“There’s Something Wrong With The Scheme”

January 8th, 2016
A former co-worker of Lovie Smith looks at the decade-long flaw of his defense.

A former co-worker of Lovie Smith looks at the decade-long flaw of his defense.

Very interesting to hear a man who worked for years under Lovie Smith talk about how there’s an inherent problem with how Lovie operates his particular brand of 4-3 defense.

Joe’s talking about former longtime Bears scouting director Greg Gabriel, who is quick to say he likes Lovie but not the persistent flaw in his defense.

Gabriel talked about Lovie’s firing this week on CBS Sports Radio in Chicago. He called Lovie’s Bucs defense “terrible” and explained that Lovie simply would not adjust how much pressure he places on safeties, a scheme failure going on for a decade.

“A lot of people play a one-gap, attacking 4-3 defense. But he puts a lot of pressure on the defensive backs, especially the safeties. And you go back to when he came to Chicago and then follow it through to Tampa Bay. Now this is 10 or 11 years, he’s never found two safeties that can play. He is changing them year after year after year. We drafted him a safety literally every single year he was here,” Gabriel said.

Joe did the research and, in fact, the Bears drafted eight safeties — eight! — during Lovie’s tenure in Chicago.

“It makes it difficult, which means, you know, there’s something wrong with the scheme. [Former Bears director of pro personnel] Bobby Depual used to go into [former Bears general manager] Jerry Angelo’s office and say, ‘Jerry [Angelo], you gotta have two All-Pros back there, and they might not be good enough.’ Just because of how they were asked to play.”

Two of those eight safeties Lovie drafted are on the Bucs’ roster now, Chris Conte (2011, 3rd round) and Major Wright (2010, 3rd round).

Imagine the drool on Lovie’s face when he arrived in Tampa with two-time Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson and No. 7 overall pick Mark Barron on the Bucs’ roster — yet didn’t take long for Lovie to consider them trash.

Now, Goldson has become a shining star in Washington, and Barron was the NFL’s 15th-leading tackler this season as a Rams’ linebacker.

Gabriel also ripped Lovie for installing his son, Mikal Smith, as Bucs safeties coach. “You know, I like Lovie, but he had his son coaching the defensive backs. His son’s not a very good coach.”

65 Responses to ““There’s Something Wrong With The Scheme””

  1. BucFan20 Says:

    And next year he would not have had the players he needed either.

  2. Warren Says:

    Pretty eye opening I must admit

  3. Pawel Says:

    Lovie would still have a job if he adjusted and tried a new scheme instead of taking Leslie Frazier duties away. That wasn’t enough and it cost him his job. Somehow patriots defense works no matter who they plug in.

  4. Don Says:

    Lovie went from Revis, Barron and Goldson to Conte, McDougle and Jude ???-???. And people have the nerve to blame the talent on the roster!

    I’m so happy he’s gone!

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    # 1 question to HC candidates……Do you have any relatives you want to hire as assistants?

    Maybe some of our talent will regain their former selves…..namely Banks…..perhaps Verner….but Verner has a cost attached…he may not be kept.

    I think our safeties are average at best …..regardless of scheme…we need an upgrade there.

    Lets draft & pick up a couple of FAs….keep some of the players we have for depth.

  6. BucTrooper Says:

    I knew the scheme was bad when you NEVER saw passes contested. There was never anyone close to a receiver to even attempt to put a hand up to knock a ball down.

  7. Newbucsfan Says:

    While Tampa scurries to tarnish the name and scheme of Lovie Smith The ravens said that”If you want drama go to Tampa”. You guys fired him so let it lie because it will cause more harm to your franchise if you don’t. The Bears now are bottom dwellers and were a laughing stock and the defense dosen’t play because their mad at Jameis than watch out because i’m sure their would be some offensive players mad too. It only gets worse if keep gedrading the scheme and the man.

