Bucs resisting temptation to move Barber back to corner


The Buccaneers are extremely thin at cornerback.

But even though they have one guy who used to be really good at it, they’re hesitant to move Ronde Barber back from free safety.

We just feel comfortable with what we’re doing right now,” Bucs coach Greg Schiano said, via Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. “I’m not going to say that that would never happen. But that’s not what we want to do right now.”

With Eric Wright suspended and Aqib Talib pawned off on the Patriots, the Bucs are down to starting E.J. Biggers and undrafted rookie Leonard Johnson at corner, with journeyman Danny Gorrer in their nickel package.

The results have been about like you’d expect.

The Bucs are last in the league in pass defense, allowing 315.5 yards per game, or more than 14 yards per game more than the 31st-ranked Redskins.

Barber has five Pro Bowls on his resume playing cornerback, but there’s a reason he’s inside. As much as he’s helped rookie Mark Barron, the 37-year-old lacked range in recent years, and playing safety’s probably the only thing keeping him from hanging out with his retired brother Tiki.

Barber said he didn’t think the Bucs current situation was “an emergency,” that would require him moving back, there have been moments where he’s had to reprise old roles. When they go to their dime defense, he becomes a de facto nickel corner, playing over the slot, a position from which he can cover or blitz. Making him the nickel doesn’t seem like that big a leap, but Schiano didn’t seem inclined to make changes at multiple positions.

“I kind of like his command back there [at safety], and he and Mark are working together,” said Schiano. “Absolutely, that comes into play. When you make position changes you [have to ask], ‘Do you want to move two guys?’ because now you’re jeopardizing two [positions] rather than one.”

The reason Barber doesn’t seem to be pushing for the job is probably a case of late-career realism. In a division full of top-flight receivers, Barber was exposed a bit in recent years, and moving back onto the island probably wouldn’t be good for the Bucs’ present or his legacy.

6 responses to “Bucs resisting temptation to move Barber back to corner

  1. Ronde’s one of my favorite players ever, but he doesn’t have the speed to play corner anymore. He’s been great at safety, and I’d rather have a good safety than a subpar corner at this point. Keep him at safety, he’s playing great there.

  2. The only way I would put Barber back at corner is if he was given help over the top from a safety, at all times. I believe Barber could still blanket the short to medium pass plays, but would get burnt on the deep route. That is what the safety is for, but that also leaves two less eyes on defending the run. That is why I think the Bucs will stick with keeping Barber where he’s at. The rookie corner will learn quickly what is expected from him. He’ll either sink or float.

  3. I’m thrilled to have the Bucs in the playoff hunt. But this season is more about getting the team to be better. For 2013, we need to know if Leonard Johnson and E.J. Biggers can play.

  4. I think we all know the answer, EJ Biggers CAN’T play!
    He’s getting burned this year just as much as last.

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