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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

After defensive struggles, don't expect Bucs to give up on Bill Sheridan



You might expect a coach presiding over the NFL’s 29th-ranked defense, one that posted historically poor numbers against the pass, to feel like his job is in jeopardy.

If you agree with that, then you probably think Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan is less than a sure thing to return for the 2013 season.
In that case, this might surprise you.

To the contrary, there has been no indication from those inside One Buc Place that Sheridan is going anywhere. And it’s not just because he’s a nice guy (though he is that).

The Bucs believe there are important mitigating factors that contributed to the uneven performance of the defense, and Sheridan – in the opinion of the organization – is just a small part of the equation.

In the evaluation of Sheridan, coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik are taking a few things into account.

* First is the fact that Sheridan was running Schiano’s defensive scheme, and after Sherican’s late hire – in mid-February – he and the staff then had to learn the intricacies of Schiano’s system. How big a role that played in Sheridan’s ability to teach and call the defense is hard to determine, but certainly it was at least a small factor.

With another year in the same system, the hope is that both coaches and players will perform at a higher level.

* While many have questioned some of the aggressive tactics used on defense – and I’m among that number – the Bucs appear more concerned about a lack of execution. This is one of the more difficult things for reporters covering football to determine: Are breakdowns the result of coaching decisions or players not doing what’s asked of them?

The answer is rarely that simple. But considering how many times we’ve heard Schiano emphasize the simple notion of “do your job,” maybe the Bucs are convinced the execution is the bigger issue.

* The final issue here is one everyone likely agrees on: That there wasn’t enough talent in the secondary for Sheridan to work with. No one anticipated the Bucs ever having a cornerback lineup of Leonard Johnson, Danny Gorrer and LeQuan Lewis, which was the case in some late-season games.

If the Bucs can augment in the talent in their secondary, particularly at cornerback, it likely would affect the results.

Bill Sheridan lasted just one season as coordinator when he assumed the post with the Giants in 2009. But today, in Tampa, if we’re reading the situation correctly, that won’t be the case this time around.

[Last modified: Sunday, January 6, 2013 6:22pm]


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