Tony Oden Has Work Cut out for Him as Bucs' New Defensive Backs Coach

J.J. Rodriguez@ActofRodContributor IIJanuary 31, 2013

METAIRE, LA - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Tony Oden of the New Orleans Saints poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Metairie, Louisiana. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

Tony Oden was hired as the defensive backs coach on Wednesday, replacing the departed Ron Cooper who took the same job on Willie Taggart's staff at USF.

Oden comes to the Bucs after one season as the DBs coach in Jacksonville where he oversaw their 22nd-ranked pass defense. The Jaguars allowed 239.5 yards per game, or nearly 60 fewer yards per contest than the 32nd-ranked Bucs pass defense in 2012. 

Oden, 39, has youth on his side and will need every bit of the energy and enthusiasm associated with it as the Bucs secondary has almost as many offseason question marks in 2013 as blown coverages in 2012. 

Will Ronde Barber return? What will happen to Eric Wright? Will the Bucs use free agency to add depth? How many draft picks will be used to improve quality? Will an under-the-radar player already on the team, perhaps Anthony Gaitor or Keith Tandy, for example, step up and play a larger role?

His mission is clear: fix the NFL's worst pass defense—and quickly.

There will be players to scout, free agents to court, plays to diagram and schemes to implement. He’ll have to figure out a way to maximize the potential of last year’s top pick, safety Mark Barron, who struggled at times in coverage last season.

Of course the harsh reality is that while the tasks may be tall and the goals may be lofty, the expectations are that by this time next year Oden will have ironed out their deficiencies as to allow the franchise to focus their resources on places other than their secondary.

And while the journey to correcting the many flaws of the secondary has an uncertain path, one thing is abundantly clear: Oden has his work cut out for him between now and the start of training camp in August.

In short, it's time to get to work