NFC South: Bill Sheridan

Is end near for Da'Quan Bowers?

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
8:00
AM ET
TAMPA, Fla. – Back in June, I started my list of the top 25 players in the NFC South with Tampa Bay defensive end Da’Quan Bowers.

Bowers
I missed it by at least 100 and notably left Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy out of the top 25. My thinking at the time was simple – Tampa Bay’s front office and coaching staff were expecting a huge year from Bowers. I mean double-digit sacks were the minimum expectation. I didn’t project a bad season for Hardy, but I thought -- based on everything I was hearing -- Bowers’ season would be better.

As it turned out, Bowers had just one sack and seven tackles while playing in a backup role. Bowers wasn’t even able to crack the starting lineup on a regular basis.

His knee (and the Bucs say it’s not the same one that caused pre-draft concerns in 2011) limited him more than we ever knew.

“I was hoping that actually the surgery will help him because I think he’s – and maybe people wouldn’t be aware of it – I know for a fact he was nursing that all year,’’ Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said. Thursday “He’s never been well. You’re trying to decide all season on whether or not to make that move. ‘Is he healthy enough to play? Can he at least play on third down? Or are we better off just getting him to have surgery and get him cleaned up and let him rehab for an off season and come back?’ I think you’ll see a different guy next offseason.”

A different guy next season? Maybe so. But let’s not count on it. When Bowers was coming out in the draft, a lot of people thought he would last no more than four seasons due to some knee issues.

Bowers, even if he comes back next season, is headed for his fourth season.

Upon Further Review: Buccaneers Week 8

October, 25, 2013
10/25/13
12:00
PM ET
An examination of four hot issues from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 31-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

[+] EnlargeGreg Schiano
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsThe Bucs' Thursday night performance surely didn't help the job security of coach Greg Schiano.
Greg Schiano’s status. Although fans have been calling for his firing for several weeks and the noise is getting louder, Schiano still has a job -- at the moment. That still could change. But, with every minute that passes, it looks as if Schiano will be around for at least one more game.

Could there be a scapegoat? If the Bucs don’t fire Schiano, they still might feel they need to make a statement that they care. The other way to do that would be by firing a coordinator. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s unit has struggled all season. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan’s group has regressed in recent weeks.

The offensive line is a problem. This group was supposed to be a point of strength, but it hasn’t been. Sure, guard Carl Nicks is out with a staph infection, and that doesn’t help. But this line can’t open holes for the running game, and quarterback Mike Glennon was sacked three times.

The defense is regressing. Look at the defense and you see some strong individual talent -- Gerald McCoy, Adrian Clayborn, Lavonte David and Darrelle Revis. But this unit allowed 31 points for the second straight week. It’s easy to point to the schemes as the problem, but the players deserve some blame as well.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan had some fun with the media when asked about how he’s been using cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Revis
Fans have been saying the Bucs are using Revis in zone defense, instead of playing to his strength in man to man.

“What are [fans] chirping about?’’ Sheridan said with a laugh. “Tell me what they’re chirping about.’’

Several media members explained the chirping, and Sheridan responded with a smile.

“Well, what I want to invite them to do is to join us. I get here about 5:20 every single morning and they’re more than welcome to hang around until about 11 for the first four nights of the week,’’ Sheridan said. “And they can help us put the whole game plan together. We’ve got all the free Cokes you could want in the building and we’ll be happy to take their suggestions on how they can better use Darrelle. Trust me when I tell you we painstakingly game plan how best to use all of our personnel, not just Darrelle. But I appreciate the chirping.’’

Revis also was asked about how he’s being used, but he wasn’t nearly as entertaining as Sheridan.

“I don’t get into all of that,’’ Revis said. “I don’t get into the fans or press clippings or what people have to say. The only thing we can do is control what we’re doing here. I’ve got to do a better job as well as a number of my teammates of executing the plays better.’’

Bucs bracing for Eagles' fast pace

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
11:25
AM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- Since the start of the season, we’ve heard a ton about the Philadelphia Eagles’ fast-paced offense. Now, let’s hear from the man whose job it is to slow the Eagles on Sunday.

That’s Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. He normally runs an attacking- style defense (filled with blitzes) and it doesn’t sound like he has any plans to back away from that.

“You have to pick your spots because you don’t want to play the whole game on your heels and let them run their offense and hope that you can defend it well enough’’ Sheridan said. “You need to try to get them off balance and run second-level guys at the line of scrimmage and we will do that. But you want to be selective because they’re potentially so explosive.’’

