ORLANDO – Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith continued the discussion of the quarterback position by speaking about last year’s starter Mike Glennon and Texas A&M signal caller Johnny Manziel, as well as the role that speedster Jeff Demps could have on offense and special teams. Smith also talked about the battle at left defensive end, where Adrian Clayborn is the current starter, and the addition of cornerback Michael Jenkins, a former USF star, in an hour-long interview with PewterReport.com, the local Bucs beat writers and the national media at the NFC coaches breakfast interview at the NFL Owners Meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Orlando, Fla.
This is the first installment in a four-part transcript covering Smith's interview on Wednesday morning:
Smith on the mixed opinions on Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel:
“I think they’re mixed opinions on just about every player. There really is. It’s kind of how you see him. As far as how he’ll take his game to the NFL level, most outstanding players in college, a lot of them, wind up being very good football players in the NFL. Football really is football. A lot of the things he’s done … I know he’s not your typical prototype quarterback, drop back into the pocket … but there are a lot of quarterbacks that aren’t your prototypical quarterback.” Smith on how Mike Glennon is handling Josh McCown being named the starter:
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to any of our players. You can’t talk football with them yet. I’ve talked to Mike probably two or three times, which is good. He was one of the first guys that showed up to introduce himself to me when I took the job. I talked to him when I let him know what we were going to do with Josh. So again, I’ve talked to him about as much as I’ve talked with anyone. I met Demar Dotson for the first time the other day. Guys, as they tell me, the offseason is important to them and I wanted it that way. But we’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other.”
Smith on the use of Jeff Demps as an offensive weapon and a return specialist:
“I have had a chance to talk with Jeff and how my conversation went with him first, it was just that. I mean, I’ve never had a chance to coach the fastest guy in the NFL and we talked about his commitment to football. He loves track, but he considers himself a football player and he’s anxious to get started with whatever position we ask him to play, whether it’s running back or wide receiver or returning kicks. Again, we’re a new staff coming in so we’re going to give guys an option to do what they feel like they do best.” Smith on trying Demps at several positions:
“Yes we are. We’ll do that with a few players. Josh McCown won’t be playing safety or anything like that, but for the most part, if a guy can do a few different things, we want to see what he does best. Smith on whether the Bucs will pick up the fifth-year option on DE Adrian Clayborn:
“We have time for those things. I haven’t had our first meeting with the football team yet, so that’s kind of the first step. Adrian is a good football player. We’re trying to keep as many good football players as we possibly can on our roster. Those things take care of themselves.” Smith on the addition of cornerback Mike Jenkins and his skill set:
“I watched Mike a little bit this past year and I remember when he came out of USF, his pro day. I thought he had a lot of talent, and I remember the All-Pro year that he had. We’re looking for a defensive back with ball skills. I think he’s had six interceptions one year. I think he has all the skills. Excellent speed, quickness, he’ll tackle – good ball skills. We kind of start from there. He was excited about coming back home. There’s something about coming back home and playing with the people that you grew up with that you owe an awful lot to. He’s excited about that. Gil Byrd, who coaches our cornerbacks, he played the game at the highest level. He can’t wait to get his hands on Mike and we believe that will be a good match.” Smith on Clayborn starting at left defensive end:
“It’s safe to say that Michael Johnson will line up at right defensive end. Let’s just talk about starting positions as a whole. We have a starting rotation. We as coaches have to make a decision as to what we think is best, who should start. From there that guy has to play at a certain level to remain in that position. And with all spots you have to have someone go out there first. Michael will go out there first. Odds are Adrian will go out there first on the left side. From there, though, once we start working with them, they tell us who should be right, left, who should play, who should dress. We’re going to pay close attention. I also tell them, I’m 55 years old so my hearing is just okay. My sight, though, we’re going to go with what we see. And that will determine everything. Normally it’s all clear for you once it’s all said and done.” Smith on what Johnson brings to Tampa Bay’s defense as a pass rusher:
“It’s important. We look at the character of an athlete, what they’re going to bring to our team. We’re talking about the total player, on the field and off the field. It is very important what Michael does off the field. Just look at the history that he had of course in Cincinnati. Once you meet him he’ll let you know that he’ll be involved in the community. We can expect a certain type of effort and performance from him on and off the field. So you get that. But it’s not just that. We can go down the street and get a lot of guys that are good in the community. It’s about winning football games also, and for us to have success defensively, it has to start up front. And I’m not talking about having to blitz to get pressure. I’m talking about a four-man front. Gerald McCoy, who I think is as good an interior defensive lineman as there is in the game, he needs someone to go with him – some other guys. We’re going to dress seven defensive linemen [on Sundays] and we’re going to play them all. So we’ll need of course great play from Michael along with the others.” Smith on how much of a priority it is to extend McCoy’s contract?
