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December 31, 2013 @ 10:19 am
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/4 Votes

Smith Would Bring Dungy-like Qualities To Tampa Bay

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Former Bucs LBs coach and Bears head coach Lovie Smith is believed to be the leading candidate to replace Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay. Former Bucs linebacker Jeff Gooch speaks highly of Smith and believes Smith's consistency, work ethic and defensive mind would be embraced by Tampa Bay fans.
On the same day that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik after a brutal 4-12 season, the Glazers reached out to former Buccaneers linebackers coach and former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, who is one of the hottest coaching candidates in the NFL after sitting out the 2013 season. Smith, who coached under the legendary Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay from 1996-2000, has already interviewed with the Houston Texans for their vacant head coaching position.

NFL.com reported on Monday that Smith’s choice for offensive coordinator would be former Cal head coach and noted offensive guru Jeff Tedford. That answers what would have been a big question for Smith, who coached the Bears from 2004-12, from NFL owners.

What led to the demise of Smith, who is a defensive-minded head coach, in Chicago was his trouble on the offensive side of the ball, including finding a good quarterback. Smith went through three offensive coordinators in nine years, including Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice. All were eventually fired.

While Rex Grossman helped lead the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006, Smith’s third season at the helm, Chicago struggled to find a consistent winner at the quarterback position, and went through the likes of Grossman, Brian Griese and Kyle Orton in seven years before trading for Jay Cutler in 2011.

Former Buccaneers Pro Bowl middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson was spotted roaming the halls at One Buccaneer Place in December as a guest of the Glazers. Not only did Nickerson play for Smith in Tampa Bay, he also was Smith’s linebackers coach in Chicago in 2007. Nickerson, a Cal alum, has spent the last three years coaching high school football at Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland, Calif., and he has undoubtedly familiar with Tedford from his recruiting the Oakland area and the fact that he coaches at his alma mater.

Could the Glazers’ interest in the Smith-Tedford combination date back several weeks and explain why Nickerson flew all the way across the country? Was it to give the Glazers a scouting report on both Smith and Tedford?

Nickerson may not have been the only former Buccaneers linebacker the Glazers could have reached out with regards to Smith as Shelton Quarles, Tampa Bay’s director of pro personnel, played for Smith from 1997-2000. Yet there are two other former Bucs linebackers that could offer up a ringing endorsement of Smith in the legendary Derrick Brooks, who works in Tampa as the general manager of the Arena Football League’s Tampa Bay Storm, and Jeff Gooch, who works with Brooks as the Storm’s vice president of football operations.

PewterReport.com spoke with Gooch about Smith and his opportunity to coach the Buccaneers.

“I played for Lovie and his football credentials speak for themselves and what he did in his goal of becoming a head coach,” Gooch said. “One of the things I remember about him and having respect for is being a role model for young men. That’s not so much what he was doing off the field as it was the football side. Day in, day out preparations and with the expectations that he placed on all of us in the room. He had a unique ability to demand a certain performance out of all of us, but at the same time, keep it individualized. You knew where you stood with him and what he needed out of you. I don’t think that every coach can do that. Just being around a lot of coaches playing football, not every coach is able to do that. The way he would place expectations on me with still making us as a group. That was unbelievable and I think that a lot of coaches out there can do that without the group breaking up, without animosity or things of that nature.”

Smith inherited a talented group of linebackers, starting with Nickerson, who was a two-time Pro Bowler by the time he and Dungy arrived in 1996. He would help Nickerson get to the Pro Bowl three more times (1996, ’97 and ’99), in addition to helping Brooks become a Pro Bowler from 1997-2000 before Smith was hired by St. Louis to be the Rams defensive coordinator in 2001.

“All of those qualities, all of those traits that he was working on there as the linebacker coach, made it an easy transition for him in St. Louis,” Gooch said. “To kind of go back in my own story, at the time that he left, the Rams wanted to make a trade for me to go up there. I actually went there for a visit and was Lovie’s first year there. Obviously, the trade did not go through, but he hadn’t been up there probably a week or so before they asked me to come visit. So I had the big opportunity to sit down with him and just talk with him about what he was going to do. He was so energetic about taking on that next challenge. You saw the same thing when he became a head coach – taking on those challenges, being prepared, being consistent, and just being an all around good role model for his staff.”