Sheridan said the way the Eagles run the ball out of the shotgun formation makes Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly’s offense particularly challenging.

“The thing that’s most impressive is the play-action that it sets up off of it because you’re so wound up in defending the gun run because of the possibility of the quarterback being a running back as well and then they have an outstanding play-action pass route concept and formation concepts,’’ Sheridan said. “This stuff is well thought out. Chip’s been doing it for years and has had tons and tons of mileage out of it and he’s doing the same thing in our league right now. They’re tearing it up statistically.’’

Sheridan likes to rotate his defensive linemen extensively. But getting substitutes on and off the field could be difficult because Philadelphia runs plays so rapidly.

“That will be a challenge because they’re on the ball all the time and yet they have different tempos,’’ Sheridan said. “Sometimes they’ll literally get on the ball and snap it and hope you don’t have your hand down. Other times they’re just going to be on the ball at a little bit more of a moderate pace, so you have to be selective on your subs. We try to simulate it in progress, but it’s never going to be quite the same.’’

Bucs need to bring rush on Drew Brees

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
8:00
AM ET
It’s very difficult to rattle New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, but that’s what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to do if they’re going to have a chance against the Saints on Sunday.

One of the few encouraging things that came out of the season-opening loss to the Jets was that the Bucs recorded five sacks. Four of them came from linebackers, which shows that defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan isn’t afraid to blitz. He’ll need to do some of that against the Saints.

But the Bucs really need to bring a pass rush from their front four. New Orleans builds its lines from the inside out, so I wouldn’t count on defensive tackle Gerald McCoy having much success as a pass-rusher. But the Saints are a little shaky with Zach Strief starting at right tackle and Charles Brown at left tackle.

That means the door could be open for defensive ends Adrian Clayborn, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Da'Quan Bowers. If those guys can get near Brees, the Bucs might be able to slow the New Orleans offense.

What's up with the Buccaneers' stunts?

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
10:00
AM ET
Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fans have been asking consistently throughout the preseason about all the stunts the team has been using on the defensive line.

A lot of fans say they’re confused by what the stunts are all about and if they have any value.

Well, we got an answer straight from defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan on Thursday.

“The main thing is you’re trying to get misses in the line of scrimmage from a blocking standpoint,’’ Sheridan said. “A lot of teams are zone blocking or man blocking plays and when we move our guys horizontally; left to right, off an offensive linemen, you’re hoping you get some misses and penetration the line of scrimmage. For the most part, it’s really called for run downs, especially on first and second downs. We’re doing that with the intention of disrupting the run.’’

But Sheridan said the stunts also can help against the pass.

“The way we do it, because our second level players -- even though they have coverage on people -- if those guys stay in and block, they end up becoming additional rushers,’’ Sheridan said. “So a lot of times, especially on first and second down, when those quarterbacks are hanging on to the ball off the play action, we actually end up having additional guys rush in there, you can see that on the film . It’s normally called for a run down. Again, we’re trying to disrupt the blocking patterns and -- not just be stationary where they know where we’re going to line up and this is how they’re going to block us. We might be moving inside or outside off the different shades we play. But, again, if they hang onto the ball, -- the more guys they keep in, a lot of times we get additional rushers coming in.”

Around the NFC South

January, 7, 2013
1/07/13
10:57
AM ET
A look at some odds and ends from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Jeff Schultz has a list of advantages the Falcons have over the Seahawks. One he mentions is the combination of Roddy White and Julio Jones at receiver and tight end Tony Gonzalez. I think that’s the key to this game. That trio is hard to match up with. The Falcons need to forget the run and come out throwing.

D. Orlando Ledbetter has a list of the top 10 plays of the season for the Falcons. At No. 4, he has John Abraham’s forced fumble in Week 4 against Carolina. I’d actually put that play at No. 1. If Abraham didn’t force that fumble, Carolina would have won and Atlanta wouldn’t have gone on to start the season 8-0. Their season could have turned out a lot differently. Also, I think Carolina’s season might have been a lot different if the Panthers had won that game.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Scott Fowler has a column on former Carolina players Jeff Lewis and Bryan Stoltenberg, who died a day apart from each other. Lewis and Stoltenberg weren’t prominent players. But I covered them both during my days with The Charlotte Observer and remember both as good guys.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Sean Payton said Doug Marrone is ready to succeed as the new head coach in Buffalo. Payton knows Marrone as well as anyone. Marrone was the offensive coordinator during Payton’s first three seasons in New Orleans, before leaving to become the head coach at Syracuse.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Stephen Holder writes that there are no indications the Bucs plan to part ways with Bill Sheridan. That probably isn’t going to sit well with a segment of fans that are calling for change following a season in which the Bucs had the league’s worst pass defense. But it should be noted it often takes more than one season for a team to adjust to a new scheme. It also should be noted that Sheridan had no control over the injuries and suspensions the Bucs had to endure at cornerback.

