He’s only been on the job for a few days but new Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith said he’s ready to get to work.
The former Atlanta Falcons head coach held his introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon and said a year away from the sidelines has reenergized him for his next assignment.
“This would be the one place that I would come,” Smith said when asked if there were other positions that caught his interest. “I’m very excited because of my relationship with [head coach] Dirk [Koetter]. We had an opportunity to work in Jacksonville together, as coordinators, and then he was my [offensive] coordinator there in Atlanta. This is really the only one that I would have considered, getting back in it. I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with the staff that Dirk has put together and some of these guys on this team.”
Wednesday’s press conference came during a day of coaching meetings at One Buc Place as Smith begins acclimating himself with his new digs and the current staff.
“[I’ve had] an opportunity with the defensive staff to have one meeting, and the meeting lasted about two hours this morning – they’re waiting on me to get right back up there,” Smith said. “In those two hours, it was just so invigorating to interact with those guys and talk to them about some of the things they do. This is not going to be Mike Smith’s defense. This is going to be Dirk Koetter’s defense. He’s the head football coach and the guys that are on our staff are going to be integral parts of what we put together and how we identify the strengths and the weaknesses of our players. Once we identify those strengths and weaknesses, our goal and what we’re charged to do is to put them in the best possible situations. That’s what coaching is all about.”
It’s early to begin talking about how Tampa Bay’s defense will look moving forward, Smith said, but he did offer up a few philosophical tidbits.
“It’s going to be very flexible,” he said. “I think in this day and age you have to give different looks. You can’t line up in the same look, in the same front every time. We’re going to have a lot of flexibility and we’re going to identify what the players are capable of doing and try to give different looks to the quarterback. If the quarterback has time in this league, he’s going to be a guy that’s going to be able to cut you up, so we’ve got to do a very good job of putting together a package that is flexible, multiple, yet simple for our players and complex for the quarterback and the opposing coaching staff.”
When asked about what the Bucs’ base look will be next season, Smith did say to expect to see four down linemen. Much of the in-depth scheming will show up in what players positioned behind the line are doing.
“We’re going to base out of a four-man front,” he said. “But again, when you play with a four-man front, you over-shift and you’re in a 3-4. You start in a 3-4, you over-shift, you’re in a 4-3. There’s not a whole lot of difference in terms of what you do, it’s a matter of how you’re going to put your shell in the back end. And I think that’s the thing that you have to do, is you have to give the quarterback different looks.
“Your front, there’s only so many things that you can do. In terms of what you do on the back end, you have a lot more flexibility and I think that’s one of the things that we’re going to look at as a coaching staff is to put our guys in the best position and, in turn, try to make it difficult for the quarterback and the offensive coordinator on the other side.”