  8. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    @ Pawel – Obviously Lovie doesn’t know how to run any other type of defense. Damn, the Glazers should have asked the right people in Chicago before they made the hire. Watching the Bucs the past two years it was apparent that they had no answers to defend slant routes along with plenty of the new wrinkles in. The Glazers need to hire someone as president of football operations. Someone should have truly vetted Lovie. A smart football person probably would have probably realized that he would not be able to get the job done and would waste draft picks and free agent money on safeties and “scheme fits.” Apparently Licht and/or the Glazers finally figured out that Lovie was a part of the problem here. He probably should never have been hired in the first place.

  9. Newbucsfan Says:

    Anyway it was good sometimes posting on here and reading the other post, shoot sometimes I scrolled down just to read all the post. But I followed Lovie from Chicago to Tampa and now he is gone I wish Jameis the best of luck but this is my final post. Joe you can let someone else have this name now, it just feels wrong the way things went down for me but i’m good he’s rich he’ll be alright. May you all be enlightened by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. PEACE

  10. I know why Says:

    wait Joe, you mean Dominik had two great safety players here and Schiano knew how to use Barron in the nickel as a LB already? Next thing you know, we will act like we had an all-pro DC and future HOF in here to in his late 20’s but thought that Collings, McCown and Johnson would be better than keeping that bum…yes the secondary is terrible, sad thing is, it didn’t have to be.

  11. MadMax Says:

    Im just glad he’s gone.

    Onward! The Bucs will be great again!

  12. Patrick in VA Says:

    Figuring out Lovie’s scheme’s holes wasn’t exactly cracking the DaVinci code. The backs are trying to cover the receivers from 10 yards out and the slant was open all day long. Add to that the fact that the plan was not to cover the receiver should they choose to go deep but to instead interfere or hold them, it made for a bad defense. The only times that the defense functioned well is when the LBs or D-line were playing well, which makes the retention of those coaches not surprising, but I would not be heart broken to see them upgraded as well. Not like we were world beaters from that perspective either.

    Overall, it was definitely an addition by subtraction situation. I was a Lovie fan when he came in and I thought we did well to get him. I was wrong, like many of us were. I’m glad that Jason Licht and the Glazers didn’t make us sit through more losing seasons of a bad product just for the sake of not rocking the boat.

  13. BuccoDav Says:

    soo… Newbucsfan was… Mikal Smith!?!

  14. NJBucsFan Says:

    Haha. This has been evident for years but the Lovie supporters turn a blind eye. May be a nice man, but overrated coach. Has been for years. 3 playoff appearances in 9 years in Chicago. Makes a nice batting average but this is football.

  15. This Guy Right Here Says:

    We all knew his scheme was flawed, but this bit of inside info says it all…

    What really hurts is how Barron should still be on this roster… It was never him. It was his coaches scheme.

    Good thing we let Lovie go before he had the chance to do Banks like he did Barron…

  16. Rob Says:

    I’m not losing any sleep for Goldson. He underperformed here and is taking a leadership role on a bad defense. It’s more upsetting that the Rams saw Barron’s ability to play in the box and made him a hybrid linebacker when we saw fit to jettison the #7 overall pick without attempting to find a role for him somewhere. Even more disturbing is that we started the season with a round robin of Conte, Wright, and McDougald at Safety. Also benching Banks and Verner after they played well to close last season. I think that Jason Licht was honest in his weekly evaluations and in Lovie’s personnel choices and schematic choices and that ultimately doomed his time here in Tampa.

  17. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Take care Newbuc. It will be a shame we wont be able to try and decipher the meaning of sentences like this:

    “the defense dosen’t play because their mad at Jameis than watch out because i’m sure their would be some offensive players mad too. It only gets worse if keep gedrading the scheme and the man.”

    WFT! LOL!

  18. NJBucsFan Says:

    I’m glad Newbucs is gone….no need for a fan that likes to wade in the pool of mediocrity that would have been Lovie Smith’s coaching regime. Mediocre would actually have been welcomed but probably not achieved.

  19. TouchDownTampaBay Says:


  20. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    What FA acquisition played better under Lovie Smith?

  21. QBKilla Says:

    Goldson sucked in Schianos defense too Joe.

