Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Jan 2014

Buccaneers To Hire Lovie Smith

Deal getting finalized right now, per Jay Glazer.

No report on who the Buccaneers are getting at general manager, also a need since Tampa fired Mark Dominik as well as Greg Schiano, but this is the kind of hire the Bucs needed. Following up on the inexperienced Raheem Morris with straight-from-college Schiano was not a good recipe for success in my view. Previous reports had former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford becoming Lovie's offensive coordinator wherever he landed, for the big hire.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 01 Jan 2014

33 comments, Last at 03 Jan 2014, 5:53pm by Roch Bear


by techvet (not verified) :: Wed, 01/01/2014 - 9:59pm

The Packers visit Tampa Bay in 2014. It should be good theater with Rodgers going against Lovie Smith and possibly against his old college coach, assuming the Tedford rumors are correct.

by Duke :: Wed, 01/01/2014 - 10:04pm

Curious if Bucs start going after all the Bears defensive players who are free agents. Would not be surprised to see Tillman look to go there, although I'm not sure the Bucs need him.

Hester would not surprise me either. Always loved Lovie.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 01/01/2014 - 10:28pm

Just the man to sort out a passing game, Lovington 'We get off the bus running' Smith.

Bucs fans repeat after me, 'Mike Glennon is our QB'. Rinse, repeat ad infinitum, drink.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 01/01/2014 - 10:43pm

Tampa has a great player on every level of the defense (McCoy at DT, David at LB, Revis at CB). There's plenty of other talent on that side of the ball, and this could be a phenomenal defense if they stop making stupid mistakes. That seems to me to pretty much be Lovie's M.O. during his Chicago days. Maximize your defensive talent, play well, and don't be stupid.

Offense is a question, yes, but if they hired some unknown guy, it'd still be a question. No idea if Tedford is the answer (I'd prefer Chudzinski, just because he's proven his ability to run an offense), but Lovie Smith is a respected, intelligent guy who isn't a massive, stinking pile of embarrassment at head coach like the last couple of guys.

As for Mike Glennon, he wasn't great, but he was good enough Tampa doesn't need to reach for a QB at #7 overall. This year is going to be another 2012-ish "Oh crap, QBs are running out, let's draft Locker/Gabbert/Ponder" series of panic moves.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 10:05am

Offense isn't the question.

The offense is going to be bad. That's about as certain as it is that the defense will be good.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 10:49am

While there will be several overdrafted quarterbacks in the first round, this draft will rival 1983 in the long run. Both David Fales and Jimmy Garoppolo are good prospects but will be there in the second and third rounds. I wouldn't compare it to 2011.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 11:23am

Chud would be great for you but part of the reason Lovie got fired was because Chud turned him down to even interview as his OC leaving him with 'first choices' like Martz/Tice. I would be surprised if that happened.

Don't get me wrong, Lovie is a good coach and his players love him. No quitting on any of his teams. I don't think his defensive system is out of date either but it does need committing to, you can't sort of run it and expect good results. If you are going to be content with the scenario played out in your first paragraph then you will be happy with the hire.

Also for my mind the guy who gets credit for the Bears specials over the years is Dave Toub who is probably staying in Kansas.

by Duke :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 3:51pm

As I recall, part of the reason why Chud (along with others) didn't want to interview was that Lovie was considered to be on the hot seat, and if he didn't win the whole staff would be out. That, along with the general awfulness of the Bears O (remember J'Marcus Webb, starting LT), made the Bears OC job look a lot like a 1 year, get fired and blamed situation.

In other words, not really the kind of place that someone with good prospects would want to go.

My point being, I don't think (but I don't know either) that Chud declined to interview with the Bears because he didn't want to work with Lovie. I think it was a matter of the situation not looking good. In Tampa, where Lovie has 3 years at least, probably, things might look better.

But obviously, they're going in a different direction.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 2:06pm

Don't you think there should be quite a lot of qbs going early in this year's draft?

Looking past Bridgewater, Manziel, Bortles and Carr; there are still some quality players. I watched Connor Shaw yesterday as he went 22-25 and couldn't see any major flaws that would stop him from being successful on Sundays. Brett Hundley also looked very good and has all the athleticism that teams are looking for.

