As Scott Reynolds wrote in his fourth topic in last Friday’s Fab 5, “Observations From Bucs OTAs”, there’s been noticeable energy in the Bucs early practices this offseason.
Aside from the pop music – Earth Wind and Fire has been a favorite – coaches can be heard loud and clear while getting a point across, and it’s common to see a position specialist working one-on-one with a player until he masters the footwork of the drill.
Bucs DE Noah Spence – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The passion and up-tempo pace has been particularly apparent on the defensive side of the ball, where Mike Smith’s energy has trickled down and elicited a response from players that Dirk Koetter hopes to take into training camp and the preseason.
“I’ve really been impressed with the energy of our defense in general,” Koetter said Thursday. “Their communication, the way they’re flying around to the ball – those guys are having fun our there and they’re making plays.”
The defensive coaches are doing their part, too.
“Not only Mike, but the entire defensive staff,” Koetter said. “I think those guys are doing a heck of a job coaching those guys and hats off to the players for the way they’ve taken it and run.”
Indeed, players’ effort has reflected the energy. After Gerald McCoy told reporters two weeks ago that Mike Smith is “a passionate coach” who’s “just about winning” and making guys better teammates, Robert Ayers on Thursday praised the former Falcon’s head coach for his ability to put players in position to succeed. Which has been the theme of Smith’s presence since he arrived in January.
“He’s all about giving you knowledge to be able to anticipate what guys are going to do and how they’re going to attack you,” Ayers said. “He wants to fill your toolbox up. He doesn’t want to send you out on the field not prepared. That’s what I like. He’s given us a lot of knowledge and put a lot on our plate, and the expectations are high, as they should be. We’re all just trying to soak it all up and let him motivate us and motivate ourselves to get better.”
Asked about the energy in practice, Ayers said that any attitude – positive or negative – is “contagious” in its environment and the good vibe is “rubbing off on the players.” It’s reasonable to think the heat and entirely new playbook could wear a player down, but so far, the Bucs’ defense hasn’t had that problem in OTAs.
“You can have a lot of guys who are negative and they can bring the room down,” Ayers said. “But here, man, I haven’t seen one guy who’s like that.”
High energy and positive reinforcement is important during OTAs and training camp because, as Koetter noted, practicing against your own team can get stale at times. To maintain a competitive atmosphere, the Bucs have scheduled joint training-camp practices against the Jaguars and Browns this summer, but in the early parts of the offseason, Tampa Bay seems to be doing a great job of keeping everyone engaged.
“I’m happy when every single guy out there is fired up,” Koetter said. “When you’re going against yourself all day, half the people are sad and half the people are happy. It’s been great energy across the board.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m sure there is a lot more energy than last year. We don’t have the energy leech, Lovie Smith staring blankly in the sky on the sidelines any more.
He wasn’t staring, he was in a coma.
I think you might be on to something there.
Praying for a win perhaps.
Notice in the header picture for this article that #90 DE Kourtnie Brown is covering #83 WR Vincent Jackson.
A sign of things to come?
Nice pick up cobraboy.
Your comment made me look closer at the photo. I wonder how often in NFL history there has been a score of 3 to 2 at any time during an official game? At least the home team was winning at the time of the photo. Man, this time of year is slow for real news.
Not saying this is the case here, but when I played back in The Day, in passing scrimmages the O & D competed and a “win” was given 1 point, a “win” being a completion, TD, pass knocked down, intercepted, defended, etc.
‘Course we just kept informal score in our head, and didn’t have a scoreboard in practice.
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