Is Mason Foster Lovie’s Guy?January 6th, 2014
Bucs boss Lovie Smith has been blessed with an impressive of stable of middle linebackers during his 17 years of NFL coaching.
First he had perennial Bucs Pro Bowler Hardy Nickerson, who gave way to Jamie Duncan. When Smith moved on from Tampa to be Rams defensive coordinator, likely Hall of Famer London Fletcher was waiting for him. Then, for Smith’s long tenure in Chicago, surefire Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher was the main man in the Bears’ humming 4-3 defense.
So this has Joe wondering what Lovie thinks of Bucs middle linebacker Mason Foster, who his entering his contract year in 2014. Foster will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
An All-American linebacker himself, and a longtime linebackers coach, Lovie surely has studied Foster, perhaps more closely than any other Bucs defensive player. Lovie is going to want the right guy in that position as soon as possible.
Joe finds it to be no coincidence that the Rams, after losing in the 2002 Super Bowl, Lovie’s first season in St. Louis, ran out and drafted a middle linebacker in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, bust Robert Thomas out of UCLA.
Foster has proven to be a solid middle linebacker, and he definitely improved under the New Schiano Order. Schiano, a college linebacker himself, delivered excellent coaching to that unit, restoring dignity and pride to a corps that was ugly during the Raheem Morris regime.
Joe’s just not sure Lovie will see Ray Lewis in Foster, like Raheem did. Conversely, Lovie could be salivating at the chance to coach up Foster. Or maybe Lovie sees Foster as a strongside linebacker, where Foster played a lot in college?
Regardless, given Foster’s contract status, Joe would be surprised if Foster doesn’t have serious competition for the first time in his NFL career.