  22. DoNUTS Says:


    Great read JBF!

    Thanks for doing what u do fellas.

  23. Bear the Bucs Says:

    Like Warren said above. “Very eye opening” I’m originally from Chicago and still talk to my buds up there. We’ve seen his act before Looks like I’m going to have to change my handle from “Bear the Bucs”. Two years ago, I told everyone on this forum how Lovie was going to go down because we witnessed it in Chicago. Terrible game management, that clueless look when his team is behind. Bad personnel decisions, etc, etc, etc. You should have seen the uncomplimary comments I got back from the “True fans”. That’s okay, how would they know what I witnessed for 10 years watching the Bears and reading the Tribune. I had to laugh when one of my friends in Chi Town asked if Lovie has said that we are in the 4th quarter of the season (last 4 games) and must play well. Anyway, Lovie is a nice guy, but he needs to be put out to pasture. One positive: It only took the Bucs 2 years to figure it out instead of the 10 + years for the Bears. Yes, I know he took the Bears to the Super Bowl and he has been living off of that ever since.

  24. ElioT Says:

    Maybe this defense isn’t so talent starved after all.

    It will be interesting to see what the new DC thinks about this.

    Could open up the possibility of adding more weapons for Jamies in the draft.

    Siege this!

    Go Sucs!

  25. Pats Fan T.B. Res Says:

    Everyone, including Jameis keeps talking about changing the culture, changing the LOSING CULTURE. Lovie Smith is a career .506 Coach, that is not a winner.
    The Bucs may not need the Intensity of a Jim Harbough, but Mr. Rogers ain’t gettin’it. Pat’s HATERS can hate, but the “just do your job” and next man up philosophy worked pretty good in T.B. for Madden and the Rays. They wanted to change the Culture, I’d say they took the biggest and best first step they could take.

  26. Kevin Says:

    The problem became worse with lovie….but even under morris and schiano….this teams dbs have been playing 10 yards back off the recievers since as long as I can remember. Unless its 3rd and long I wanna see press coverage

  27. Defense Rules Says:

    Looking back on the last 2 seasons, it’s not too much of a reach to agree that there was something wrong with the scheme. Same problems kept recurring, week after week after week. Our safeties’ play was never top-notch in those 2 years, but neither was the CBs’ play. Gabriel’s comment that Mikal Smith is “not a very good coach” is probably the biggest reason why. Not a very sterling resume. Lovie wouldn’t be the first HC, however, adversely impacted by nepotism and surrounding themselves with lots of familiar faces.

  28. QBKilla Says:

    Schiano drafted Barron thinking he could cover Jimmy Graham 1 on 1. Schiano was wrong. Both coaches failed to use Barron correctly.

  29. softastussieMcCoy93 Says:

    I can’t defend that indictment LMAO! I see the light a change was needed, but let’s not stop with head coach. ASJ and several defensive starters needed to be replace. Also, it makes a lot if sense, because the Colts defense played night and day depending on if Bob Sanders was in the lineup. It just showed us how good Lynch and Dexter were playing in our system. But I feel that our secondary would have played better with a consistent pass-rush. Which we have been searching for, for a dam decade or more.

    I just want to win games

  30. The Rockstar Says:

    Coach Smith’s defensive scheme depended on turnovers not stops. He always put the cart before the horse in his press conferences and interviews.

    I hated watching this defense let bad offenses march up field seemingly uncontested. But that was the scheme. Let them throw and eventually there will be a bad pass. The bad passes didn’t come and the forced fumbles were few.

    This post is a smoking gun.

    But this scheme was awful and the coaching philosophy, worse.

  31. QBKilla Says:

    Cover 2 does not work unless the front 4 can get to the QB in 4 seconds or less. It doesn’t matter how good the secondary is. Without Clinton McDonald, our D-line sucked.

  32. Trubucfan22 Says:

    It’s good that some media types are willing to call things the way they really are. Instead of sugar coating and defending Lovie’s performance as the Bucs head coach. Anyone that has actually watched Bucs games could see the Defense was just not working. No matter who they had back there.