Around the NFC South

September, 20, 2012
9/20/12
10:47
AM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Time for a look at the headlines from around the division.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said the secondary doesn’t deserve all the blame for Eli Manning throwing for 510 yards Sunday. He said the front seven of the defense could have given the secondary a lot more help.

It appears as if the Bucs are going to stick with Demar Dotson as their starting right tackle. Jeremy Trueblood had his chance under the new regime and didn’t make the most of it.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel said he’s looking forward to the atmosphere in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. I’m not sure he’ll be so fascinated on Sunday when he’s trying to get his team lined up before the play clock expires.

Although the numbers still are prolific, Nakia Hogan points out the New Orleans passing game hasn’t been as sharp as in the past. It’s been held back by dropped passes, penalties and missed assignments.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

The Panthers want to upgrade Bank of America Stadium with new video boards and escalators. It’s not clear if the team will seek public funding. The stadium, which opened in 1996, was built without any taxpayer money.

In his third season, Brandon LaFell has emerged as a solid No. 2 receiver. He might be the best complement to Steve Smith the Panthers have had since Muhsin Muhammad.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Cornerback Christopher Owens is going through the league’s concussion protocol. I’d guess it’s very unlikely he’ll be ready to play Sunday at San Diego. That means either Dominique Franks or Robert McClain likely will have to take over as the nickel back.

Although he’s off to a slow start and was charged with DUI on Tuesday, Mark Bradley writes that it’s not time for the Falcons to unload Michael Turner. His point is that the Falcons still need a running game and that’s very true. Turner might not be what he was in the past, but the Falcons need him (and Jacquizz Rodgers) to supply a bit of a running game to keep defenses honest against Atlanta’s passing game.

Quick hits on the Buccaneers

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
4:37
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- I swung out to One Buccaneer Place earlier to do an interview for my Thursday column. But there were a few minor things going on with the Bucs that are worth touching base on now.
  • Cornerback E.J. Biggers, who had been out since almost the start of training camp, returned to practice Wednesday. The team said Biggers participated fully. Recently-acquired Brandon McDonald worked as the third cornerback in the season opener, but Biggers could step back into that role quickly.
  • There’s been some speculation that running back LeGarrette Blount might be pouting because he lost his starting job to rookie Doug Martin. Coach Greg Schiano denied that, saying “he’s been good. There haven’t been any problems with LeGarrette."
  • Although the team has said Blount did not suffer a concussion Sunday, Schiano said “things didn't add up’’ about Blount’s condition after taking a big hit. Blount was supposed to have an MRI to check for a back or neck injury and was held out of practice Wednesday.
  • Although offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was the quarterbacks coach for the Giants last year and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan served in the same role in New York in 2009, Schiano said the Bucs can take only a minimal advantage from that. Schiano said, “At the end of the day, it’s players.’’
  • Schiano said he’ll spend most of Thursday leading his team through practice and preparing for the Giants. But he said he will try to swing over to Raymond James Stadium on Thursday evening to catch the game between Rutgers and the University of South Florida. Schiano coached at Rutgers the past 11 years.

Stock Watch: NFC South

September, 11, 2012
9/11/12
7:29
AM ET
FALLING

Rob Chudzinski, offensive coordinator, Panthers. At the end of last season, the Carolina Panthers were worried they were about to lose Chudzinski to a job as a head coach. General manager Marty Hurney, who does more worrying than anyone involved with the Panthers, even called around to reporters, asking what they were hearing about Chudzinski’s chances at various jobs. Nothing happened and Chudzinski stayed. The consensus was that Chudzinski was one more good season away from being a head coach. Well, if Sunday’s opener (10 yards rushing?) was any indication, Chudzinski might not be a head coach for a while.

[+] EnlargeSteve Spagnuolo
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireSteve Spagnuolo's defense gave up 464 yards against a Washington offense led by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Steve Spagnuolo, defensive coordinator, Saints. He was brought in to rebuild the defense. That same defense got torn apart by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III on Sunday. The Saints had the perfect setup -- a rookie quarterback coming into one of the loudest places in the league. They squandered their chance by not putting any pressure on Griffin and he eventually silenced the crowd.

