away they add up. So yes I see the similarities.”
The Buccaneers secondary was historically bad in 2012, setting a franchise record for most pass yards surrendered (4,758), and coming within handful of yards of setting the all-time NFL record. But Oden says he doesn’t let last season’s futility cross his player’s minds.
“The most important play in football is the next one,” Oden said. “The most important season in football is the next one. It is about how you prepare right now. Everything is different. I equate it to driving down the street. If you drive down the street looking back, you are going to run into something. You can recognize you passed something, but you have to move forward. That is where we are at. We didn’t even talk about last year. We watched film, but we talked about this is how we are going to do it now. Here is what we can do better. As opposed to what might have went wrong in the past.”
While the pass defense was beyond anemic last season, the pass rush didn’t fare a whole lot better, getting to the quarterback just 27 times. But Oden, who also spent two seasons coaching DBs in Houston (2004-05), believes the two units will compliment each other well in 2013.
“To me pass rush and pass coverage are married together,” Oden said. “It is a symbiotic relationship. You can’t have good coverage if we don’t cover guys early in the down, we don’t let those defensive linemen time to get there. They can’t get there in one step, so we have to cover. And when we cover late in the down, we need those guys to get there too. Our guys have been working hard. I am excited about this defensive front and the guys we added in the secondary.”
Oden said he has no secret formula to make the secondary better – other than hard work.
“The one thing we talk about [a secondary] is just get better everyday,” Oden said. “Then we will count everything up at the end of the season. Wherever it falls, as long as we are winning ball games, that is the most important thing Improving the little things everyday. The rest will take care of itself.”
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