  33. softastussieMcCoy93 Says:

    @ QBKilla,

    You are right, but we didn’t sit in cover 2 all day. We need linemen and back-end help. And we could use another LB.

  34. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    @ soft- Stop with the ASJ stuff. The kids is young and has made a couple of youthful mistakes. And he had the gall to get injured playing in the National Football League. Cameron Brate has been serviceable but ASJ has the potential to be elite. You should waste 2nd round picks because they got off to a rocky start. You probably wanted to get rid of Sims last year also. I am also guessing that you decided that Winston would be a bust after the TN game this year also.

  35. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    should not

  36. QBKilla Says:

    @ softastussieMcCoy93
    If we want to be anything like the Seahawks, we need at least 3 more D-lineman. At least 1 shutdown corner will make it easier for the rest. Banks can play, he just needs better coaching. I don’t see the need to draft a LB too early.

  37. Jerseybuc Says:

    Great information Joes! Glad to hear someone with inside info confirm what we all saw week in and week out. Slants R US is out of business!
    Can’t wait to see how our players react to a new coach and system.

  38. DallasBuc Says:

    ^^^Slants R Us!!!

  39. Eric Says:

    Water under the bridge. Lovie had the lowly saints coming in and the chance to go 7-6. Folded like s cheap suit.

    One would think the law of averages would apply and we can’t make four bad coaching hires in a row.

    Bad being a huge understatement.

  40. Bear the Bucs Says:

    We are good at LB. We need help on the edge and cb. I would mind getting another “fast” target for Winston. Also, franchise the “Muscle Gerbil” for another year. He had a good year when he started and a good year on the last year of his contract. The rest of the contract ? NOT so good !

  41. Bucsfanman Says:

    Oh how the tide turns! All of a sudden EVERYBODY knew what was wrong!
    I’m sure the ineffectiveness of the D had nothing to do with bad tackling, wrong assignments, key injuries, or at times an ineffective offense led by a rookie, or that 2 drafts were spent collecting an offense. I’m sure that NONE of that was a factor!
    For real, it was bad, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that firing Lovie equals a top ten defense!
    Incidentally, if next year our D is top 10 I will open mouth and insert foot. I almost hope to!

  42. Pick6 Says:

    wow. just wow. i always considered goldson and barron to be a little too similar to be on the field at the same time, but 2 other coaches, but the fact that we couldn’t make at least one of them the contributor they have been elsewhere tells you alot about how adaptable our coach is to the talent. meanwhile, his offensive counterpart found a way to put his way less experienced (and arguably less talented) unit in positions to succeed without having to audition half the players in the NFL

  43. Brent bull/buc Says:

    Stop calling 21+ men kids. Are you really that stupid or has modern culture just taken over. Asj is not a kid he’s a young man. Never heard this crap 20-30 years ago. What a cop out for young men now days. I can screw up til I’m 30 and be called a kid? A kid use to be somebody less than 13. Now it’s 30 I guess?

  44. biff barker Says:

    Nice piece Joe.

    Year three would’ve been just another wasted one.

    Thank you Glazers.

  45. Pick6 Says:

    *sentence fragment: “but 2 other coaches showed how little we were getting out of our talent here”

    roll call of DBs not good enough for Lovie’s bucs:
    dashon goldson: in the playoffs
    DJ Swearinger: in the playoffs
    mark barron: top 5 NFL tackler who helped kick our teeth in on national TV
    darelle revis: superbowl ring & 1 win shy of the playoffs

    am i missing any? if i were alterraun verner or johnthan banks, i would be giddy about my post-lovie career

  46. Brandon Says:

    Bucsfanman Says:
    January 8th, 2016 at 12:11 pm
    Oh how the tide turns! All of a sudden EVERYBODY knew what was wrong!
    I’m sure the ineffectiveness of the D had nothing to do with bad tackling, wrong assignments, key injuries, or at times an ineffective offense led by a rookie, or that 2 drafts were spent collecting an offense. I’m sure that NONE of that was a factor!
    For real, it was bad, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that firing Lovie equals a top ten defense!
    Incidentally, if next year our D is top 10 I will open mouth and insert foot. I almost hope to!