Throughout the years, Smith has undoubtedly been compared to Dungy, his good friend and mentor, who happened to endorse Tampa Bay’s interest in Smith on Monday through his Twitter account. At no point was the comparison more pronounced than in 2006 when Smith and Dungy squared off in the first and only Super Bowl appearance for both men.

“The first thing that makes them similar was consistency,” Gooch said. “Day in day out, without a doubt, you knew exactly what you were going to get in Lovie Smith.  I’m sure you’ve talked to a lot of ex-Bucs about Tony, and you know exactly what you were going to get with him, and it didn’t matter if it was a win by 30 or a loss by 30. It was the same consistency every day that you as a player, could depend on. It was the same way with Lovie, too. Once you saw that, your play just gravitated to those two men. That’s one similarity that I know first hand.

“As far as differences, I think Lovie and the way he did things just within his group was a bit different from Tony how he would have pushed an individual group. That would have been different from how Lovie did it. Lovie Smith was very meticulous about notes, charts, a grid – everything being absolutely in the right way. I’m not saying that Tony was not that way, but I think that Lovie would go over and beyond compared to any of the other coaches on the staff in terms of preparation. What he wanted from us as far as details was much more than just your normal linebacker coach.”

Gooch stays in touch with Smith, who visited the Tampa Bay area this fall, and is grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the game from his mentor.

“Derrick and myself talk to him and text Lovie,” Gooch said. “I don’t as often as Derrick does, but Lovie and Jerry Angelo actually let me come up and take a behind-the-scenes look at football operations to see how things were put together a few years ago. I stayed up there for period of time during training camp. That was the type of person Lovie was. He offered those opportunities to guys he liked and respected.

“When he left St. Louis for Chicago I never doubted the fact that he would be successful. It didn’t work out for his good friend, Rod Marinelli, in his head coaching stint [in Detroit], but those guys are two of the best coaches I’ve ever been around.”

If Smith were to be hired by the Buccaneers, there is a chance that he could bring his good friend and noted defensive line guru, Rod Marinelli, with him back to Tampa Bay. Smith went through three defensive coordinators in Chicago, firing Ron Rivera, who is now the head coach in Carolina, and Bob Babich before hiring Marinelli in 2008. Marinelli is currently working with former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin in Dallas as the team's defensive line coach, but there are some rumors that Kiffin could be fired.

Gooch, who is still a Buccaneers fan, would love to see Smith get the opportunity to coach in Tampa Bay.

“If Lovie were to come back to Tampa he could definitely bring a defensive perspective,” Gooch said. “When he got out of coaching [after 2012] that’s when teams were going for the hot offensive coaches like Chip Kelly and Andy Reid, and I think that played in to it. Teams wanted to progress their offense rather than their defense.

“But as a coach and a man, I would bet on Lovie. He’s the type of coach that could command respect from the players, but at the same time, allow players to be themselves. With him having roots in the Tampa Bay area, I know that a lot of people would be very receptive to him and really embrace him.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 11:46

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  • avatar

    I say again, please no. Has everyone forgotten how abysmal our offense was under Dungy? Maybe it wasn't great statistically during Gruden's first season, but it got better as the season went on and without the improved offensive play under Gruden we would never have gotten to the Super Bowl. Just as Dungy would have never made it to the big game with the Colts without Peyton. All the carping about how Gruden didn't really earn the SB win conveniently overlooks the fact that Dungy walked into a similar situation in Indy, and absent Peyton acting as offensive coordinator on the field the Colts would have never gotten over the hump. The comments by the 'idiot kicker' were dead on. People forget about the key offensive players Gru brought in that year as well. Too much emotion, not enough thoughtful analysis on this board.
  • avatar

    Just when I thought Owlykat had finally conceded, as Tebo(w) himself did, that the one-pass wonder is not an NFL quarterback; his name (although spelled wrong) gets mentioned. Good Grief! I'd have no problem at all with Lovie Smith as a HC. At least we know what we'd get and not throw the dice on a "boom or bust" assistant.
  • avatar

    Dungy for GM and Lovie for Head Coach. Winning combination for sure.
  • avatar

    Don't be surprised to see a Lovie Smith, Hardy Nickerson, Jeff Tedford, Shelton Quarles collaboration.
  • avatar