“I think it’s very important. In an ideal situation, you do a great job of drafting players and then you reward your players that have come up through the system and done it the right way. The first guy to contact me when I was sitting in my basement down there in Chicago was Gerald McCoy. [He said], ‘I can’t wait to get started.’ I followed him at the University of Oklahoma, his career that he had here, and for our defense, and there’s a reason why. [Bucs Hall of Fame defensive tackle] Warren [Sapp] will tell you it was just him, but it’s a position also where you need a special player and Gerald McCoy is that. The guys who drafted him did a great job. You know what he’s done in the community. I know right now coming in he’s going to be one of our leaders. Through free agency, [he said] ‘What can I do?’ Gerald was popping up on the phone quite a bit, texting me, excited about who we’re getting, what we’re doing with his new teammates. So yes, that is definitely a priority. He’s a guy that we definitely want around for a while, to say the least.” Smith on why Tampa Bay traded offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah to Baltimore:
“I try not to talk about players for other teams now, but what we did was we came in and evaluated the roster and if we made a change we felt we needed to go in a different direction for a lot of reasons. Just going to leave it at that. I know I did enjoy getting a chance to know Jeremy and I know Baltimore is excited about him.” Smith on if Jeff Tedford’s offense will be up-tempo:
“Well, I don’t know exactly what he said, but we don’t want to let too much out. Again, I haven’t talked to the team yet. We like the direction we’re going on the offensive side. I think the game (will) have a little more up-tempo to it. We’re not going to be a no-huddle attack or anything like that. But again, I can’t wait to get started and put it all together.” Smith on Glennon’s strengths and weaknesses as a young quarterback:
“What we like is how he came in as a rookie in a tough situation and stayed focused. Quarterbacks have to be there. They have to have confidence in themselves, they have to put a lot of things out and just perform and do their job. And that’s what he did. Mike has an accurate arm, a big arm. When you look at quarterbacks, one of the things you look for at their pro day is, how did he throw the ball? Mike Glennon can throw the ball. Things that Mike would say that he needs to work on, he’s been told all his life, mobility a little bit more, active in the pocket, some of those things. And I’m not talking about taking off and running. Foot quickness and some of those things. We say that about a lot of guys. Mike is a drop-back passer. He’s a typical prototype drop-back passer, and a lot of times you get some of those things with a drop-back passer. But I thought he made good decisions. He threw the ball accurately. Didn’t throw a lot of interceptions. All those are positives.” Smith on who the Bucs’ other leaders are besides McCoy:
“Coming in, you have to be careful about looking at just a few guys. We want 53 leaders. And that’s not running away from your question, that’s just how it is. You look at our best players, too. You look at that. I mean, to me, one of the best ways you can show leadership is with your performance on the football field. Lavonte David … I’m amazed at how little publicity he gets as a linebacker. I shouldn’t say little. He was voted All Pro, that’s not a little. But he’s an outstanding player that doesn’t do a whole lot of talking. He’s another guy. He’s not rehabbing. He’s just in the facility every day it seems like just working hard and he’s excited to work with Hardy Nickerson. So you start with those two. Dashon Goldson, Dashon’s been a good player for a long time. Mark Barron, look at all those players that have been around here for a while. I mentioned Demar Dotson. He’s young, but he’s a talented player on the line. So from what I’ve seen, there needs to be somebody in every group that is the first one, to be the leader, the talker in the group, to set the tempo off and you start with that and hope you get a lot more.”
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.