CB Ronde Barber, a proven pass rusher from the backfield, faced a blitz of questions from Bucs fans on Thursday
The way Ronde Barber sees it, Simeon Rice doesn't cut into his slice of the pie. He makes the pie bigger for everyone.
In the fall of 2000, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers set a team record with 55 sacks, Barber leapt into the consciousness of the average NFL fan with 5.5 sacks of his own, a remarkable total for a cornerback. Over the offseason, the Bucs inked Rice, a pass rusher deluxe, leading to thoughts of the most dominant defensive line in team history.
With so much talent up front, will there even be a need for the sneaky blitzes at which Barber has proven so adept?
Surprisingly, Barber believes the addition of Rice could actually improve the defensive back's chances to get to the quarterback. That being said, what Barber would really like to pump on his stat line is the interception column.
These insights and more came to light on Thursday, when Barber sat down for a 'Your Turn' interview with Buccaneers.com. Since his impressive all-around campaign in 2000 and the nervous spring weeks before he re-signed with Tampa Bay, Barber has become a very interesting topic for Buccaneers fans. On Thursday, they got a chance to fire a few questions in his direction. Following is the transcript of the first half of that interview.
To view the video of Barber's interview, in Windows Media Player or Quicktime, please visit the video archive or use the Broadcast Network on the home page.
Moderator: "It is Thursday, June 7, 2001, and the 'Your Turn' interview series is back. Our first guest of the summer is cornerback Ronde Barber. Ronde, you just finished up another hot and grueling practice out back and watched a little extra film, as is your habit, so we appreciate you taking a little time out of your schedule to spend with Buccaneers.com."
Ronde Barber: "Thanks for having me. I was around, so I said, 'Why not?' You guys are always good to me, so I'm always good to you guys."
Moderator: "In the minds of many, re-signing Ronde Barber was one of the key elements for a successful offseason for the Buccaneers. Thankfully, that occurred. One suspects it would have been difficult to replace a player who in one season can put up 97 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 20 passes defensed, two interceptions, two touchdowns. I'm probably missing a couple (other stats), but the point is, our fans are now wondering what you can do for an encore."
Ronde Barber: "Oh, man. Get more interceptions. That's what my coaches are telling me."
Moderator: "Our fans have a lot of other questions for you. This is called the 'Your Turn' series because all of the questions you're going to hear were sent in by Buccaneers fans using Buccaneers.com
Ronde Barber: "Let's go."
Steve Garget of Darlington, United Kingdom: "How close did you come to signing with another team and what part did the Bucs other free agent signings play in your return?"
Leo Daab of Tampa, Florida: "How hard of a decision was it for you to stay in Tampa as opposed to pursuing a position with the Giants and joining your brother, Tiki up in New York?"
Ronde Barber: "Well, the answer to the Giants question is that one never really came to fruition. We tried to work with Ernie (Acorsi) and those guys in New York, but they didn't have any money left after they signed Tiki (Barber) and Jason (Sehorn). It was everybody else's turn.
"Really, on the question of coming close to signing with anyone else, there really was no one else that came close. There were some teams that wanted to do some things down the stretch, when I got close to signing my deal (in Tampa), but none of them were serious enough to content with Tampa. So it was an easy decision for me, especially with the team bringing in guys like Simeon (Rice) and Brad (Johnson). Seeing them trying to improve, knowing we have to win now, was a big incentive to stay."
Moderator: "We took thousands of questions for this interview. We only picked 20 that were representative, but a good many of them had to do with whether you would like the opportunity to play with your brother."
Ronde Barber: "I would definitely like that opportunity. Who knows if it will come? The way free agency is these days, I may be free again in a couple of years, he may be free in a couple of years. We'll look at it down the road, but right now I'm a Buccaneer and he's still a Giant. It's the same as it's always been, I guess."
Brian of Orlando, Florida: "What do you think about the coming NFL realignment?
Ronde Barber: "I like it. I think it's going to make some good rivalries. We're obviously going to lose some good rivalries. I hate to see us lose Chicago and Green Bay, although I don't mind not playing Randy Moss twice a year. The way it's sectioned off around the country, I think it will make the rivalries a lot easier. People will be able to travel better; our flights won't be nearly as long. We'll get used to it. That's the best way I can say it. It's definitely going to seem weird in the beginning, but we're going to get used to and it will be something we're glad we did."
Joe Cody of Wesley Chapel, Florida: "With the added beef up front, namely Simeon Rice, providing more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, do you see your role this year as more of a cover DB, rather then the big role you played in the blitz packages last year?"
Jimmy Dort of Lakeland, Florida: "With the added depth to the front line of the defense, do you think the pressure they put on quarterbacks will help the secondary get more interceptions?"
Ronde Barber: "Obviously, added pressure leads to more interceptions. Added pressure leads to more turnovers, period. Added pressure definitely makes our job easier, so I was ecstatic to see us go after a player the caliber of Simeon Rice. He's done many things in his career and I think he's going to help us.
"As far as it affecting our blitz package … you'd like to just get those guys up there and rush them, but realistically, that's not the way you play in the NFL. I think Simeon's going to help the guys in the middle, Warren (Sapp) and Booger (McFarland), create some space. You can't have a tackle sit on him, because he's a speed rusher who gets up the field. He can create lanes for the blitzes, more than anything. There are multi-dimensional ways that he's going to help us."
Bill Ford of Treasure Island, Florida: "Last year, you got a large number of sacks for a cornerback, mainly on blitzes. What is the key to being a good blitzing corner?"
Ronde Barber: "That's easy. They have to not pay attention to you. You'll notice, all my sacks came early in the year. The first five or six games, I had four-and-a-half sacks, and the rest of the season I only had one. They started sitting on me, and I started getting tackles in the mouth instead of a free look at the quarterback. Like I said, a guy like Simeon is going to help out with the tackle and not let guys sit on me and sit on the blitz. Hopefully we'll get some more."
Michael Cosby of St Petersburg, Florida: "There is nothing better than a cornerback sack and you had five, I think. My question is, who covers your assignment when you blitz?"
Ronde Barber: "Different people. We do a lot of zone blitzing, meaning there's regular pressure up front. It's still just four-man pressure or five-man pressure, but taking me out of coverage to blitz drops somebody else into coverage, and it's usually a defensive end. It will be Simeon or Marcus depending on the strength of the call. So those guys have to be good athletes. It's really a scheme thing. It's not that we're just beating you man-to-man and knocking you on your butt. We're going to throw some different looks at you and come at you when you're not expecting it."
Rob of Old Bridge, New Jersey: "Was it tough to watch so many of your teammates go to the Pro Bowl last year after the great season that you had?"
Ronde Barber: "No, no. The Pro Bowl, that stuff will happen. If it's meant to happen, it will happen. If I continue to play at a high level, I'll probably see a Pro Bowl. I mean, I expect myself to be a Pro Bowler if I continue to play at the level I'm playing at. Like I said, I've got to get interceptions, because that's when people really start remembering you.
"But, with the mix of great talent we have on defense, it's just an honor to be mentioned in that class. You've got a corner like Donnie Abraham, who's been great for four years, and he finally just makes it after his fourth or fifth season. It just goes to show what you have to do to get there. My time will come."
Karen Tafoya of Pittsburg, California: "Do you ever take a rookie 'under your wing', teach him 'the ropes' and help him 'find his way around?'
Ronde Barber: "You know, it seems like I've been a young guy ever since I've been here. This year, I'm finally feeling like I'm starting to be a vet and some young guys are starting to look up to me. I haven't yet (taken a player under his wing), but there are some guys here that I have really taken an interest in. Dwight Smith is one, John Howell from Colorado State is another one. I like the way he plays and I think, with a little tutoring, those two guys are going to be great players. They're obviously not going to come in and play right now on our defense. We've got some outstanding talent all over the board on defense, so they're going to do well just to get on the team and play some special teams.
"But, whatever I can do, I will. This league, this game, is about what you leave it with. If I can leave some of the stuff I've learned with those guys, I think I can make the game better."
Bart Walz of Charlottesville, Virginia: "When are you going to do a sportscaster show like your brother does in New York City. I was in New York recently and I saw Tiki doing a sports segment. Then I thought, 'Hey, Ronde should do the same thing.'"
Ronde Barber: "You know, Tiki's a natural at that thing. He looks at it, views the script, and goes in there and performs like he's Stuart Scott or something. My involvement in that is a little more minor. The market is different, for one thing. Tiki gets a lot of exposure up there. If you're successful, and the team is successful, then everybody wants a piece of you. He's just letting everyone take a piece of him because he can handle it. I do my show with NBC after the game, and that's about it. It's just a little wrap-up show, nothing too major or strenuous. I just come in and talk, like I'm talking to you."
Chris of Gahanna, Ohio: "How do you condition yourself and keep sharp so you can react in split second situations?"
Ronde Barber: "Really, in the offseason, my conditioning is mainly a lot of road work. It's a lot of running to build a base. I'm more of a fitness, get-in-overall-shape kind of guy. As far as getting in shape for quickness and all that stuff, that comes when you get on the field out here and you're working day to day with Mike Tomlin and Monte Kiffin. You're doing technique-specific drills. This camp we're doing now is really what that's for, getting into that kind of shape."
Tim Martucci of Brooksville, Florida: "Although you were a leading force in a hard-hitting defense, as a whole the unit seemed to slip a notch last season. Do you feel this season will exceed the level of excellence the defense experienced in 1999? What changes do you anticipate will help the defense achieve their goals this year?"
Ronde Barber: "I think we will. '99 was definitely our best year, going back and looking at it. 2000, even statistically, wasn't as good as we expected it to be. We went into camp and expecting to get better (from 1999 to 2000). I think we did some good things, definitely, but overall, when we looked at the board at the beginning of this year, we got worse. You always say you're either getting better or getting worse, and last year we got worse. We have some things to fix, and I think we're working very hard to get back to our 1999 form."
Part II of Your Turn with Ronde Barber will be added to the site in a few days. Among the topics addressed by Barber in part two are advice to an aspiring high school cornerback, the emotions of a winning locker room and the most difficult receivers in the NFL to cover.