    Dungy led the Bucs to their best years and I have been calling for a HC with NFL Experience so I would be OK with Lovie as long as he agrees to no Tampa Two defense, which does not fit our Defensive Talent. I would love for him to bring the best DL Coach in the country from Dallas too. I do think any smart NFL Coach will platoon all three of our running backs--sure worked for the Saints didn't it! Schiano was such an idiot, any NFL experienced Coach will be a giant improvement. We need an Offensive Guru who can get our production back up at OC. Don't know enough about Tedford. If we are going with a College OC, I would prefer Auburn's OC running the Triple Option. He could bring Tebo in to make it work to perfection with our three excellent RBs. We would need a top knotch GM to quickly rebuild our Offensive Line and add a speedy WR and an all round TE to go with our running TE now. Then we could trade down to get our third round pick back and get the rest of the pieces we need along with about three good free agents. This could be a very exciting year! Once teams load the box and cheat up their LBs, Tebo will throw deep like he did many times successfully against The Steelers in the playoffs.
  • avatar

    Noooooooooo. Lovie couldn't get it done in 9 years at Chicago, going to the playoffs three times and just once in his last 5-6 seasons. Based on the depth of the Seattle roster and the recent drafts in Tampa I would support empowering Stokes, though whether he should be GM at this stage is debatable. We need people who have done the job, this is not the time for OJT. Have serious reservations about McKay, he blew up our salary cap and then left for Atlanta.
  • avatar

    @Cbrady - The defense was great the Super Bowl Year. It should have been. It was the only side of the ball that McKay drafted even decently on, and tied up 70% of the salary cap. That was why we lost, badly, in the playoffs before Gruden got there and averaged 23 points and 340 yards per playoff game during the Super Bowl year. After the Super Bowl, the Glazers went cheap. When Gruden wanted to rebuild the O and finally had the money, he wasn't allowed to and was fired. Love had no such restrictions in Chicago. He had all his draft picks, tons of salary cap space and a huge market with lots of help from the officials, and made terrible challenges and poor adjustments in big games. I want to go on the record as not wanting him here. That being said, if he is here, I would welcome a return to the playoffs, and then perhaps we can bring in someone who is a real innovator when the time comes to get over the hump again.
  • avatar

    @LordJim - That 2002 Bucs defense is among the best defenses of all time - not just great. On the offensive side of the ball McKay drafted at least 2 Pro Bowlers in Alstott and Dunn, Gruden/Allen managed to draft only 1 Pro Bowler on either side of the ball during their entire time in town (Joesph). Also once Allen and Gruden controlled the front office how did they spend their money? They didn't resign Sapp and they cut Lynch in order to do what? I remember. It was to sign 35-year old offensive linemen and running backs (Charlie Garner ring a bell) to big money deals only to see them sit on IR all season. So back to Gruden being overrated, look where his offense finished year after year. Hint Gruden, maybe it would have been better for everyone if you gave the ball to Alstott instead of having Pittman run into the back of his offensive linemen every play. Also back to drafting, in 2005 when the Bucs needed a QB who was in charge of passing on Aaron Rogers - a player that many mock drafts had going to the Bucs? So instead we go into the season with Chris Simms / Brian Griese at QB. Again the Allen/Gruden years saw the team that Dungy and McKay built being torn apart piece by piece. Gruden had very little to do with the defense and he made the offensive calls and played the part of GM. In 2009 I don't blame the team at all for firing Gruden, he had proved that on his own merits he was the very definition of mediocre. He rode a hot defense to a SB title and because he couldn't take people crediting Dungy he tore the team apart to prove he could win with his own team. How did that turn out?
  • avatar

