Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs may reach for new heights with future cornerbacks

The Bucs love their height advantage at receiver with a front line of pass catchers who are all 6 feet 5: Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. After the 2014 draft, general manager Jason Licht called them the "Dunkaneers."

So if bigger is better on that side of the ball, what about the guys who are assigned to cover sky-scraping receivers?

Outside of 6-2 CB Johnthan Banks, the Bucs come up a little short.

CB Tim Jennings is 5-8. Alterraun Verner and Mike Jenkins are listed at 5-10. All three have made the Pro Bowl, and Jennings led the NFL with nine interceptions playing for Lovie Smith with the Bears in 2012. (For him to get that many picks, teams must have been throwing away from CB Charles Tillman).

It's not as if those three haven't overcome a vertical disadvantage to most wideouts in the league.

That said, the NFL is becoming more and more a game of space — creating it and filling it.

The rules against hitting defenseless receivers and quarterbacks have turned a lot of games into 7-on-7 drills. So the taller a player is, especially on defense, the better chance he has of knocking passes down.

In part, that's why there's no player returning from the bye week that the Bucs are happier about getting back than Banks for today's game against the Redskins. A year ago at Washington, he scored his first NFL touchdown with on an interception and ignited a 27-7 win.

"Just a good solid player," Smith said. "Of course, he played well against (Washington) last year, but he'll tackle. He's different from the rest of our DBs that we have because he has height and length and long arms. He's been a playmaker for us. Can't have too many good corners.

"We haven't been totally pleased with how we've played on the back end; that's been documented. To get another one of our guys who we start the season with as our starter back has to help."

DT Gerald McCoy was even more effusive.

"Banks, man, he's starting to become one of those guys, you can put him on anybody and you know he is going to handle his business," McCoy said. "He's starting to be more consistent with it, and it's huge to have him back.

"He had a big game against (Washington) last year, so his eyes are real big waiting to get back out there."

Smith admits height and arm length can be real assets on defense. But the Bucs are a Cover 2 team that isn't always going to put their corners in man-to-man situations. They also put an emphasis on having their corners tackle in run support and set the edge.

"Well, (height is) becoming more and more of a factor as we look at it," Smith said. "Offensively speaking, we like those big receivers. We should have an advantage on some of those smaller cornerbacks. Seems like the smaller corners didn't get that memo. They've been that height all their life. For some reason, they tend to play up a little taller than they are.

"If you're playing a defense where you're just locking up in single coverage with a small DB-big receiver, you're going to have some issues then. We try not to put ourselves in that position very often."

Look for the Bucs to address the cornerback position early in the draft next year. And chances are, the player they select will be at least 6 feet tall.

TWO IN A ROW: The Bucs haven't won back-to-back games since Nov. 11-24 2013, when they had three consecutive victories under Greg Schiano. Many things are on the line today, Smith said: "To be able to get two wins in a row, to be able to play well two (games) in a row, to be able to get an NFC road win … even up our record."

THREE IN A ROW? Against the Jaguars in the Bucs' last game, RB Doug Martin rushed for 123 yards, his second consecutive 100-yard game. With 100 or more yards against the Redskins, he will become the third running back in team history to post at least three consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards. The others are James Wilder, six games in 1985, and Cadillac Williams, three games in 2005.

Bucs may reach for new heights with future cornerbacks 10/23/15 [Last modified: Saturday, October 24, 2015 7:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans previews 2017-18 NBA season, predicts Warriors will be dethroned


    Tampa isn't the greatest basketball market. In fact, it's just about the worst.

    Mike Evans and Jameis Winston celebrate after connecting for a touchdown against the Bears in September. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  3. Lightning's Steve Yzerman enjoying Nikita Kucherov's scoring run

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, of Russia, celebrates after scoring a goal on the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  4. Bucs journal: Offense needs to get off to a faster start


    TAMPA — The past two games have seen the Bucs offense muster furious rallies in the fourth quarter of losses, with 229 yards against the Patriots and a franchise-record 27 points against the Cardinals.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  5. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues


    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]