The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been cleaning house a bit, and prior to the trade deadline, they shipped for former No. 7 overall pick Mark Barron to the St. Louis Rams for two future draft picks. Barron, upon arriving in St. Louis, then ripped the Bucs’ defensive scheme as being “too passive.” [ Join FanDuel.com’s $3M Week 9 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 26,405 teams paid ] His former head coach, Lovie Smith, is the architect of the Buccaneers’ defensive scheme, and it doesn’t appear he took too kindly to Barron’s comments. In fact, Smith wasn’t even prompted to comment on what Barron had to say to take his own thinly veiled shot at his former player. Asked about rookie receiver Mike Evans, who made a strong effort in vein to tackle Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr on the game’s final play in overtime last week, Smith went for the open-field tackle. “The effort [Evans] gave, he looked like a safety on that play,” Smith said, via the Tampa Bay Times . “One that wasn’t real passive on that play, going down and trying to strip the ball.” Sour grapes, meet ill will. But then again, it’s in Smith’s nature to be passive aggressive , right? Smith was asked about his Tampa-2 system, which requires defenders to sit back, defend their turf, seldom blitz and aim to make plays after receivers catch the ball. The head coach, who is in the middle of a brutal first season in Tampa, made it known he was not going to attack Barron directly — and that his scheme isn’t the problem. “I’m not going to talk about any players that aren’t here anymore,” Smith said. “Our safety position that we play, one of the requirements isn’t for you to be passive, I will say that.” – – – – – – – Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
Finally healthy and given a shot to start, linebacker Josh Mauga suddenly leads the resurgent Kansas City Chiefs in tackles nearing the midway point of the season. The New York Jets can give you a primer. When they visit Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, they will gaze across the field at the very same linebacker that they decided was washed up. Mauga struggled with so many injuries the past couple seasons that the Jets finally let him go, only for him to find a home in Kansas City.
(The Sports Xchange) – Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden moved Thursday to the precipice of declaring Robert Griffin III his starting quarterback for Sunday’s game at Minnesota, a big step forward from the coach’s dancing around the topic on Wednesday. “The progress that he has made has had us put him in with the ones and prepare to be the starter,” Gruden said of Griffin, who returned to full practice on Wednesday after missing the last six-plus games with a dislocated left ankle suffered early in the Week 2 rout of Jacksonville. …
Khalil Mack has done just about everything the Oakland Raiders have asked of him his rookie season. The only thing lacking so far from Mack is something he was supposed to get frequently: a quarterback sack. Through seven games, Mack is still seeking his first sack despite being compared to pass rushing specialist Von Miller when he was drafted fifth overall in May. ”It’s something that’s kind of sitting on my mind,” Mack said. He has been credited with 15 quarterback hurries and hits the past three games, according to Pro Football Focus, and his 22 pressures for the season are the most for any player without a sack.