    Bleed orange I'm with ya ....... Least make one thing very clear there isn't a coach alive that could have done better than 6 wins with the roster and injuries sustained during the year.You are not gonna compete in the Nfc south with out three good cover corners, the bucs have one.Barron can't cover a good tight end period end of story!! We wnt into the Season with out a tight end Due to our cocky Gm that got to full of himself, worst TE scenario in the entire Nfl( can't win like that PERIOD)!! Don't give me any Tim Wright BS that is a joke at best there is not a single team that game planned at all for Tim R. I do think Dom knew Mike W isn't as good as the fans think he is but felt the pressure to sign him to a big contract, Mike W struggles to beat a teams # 2 ,he jumps out d gym, makes great catches but having no # 3 rec and no TE ( listen up here the bucs are an Nfl team WO a serviceable let alone good # 3 rec or TE , this is a joke) renders him ineffective.Doug Martin got killed his rookie year and may never be a quality back from here on out his vision and acceleration through the hole dropped off big time, I hope he comes back but he took the most hard hits of any back I've ever seen in a year.Think I'm wrong compare him to M James as soon as he took over Doug was bad bad bad. As good as V Jack is he had to be close to the league leader in drops.We didn't even have a blocking TE ,Anthony Becht would have had 800 yds and could have blocked better than any 2 TE on this roster put together.We had no none nota pass rush ole Dom got us again trying to make his draft picks work, well they didn't ,we knew with this DL coaching they wouldn't but once again Dom got to full of himself....... Bennet or a vet would have made a ton of diff.As would Moke Tolbert, another good corner and a serviceable TE for all of which we had plenty of cap space.Dom Got what he deserved and he did it to himself !! Schiano may have been the worst in game coach I have ever seen as far as adjustments , 3 rd quarter points don't LIE!! But make NO MISTAKE give the Seahawks our offensive personnel, injuries and even throw in Russel W in his Rookie Year and I Asssure you Pete Carrol wins no more than 6 game even w the Hawks D........... This team has talent and very good talent but it's weaknesses especially in the Nfc South are to much for any coach to over come. So the GM is the key and that is where the failure started, he gave us a fancy race car w out a good pit crew,driver and team manager!! Dom was a fool and we all paid he gave us a talented but terrible Team Period. I hope the next Gm realizes these short coming and helps our new coach out Just as Rich McKay did Gruden ,that team had no more top end talent than this one but it didn't have the terrible weaknesses!! If we sign a vet DE and another corner or two this D would have been easily top 8 Dom you Fool!!
  • avatar

    DrT1066 - If they ran the ball on 1st and 2nd down then how did they finish with nearly 100 more pass attempts than run attempts? The only time they had any success this year was when they ran the ball consistently. Further the offense was so predictable that EVERY time - and I mean EVERY time they threw on 1st down and didn't get another 1st down and the game was still in reach, EVERY time they ran on second down and almost always to the right. If I know that, everyone in the NFL knows that and thus the reason the 2nd down run to the right rarely netted more than 2 or 3 yards.

    Maybe you're confusing Schiano with Ray Perkins, an easy thing to do. Ray's offense was:

    1st down: Run left
    2nd down: Run right
    3rd down: Throw deep
    4th down: Punt

  • avatar

    I think that Lovie Smith should be the new Head coach. My question is this why was Lovie Smith fired after a ten & 6 record! I say I WANT LOVIE SMITH THE HEAD COACH GO BUCS
  • avatar

    cbrady2k` Must have been watching a different team. 1st down was a run. 2nd down was most often a run. 3rd down was a 3rd and long with a pass. 4th down . . . somethings it was a gadget play.
  • avatar

    I believe that this would be a good fit here in TB. I am wondering why we did not bring Lovie in when we were 0-8?
  • avatar

    We have to remember Dungy did not get us to the Super bowl with Buc ball. We need an offense that can score often. The NFL rules are built for offense, not defense. I'm ok with Lovie but I think we should look for a offensive HC.
  • avatar

    Uh maybe check your stats - the 2002 Bucs team was ranked 24th in offense in the league. Gruden was at best a mediocre offensive coach, the defense totally carried that team and all others in the Dungy/Gruden era.
  • avatar

    I'm more than a little conflicted on this one. While I believe Lovie Smith is a very good coach (SO MUCH better than what we've had over the past five tears), I'm just not sure if he's what we need right now. Defensively, I think he knows that he cannot just run the old Tampa 2 in today's NFL or with the players we currently have. I would fully expect him to adjust in order to maximize the talent on the team. The offense is my principle concern. Lovie reaching out to Tedford seems like an obvious reaction to fix what got him fired in Chicago (and Dungy fired from here). I applaud the willingness to adapt and change (something we didn't see with Schiano). But is Tedford the right guy? He had SOME success at Cal and in the PAC-12 but there were no championships and plenty of collapses and grousing from Cal fans about his overall coaching acumen. Plus, he has zero NFL experience. And what is Tedford's connection to Lovie?...They ever work together or REALLY know each other's football philosphies? I would be more sold on Lovie if he brought in someone like Norv Turner (terrible HC but an excellent OC). Turner has familiarity with VJax, can manage a QB, and should be able to use our three RBs (Martin, James, Rainey) more imaginatively without grinding one into the ground. However, we could do much worse than Lovie and would fully support the decision to go with him (as if anyone needed my approval). I guess I just haven't fully warmed to the idea. Maybe if we had a GM first and he picked Lovie I would feel better. I appreciate the sense of urgency in order to get started on the next season but I can't shake this feeling that this is a Glazer knee-jerk reaction because Lovie's interviewing with other teams. Still, I much prefer this dilemma than seeing Schiano as our HC for another year.
  • avatar

