The Buccaneers and their fans need to stay the course.
Despite a season dominated by letdowns and shortcomings that’s combined to produce a 2-8 record, Chicago Bears three-time All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs says the team has the right man for the job and a defensive scheme that is only going to get better with time.
“He’s going to tell you from day one that he’s going to treat everybody like a man and that’s the honest-to-God truth,” Briggs said during his conference call with the Tampa Bay media Wednesday. “When coaches do stuff like that and stay consistent to exactly what they say, you get a lot out of your men and he’s a man you’ll run through a brick wall for. You can’t say that about everybody you play for, so it was a time that I’ll never forget.”
Briggs played under Smith for nine of his 12 NFL seasons, racking up three selections to the All-Pro team and making seven trips to the Pro Bowl during that time.
In Smith’s 2004-2012 tenure in the Windy City, his teams produced an overall record of 81-63 and finished in the top five in scoring defense four times. The Tampa 2 defensive scheme Smith brought to Chicago 10 years ago is now back in the Bay Area and Briggs sees no reason to believe it won’t produce similar results as long as players buy in.
“We played decently well the first year he was here,” Briggs said of the Bears’ 5-11 inaugural season under Smith. “There are some things that you kind of have to get used to. The ball could be going one way and your key is taking you a different way. In a lot of systems as a linebacker, where the ball goes you go. But once you start getting more and more comfortable and you start seeing how teams attack you, just about every team’s going to attack you the same way. Maybe they’ll dress it up differently, but they’re going to attack you the same way.”
Noticeable in comparison to other defenses he’s experienced over his college and pro career, Briggs said the sum of a Tampa 2 defense’s parts is greatest when all players are able to check egos at the door and stay on point with their assignments.
“It’s not about the individuals that are in that defense,” he said. “If you understand what your role is, you can play fast, you can make plays and you can take the ball away. It’s also a defense where unselfishness is very important. Forcing the play. Hammering and setting an edge and forcing the play back in even though you don’t make the tackle. It’s like you made the play. So there are things you aren’t going to get an award for and you’re not going to get noticed for, but you caused that play. That has a lot to do with single gaps, gap integrity, being accountable for each play.”
One Buccaneer who stands to benefit from Smith’s defense is the man playing Briggs’ weakside linebacker position in Tampa Bay, he said.
“He’s a player,” Briggs said of Bucs weakside backer Lavonte David. “His name was coming up even before Lovie got there and when Lovie got the job, I knew there were some key positions that are important in that defense and having a three-technique, defensive end, weakside linebacker and a safety, those are the core of what you have there and plus a utility defensive end. When he took the job I thought [David] got put in a good situation as far as defensive personnel.
“Once those guys really buy in and understand what they’re doing over there, they’re going to find themselves as a top-five defense.”
Red board says thats not possible. WTF does Briggs know?
Briggs is saying a lot of good things about The Bucs. He has said that he has probably played his last down in Chicago. Maybe at 34 (just turned 34 on Nov. 12), he’s got one left in the tank and he has a lot of admiration for Lovie. Peppers will be 35 in January and is having one of his best seasons at Green Bay. You Never know, politically Briggs sounds like he’s leaving his options open! He sure as heck knows the defense!
Hmmmmmmmmm. Doesn’t Briggs know that the Tampa 2 defense expiration date was back in 2012 and it is now as obsolete as an 8-track? Yes, I’m being sarcastic.
I agree with Briggs. The only surprise for me with reading this is that he named the safety as the final position that you need in this offense where I would have replaced that one with MLB. I’m especially surprised to read that given Urlacher’s presence in Chicago’s Tampa 2. I would have loved to hear Briggs elaborate on that. I guess it goes back to what Lovie said about the defense when he got here when he was asked whether Foster would fit in it. I remember him saying something like the MLB position isn’t that hard to play in his Tampa 2 since the safeties give him help over the top. I guess that’s why having an instinctive, ball hawking safety is more important in this defense than a 6’3″ coverage safety like Urlacher was. I guess that also explains why Barron has been traded away.
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