The Play That (May Have) Saved Lovie

October 13th, 2015
The play that may have saved Lovie Smith's future with the Bucs: DE George Johnson's forced fumble that led to a defensive score. (Photo courtesy of

The play that may have saved Lovie Smith’s future in Tampa: George Johnson’s forced fumble that led to a defensive score. (Photo courtesy of

It is easy to see all the good things that happened for the Bucs.

It’s also easy to overlook just how close the Bucs came to gagging away Sunday’s win over the Jags.

The Bucs’ secondary, in the second half, must have thought one-armed Blake Bortles was John Elway reincarnated the way he sliced them up, and was an onside kick away from having the ball in the waning moments with a chance to tie.

In those types of games, one play is often the difference. And so it was when George Johnson punched a ball for a fumble deep in Jags territory, allowing Jacquies Smith to score a defensive touchdown and give the Bucs a 29-24 lead as the third quarter ended.

“I basically [saw] the play, [saw] the toss, and I just got up there, really nothing to it,” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to play hard and just trying to make a play. We said coming off the sideline, ‘we need a big play.’ And it just happened to come when I got up field.

“Oh you see what happened, changed the whole game. You know, 14-point swing. You know, we go out there, we score on defense. That’s our main goal is to try to score on defense and we actually did that. And our offense came out and scored their next drive so that 14-point swing actually helped us out.”

Changed the game? May have changed Bucs history. For as Joe wrote many times last week, if the Bucs lost to the Jags, Joe wasn’t sure how Lovie would crawl out of that hole.

If Lovie returns next season — he isn’t out of the woods, yet — then you could point to Johnson’s forced fumble as the play that saved Lovie.

37 Responses to “The Play That (May Have) Saved Lovie”

  1. D-Rome Says:

    Lovie’s job has only been in jeopardy in the minds of a few people in the local media and some fans. America’s Quarterback gives Lovie at minimum all of next season. If the Glazers fire Lovie Smith at the end of the season because of ginned up outraged by the local media then the Bucs deserve to continue to be a losing franchise.

  2. Eric Says:

    Well put D-Rome

    I will add the Glazers are not going to listen to the crowd since they ruined the franchise by firing Gru before.

    The Glazer’s understand football and the difficulties in rebuilding, especially while starting a rookie at QB and on key positions of the oline.

  3. DallasBuc Says:

    D-Rome- you are kidding yourself if you really don’t think incompetent Lovie Smith’s job was in serious jeopardy if he lost another home game to one of the other two JV squads in Florida.
    Was thrilled to see us win a football game but enthusiasm tempered when you consider the level of football talent in Jax. The state of Florida plays JV football and the rest of the nation plays at an NFL level.

  4. AC Says:

    i’m with D-Rome on this debate.. i just don’t see what firing Lovie would do besides setting this team back even more. we are NOT going to get an A list coach to come to the bucs it is just not going to happen. Let this man coach the team and see what kind of progress he can get. We are already at 2 wins this year which took us all of 17 weeks last year. Guys our team is not good ppl need to understand that we have some talent but not a plethora of talent like some suggest. Let Lovie do his thing this year and if he and the team is under performing next year than that should warrant change. Not many coaches are going to win right off rip like some rookie coaches are doing. Let’s give this man a chance to do his thing. Going to take atleast 3 full years to see a definitive change with this team.

  5. Buccfan37 Says:

    Seeing the Jags overall win record against the Bucs was depressing. Adding a win against them was a most opportune result.

  6. Capt.Tim Says:

    Well said. You would have to be incredibly ignorant to believe Lovie wont be here until at least the end of next season. I doubt any posters here are that stupid, and its really beneath Joe to try and inflame the fools.

    I could say more, but the entire concept is so ludicrous, thats its beneath me!
    If you can find human beings, Who are stupid enough to believe that- then more power to you.

    But articles like this one are in danger of changing this from a Football blog, into a soap opera – just like BSPN has become.

    Next we’ll be reading about Tony Roma’s hair.