The only thing that will stop another 2012 type run is the number of passes available later on; Fales, Mettenberger etc. However, GMs never just sit still and wait for a qb, they always have to pick the one guy they've fallen in love with.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 9:36am

Lovie coached a defense and special teams in Chicago that was so good it could drag rookie Kyle Orton (he was awful as a rookie) to an 11 win playoff season, and Rex Grossman to a 13 win Super Bowl season.

Like Milkman says, Tampa has enough good players on defense that they could conceivably reach such a level of dominance that the offense would simply need to avoid helping the opposition, and take advantage of good field position.

by tomdrees :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 1:40pm

It seems like a Mike Glennon = Brad Johnson comparison is apt. Just in terms of general gawkiness.

by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Wed, 01/01/2014 - 10:51pm

An excellent hire. I have no idea who'll be the QB, offensive coordinator, etc., but I'm certain Lovie is more qualified to make those decisions than I am. Unfortunately, I'm a Panther homer. The Bucs will become a challenge again.

by rageon :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 12:37pm

More qualified than you and I to choose a coaching staff, but more qualified than other NFL head coaches? I'm not so sure. Unfortunately, how many years were people saying "with Lovie's defense, the Bears will be just fine -- they just need to hire a good OC to give them an average offense." And they would go through various mediocre coordinators who were either a bad fit for the players or just plain not that good. You look at what Trestman did with that offense in a single year and wonder how great they could have been if they had just hired him as OC a few years ago.

I went through the same thing watching Shanahan built a great young offense in Denver but never really figuring out a defense and switching to a new (bad) defensive coordinator every year.

See also, Rex Ryan and the Jets.

The problem with the "he just needs to bring in the right coordinator" plan is that the coach rarely seems to actually bring in the right coodinator. I'm sure there are examples of this, but can't think of any off the top of my head.

I like Lovie Smith and think he'll do very well with the defense. But I'm not yet convinced he will do the right thing with the offense. Bringing in Tedford is at least thinking outside the box and has a better than of succeeding than deciding Mike Tice is the solution to turning around an offense.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 1:52pm

I'm not sure Tedford is the right guy. I'm watching the bowl game yesterday and wondering why NFL teams that need offensive coordinators aren't hiring some of the guys running these option/package offenses after Chip Kelly has shown that they do work in the pros.

by Duke :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 3:53pm

The problem with the "he just needs to bring in the right coordinator" plan is that the coach rarely seems to actually bring in the right coodinator. I'm sure there are examples of this, but can't think of any off the top of my head.

The other problem is that this is often "I need a coordinator to save my job", which means the job you're offering has a high chance of not being long term. Which makes it a lot less enticing. I'm convinced this is a large part to why Lovie had trouble getting good OCs in Chicago.

by Roch Bear :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 10:25pm

Lovie needed, I think, far more than an excellent OC to make his Bears offense any good(after 2006). This year's improvement is partly Trestman, I'm sure, but replacing a dysfunctional LT, RT, TE, LG and WR2 (Webb, Carimi, K. Davis, series of goofs, Hester)with a remarkably good (perhaps NFL avg starter or better) group was breathtaking. Tice or Martz would probably have done all right with this years offense (which had good injury luck too).

by Mike B. In Va :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:03pm

The problem with the "he just needs to bring in the right coordinator" plan is that the coach rarely seems to actually bring in the right coodinator. I'm sure there are examples of this, but can't think of any off the top of my head.

Lovie himself was an example, when he was DC under Martz.

by Alternator :: Wed, 01/01/2014 - 11:49pm

Everyone welcome the 2014 NFC South Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 01/01/2014 - 11:58pm

Smart hire. I was worried he'd go to Detroit and straighten up that mess.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 9:32am

This is exactly why I'm disappointed Tampa got him first.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 1:40am

Good luck Lovie, just as long as the Bucs aren't playing the Bears.

by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 6:24am

I always liked Lovie: I hope he works out down in Tampa.

That said, it's certainly possible that Tillman, Peppers (when cut,) and Hester all go down to Tampa to turn Lovie's new defense into a nightmare to play against.

Seriously, think about Tillman and Revis as corners on the same team. It's terrifying. Peppers can still be useful as well, and meanwhile Gerald McCoy and Lavonte "arguably second best defensive player in the NFL behind JJ Watt" David are already present.

