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March 26, 2014 @ 10:25 pm
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Smith Discusses MLBs Foster, Fletcher, Says Martin Is Feature RB

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith wrapped up his hour-long interview with PewterReport.com and the media by talking about MLBs Mason Foster and Dane Fletcher, the RB position where Doug Martin will start, and how he leans on director of pro personnel Shelton Quarles. This is the fourth installment of a four-part transcript of Smith's interview with the media.
ORLANDO – Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith talked about his confidence of middle linebacker Mason Foster and the ability of new middle linebacker Dane Fletcher, as well as how the team will split up the reps at running back position where Doug Martin has been named the starter 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 fourth installment in a four-part transcript covering Smith's interview on Wednesday morning:

Smith on re-signing Jamon Meredith for his versatility, ability to play guard:
“More guard than tackle but watching the video, we felt like he was a guy we wanted to be around, wanted to work with. Everyone that stayed, we saw something in them going forward we thought deserved that period of time to see if it’s a good match.”
Smith on free agency being so successful for the Buccaneers this year:
“For the guys that know me, my glass is half-full every day. Coming in, there’s a reason why I loved the opportunity coming to Tampa and I thought that most of the players would see it the same way. It turned out that way. I don’t think you can really trick players. We laid out a plan; this is how we’re going to do things. I have a history as a head coach. Guys these days, there’s technology going on so players can find out everything. They can get a lot of information right away. They did their research and they did like what we’re getting ready (to do). We haven’t done anything yet. We’re a 4-12 team. Guys kind of like the challenge and I think guys like to be a part of something that can end up being special from the ground floor, where they can say, ‘Hey, I had a chance to do that.’ That’s what I did. Tony Dungy coming in saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this.’ First time, I didn’t know Tony Dungy. I knew about his reputation. I knew how he was going to do things. I think guys know how we’re going to do things and they want to be a part of that.”

