Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Future promising for Bucs' revamped secondary
In a dizzying six-week span, the Buccaneers overhauled a leaky pass defense that frustrated rookie head coach Greg Schiano throughout a 7-9 season.
First, the Bucs targeted Dashon Goldson at the start of free agency, signing the 49ers All-Pro safety to pair with second-year pro Mark Barron and give Tampa Bay's last line of defense two big hitters.
On Friday, Tampa Bay used its top draft choice to pick Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks in the second round.
But it was the move made in between, trading with the New York Jets for perennial Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis, that has infused the Bucs with confidence that 2013 will be different.
“I feel like this secondary has the potential to be great,'' Barron said. “Once we get everybody on the same page back there, playing at a high level, the sky's the limit for this football team.''
Banks could compete against veteran Eric Wright for the starting corner job opposite Revis, with the loser shifting inside as Tampa Bay's nickel back. Ronde Barber, who has started 215 consecutive games, would also be in the mix if he decides to return for a 17th NFL season.
“I think we took something that really was a weakness and I believe it will be a strength,'' Schiano said of a pass defense that ranked last in the league in 2012
Opposing quarterbacks posted a passer rating of 93.5 against the Bucs, who allowed 69 completions of 20 yards or longer.
The acquisition of Revis is the centerpiece of an aggressive makeover in the defensive backfield.
“When you've got a shutdown guy like that, he can smother the other team's No. 1 receiver,'' Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “That makes it a lot easier on the other 10 guys. It also gives the defensive coaching staff lots of flexibility. And with Goldson and Barron back there, I can just hear a lot of 'Oohs' and 'Aahs' because there's going to be some big hits.
“I'm expecting a big season out of this team. We've got a lot of talent here, but we've got to put it together. The Lakers had a lot of talent, too. You've got to go out and do it. All I can say is we made some great moves in the offseason.''
Growing up in Mobile, Ala., Barron admired Revis from afar. Now, he can't wait to line up with him and learn from the master.
“It's obvious that Revis is the best,'' Barron said. “Everybody knows that.''
Barron was asked why Revis stands apart from his peers.
“I couldn't tell you exactly why at this time,'' Barron said, “but I plan to find out.''
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