For those Bucs fans who complained Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense was too predictable and and wasn’t aggressive enough, there is a new plan in place.
Bucs DC Mike Smith – Photo: Mark Cook/PR
Former Falcons’ head coach and now new Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith spoke to the media on Thursday and what he said will be music to most fan’s ears.
One of the things that Smith and his assistant coaches consistently preached on Thursday was being flexible in the schemes, including multiple looks up front.
“We’ve been multiple through the years,” Smith said. “(Former Falcons defensive coordinator) Mike (Nolan) and I worked together in Baltimore prior to him coming to Atlanta. Marvin Lewis, when we first started we were a 3-4 team. So we’ve kind of morphed. But really, a 4-3 and a 3-4, it’s really the same defense. You line up in a 4-3 and you over shift and you’re in a 3-4. You line up in a 3-4 and you over shift and it’s a 4-3. The big thing for us is, we want to make it simple for each player on our defense and we want it to be complex and complicated for the coaching staff and quarterback that we’re playing against.
“And that’s our goal. We want to be as multiple as we can be and play to the strengths of our players. We’ve got some guys that have some unique skills sets and it’s our job as a coaching staff to put those guys in the best position possible.”
One of those players Smith is looking forward to highlighting in his defense is Pro Bowl linebacker Lavonte David.
Lavonte David is expected to be a big part of the Bucs new defense – Photo: Cliff Welch/PR
“He’s a run and hit linebacker but he’s a guy that can step up and if he has to take on an offensive lineman he can take him on,” Smith said. “If he feels like he can run around him and keep leverage on the running back he can do that. In coverage he’s a very good zone player. And I don’t think he’s been asked to do it as much but he can also play man-to-man coverage. He has the skill set that you’re looking from a linebacker in this day and age.
“The day of having a 260-pound linebacker, they’re gone. This is a speed game, this is a spacing game. Offensive coordinators have such a great understanding of spacing on the field and the timing of the quarterback is impeccable. So we have to be able to play that.”
Smith, who much like head coach Dirk Koetter is a tell-it-like-it-is person, also talked about the penalties situation last season and how that must be corrected if the Bucs hope to get on the other side of the .500 hill for the first time since 2010.
“I think Coach Koetter has laid the ground work, no doubt about that,” Koetter said. “Penalties are probably the toughest thing to handle, especially the procedural penalties before the ball is snapped. Those are the things you want to eliminate. first-and-5 is a lot easier than first-and-10 or when you’re in third-and-1 and you jump offsides and give them an automatic first down without them running a play.
“So those are the things that we’ve got to make sure we clean up. We can’t have the type of penalty production that we had last year. It’s a big emphasis point. Our coaches are coaching it on the film, on the practice field and I think it’s going to be very important. The least penalized teams are usually the ones who win the most games.”
Smith also said no one had won a job jet, but he is looking for more than just 11 guys on game day.
“What we’re trying to do is put together a defense that doesn’t have 11 starters. We’re trying to have somewhere between 15 and 16 guys that we consider starters on our defense. It’s a long season.”
Late in the media meeting Smith said he even likes to involve Bucs starting quarterback Jameis Winston when building his defense.
“I tell you what, this is a quarterback driven league, and I have been very impressed with Jameis,” Smith said with his ever present smile. “He’s got great size and he cut us up a couple of times in our veteran minicamp. Actually I have had a couple conversations with him, ‘OK, what does it look like because that’s going to help us, what the quarterback’s seeing and thinking.'”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wow. What a difference a year makes.
I love the ability on both sides to be able to adjust as to what our opponents are doing. this will keep us in the games for sure. Go Bucs!
wasn’t a fan of this hiring… but the more I hear…
Wait…so he’s saying you should adjust your defense to better suit your players rather than forcing players to conform to a scheme they’re not built for? Weird lol
But really, I’m liking this hire more and more
I wonder how long it’s going to take the current group of players to be able to adapt to this seemingly more complex system?
I don’t know but it won’t be FS Gerod Holliman (in the pic), he’s already been cut! lol.
It’s best to avoid the camera man during preseason, Mac!
I just don’t get it, that dude was incredible his final year of college. And no team wants him. Apparently they know more than we do.
A good article. I really want to get a better idea what our defense will be like this year.
I believe a simple scheme that allows players to use their strengths coupled with interchangeable players who can rotate positions thus keeping a fresh defense on the field is the key to success. That being said one must realize that such a flexible defense is not easy to develop. Unless you have Mike Smith, Jay Hayes, Jon Hoke, and Brett Maxie leading your defense.
I like the attude of Coach Smith Go Bucs
Wow indeed a year does make a difference! It is like the regime we had with LOVIE here wasn’t even that of a pro team. It just seems like the staff really has a handle on what they want to do and how to install it. I know everything sounds great this time of year but it just has a different feel this time around. I am also glad to hear they are heavily trying to clean up the penalties. Between the penalties and missed FGs that is the difference from a playoff team and a team that sits and watches from home. Let’s hope that both of those areas take care of themselves and the “improved defensive scheme” can at least go to a top 15 defense and not the fake top 10 like last year.
I like that Mike Smith is asking Jameis what things look like from his perspective. Although I’d imagine every DC does that. But in case he ever forgets I think he might benefit from a bracelet that reads “WWJD?”. What would Jameis do? But this is one of the hard parts of assessing things at this time of year. I remember when Mccown was in camp that PR was reporting how great he looked, how accurate, how sharp etc… Only to find out later that it was the terrible defense in camp that was the reason. We want both sides of the ball to be good but it’s really hard to tell when they’re playing each other.
I always felt Lavonte David was held back under Lovie. Work in his little area of responsibility, I like the fact Smith sees this kid as a major impact player and will give him more of a roll in this defense. Go Buc’s.
This is exactly what I expected and have been looking for: excellent defensive coaches that will adapt during games, play fresh players, and will be aggressive. Once everyone learns this defense we will be competitive every play. We have the talent we need right now!
The more I hear from Mike Smith, the more I like. I’d have to agree, this time of year is always full of optimism, but it just feels like these guys actually know what the hell they are doing.
I really like him involving Jameis in the discussions as well. Damn I’m excited to see what this defense can do when they are not handcuffed by a terrible scheme and training.
I for one would like to read some investigation on why Mike Smith’s defenses didn’t have much success in Atlanta. They also seemed to get worse over time, not unlike Lovie’s defenses in Chicago. However, in their prime Lovie ran a good defense in Chicago but even in Atlanta’s prime the defenses weren’t that great. Should our expectations be higher because they had bad talent due to bad a GM in Atlanta or something?
Pink, I was wondering the same thing.
I believe some of the reasons Mike Smith’s D in Atlanta kept declining started with the drafting of Julio Jones. All the draft picks they gave up to get him and the poor drafting by the GM and staff ( probably including M Smith)is what did Atlanta in. I think they thought Julio would put them over the top and he did for a bit but poor drafting and the loss of picks doomed the Falcons. IMO. I think the trading up and drafting of Julio Jones didn’t turn out as they planned in the long run. I don’t think they were ready to
make that trade up because they really weren’t that deep of a team. They got a great player but it cost them quality players and depth they needed over the next few years.
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