If Tedford is a good OC and the Bucs hire a good GM, we could conceivably end up with another NFC West scenario, with teh Falcons lurking on the outside.

by Jon Goldman :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 6:27am

This is conditional on his success not hurting the Bears or Giants, mind.

by BJR :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 7:59am

I'd expect Atlanta's defense to show at least some improvement next year, along with improved injury luck, to become an above average team again. They've got the most important piece in place (strong passing attack).

That division will be brutal next year.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 9:38am

The anti-Schiano.

by Brent Hutto (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 11:03am

Best case, the 2014 Bucs look like the 2011-2012 Carolina Panthers except with Mike Glennon at quarterback.

In the NFC South that's a recipe for third place in 2014 even if Atlanta doesn't bounce back. Still a lot more competitive on the field and less cringe-inducing off the field than any team with Schiano on the payroll.

by Mash Wilson :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 11:31am

I don't think Lovie is ever going to win a Super Bowl, but for a franchise that desperately needs to stop sucking and hasn't been competently run since Gruden's days, Lovie is just the prescription they needed. Good hire. I won't be surprised to see them 9-7 in 2014.

by Led :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 12:03pm

I haven't followed the Bears closely over the years. How dedicated is Lovie to the Tampa 2 defense? I ask because paying Revis $16m to play corner in that defense doesn't make much sense. I assume they'll try to negotiate a long term deal at a lower cap number, but Revis (and his agents) have never showed any flexibility at any time. The Jets own the Bucs' 3rd rounder this year but that falls to a 4th rounder if Revis gets cut. I'm afraid a Revis return to the NYJ is pretty much impossible at this point even if he was cut (although that would be cool, if the price was decent), so keeping that 3rd rounder is important.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 12:47pm

The defense he runs will always be based on Tampa 2 concepts. Single gap up front, routing receivers inside where the help is, lighter pass rushing d-linemen, and lighter faster linebackers than the league average.

However, he was very adaptable with the actual coverage the Bears ran. They were running more cover 3 and cover 1 than cover 2 in several of the years.

I don't think he'll ever come up with the exotic zone/man concepts Rex Ryan uses to trick the opposing offense, but I bet you do see a lot of Cover 1/3 with the deep safety cheating away from Revis.

by Duke :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 3:46pm

Exactly. Lovie will make good use of Revis, I'm sure. The "Lovie only calls Tampa-2" claim is really outdated.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 9:01pm

Nobody would be dumb enough to turn Darrelle Revis into a zone corner, right? I mean, who in their right mind would take a guy with the skills of Revis and repeatedly just stick him in a certain location on the field, so that opposing teams would often stick UDFAs signed right off the street in front of him to distract him while actual experienced NFL WRs ran wild in other parts of the secondary? Nobody would be dumb enough to do such a thing! Right? Right?

*goes back to stabbing Greg Schiano picture*

by DEW (not verified) :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 5:28pm

Like pretty much everyone else has already said, while suspicious of what he'll make of the offense (though other than Glennon, and subject to the injury assault at RB, the overall offensive talent level is above what Lovie had most years in Chicago...Actually, compared to Orton and Grossman and their ilk, Glennon's not that much off the mark, either), I think the professionalism that Smith brings to the team outweighs anything else. Morris, by all media reports, basically was a softie who failed to lead, while Schiano was a thug who equally failed to lead. While the Bears' play on the field sometimes was in question during Smith's years in Chicago, the team was never the kind of clown show a la Detroit, New York, Miami, and Tampa, and that can't help but make a huge difference. I can easily imagine 8-10 wins with the Bucs' overall talent level, and with some good breaks a division title isn't impossible.

by Roch Bear :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 5:53pm

This whole Lovie 'experiment' is really interesting. He was DC for a good defense in Stl with what looked like okay but not perfect talent. He was HC and actual DC in Chicago with good or great talent and had an outstanding defense. If he takes the good talent of Tampa and makes an outstanding defense while, I presume, being the effective DC, it will be evidence that his DC magic is real. If that is so, then Jerry Jones should pay him $20M/year to come be DC in Dallas. Maybe good coaches are underpaid? It's not cap money.