    Technically, the Bucs D was a top 10 unit…as far as yards per game allowed. They weren’t great with the points, but they finished #2 in the NFL in yards allowed per run and top 10 in rush defense as well. Their biggest weakness was the high completion percentage. Too many easy passes allowed to be completed. LBs bit on play-action and couldn’t help the CBs, CBs didn’t reroute the receivers and help the safeties and LBs and safeties couldn’t get there fast enough because of all of the above and a fairly weak pass rush.

    But I agree, considering the severe lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball, the D wasn’t that bad at all. The last 4 games, the golden boy’s offense (Koetter), couldn’t stay on the field at all in the first half, leaving the D to eventually falter. They played well against Carolina for a quarter, but the O did nothing,just like in a several other games.

    Personally, I’d like to see McDermott as the HC and Koetter as the OC… or Koetter as the HC and Ron Meeks as the DC…. Ron Meeks, best track record of nearly every other DC out there, and definitely better than the retreads people keep suggesting (Schwartz, Mike Smith).

  47. Greg Schiano Says:

    Absolutely!!! No one in the media before now willing to call out Lovie for the failures. The Big Poodle has had his lips planted on Lovie’s back side since he arrived. I have said repeatedly on this site while yelling for Lovies firing that he could not adjust. No game time adjustments…no scheme adjustments…just the same old defensive scheme week after week….i.e. 6-24.

    Lovie calling the plays did not make any difference. Lovie could not manage the game clock, let alone game plan for NFL teams with coaches who adapt and change every half of every game, let alone every season!

    The players that have come here and were thrown (draft picks) away by Lovie who are now either starters on other teams 53 man rosters and/or Pro Bowl players. Two mentioned above…Michael Bennett…..Aquib Talib….

    Thank God the Glazers took my phone call….told the Big Poodle to drag his but out to Arizona so he would not have to face Lovie…and do what I have been screaming for since Lovie intentionally put in the second team last season 2014 to lose to the Saints at home!


    Greg Schiano

  48. BucsFanForever Says:

    All these players lost for Winston. Probably worth it, but is sure is painful to think about.

  49. unbelievable Says:

    This is a spot on analysis of his defense and his personnel moves.

  50. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    No one is shocked by this firing except the media…..both local and national…..as they enabled Lovie all the way…..Lovie would make rediculous comments like real football doesn’t start until November….and, I didn’t want to score any more points before halftime…only bad things could happen….well, I guess with 11 seconds left and you are on your 4O you could throw a pick 6 downfield….but that is highly unlikely…..

  51. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    What I find interesting is that week after week…month after month..>Lovie said about penalties…..We’ll clean that up…..and it’s ironic that he did that in his last game as a coach.

  52. unbelievable Says:

    ^^ THIS

  53. Johnny "America's Commenter" Dejay Says:

    Gabriel also ripped Lovie for installing his son, Mikal Smith, as Bucs safeties coach. “You know, I like Lovie, but he had his son coaching the defensive backs. His son’s not a very good coach.”

    The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  54. Pruitus Ani Says:

    Because he’s incompetent and an idiot. 8 safeties!

  55. OAR Says:

    The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree……Unless it’s on top on a hill, where it rolls down and rots somewhere else.

  56. Buccfan37 Says:

    The supposition that Lovie knows defense got shot full of holes quickly.

  57. lurker Says:

    day-um, interesting article. seems to speak the truth.

  58. Another J Says:

    This article was spot on. they might not have needed so many safeties, If he hired a real coach for them.

  59. Homer Simpson Rocks Says:

    Incompetent! 8 drafted safeties and it’s still not working and the man in charge STILL has no clue it’s the scheme? The says a lot about the stupid wheel of fortune in the secondary the past 2 years here under Lovie and his equally incompetent son. Simple as that.

