TAMPA – Despite what some fans have suggested they do, the Buccaneers are not going to cut struggling second-year cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.
They probably aren’t going to bench him either. After all, it’s not like replacing him with Ryan Smith is going to make matters better.
No, the Bucs are pretty much stuck with what they’ve got with Hargreaves. The problem is, they’re not quite sure what is they’ve got right now.
It’s obvious to everyone watching that Hargreaves is struggling but why he’s struggling appears to be a bit of a mystery.
Asked on Monday if he thought Hargreaves was lacking confidence, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said he didn’t think so, but added that he wasn’t “100-percent sure on that.’’
Asked later if he thought Hargreaves was struggling to understand defensive concepts, Koetter again said, “I don’t think so.’’
He then said that Hargreaves issues are definitely not the result of a lack of ability. On that point, Koetter seemed certain.
Something is clearly wrong, though, because Hargreaves continues to play at a level far below what was expected of him and the situation only seems to be getting worse.
We pointed out last week that just as he was last year, Hargreaves has once again become the most picked on and exploited cornerback in the league.
That trend continued Sunday at Arizona where, for the second straight week, Hargreaves allowed every pass thrown his way to be completed, according to Pro Football Focus.
Hargreaves has now broken up just one of the 37 passes thrown his way this year, all while allowing opposing quarterbacks to produce a passer rating of 128.7 against him.
And if you think that’s bad, the problem now appears to have extended to his play in the run game. It did against the Cardinals anyway.
Hargreaves missed three tackles in that game, according to PFF, and at times simply did not seem interested in trying to stop Adrian Peterson.
Again, that’s not the Hargreaves the Bucs signed up for. Though he’s a bit small, Hargreaves has never lacked passion, aggression or confidence.
He’s always been one of those players who plays bigger than he really is but the Bucs haven’t seen that player since training camp and Koetter admits he’s “extremely’’ concerned as to why.
“We asked Vern to be more aggressive this year and to be more aggressive with his coverage and he started out doing that,’’ Koetter said.
“He started out doing that in OTAs and training camp, but he has not played his best football here these last three games.
“He’s not in a very good streak of games right now … but you have to remember, if we could just snap our fingers and fix stuff it would already be done.’’