Smith on Doug Martin’s rehab and being ready for offseason workouts:
“He’s working out hard every day. He’s around there. Everything looks good. Shouldn’t be any issues. Again, that running back position – we made the statement. I think you have to classify what you are: a running or passing attack? We’re a running attack that can pass the football when we want to. We’ll do that an awful lot, but it starts up front. We want to be a tough, physical football team that we talked about, we need to have a great running attack and Doug is going to be a big part of that.”
Smith on whether he likes a running back rotation or a workhorse back:
“We’re going to lean on one guy, but I like the rotation. I think you have to have a bell-cow. He’s ours. At the running back position, there are enough reps to go along. We want three guys we feel comfortable with. Two will play, but it’s not a rotation that where every series we’re going to have a different guy in there. No, we’ll have a starter then we’ll have a backup that will give him quality backup minutes.”
Smith on what he sees in middle linebacker Dane Fletcher:
“If you look at all our linebackers, there is a prototype: athletic, can run. They don’t have to be 250 pounds. We’re not looking for those iso linebackers. We want guys that can play in space; that have agility that can do a lot of things. Dane will rush for us. He’ll probably be lining up at the middle linebacker position for us. He’s been a good special teams player. But if we’re getting that type of position at all of our linebacker positions, we should be getting excellent special teams also. Our Mike and our Will [linebackers] will play a lot of special teams. [Linebackers] No. 3 through 6 will play a big role in special teams also.”
Smith on the Bucs’ middle linebacker position:
“Everybody can end up starting. We talked to all the players coming in. We have a linebacker that has started a lot of games at Mike for us that we really like. Guys choose to come to certain teams. Before they do that, they look at the roster and they like the way the competition can possibly go. Dane looked at it and felt comfortable coming here. I know when he came here, we liked everything that he brought: smart guy that should bring a lot to the table.”
Smith on mapping out reps at the running back spot:
“In time, they’ll tell us that. As a general rule, your starter will play the majority of the time. And if there’s not a big separation between the two, that guy may get reps a little bit early. You look at the game. You look at whether a player has a hot hand that day. You take all that into consideration. But I think as you go into the game, you need to feel good that everybody that you have dressing, if you play them, you feel like you can win with them.”
Smith on the less significant position of fullback in Tampa Bay:
“Fullback, what’s that position? For us, we think that it is a position. I know as you look on our roster right now, but as a general rule, the fullback position is a position that is being pushed aside a little bit because of what type of guy you have to have at that position. I think there’s still a place for it, but that guy has to be able to do multiple things. You’re not going to have a two-back set that often. So you have to warrant him dressing, so he has to do more things like I said. Those things are normally special teams. You have to have a certain type of guy that can be a big lead blocker. You have other options at lead blocker, too. You can put other positions there, too, whether it’s a big offensive guard, a big offensive lineman, he can take some of the lead plays also. With your fullback, you want him to be versatile enough to go outside and not just line up in your traditional fullback position. That’s a hard guy to find.”
Smith on if Mike James could play fullback:
“No, I wouldn’t say that. As I’m sitting here right now, if you’re asking me if Mike is going to play fullback, I would never say that. Mike’s a tailback. And I thought a very good one. When he did get an opportunity – I know the injury was tough – he showed some great agility carrying the ball when he had an opportunity to play.”
Smith on if there are others aside from Jeff Demps that may get a look at other positions:
“No, he’s the one that comes to mind right away. There are not a lot of guys that can do that. You can put guys out there but there are not legitimate guys that can do that. When you have that type of speed, you have to find ways to use that. If you’re the fastest guy in the league and a wide receiver, you line up on the outside and I’m a corner, I know that. They know who’s the fastest guy in the league is. You have to learn a lot of routes – go route, take off. Any type of slang term you want. They get that pretty quick. And as a running back, you say, ‘Well, why not just put him back there and get him the ball and see if he can make a guy miss?’ And if we block it well and there’s a hole, something good might happen. And as a returner, if he does get the ball, you can see that speed being able to do something too. I’m anxious to get him on the field and see for ourselves. There’s not a lot on video that we have on him to see what he can do.”
Smith on MLB Mason Foster having the ability drop in coverage in Cover 2:
“No doubt he does. I’m convinced he does. That isn’t as hard as you might think. The times we ask, a lot of people think we’re just asking him to run down the middle of the field. But he’s protected with guys on the outside, half-field guys back behind him. There’s a lot more. He will blitz. The position will blitz. Brian Urlacher will tell you. You look at Brian’s numbers and he has quite a few sacks. Man coverage is a part of what we will ask of that position also. Then just being out in front of the team. All those things, we feel like Mason can do.”
Smith on how many impact players the Bucs can get with three picks in top 69:
“Three. That’s how you have to look at it. Three players we feel like will help us. The seventh pick, if we stay there, had better. I’m not saying right away. Let’s make that clear. College draft ends, then the first day with us, he’ll blend right in. He doesn’t have to be in the starting lineup right away. We’ll start the process and in time though, we see that player helping us quite a bit.”
Smith on believing the Bucs can win right away and turn it around quickly:
“Yes, I think we can win. These aren’t lifetime jobs with lifetime plans (or a) four-year plan where in Year Four you need to show improvement. We want to show improvement right away. I’ve seen it happen before. Teams can go from the bottom of the division back up top. Things change. The landscape of the league changes quite a bit. Just look at our division, there’s been different division champs quite a few years. I would be disappointed with anyone in our organization, on our team, coaching staff and all didn’t feel that way.”
Smith on reaching out to former Buccaneers:
“Now, how much do you know our Buccaneers? And what are the odds of Warren Sapp reaching out? Derrick Brooks, what are the odds? Ronde [Barber], [John] Lynch, almost to a man, Mike Alstott, you go down the list. They’ve all reached out. I’ve reached out to them because we do want to be involved. We have a history that we’re proud of and these are the guys that are part of it. Most of them are still around. Guys that know me know – the Mark Royals, the Martin Grammaticas –they’ve all been around and they’re always welcome there. We’ll be doing a couple of special things for the group also.”
Smith on any young receiver on the roster that intrigues him:
“Right now, if I said one guy I’d feel bad about not mentioning the other. If you’re on the roster right now, we’ve seen something in you that we feel like we would like to explore a little bit more. There are at the receiver position, at the cornerback position, there’s some young player with talent. The numbers say give them a chance. I believe in adding veterans, but the foundation has to be on the young players coming up and not just the top picks coming in but I’m talking about the players you have a chance to develop. So we have a few of those it seems like every position really. That’s why this offseason is so important. These extra two weeks, this extra mini-camp we get a chance to work with the players is important.”
Smith on one moment that stands out as a surprise this offseason:
“With the history of the Bucs, it didn’t surprise me. That shocked some people. I can’t say that it has. But I was in old One Buc Place. That was a surprise walking in the building the first time. I have to admit. That might have been a shock on how much better a facility we have for our players. I knew Ed, Joel and Bryan [Glazer] back before. They’re running the organization now. Through the years, I’ve gotten to know them, see them. It wasn’t a surprise how Tampa Bay has welcomed me and my family back and the support that we’ve gotten from our season ticket holders. I’m excited about our function that we have this Friday with our season ticket holders as we unveil the new uniforms and new helmet. There have been a lot of exciting changes that has happened around there. I know about ‘It’s A Bucs Life’ now. For the education I’m getting, it’s changed a little bit, but for the most part no.”
Smith on having an extra layer of trust with director of pro personnel Shelton Quarles:
“There’s definitely an extra level of trust or trust in general, knowing what kind of man he is. I haven’t worked with Shelton in this type of role, but I’ve seen the same type of production, work ethic that he displayed as a player. So it has been good to work with a guy like that. He’s done an excellent job. That’s the reason why he’s moved up to the position he’s in. We’re all evaluated every day. He’s no different from that. Normally you evaluate a player like that, now a pro director like that, you get a certain level.”
Smith on leaning on Quarles with his experience of being around the Bucs over the years:
“I have leaned on Shelton quite a bit, getting his expertise. He’s been here a while. He knows all of the players. When you come in new, you have to trust someone: tell me what this guy is like. As a general rule, I try to just come in and don’t want to know an awful lot. When you know someone like that, you have to rely on his knowledge. I have done that with Shelton quite a bit. He has been very helpful to me in the transition and I didn’t expect anything but else accept that. I knew what we were getting in him.”