  7. bucrightoff Says:

    We hired Lovie Smith as a defensive coach. The defense is worse than it was at the end of the Schiano years. If it’s still getting absolutely shredded at the end of the season, it begs the obvious question of what a new coach couldn’t do that Lovie can. Apparently coach up the defense isn’t one of the things Lovie can do.

    Look at the schedule. Could easily be a 1-10 or 2-9 finish to the season if the defense doesn’t improve. And then at 2-14, 3-13 or 4-12, how can anyone justify bringing Lovie back? 6 wins or less in two years? From a long time NFL coach?

  8. FortMyersDave Says:

    I have to side on DallasBuc on this one: the Bucs beat a 1-4 Jag squad which everyone in the National Media was picking as “their” upset pick of the week with the Bucs favored by a meager 2 points at kickoff…. Lovie could have been fired, why not? But he won so he will now coach until seasons’ end but he had better win more than 4 or a lot of us will be calling for change. Lovie promised improvement; last year Tampa was 2-14 with Lovie intentionally tanking away 1 or 2 or so wins to guarantee Winston (Saints finale was absolute tank, Bungles game was as well). So improvement means at least 5 or 6 wins IMHO: where do people here on the BB see 6 wins? Okay: Chicago, maybe the Aints again and the Deadskins after the bye: who else is Lovie gonna beat when his D allows 30 points game???? Not many teams on the schedule as bad as the Jags or Skins and unfortunately for the Bucs the Miami Philbins are only on the exhibition schedule…..

  9. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I forgot one of the scores was on defense.

    Still, the offense score a lot of points. If they could average that many points, they would be really, really good.

  10. OneLove Says:

    Lovie Smith’s job was not in jeopardy and that play did NOT SAVE his job. This team is going to continue to improve and Lovie WILL be our Head Coach for the next FEW years! (Emphasis on FEW!!)

    “It’s as simple as that” – Lovie Smith aka “I plan on retiring in Tampa!”
    “Lovie is a GREAT coach!” – Kwon Alexander (The only opinions that count!)

  11. ShutTheBucUp Says:

    The Bucs squeaked out a vitory against one of the worst teams in the league. Nothing to get too excited about. Although the offensive line and running backs had a great performance against a good run defense, which is promising. We’ll see where things stand when we face a team with a good coach and a winning record.

  12. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    DallasBuc Says
    “D-Rome- you are kidding yourself if you really don’t think incompetent Lovie Smith’s job was in serious jeopardy if he lost another home game to one of the other two JV squads in Florida.”

    You are kidding yourself if you think you can read the minds of the Glazers. YOU might BELIEVE his job should be in jeopardy, but that doesn’t mean the Glazers feel the same way.

    I shake my head when people say “his job is on the line”, because there is no way they know that. It’s all depends on the agreement between he and the owners, what they expected and planned for when he was hired, and their overall opinion so far.

    If, for example, when he was hired he told them “We can try to fix things fast, but if it doesn’t work, we’re looking at a 2 to 3 full year rebuild.”

    You also don’t know if the Glazers are thinking, “We fired Raheem after 3 years. We fired Schiano after 2 years. If we fire Lovie after 1 1/2 years to 2 years, no one is going to work for us except bottom feeders.”

    So don’t even try to pretend you think you know…because you don’t.

  13. The Buc Realist Says:

    If it takes you 21 games to figure out to blitz LVD occasionally then you will not be a head coach for long!!!! Its as simple as that!!!!!!

  14. Eric Says:

    Lovie has had to spend all but one draft choice on offense, due to the calamity he inherited.

    Now we have a good young franchise QB in place, with a rebounding young offensive line, and Evans and Simms, Jenkins, etc.

    Lovie is the head football coach and he has been rebuilding the biggest areas of need, which were many, and more remain.

    On the right track. The Glazer’s understand this.

  15. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Here’s what would happen IF Lovie were fired over the bye week:

    The players would quit. They would throw in the towel and say, “That was wrong. I’m done.”

