When Lovie Smith was fired by the Chicago Bears, few wondered how long would it take for him to land another NFL coaching gig? Lovie Smith was well respected amongst his peers, his players, as well as the Bears organization. He is regarded as a brilliant defensive mind, whose downfall, quite frankly was that he could not be trusted in hiring an offensive coordinator.
With the NFL fast becoming a passing league, Smith is a member of a dying breed of coaches – one who preaches defense first, offense a distant second. With that philosophy it was unknown when he would get his second crack at coaching.
After firing Greg Schiano the Buccaneers needed to go in a different direction.
Schiano was brought in because he was a strict disciplinarian. His tactics alienated the Buccaneers’ locker room. Things really got out of hand while Tampa Bay went winless through the first eight games of the season.
Many of Schiano’s problems began with the episode between him and former starting QB Josh Freeman. There were whispers that Freeman, a three-time team captain, lost his captaincy after Schiano tampered with the vote. The two never saw eye to eye after that. Freeman was subsequently released by Tampa Bay after he was demoted to third-string by Coach Schiano.
The hiring of Lovie Smith is an excellent move by Tampa Bay.
Smith is different than Schiano in various ways.
First and foremost, throughout his Bears’ coaching career Smith was known as a player’s coach. That bodes well for a Buccaneers locker room that grew tired of Schiano’s antics. It is hard to find a former player who would have anything bad to say about Smith.
Smith brings a winning pedigree to Tampa Bay. In nine seasons with the Chicago Bears Smith’s regular season coaching record was 81-63. He went 3-3 in the playoffs, including a loss in Super Bowl XLI. Lovie Smith is a proven NFL coach as opposed to Schiano, who finished 11-21 in three seasons with Tampa Bay, his lone NFL job.
Much of the team’s strengths are on the defensive side of the ball.
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David are two of the Bucs defenders who had good seasons. Both are under the age of 26 and have plenty of upside. Smith has the track record of maximizing defensive talent.
He also has a track record of having loyal players. That could pay off for the Bucs come NFL free agency.
The Bears have 26 free agents. Many of who are on the defensive side of the football, and many of them were Lovie Smith loyalists. It is not inconceivable for Smith to reach out to a few of his former players and convince them to join him, in an effort to teach the finer points of his philosophy. That would be invaluable for not only Smith, but the younger players on the Buccaneers’ roster.
The pieces are in place for Smith to succeed defensively. On offense, it is reported he will bring for Cal head coach Jeff Tedford to be his offensive coordinator. Smith and Tedford must decide if quarterback Mike Glennon is the ideal choice to jumpstart the Buccaneer franchise, or look to the draft for another option. They will have some time to decide. In the meantime, Tampa Bay must hire a general manager to oversee football operations.