Bucs get creative with Ronde Barber and the secondary, and the move pays off
When free safety Ronde Barber tipped Tom Brady’s pass attempt in the first quarter Friday night, setting up rookie strong safety Mark Barron’s interception and touchdown return, the Bucs had deployed something we’ve seen quite often since camp began:
A dime package.
The lineup uses six defensive backs, in that particular case Barber, Barron, safety Ahmad Black and cornerbacks Aqib Talib, Myron Lewis and Eric Wright.
Notice there are three safeties listed there. That’s not a mistake, and it probably won’t be that unusual, either. The key is Black, whose ability to fill in deep allows Barber to roam near the line or play in the slot as necessary – a job he redefined at cornerback before moving to safety this season.
Barber willingly moved to safety, even though in a moment of honesty, he’d probably tell you he preferred to remain at cornerback. But the compromise the Bucs made is that they’d still allow Barber to do some of the things that made him great, most of which have nothing to do with playing safety.
So, on the Barron interception, Barber lines up near the line of scrimmage to Brady’s left. At the last minute, he bails and drops into coverage, roaming about 15 yards deep in the secondary. All the while, he’s looking at one place – Brady’s eyes. That allowed Barber to get a good break on the ball. Moments later, Barron was streaking down the sideline for six points.