    An interim head coach would be promoted or hired. Koetter might seem like a good candidate for head coach…until you consider that he refused two offers over the off season to head coach because he DOESN’T WANT TO BE A HEAD COACH.

    So someone else would become head coach in the off season…assuming the Glazers can convince ANYONE that they’ll be given a fair chance at success, which will be impossible because the Glazers and fans have a history for wanting coaches gone before they can implement their vision.

    This season would be completely toast. Best case scenario, Koetter actually agrees to become interim HC. What, you expect Frazier to do better on defense than he has, without Lovie? Lovie has had to strip him of some of the duties because HE SUCKS.

    And you think Koetter is going to be able to spend as much time on the offense if he is running the team????

    And at the end of the year, the staff would be replaced. Winston would lose a GREAT OC, which would stunt his growth. Then, the following season he would look bad and you guys would blame him when it is really your fault.

    You idiots seem to think constant firing of coaches will get you what you want. ONLY if you are not truly a Bucs fan will that happen.

    Raheem was too easy. Schiano was too hard. Lovie is actually a great head coach.

    AND…you seem to forget that he has accomplished exactly what you twits claimed he couldn’t do…he has built an offense that is coming together really well.

    So you say, “He’s a defensive coach and his defense sucks!”

    Well of course it sucks! You guys wanted the offense first, remember???? So now that it has the pieces, give him time to fix the defense through the draft too!

    Sheesh. You bashers are the most short-sighted, ignorant twits I have ever laid eyes upon. And I’m sure you’ll prove me right in your response.

  16. DEEnice07 Says:

    Come the end of the season that one play won’t mean nothing. It won’t be able to salvage this Dinosaur’s job. But he’s not all to blame, we’re just a bad organization from top to bottom. We let good talent go & keep/sign players nobody else wants. The blame can go around on why we’re consistently bad. But I just can’t help but laugh at the people with optimism, that used to be me. Not anymore! I’ve engraved this in my head about our stinken Bucs “THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WE’RE” & that’s a loser year after year!

  17. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    ShutTheBucUp Says
    “The Bucs squeaked out a vitory against one of the worst teams in the league.”

    The 4th best team against the run in the league. And the Bucs ran the ball down their throats.

    No, it doesn’t mean the Bucs are suddenly elite. Or great. But a win builds confidence. A home win builds more.

    The more games they “squeak out” wins on, the more they’ll learn how to do it successfully.

    Don’t expect a superior team to suddenly appear. Expect the need to grow. Baby steps. Win one. Lose one. Learn. Grow. Develop.

    And like change in your pockets, it will add up.

  18. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    We’re consistently bad because of the fans.

  19. The Buc Realist Says:

    No one is saying fire lovie at the bye, ( well some are ). Most just want to shop and start looking. Can lovie get this team to an 8-8 team in the next year or two sure, but that is with him collecting top 5 draft picks along the way!!!

    Is it starting over if you never went anywhere in the first place???

  20. The Buc Realist Says:

    Also the Glazes might look at the situation were there is coach that will not be available at the end of the season that they want. And will let Lovie stink up the joint for the 2016 season so they get another top 10 draft pick. ( which will be the 4th top 10 draft pick by the lovie regime!!)

  21. James Walker Says:

    If Jameis gets no credit for junk time TDs, then Bortles gets no credit for his last TD in junk time.

  22. WalkdaPlank Says:


    Same applies for you. You cannot read the minds of the Glazers. Maybe they are thinking that a 1-10 home record, 4-17 overall record, an average at best defense, an average at best offense, and 4 blowout losses in less than 2 seasons are not what they envisioned to bring progress to a struggling franchise.

    It would idiotic to fire Lovie midseason. But nobody can say his job isn’t or wasn’t in jeopardy. A loss to a poor Jaguars team and continued losing for the rest of the season would not bode well for a head coach. How many coaches lead their teams to two straight top 5 draft picks and survive?

