Lovie’s Defense? Fast And PhysicalApril 5th, 2014
It was apparent former Bucs commander Greg Schiano was so insistent on keeping his defenders working in a rigid format that the players were frustrated.
In 2012, after begging and pleading with coaches, Gerald McCoy was turned loose somewhat midway through the season and since that time is widely regarded as the most feared defensive tackle in the game.
Last year, clinging to a late-fourth-quarter lead at home against Miami, linebacker Lavonte David also begged for his coaches to turn the dogs loose. Schiano and his staff relented. What transpired next was the only consistent time an opposing quarterback feared for his safety last season. Ryan Tannehill was dropped on consecutive plays and, on the third (and final) play of the series, was forced into throwing an interception to Darrelle Revis that the Bucs’ first win of the season.
So when middle linebacker Mason Foster heard Lovie Smith was taking over, he did some research and found, as Warren Sapp would say, Lovie is going to let the dogs hunt.
When Joe caught up with Foster at a recent fan event, Foster told Joe that, no, he has yet to talk to Brian Urlacher, who played middle linebacker for Lovie in Chicago, but Foster’s other research educated him on what fans can expect to see this fall.
“From what I am hearing from other players around the league, and from what I have seen and talked to coaches about, they feel like [Lovie] is going to let us play — [so] me and Lavonte can go make plays,”Foster said. It is a defense with “less thinking. Just playing fast and physical and making plays. That is what you want to do as a linebacker. You want to have things be simple and just go make plays. I am excited.
“In any sport, if you take the thinking out and the hesitation out, you are going to see guys flying around and being physical. [Lack of thinking] makes you quicker, makes you faster.”
Foster also explained to Joe that the lack of thinking he referred to doesn’t mean the Bucs will play stupid and not study opponents, only that Lovie’s defense is less complex.
Foster didn’t deny that what fans witnessed in the final plays of the win over Miami could very well be the defensive norm this fall, rather than the exception.