Michael Turner, running back, Falcons. The Falcons weren’t lying when they said they would limit Turner’s carries this season. He had 11 for 32 yards on Sunday as the Falcons unveiled an offensive scheme that is geared more toward the pass. Still, I wouldn’t go dropping Turner from your fantasy team just yet. There will be games where the Falcons will need to establish the running game.

RISING

Matt Ryan, quarterback, Falcons. It looks like Dirk Koetter’s offense is a perfect fit for Ryan. He had three touchdown passes and threw for 299 yards. He even ran for a touchdown, which is something that hasn’t happened often in the past and won’t in the future. It’s very early in the season. But, at the moment, you have to include Turner in MVP conversations.

Gerald McCoy, defensive tackle, Buccaneers. There was a reason why the Bucs used the third overall draft pick on McCoy in 2010. We might have finally seen it Sunday. With McCoy healthy and anchoring the middle of the line, the Bucs shut down Carolina’s running game. The Bucs even got some pressure on Cam Newton and McCoy recorded a sack, just the fifth of his career and also came close to sacking Newton a couple of other times. If McCoy can stay healthy for an entire season, his draft status will be justified.

Bill Sheridan, defensive coordinator, Buccaneers. This guy got fired as coordinator with the New York Giants after one very disastrous season in 2009. But he’s getting a shot at redemption in Tampa Bay. Starting rookies Mark Barron and Lavonte David and playing other young players, Sheridan did a nice job of shutting down what was supposed to be a high-powered Carolina offense. Oh, by the way, the Bucs will play a road game against the Giants on Sunday.
Ron Edwards, Jon Beason, Luke KuechlyIcon SMI, US Presswire, AP PhotoWith Ron Edwards, Jon Beason and Luke Kuechly could Carolina have the best defense in the division?
There are trees and there are limbs. As I write this, I’m standing on the smallest twig I can find.

You are about to read something you probably aren’t going to read anywhere else this offseason: The Carolina Panthers will have the best defense in the NFC South in 2012.

That’s right, I’m saying that a defense that ranked No. 28 in the league in yards per game (377.6) and allowed 406 points last season will be the best in the division.

My logic is two-pronged. I’m not completely sold on any other defense in the division. The Atlanta Falcons have a shot to be very good with Mike Nolan taking over as coordinator, but the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have personnel work to do on defense.

More importantly, I’m going with Carolina because I believe the Panthers have the personnel and coaching to make things work. Sean McDermott may have taken his lumps in Philadelphia, and he’s not the most popular guy in Charlotte these days. But McDermott suddenly is the dean of NFC South defensive coordinators (Nolan, New Orleans’ Steve Spagnoulo and Tampa Bay’s Bill Sheridan each are in their first season with new teams).

[+] EnlargeRon Rivera
Sam Sharpe/US PresswireRon Rivera's defense is much healthier than it was last season.
That means Carolina is the only NFC South team that’s not implementing a new defense. The Panthers simply are plugging new (and old) players into a system that has been in place for a year. At this time a year ago, the common assumption was that Carolina’s defense would be decent because new coach Ron Rivera came from a defensive background and he had some talent on the team. But, suddenly, that talent started disappearing.

Defensive tackle Ron Edwards went down with an injury early in training camp. Linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis went down with injuries early in the regular season and the defense fell into chaos.

But, as the Panthers get ready for training camp, Edwards and Beason are healthy. So is Davis, although the Panthers are keeping their fingers crossed because he’s coming back from his third torn ACL. The Panthers protected themselves against another injury to Davis by investing a first-round pick in Boston College’s Luke Kuechly.

Factor Beason, Edwards and Kuechly into the equation and it’s not hard to see why Rivera feels a lot better about his defense than he has at any point since last September.

“I love Dan Connor (who filled in for Beason at middle linebacker last season and left for Dallas as a free agent), but Dan Connor’s not a communicator,’’ Rivera recently told The Charlotte Observer. “He’s a hard-nosed, grindstone-type guy. And that was tough on our safeties. But now you’ve got Jon Beason, who communicates like you can’t believe. You’ve got Luke Kuechly, who shows he knows how to communicate. So right through the middle of our defense we’ve gotten better.’’

Rivera believes you build a defense the same way you build a baseball team -- straight up the middle. The Panthers haven’t officially said if Beason or Kuechly will play the middle. Whichever one doesn’t will play the outside opposite either Davis or James Anderson, who was one of Carolina’s few defensive bright spots last season. That’s a good thing because Rivera also believes that once you’re set in the middle, the rest of the defense will take care of itself.