    There's nothing wrong with the Cover 2. The Panthers run a ton of it because they have Kueckly and a D-line. I love Lovie but my only issue is that we need a 2014 NFL offense more than we need to improve the defense. I don't know enough about this guy from Cal. I still think Greg Roman is more of what we need but Lovie would be a close second.
  • avatar

    With the idea of Lovie at HC and Stokes at GM along with Jeff Tedford as OC, Rod Marinelli as Dline, Leslie Frazier as DC, Tony Sparano as Oline/astnt HC I would be the first in line for season tickets!!
  • avatar

    Here's the 2013 Bucs offense....

    1st Down - Throw incomplete
    2nd Down - Run, most likely behind RG for 2 yards
    3rd Down - Throw deep incomplete
    4th Down - Punt

    The Bucs offense in 2013 was terrible and completely predictable. If we just went back to the bland Shula offense under Dungy we would have done better since at least it would have ran the clock and helped the defense rest a bit before going right back out.

    The Bucs need a proven HC who isn't a complete and total dolt like Schiano was. Lovie has a proven record and we have a lot of defensive talent. We just need a mediocre offense and we're fine. Sure, I would like to see a modern offense in Tampa but unless we can get build a time machine and go back and force Kelly to sign the contract he agreed to I'm good with leaving it up to Lovie to figure out. At least we know he's a proven NFL guy and not that piece of Jersey Trash that turned the team into a laughing stock.

  • avatar

    Puhlease!!! No Lovie.....his history is one of lack of offense as was The Lord that was Tony Dungy. While both are fine men, they did not bring the offensive mindset that is needed in this QB driven league. Give me an offensive minded guy with some NFL experience to turn this program around.
  • avatar

    If we wait on Greg Roman we might be waiting till Feb. The only problem I have with Lovie right now is he isn't being picked by a G.M. That said, it would be nice to have a H.C., with his O.C. in place pronto, to get going. When they fired Gruden they did it to late, same with Schiano. Glazers, standing over a putt all day doesn't help you to sink it. Make a move.
  • avatar

    There's no doubting the fact that Lovie Smith is a well respected and versed coach, what scares me is everyone riding this idea of getting back to the Dungy days. Those were great times, but they aren't what will work now days. We need coaching and management that combines both NFL experience and on the cusp offensive and defensive strategy. Lovie can't come in here and expect to play thenTampa 2 with success. The game had changed and our personnel is not made up of Tampa 2 players. Second, we need an offensive minded guy. Successful teams are mostly made up of offensive minded coaches and of course franchise QBs. Lovie can't come in and play a pro style offense that wants to establish the running game on first and second down. Today's NFL has changed. I don't know if Lovie has changed with it enough to be a success again.
  • avatar

    and yes the tampa 2 has seen better days, with the spread offense the nfl is running the 2 is almost useless
  • avatar

    please not hickey he is part of the problem, stokes would be fine
  • avatar

    Not sure the "Tampa 2" scheme works anymore.
  • avatar

    I'd welcome Lovie with open arms
  • avatar

    That's quite an endorsement and I don't doubt that similar sentiments were shared with the glazers by all who played for him. Maybe sitting out a year actually worked in lovie s favor, and he had a chance to see his weaknesses more clearly and has grown hungrier to return to coaching. I would not be surprised if the brothers glazer have already reached an agreement with him and hopefully already have a GM (Stokes NOT hickey). While I'd prefer Greg Roman, I would be more than happy with this course. I have felt a great weight has been lifted off our team since schiano was fired, so far so good glazers!
  • avatar

    I agree with a lot of what your saying especially the Stokes comment. He isthe biggest reason we have drafted as well as we have for the past 2 years. Look at the evidence. Past 2 years several probowl caliber players drafted. Previous years McCoy?(Crickets...)
  • avatar

    Didn't see the Nickerson link previously, was wondering where the Lovie / Tedford connection came from.
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