TAMPA, Fla. — With safety Dashon Goldson suspended, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano knows his team must adjust fast.
On Tuesday, Goldson’s one-game suspension was upheld for helmet-to-helmet contact on Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White in Week 11. Wednesday, the Bucs began their preparations for Sunday’s matchup against the Detroit Lions knowing they must compensate for a centerpiece of their secondary.
“We certainly have a big loss with Dashon not being able to play because of the suspension,” Schiano said. “But that’s the way it is. It’s no different than if he were injured. We’ve got to find a way to rise up.”
Schiano said he wasn’t angry with Goldson, but the suspension continues a concerning pattern of violations for the seven-year veteran. Goldson, signed to a five-year, $41.25 million contract as a free agent in March, was fined $30,000 for striking New York Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland in Week 1. After Week 2, Goldson was initially suspended for a hit he delivered on New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles, but the punishment was reduced on appeal to a $100,000 fine.
By missing the game Sunday, Goldson in essence receives a $264,705 fine, the amount of one game check.
“The reality is, he got called for it, and he got suspended for it,” Schiano said. “And a lot of that has to do, I think, with his history. We have to adjust better than we have. I thought he made huge adjustments to his game since the last fine and suspension. But this one, they decided it was egregious enough to be suspended. So that’s what we’re living with.
“The adjustment by the league (for safety), I understand it. We have to play within those rules. We have done a good job in a lot of ways doing that, but not in this instance.”
Schiano’s right that Goldson seemed to use more caution in recent weeks. But Goldson has earned a reputation as a hard-hitter, sometimes reckless in doing so, and it wasn’t a surprise to see the suspension upheld.
As far as the potential impact at Ford Field, that remains to be seen. Clearly, the Bucs would have preferred to have Goldson present deep to help in their coverage against Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who will be part of an intriguing matchup against cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Instead, Goldson’s absence will be another reminder of a landscape where there can never be too much caution.
“It’s frustrating,” Bucs linebacker Adam Hayward said, when asked how hard it has become to play defense in the NFL. “Your whole life is spent hitting somebody a certain way. … Now you’re trying to tell them you can’t do that.”