Aiming For 16 Starters

May 13th, 2016
No more telegraphing tendencies.

No more telegraphing tendencies.

Outside of eight-man high school football teams at tiny schools largely found in the plains states (Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma), football is played with 11 starters forever.

It seems Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith would like to change that. Sort of.

Yesterday, while meeting with the Tampa Bay pen and mic club at One Buc Palace, Smith greatly emphasized that he wants a varied and diversified defense. He even wants to find as many as 16 starters, or 16 players, that can start at Smith’s whim and based on the type of offense his defense must stop.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to put together a defense that doesn’t have 11 starters,” Smith said. “We’re trying to have somewhere between 15 and 16 guys that we consider starters on our defense. It’s a long season. You’re going to have guys playing in different packages and we’ve got a plan for Noah [Spence] in terms of bringing him along. I was very impressed with his football intelligence in the rookie mini-camp and what he’s done this week.”

Smith’s 16-starters explanation was in response to Joe asking if he had a timetable on when rookie defensive end Noah Spence could start and be an every-down player.

In a recent radio interview, Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Light suggested it would be midseason before Spence could play as an every-down defensive end.

In short, Smith said he had no interest in putting a timetable on Spence’s development. Rather, Smith is far more interested in putting the best 11 players on the field for whatever scheme he has crafted for a particular look or specific offense, or a situational down and distance.

Joe knows the following will be a tough hurdle for Bucs fans to visualize, but yes, Smith actually will try to game plan against opposing offenses.

“Well, we’re going to mix it up,” Smith said. “We’re going to ask these guys to be able to play off, to be able to get up and press and be as multiple as we possibly can.

“I think we don’t want to put ourselves in a situation – I tell the guys we don’t want to send a text message or an Instagram to the quarterback we’re playing against before the ball is snapped, so we want to make sure we have some flexibility.”

Can you imagine?

38 Responses to “Aiming For 16 Starters”

  1. Rossta Says:

    I can’t wait for football season to start!

  2. BigHogHaynes Says:

    I imagine that it sounds good, highly intelligent, ultra aggressive, let’s just hope it’s effective and efficient winning football. This is Mike Smith’s way, let’s see can he and his highly qualified staff can get the job done!!!!

  3. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    This is nothing new – most coaches preach the same concept.
    When their trying to develop a solid rotation; keeping guys fresh for the long haul.

    I’m sure Gerald McCoy will have no problem with the adjustment.

    Now on the Multiple defense fronts ….

    Since everything starts on the practice field.
    Hopefully practicing against multiple fronts & coverages benefits Young Jameis.
    Similar to the way it has benefited Tom Brady in New England.

    Bill Belichick arguably the greatest game playing coach of all-time – would throw everything but the kitchen sink at Brady in practice. Giving Brady the upper hand once live bullets are fired.

  4. OneBuc55 Says:

    I always had a lot of respect for Mike Smith; he’s had success at every stop…from coaching LB in Baltimore in the early 2000’s, to his time as DC in Jacksonville, to his time as a HC in Atlanta…this guy knows football…it’s refreshing to have a DC in town that’s not hung up on a specific “scheme”…he understands that today’s NFL is all about match ups, allowing players to play to thier strengths, and finding ways to affect the QB…the DC position is a Rock star position here in Tampa thanks to Monty Kiffen, so I’m hoping we can keep Smith around for a while…Gotta Bucs, Let’s shock the world…

  5. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Side Bar: Heisman Trophy Winner (Colorado St.) RB Rahsaan Salaam played on a 8-Man football team (La Jolla Country Day)

  6. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    RB Rashaan Salaam

  7. Kalind Says:

    Eureka. It’s like he’s some sort of genius. I mean. NOT sending a txt to the QB? IT’S ANARCHY! Revolution!

  8. Espo Says:

    Well in most defenses a nickel back and a rotational DE get about starting snaps. That’s 13 there.

  9. The Buc Realist Says:

    I really like hearing this!!! I know that they will not get it down by opening day and will have to work on it through out the season. Kinda like a pitcher has to watch tipping his pitches!! The DE will have to hid that they are dropping back while LVD54 or KA58 flies by them for a sack!!!! When is the last time that Tampa had an exotic blitz packages???? I prefer this to the vanilla, passive, every man had to win their one on one’s to work defense that the Incompetent one used to run!!! This is exciting times indeed Buc fans!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!

  10. Leighroy Says:

    Piggy-backing on Espo, the traditional starting 11 is your base formation 4-3. So you have your rotational DE and nickel in passing situations (up to 13) and then in dime situations add another DB and a pass-rushing DT (up to 15). If they rotate in a 3-4 here and there, then you need a 4th LB (up to 16).

    There’s your 16 defensive “starters.”

  11. Patrick in VA Says:

    That’s all fine and good, but let’s not get too worked up about this guy. We all know that it takes 3 years for a team to learn a defense, so we can’t expect any results this year.

  12. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I like that Noah Spence has to earn his starting role. Props when props are earned.

  13. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    “What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to put together a defense that doesn’t have 11 starters,” Smith said. “We’re trying to have somewhere between 15 and 16 guys that we consider starters on our defense.”


    …what he’s saying is that the defense lacked the proper personnel to be successful. I agree. Because Lovie Smith was not permitted to draft defense, or he agreed to focus on offense first assuming he would be given time to then focus on defense. Bum deal.