That’s why I see bright things for Carolina’s defense. There’s some talent on the outer fringes that can really blossom with a solid middle. There is defensive end Charles Johnson, who had 20.5 sacks the past two seasons while getting very little help. There’s hope that this will be the season defensive end Greg Hardy finally plays to his potential. As Rivera said, safeties Sherrod Martin and Charles Godfrey should be better just because they’ll have Beason and Kuechly telling them where to go. Veteran cornerback Chris Gamble remains solid, and that really leaves only one hole.

Starting cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is undersized and was picked on at times last season. In an ideal world, the Panthers would like rookie Josh Norman or second-year pro Brandon Hogan to claim the starting job and let Munnerlyn work exclusively as the nickel back. In a less-than-perfect world, Munnerlyn could still start but move inside to match up with slot receivers on passing downs and let one of the bigger corners play the outside.

“I want to see somebody take the bull by the horns and become the No. 2,’’ Rivera said. “If it’s Captain, awesome. If it’s somebody else, awesome. If it’s one of the younger guys, awesome. Somebody needs to step up and become that guy.’’

Somebody also needs to step up to be “that’’ defense in the NFC South.

I think Carolina has the wherewithal to be that defense. It doesn’t hurt that the Panthers have Cam Newton and an offense that can score points and stay on the field for extended periods. If the defense turns out to be the best in the NFC South, the Panthers suddenly could be a playoff contender.

Breaking down Tampa Bay's staff

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
8:36
AM ET
Now that the entire coaching staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is officially in place, let’s take a look at some interesting tidbits.

If you include Butch Davis, who officially is a special assistant to head coach Greg Schiano, the Buccaneers have a staff that includes five coaches who have served as a head coach at the NFL or college level.

Schiano previously was a head coach at Rutgers. Davis was a head coach for the Cleveland Browns, the University of North Carolina and the University of Miami. Defensive backs coach Ron Cooper was a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. Offensive line assistant Steve Loney was head coach at Morehead State, and quarterbacks coach Ron Turner was a head coach at San Jose State and Illinois.

Trivia question for you: What else to those five men have in common? They all were head coaches for a longer time than former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris, who had never been a head coach before the Bucs promoted him in 2009.

Also, including Davis, the Bucs have staff members that have been defensive coordinators at the NFL or college level. Schiano was defensive coordinator at the University of Miami. Davis was defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was the coordinator for the New York Giants in 2009. Cooper was defensive coordinator at several college stops. Linebackers coach Bob Fraser was defensive coordinator at Rutgers.

The Bucs also have five staff members that have been offensive coordinators at the college or NFL level. Senior offensive assistant Jimmy Raye has been offensive coordinator for multiple NFL teams. Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio was offensive coordinator at Ithaca. Offensive line coach Bob Bostad was co-offensive coordinator at San Jose State. Loney was offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings and at several colleges. Turner was offensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears.
We’ve heard most of the names and found out some of the roles, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just officially made the announcement of their defensive coaching staff.

Here it is:
  • Bill Sheridan, defensive coordinator
  • Ron Cooper, defensive backs coach
  • Bryan Cox, front seven coach
  • Bob Fraser, linebackers coach
  • Jeff Hafley, assistant defensive backs coach
  • Tem Lukabu, defensive quality control coach
  • Randy Melvin, defensive line coach

Sheridan has been a linebackers coach in the NFL, and served as defensive coordinator for the New York Giants in 2009. Cooper has been with LSU the past three years, where he coached cornerback Morris Claiborne, who could be available to the Bucs with the No. 5 pick in the NFL draft.

Cox, a former NFL linebacker, has spent the past six years with the Jets, Browns and Dolphins. Cox worked with Sheridan when they were in Miami.

Fraser is following Schiano from Rutgers. Fraser worked as defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and linebackers coach for the past six years at Rutgers. Hafley and Lukabu also are coming from Rutgers. Hafley was defensive backs coach at Rutgers last season, and also coached the secondary at Pittsburgh and several small colleges before that. Lukabu spent the past two seasons coaching outside linebackers at Rutgers.

Melvin most recently coached in the Canadian Football League, but he also has a deep history at the NFL and college levels. Melvin coached with Bill Belichick in New England and Romeo Crennel in Cleveland. Melvin spent the 2010 season with Schiano at Rutgers, and was at Temple the previous year.