    I personally am rooting for the guy, well, because he is the head coach of my favorite NFL team. If he does bad, they do bad. That being said, if he is not the man for the job I certainly don’t want him here. And to say that nobody would want to coach here if Lovie was fired is a reach. Lovie came here after the Glazers fired a coach with a winning record and the franchise’s only Lombardi, fired another after 3 seasons, and then fired a college coach after 2 seasons. You know how HUGE it would be for a coach to come into a franchise that is on life support and turn it around? You thibk people won’t want that opportunity? If guys like Andy Reid, Jim Harbaugh, and Dan Quinn can come to a struggling franchise and turn them around in 1 season, maybe the Glazers are wondering why they have to wait 3 or more seasons for Lovie to turn theirs around.

    Now the Bucs are 2-3, with a chance to keep winning. If Lovie can make it through a brutal November schedule with a decent record, his job won’t be in question at all. I’m not expecting a winning record or a playoff berth, I just want progress. Go Bucs!

  23. Tampa Tony Says:

    The Lovie Loyalist on here are hilarious. I doubt he would’ve been fired after a loss to the Jags but if he goes 2-14,3-13 hrs gone. Can’t justify that to your fans, rookie QB or not. He’s a veteran coach who gets out schemed and coached nearly 90% of the time.

    I’ve always stayed he has until the end of the year to justify the Glazers keeping him after 2-14. Fire him if there is no progress

  24. The Buc Realist Says:


    VJ had to catch an onside kick to finally ice the game so the “Jags” would not have a chance to win. The Head coach is jumping up and down on the sidelines like he won the NFC Championship and the GM is jumping into pools with his suit on. Even you have to admit that this is not a good look!!!! Its the Jags!!! the worst roster in football!!! and the staff is acting like it shocked the world!! SMH!!!!!!!!

  25. bucsbedabest Says:

    Here we go again. Lovie is out, Lovie is in, the Glazers are going to do this, the Glazers are going to do that. You can’t read the Glazors mind, the Glazors can’t read yours! Take a look at the facts. Lovie is in his second year of a four year $25M contract, with a fifth year option. Greg Schiano is in the fourth year of a five-year deal, worth slightly more than $15 million. Jameis Winston is in the first year of a four year $25M contract, with a fifth year option. Lovies and Schianos contracts overlap until the end of 2016 season. If Lovie was terminated this year and a new coach brought in next year, that means the high spending Glazers would be “triple dipping” on coaches salaries in 2016. With the number one pick in his first year of his four year deal and the potential for overlapping coaches contracts, the obvious conclusion is that Lovie is here until the end of next year without a doubt.

    Back to football. After George Johnson was benched before Sundays game, he turns in a 5 solo tackle (all behind the line of scrimmage), one forced fumble, in just 29 snaps, beating, against the Jags. Way to go George, you not only may have saved Lovie’s season, you have shown that stamina is not an issue with 29 snaps!

  26. WalkdaPlank Says:


    Irrelevant. Jameis’ salary has nothing to do with the coaching situation. The Glazers are billionaires, you think they can’t buy out his contract? Joe has even made an article on it.

  27. bucrightoff Says:

    James Walker Says:
    October 13th, 2015 at 11:17 am
    If Jameis gets no credit for junk time TDs, then Bortles gets no credit for his last TD in junk time.

    I love the attempts to change what garbage time is. The Jags were never in garbage time, the Bucs needed an onside recovery to win. Hardly garbage time. Bortles just had a career game against the easiest defense he’ll play all year. I’d be interested what kind of numbers Jameis puts up against this defense. 350yds, 4 TDs and a rushing TD sounds about right.

  28. Capt.Tim Says:

    And the usual cast of Idiots shows up, and makes me laugh.
    I just hope you morons dont drive

  29. bucrightoff Says:

    I like how you capitalized Idiot Capt. Tim, as if you were trying to be ironic with an idiot calling out idiots. Thanks for the laugh.

