Is Mason Foster Lovie’s Guy?

January 6th, 2014

Don’t look for Foster to be gifted a starting job for the fourth straight year

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.

26 Responses to “Is Mason Foster Lovie’s Guy?”

  1. Tackleblockwin Says:

    Joe,

    I love this article. As soon as Lovie was hired I thought the same thing as visions of Urlacher raced through my mind. Certainly, the idea of moving Foster to OLB is back on the table for discussion.

  2. Northend Says:

    That indeed would fill a need at OLB and let Foster ball out there.Something to ponder this Morning.

  3. Bucamania Says:

    Foster had a very strong year. We’ll see.

  4. Patrick in VA Says:

    Is there a knockout MLB coming through the draft or would we have to get this guy via FA? I’m not sure that we’d be able to get away with a big MLB acquisition when there are so many offensive holes. If we land another LVD-like home run in the draft I would love it

  5. Vincente Says:

    I haven’t hadca chance to look at any linebackers in the draft but we could really use done more speed in the MLB. Foster great at the run but someone who can help lock down the tight end would be awesome. I just hope the bucs don’t pick up a defensive guy in the first round. Please pick offense. Please.

  6. Bobby Says:

    Foster looked good this year. I think Lovie will like him.

  7. BirdDoggers Says:

    I would think Lovie will find a place for Foster either in the middle or on the strong side. Foster’s contract renewal might come into play, especially if he’s moved to the strong side. The strong side LB in the Tampa 2 doesn’t command as much money. Of course this assumes Lovie will employ the Tampa 2 on a consistent basis, which I’m yet to be convinced he will.

  8. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Joe – I feel like you should look in to having official meet-up locations for JBF fans and commenters to watch the game together. Might be cool to be able to put some faces with the handles and maybe cool down some of the general vitriol that seems to come out if guys can share a beer and discuss their views on the team. I’m generally only in town for one game a year but I’d attend when I’m there. Just a thought.

    Perhaps Joe will do that again in 2014. Joe will have a blowout draft party this year. You can count on that.–Joe

  9. rayray1 Says:

    M Foster was one of the players I first thought of when Lovie was named. Not sure he’s the prototypical MLB in the Tampa 2.

  10. Orca Says:

    In the old Tampa 2, the MLB had pass coverage responsibilities requiring deep drops, which is why they always had very athletic guys playing it. They had to be able to run. Foster isn’t really that guy, but maybe they’ll look to adjust the defense with him in mind.

  11. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Joe – Right on. Didn’t realize that was something that’s already out there. Here’s to hoping that I’ll be in town when it’s organized.

  12. blackmagic00 Says:

    If he runs a Tampa2 we’re asking to get roasted. I highly doubt Tampa2 is our d.

  13. Buc_The_World Says:

    @Patrick in VA are you far from DC? I live in MD, Im not to far from Alexandria/Arlington. Maybe we can hit a sports bar, drink a few beers, watch some Bucs games.

  14. Brandon Says:

    Hey Buc and Patrick-I’m in Northern Virginia. I usually go down to one Bucs game per year, though this year I may go in July for the first week of training camp.

    Blackmagic00.. Lovie ran his T-2 in Chicago his last year there, they finished 3rd in the league in defense. Teams only get roasted using that D when they try to fit square pegs into round holes… like the oversized LBs of the Cowboys trying to play T-2.

  15. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Buc_The_World – I’m in VA closer to Gainesville/Manassas. Shoot me an email and we can coordinate next season. Thanks for reaching out man. Kinda sucks being the lone soldier Buc fan up here. [email protected]

  16. bigpoppabuc Says:

    Foster has been improving since the day he got here. Hardy wasn’t the fastest MLB around. I think Foster will blossom even more under Lovie. And all this Tampa 2 talk is overkill, I feel. The Bears did a lot of different things, including a lot of press man.
    Lovie won’t waste time trying to find another Urlacher, when he knows he needs DEs and help on offense.

  17. Orca Says:

    ^^ Still, I think they’re thin at LB anyway, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they look to draft LBs. They have David and Foster and then a bunch of journeyman/ST guys.

  18. blackmagic00 Says:

    Brandon I can see a 4-3 with press. We don’t have the corners for the Tampa2. With a couple pieces I see a 4-6.

  19. BucsfaninChina Says:

    Very true, Joe. Everyone was talking Revis when I think this position will see change from Lovie.

    Check out CJ Mosley from Bama. Not much of a blitzer but kills it against the run and in coverage. With Watson and Casillas now FAs can def see this guy playing middle, kicking Foster to outside, or playing him on the outside.

  20. Rich Says:

    I thought about Foster when everyone was wondering about how Revis would fit in a Tampa-2 style defense. He seems like another example of a good player that would not be a good fit for the scheme. Can Foster be trusted to drop back and cover the deep middle of the field? Is that a good use of a linebacker who has shown a knack for downhill, aggressive play? And what about the safeties? Do either of them have the coverage skills to play a 2-deep zone? I don’t think the defensive personnel (except McCoy and LVD) fits a pure Tampa-2 style defense. Especially without DEs that can be trusted to provide consistent pressure. Does that mean we’ll see a lot of roster turnover? Or is it more likely that Smith and Frazier will adapt to take advantage of the talent that’s already in place? I’m banking on the latter.

  21. $acbuc$ Says:

    I like mason he had a hell of a season joe but last season I said he didnt look sideline to sideline. I hope lovie brings bostic with him.

  22. pick6 Says:

    with all the holes and all the people not playing up to their contracts on this team, i see no urgency to upgrade from a MLB who has been playing at a fringe pro-bowl level. at worst he gets demoted to SLB, but i think foster has shown good instincts, game smarts, and success moving towards or away from the LOS

  23. PRBucFan Says:

    Casillas showed some great things this year it would be interesting to see if Lovie resigns him.

  24. bucs55 Says:

    $amsbuc $

    Bostic lol lovie didn’t even draft him and he’s in his second year of his contract how will he bring him smh Mason foster will be the guy he’s getting better in the pass resulting in those picks from last year and this defense they are bringing will benefit him because it’s a gap sscheme everyone has there gap

  25. bucs55 Says:

    Rich

    look at the interceptions he had this year they were all in a cover 2 or a cover 3 he doesn’t struggle in the zone he struggles in the man coverage I think we get the perfect lb to play the middle he plays with speed and instinks

  26. bucs55 Says:

    Have

 
 

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