The Bucs haven’t officially announced their offensive staff yet, but we know Mike Sullivan is the coordinator, and the names of most of the other assistants have been reported at various times. The Bucs still are looking for a quarterbacks coach.

Also, Schiano announced at the scouting combine Thursday that Bob Ligasheski has been hired to coach special teams. Ligasheski previously has coached special teams in Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Denver and Oakland.

No news on Ronde Barber

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
2:43
PM ET
At least as of Tuesday, there has been no decision on the future of veteran cornerback Ronde Barber with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Barber, who can become a free agent, previously said he hadn’t reached any decision. As defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan spoke to the media Tuesday, he said most personnel decisions won’t be made until after the coaches and front-office staff return next week from the scouting combine.

“I haven’t hardly reached out to any of the guys other than some of the guys I’ve bumped into at the facility here the last couple of days,’’ Sheridan said. “Right now, we’re concentrating on getting ready for the combine coming up. When we come back free agency will be a priority. At that time, I know [general manager] Mark [Dominik] and [coach] Greg [Schiano] and I will start talking about defensive needs and our current roster and where the needs are and how we’ll address free agency. But a lot of that stuff has not been talked about in the short time that I’ve been here. Our biggest sense of urgency now is to get ready to go down to Indianapolis and try to make the best use of the four or five days while we’re in town there to evaluate the draft prospects.’’

But it’s likely the Bucs will need to know Barber’s future soon after the combine. The decision on that isn’t entirely up to the Bucs. Barber, who will turn 37 in April, could elect to retire. If Barber wants to continue playing, the Bucs face a complicated decision.

Barber is an icon in Tampa Bay and the last real link to the Super Bowl team. The Bucs haven’t always handled endings well and didn’t score many points with their fans when they released linebacker Derrick Brooks in 2009. But, even though the Bucs are building with youth, it’s possible they could make an exception and re-sign Barber. Aqib Talib, the other starting cornerback from last season, is facing a March trial on an assault charge. Talib faces the possibility of prison time and discipline by the NFL. The Bucs might want to keep Barber around to help them through the transition.

Sheridan to run Schiano's defense

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
12:49
PM ET
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to be the only NFC South team making much news or much noise. The Bucs have been putting some of the new hires to their coaching staff in front of the media and that happened again Tuesday as defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan spoke.

Sheridan said he plans to run an aggressive 4-3 scheme.

“It’s going to be Greg Schiano’s defense because he’s our head coach and I’m coordinating for him,” Sheridan said. “Obviously he hired me because he thinks I have a lot of experience, knowledge and competence, and he’s relying on that as well. I’m excited about jumping into it and trying to mesh our ideas. But it’s Greg’s defense for sure. He was an outstanding defensive coach long before he was ever coach at Rutgers.”

Schiano previously was defensive coordinator at the University of Miami and a defensive assistant for the Chicago Bears. Sheridan was with the Dolphins as linebackers coach the past two seasons. He had been hired as an assistant at Ohio State, but left the Buckeyes to join the Bucs.

Prior to joining the Dolphins, Sheridan spent five years with the New York Giants. The first four were as linebackers coach. In 2009, Sheridan was promoted to defensive coordinator and that didn’t work out very well. Sheridan was fired after the Giants allowed the second-most points in franchise history.

“I took and take full responsibility for the fact that we didn’t play good enough defense at the end of the year when I was coordinating that year,” Sheridan said. “Because I was put in charge of that, and the bottom line, at the end of the year, we didn’t keep people out of the end zone well enough to be successful.”

Sheridan said the Giants suffered several key injuries.

“We started to falter and we hit a skid during the middle of the season,” Sheridan said. “In hindsight, looking back, I think one of the things we probably did was we assumed, as a defensive staff, we assumed because we had made the playoffs four previous years ... that things would get turned around, they would get better.”

The Giants were forced to sign several “street’’ free agents and give them extensive playing time. In hindsight, Sheridan said he may have made the defense too simple.

“It’s great for your own players that you present to them a simplistic scheme that they can execute on Sunday, but you’re also not posing enough issues for the teams you play against,’’ Sheridan said. “You’re not giving them enough problems.”

With the Bucs, Sheridan will be taking over a defense that’s very young in the front seven. There also could be some new players in the secondary because the futures of cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib are uncertain.

Sheridan can learn from his past. He needs to make Tampa Bay’s defense complicated enough that it can cause problems for opposing teams.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFC SOUTH SCOREBOARD