  30. Bobby Says:

    I agree that any new coach should get a minimum of 3 years to turn the franchise around. It takes that long to get your draft picks and your system in place. I’m seeing improvement in a lot of phases. The secondary is absolutley atrocious but the O-line is starting to gel, Jameis is starting to show why he was drafted #1, the offense is putting points on the board, and the D-line is stout against the run. Shore up the secondary, find a true edge rusher and this team will start winning on a consistent basis. Next year is the year we should start to talk about whether Lovie is on the hot seat or not but this year his job is absolutely secure.

  31. Eric Says:

    What Bobby said.

  32. Capt.Tim Says:

    What Eric said

    I called out the Idiots, and bucrightoff came a’running
    “Suuuuee eeee, suuueee eee”

  33. White Tiger Says:

    I’m not really all that thrilled by a win over a BAD Jacksonville franchise operating with a (nearly) crippled QB…the Buc defense played well in spots, but in the end only contributed because they scooped & scored…as this post highlights: they nearly gave the game away…and only won by outscoring the other side.

    Lovie was not my first choice…nor my 2nd…but if you think he is going to be fired anytime soon – or even after the season…you haven’t been paying attention very long.

    Other than the lines run blocking acumen and Doug Martin’s ability to follow blocks into the second level…this was just another “meh” moment. The Houston loss showed me more than this…

    Now Mariota, that’s another story…he lost to one of the best defenses in the league…by ONE point.

    Mariota, STILL OBVIOUS, was the better pick.

    And to teach the moron FSUFanboys a lesson about NON-ACC QB’s/football: Jameis did NOT put this team on his back and carry them to victory (he rode the Muscle Hamster wave), and even he NOW knows he is NOT good enough to put an NFL team on his back…he just needs to stop hurting the team with his turnovers and they’ll figure out how to win.

  34. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Mariota is no better than mallet or Hoyer right now. His first game was a fluke against a terrible defense, he hasn’t done anything since then.

  35. bucsbedabest Says:

    @WalkdaPlank Says:

    My bad. I should not have included Winston’s contract. I should have simply stated that Winston was in his first year of his NFL career. I uaed Winston and his salary as a point of reference to show that Lovie was in his first of four years with Winston. You would think that Lovie had as much to say in the Winston pick as Licht did? Meaning Lovie lives or dies with the success of Winston. The potential overlapping of three coaches contracts if Lovie was fired this year, is just another reason why Lovie, will not be fired this year. He will be given the necessary time to develop Winston and draft his players before the Glazers would pull the ax out.

  36. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    The Buc Realist Says
    “VJ had to catch an onside kick to finally ice the game so the “Jags” would not have a chance to win. The Head coach is jumping up and down on the sidelines like he won the NFC Championship and the GM is jumping into pools with his suit on.

    Even you have to admit that this is not a good look!!!! Its the Jags!!! the worst roster in football!!! and the staff is acting like it shocked the world!! SMH!!!!!!!!”

    First…even if the Jags had gotten the onside kick, there is no sure thing that they would win. Second, Lovie showed emotion. All you freaking idiots always say “I just want to have a coach that shows emotion”. This just shows that it doesn’t matter what happens. You twits just want Lovie gone. EVEN IF HE ENDS UP UNDEFEATED FROM HERE ON OUT, YOU WILL LIKELY WANT HIM GONE.

    And thirdly…”Its the Jags!!! the worst roster in football!!!”

    Please. The Jags were the #4 team against the run, and the Bucs ran the ball heavy against them. Forth in the league against the run. While I know you would never give credit for that (troll), most fans should.

    But of course, you and your elk are breezing over that fact. Along with the first home game win since before Lovie was hired.

    Those two reasons are plenty of reason to be happy and give props, but that wouldn’t serve YOUR agenda. Which is hate. As it ALWAYS is, with every coach we have. Your record speaks for itself. You are a troll.

  37. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Oh…and none of the media guys on Fox or CBS predicted a Buccaneers win against the Jags. So there is your shock element.