The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can’t catch a break in their secondary. An injury crisis hit the unit early in the season. To help, the team signed veteran Richard Sherman to help. After just two weeks, he went out injured too.
Now, even the defensive backs coach is out due to COVID-19. What are the Bucs to do? Well, this week, they called on “coach” Sherman to help get them ready to play the Chicago Bears in Week 7.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a lot of secondary injuries
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary has fallen victim to the injury bug in 2021. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting went out in week 1, Jamel Dean made an early exit in Week 3, and, in Week 4, both cornerback Carlton Davis III and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. hit the locker room early.
In Week 4, the team had to turn to veteran free agent Richard Sherman. In his first two games of the 2021 season with his new team, Sherman played an incredible 98% of the Bucs’ defensive snaps.
Probably unsurprisingly, with that kind of workload without a training camp for the 33-year-old, Sherman suffered a hamstring injury. He is now also out injured.
When any unit on an NFL team has the type of injuries and turnover that the Buccaneers secondary does this season, coaching becomes critical. The defensive backs coach for the Buccaneers has his work cut out for him, getting new and young players ready to go and trying to get near-strangers on the same page.
In Tampa Bay, there’s just one problem with that heading into Week 7.
Richard Sherman is coaching the Buccaneers defensive backs this week
In addition to the injury crisis, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a COVID-19 issue as well. Defensive backs coach Kevin Ross has sat out this week with a breakthrough case of the virus, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Officially, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles — a former DB and DB coach himself — is coaching the banged-up Buccaneers secondary. However, the unit is also getting coached up by an unlikely source.
Peter Schrager reported on the FOX pregame show today that:
Kevin Ross is the defensive backs coach, and he too is out due to COVID-19 protocols. So I’m told all week, someone had to step up and coach the DBs. Who was it? Richard Sherman! Injured from the team, yet he was serving as coach of the defensive backs all week long in Tampa, and today, despite being injured, they love the fact that Sherman dove right in. Ross will not be out there. Todd Bowles will obviously be coaching the defense and will be running the defensive backs room, but Richard Sherman will serve as an assistant coach today on the sidelines.Peter Schrager on Richard Sherman
Co-host and Hall of Fame defensive back Charles Woodson followed up, asking Schrager the question that many were probably thinking, “Does he get two checks?”
Schrager waived him off without giving a direct answer, and former NFL head coach Dave Wannstedt quipped, “Wait until he sees the reduction in that paycheck.”
The Buccaneers secondary takes on Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears in Week 7
The battered and bruised Buccaneers secondary takes on the Chicago Bears in Week 7, which could provide just the break the unit needs to get back on track.
The Bears offense has struggled at times this year under rookie QB Justin Fields. Overall, the unit is ranked 30th in scoring offense and total yards. They are also dead last in passing yards. In addition to the inexperienced signal-caller, the Bears pass-catchers — Darnell Mooney, Allen Robinson, Cole Kmet, Marquise Goodwin — don’t exactly strike fear in cornerbacks.
Fields stats have been rough as well. He’s passed for 200 yards just once (209 vs. Detroit Lions), and his completion rate is a paltry 53.5%. He does do an OK job protecting the ball, though, throwing just three interceptions in 99 attempts.
If the Buccaneers secondary wants to get right, despite all the injuries, the Bears might be one of the best teams to play against. And, if they do, coach Richard Sherman should get some credit.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference