New / Old linebackers coach Joe Barry sat down with Joey Johnston of the Tampa Tribune to speak on his return to the Bucs & Jermaine Phillips switch from safety to linebacker.
Q: That being said, you’ve always been a guy with great ambition. Where does your career stand right now?
A: I still have very high goals for myself. I want to coordinate again. Ultimately, I want to be a head coach in this league. I’m not all of a sudden a different coach or a different person. I’m still that same guy. I’m glad to be back because this is a special place. We did special things when I was here before, and that’s the mindset we’re still going to roll with. My primary goals are to help the Bucs win and help [head coach Raheem Morris] do a great job. But me, personally? My long-term goals haven’t changed.
Q: Why weren’t any linebackers taken in the draft?
A: Usually, you go into a draft needing to beef things up before training camp. You want to go to camp with nine, you only have six and you need three. When we had our [pre-draft] minicamp, we felt secure with who we had. Right now, we have 10 on the roster. Our numbers are set. Had the right guy been there, we might’ve taken one. But it didn’t happen that way.
Q: But you’ve got some pretty high-profile guys who aren’t here. How do you plug those holes?
A: No question. Bottom line, we got rid of two starting linebackers [Brooks, Cato June] from the 2008 season. But we have guys behind them we’re going to war with. We do feel good about it. You’d love to have three Pro Bowlers ready to go, but what we have is pure competition. When you’re set, you try to create competition, but deep down, guys know who’s the starter and who’s the backup. Whether it’s Quincy Black, Adam Hayward, Angelo Crowell, Geno Hayes, Matt McCoy, Rod Wilson, Niko Koutouvides – all of them – they’re all wired in. They can’t take a day off. They can’t take a play off. I’m excited to see how it all turns out.
Q: Jermaine Phillips going from safety to linebacker. Is it an experiment or a definite move? Is he now a linebacker — period?
A: Before that first minicamp, it was an experiment. Being truthful, even the first or second day of the minicamp, it was an experiment. But we’re through that, eight weeks into the offseason, and it’s not an experiment any more. Jermaine Phillips is a Will [weakside] linebacker. At first, we were saying maybe Flip [Phillips] could play a nickel Will linebacker. That’s how it started. We kept talking and said, “Well, what if we had him do it with the regular base defense on the field?” Now we’ve only had five [minicamp] practices and one [OTA], but he has proven he can do it. It’s not an experiment any more.
Q: Why do you think Jermaine will be a good linebacker?
A: I’ve been around him for six years and know what he brings to the table. No. 1, it’s physical presence. When a safety goes to linebacker, normally the thing that causes him not to succeed is he can’t survive down in there. Jermaine has somewhat been in that world as the eighth man in the box. Granted, there’s a learning curve and he has some progressions to make. But if he continues on this path, we think we’re going to have a special type of linebacker, considering his speed and athleticism.
Q: When you left the Bucs, Barrett Ruud was young and inexperienced. Now he’s the established middle linebacker. Does he look like a different guy now?
A: Actually, he’s the guy I always thought he could be. I was a Barrett Ruud fan from Day One, when he was drafted [in 2005], but he had to work his way in behind Shelton Quarles. Now it’s Barrett’s time. He has grown up a lot. He’s solid. He’s a real asset to this franchise. Source: TampaTribune.com