  60. Rick Says:

    Let’s take the focus off Lovie for a moment and recognize a couple of things.

    Goldson and Barron were both brought onto the roster under Greg Schiano. Under Schiano, neither man performed up to expectations. They both continued to underperform under Lovie Smith, a trend that ultimately lead to both men being traded and/or released.

    After leaving Tampa, Barron began to realize his potential in St. Louis. Goldson, after moving on to the Redskins, is apparently returning the level of play he showed in SF that lead to the huge contract that brought him to Tampa.

    So, the question becomes why did two different plays one a high draft pick the other a proven high caliber safety on a Super Bowl team fail to thrive in Tampa under two different coaches both of whom are defensive specialists?

  61. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Not much of a mystery there Rick. They are BOTH bad coaches.

  62. White Tiger Says:

    Nothing wrong with it, just didn’t have enough players for the scheme – and contrary to popular belief, they don’t have to be anywhere NEAR hall of fame caliber.

    Anyone of us who watched Minnesota’s original DC, Tony Dungy do it (there, and then later, here) the first time – and guys like Lovie replicate it in St Louis (as a DC) and in Chicago – when he took them to a Superbowl (as HC) – can tell you that we LAUGH at you DOLTS who think it takes hall-of-famers to play the Tampa-2….

    See, it took advantage of the HUGE amount of players that the man schemes couldn’t use. The problem is, that it takes time to build an 11 man defense. You’ve to to have ONE DT capable of putting pressure on the QB from the center of the line, and ONE RDE that can pressure from the edge. The other two who are there are pretty much playing the run on their way to the QB. The only thing we lacked here is a competent edge rusher…and no, nothing we had on the right was anything NEAR competent. We had a platoon of run stoppers – drafting 9th overall isn’t going to get you an elite edge rusher…

    Linebackers – these have to be as good at dropping into coverage as they are at stopping the run – and between Lavonte David and the flashes from Kwon Alexander, and the depth with Danny Lansanah – this was accomplished.

    DB’s – we maybe have 1 guy who could start on any team, in any scheme at CB, the rest are platoon guys. We have big phat ZERO at Safety.

    That’s what’s wrong with the Bucs defense. It’s remarkable, actually, that Lovie got them to play as well as they did.

    You’ve already got your head coach, and he’s an offense guy. Looks like what we’re really doing is interviewing coordinators to find ideas for schemes and position coaches they’ve worked with – we’re not trying to hire a head coach, we’re trying to find a coordinator…and that’s also why Joe Cullen is still in the building…

  63. Owlykat Says:

    Very enlightening. However, when Lovie did make the Super Bowl he had a great defense. However, he had Urlacher in the middle and he never got an equivalent to him here even though I found one for him which he ignored.

  64. Gerald McRuud Says:

    When Lovie made the Super Bowl he had a great defense….under defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. This defense did not give up more than 31 points all year.

    When Lovie lost Ron Rivera the following year, that same defense with the same hall of fame players…fell from 3rd in the league overall (yardage) to 28th. That 2006 defense that didn’t give up over 31 gave up more than 34 points in three of the first 6 weeks of 2007. With Rivera the Bears D allowed 4.6 yards per play. In 07, “Lovie’s D” gave up 5.5 yards per play. The year after Rivera left, “Lovie’s D” gave up 90 points more than “Rivera’s D” the year before.

    Lovie’s career record as a coach without Ron Rivera is 60-68. 46.8 win % which statistically, is right in line with Jerry Glanville and Norv Turner.

    96 coaches have won 50+ games. The .468 win % Lovie has sported since 2007 (post Rivera) would make him 85th of 96 in win %.

    Only coaches worse?

    van brocklin, starr, kuharich, leeman bennett, herm edwards, dick jauron, monte clark, sam wyche, george wilson, dick nolan, jerry glanville

    Reality paints an ugly picture for Lovie.

  65. Mike10 Says:

    How many former Bucs are in the playoffs this year?

    I got Foster, Goldson, Swearinger, Talib (never played for Lovie), that NE RB…