Last modified on Monday, 31 March 2014 10:32

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  • avatar

    Tell the MLB to blitz In the Tampa 2 or the cover 2 no more deep middle forever, never. and we will win ,teams will punt.
  • avatar

    I think the defense he will start out in is called a cover 2 shell and then sometimes switch to a cover 3, cover 4, or even a cover 1. I agree he will not run the traditional Tampa 2 that much except in long down and distance situations.
  • avatar

    Now this is a football coach with know how. I am not sure if our offense is quite ready to take us all the way, but belief in oneself could be the difference.
  • avatar

    I wanted to wait until after the 4th story to comment, but I loved all of Lovie's answers. Not only does he have a great plan I can tell he will know how to execute it. Correct me if I'm wrong someone, but it sounds like we will be playing more of a traditional Cover 2 than a true "Tampa 2". He said Foster will have safety help over the top taking half the field. In a true Tampa 2 the MLB has a responsibly much deeper down the field, so I always kind of thought of it as a Cover 2.5 or even a soft Cover 3. It sounds like Lovie's Cover 2 has the safeties take responsibly for the middle of the field at a much more shallow field position than the Tampa 2. It'll be interesting to see how Foster plays in this defense. I hope Foster learns something new this offseason, because seeing him play in a Cover 2 in training camp last year and also in the preseason guys always got open behind him.
  • avatar

    Damn, Lovie is a boss. He knows how to answer question like a true pro. Honest and elegant. This year will be better for sure.
  • avatar

    I like what I am hearing about the defense.
  • avatar

    man his answers to these questions are so much better than Schiano, Rah, or even Gruden
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