  14. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Patrick in VA Says
    “That’s all fine and good, but let’s not get too worked up about this guy. We all know that it takes 3 years for a team to learn a defense, so we can’t expect any results this year.”

    Nope. That doesn’t cut it.

    Lovie Smith got one year. At the end of his first year, the Glazers wanted to fire him, but decided to give him one more year to fix things. The point is, they made up their minds after one year.

    And let’s be honest here…I’m glad Mike Smith is here, but his defenses were not all that great in the past. And his Falcons were widely known to use a lot of cut blocks…which is dirty (bird) football.

    I’m hoping he does a great job, but the truth is, it isn’t just about the coaching. Mike Smith will have more talent to work with, and that removes excuses.

    And the whole three year thing…that doesn’t happen anymore. Not in Tampa.

  15. Bob in Valrico Says:

    We have about 5 or 6 DE’s Ayers and Gholston are strong against the run.
    and Ayers,Smith,Spence,and Johnson should give us a pass rush flexibility.
    I would still like to Gholston Morph into a stronger pass rusher.It will be interesting to see where some these players line up on third and long.
    I would also like to see the return of corner blitz Hargreaves build seems taylor made for that.

  16. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    As to Noah Spence, I suspect his run blocking will be up to par by game one.

  17. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Bonzai – Generally I’m on board with a lot of your takes, but come on guy. Do you really think that the head coach, who was hired before the GM and was instrumental in bringing him on to the staff, that was brought in here because he gave Buc fans hope that we’d return to the powerful defense that he was a part of wasn’t allowed to draft defensive players? I would offer a much more likely hypothesis that he had such specific requirements for the very narrow roles that he had for his defensive players that no draftee qualified. That’s why he always brought in veterans from teams that ran versions of his scheme. He needed to see them running the defense the way that he planned to have it run.

  18. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    run stopping I mean.

  19. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Bonzai – My comment about it taking 3 years was meant to be sarcasm and a shot at Lovie, and his apologists, constantly saying that learning his masterpiece of a defense just took time. Perhaps it didn’t come across in text.

  20. SB with Jameis Says:

    I tell the guys we don’t want to send a text message or an Instagram to the quarterback we’re playing against before the ball is snapped,
    Anyone want to tell me who this is aimed at? Anyone? Anyone?

  21. Drew Says:

    If the defense plays great, then we can call them the raptor defense.

  22. The Buc Realist Says:

    I am so excited to see what this defense will look like!!! I like how Coach Smitty is giving us an outline without the specifics!!!! just enough to give the fans a little hint!!!! Hard to believe that just 2 years ago the Incompetent one was trying to hide the secret offense!!!!! What a difference to have professional Coaches this time around!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Buccfan37 Says:

    What a refreshing concept, a defense getting better along the lines of the offensive improvement. It looks like the Lovie fan club has fallen below the level of the Glennon fan club.

  24. pick6 Says:

    amusing but encouraging to know that mike smith is trying to convey concepts to young players by dropping “instagram” references on them when explaining the defensive philosophy.

  25. LargoBuc Says:

    @Parick in VA

    Maybe Lovie was allowed, but if what your saying were to be accurate, then you have to give Lovie CREDIT for the draft, which is something no one wants to do. And if you want to stick to the classic narrative that Licht ran the draft, then that supports what Bonzai said above.

  26. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Largo – I’m not sure that I follow your logic. Are you saying that Lovie should be given credit for only being able to find 1 player to fit his scheme in two entire drafts? Not something that should be applauded, I’d say.

  27. LargoBuc Says:

    No, the entire draft, not just Kwon.

  28. LargoBuc Says:

    Your basucally saying that Lovie did in fact have a say in the draft right? Well then you have to give him credit for the draft by that Logic. Unless you think defensive picks went to Lovie and offensive picks went to Licht.

  29. Patrick in VA Says:

    What I was suggesting was that he could not find defensive players to fit in his scheme so, given his hands off approach to offense over the course of his career, the assumption would be that he would defer to Licht and his OCs regarding the offensive players selected. I mean, I guess you could back in to offering him credit for just not getting in the way and trying to have a say in matters that he is woefully under qualified for, but that’s pretty thin.

  30. LargoBuc Says:

    Okay If that was in fact how it played out, then no he should not get credit. But i always thought they planned on going offense regairdles

  31. Patrick in VA Says:

    That’s all speculation. Who knows how it really played out. I feel pretty confident going with my scenario given how anxious the group was to get rid of Lovie, but we as fans likely won’t ever know what really happened.

  32. Bob in Valrico Says:

    would expect HC to sign off on first round pick.after that any coach can have imput but only the ones with full control of player personnel will have final say.
    Having full control has rarely worked out as in the case of Mike holmgren’
    and Chip Kelly.Too much on the coaches plate.usually works better with the team of scouts ,personel manager,Gm and coach.Licht’s contract specified
    he was in charge of draft.

  33. BigHogHaynes Says:

    Credit goes to both the Head coach and the General manager, we will never know what the Glazers had going with LOVIE or for that matter what LOVIE and Licth had agreed upon, but we do know talent was brought to this team each year LOVIE was Head coach, @ BuccaneerBonzai: I agree with your posts, and you say it much better than myself ever could, a lot of insight and no HATE!

  34. The Buc Realist Says:

    Your a funny guy BigHogHeinous!!!! you forgot to give credit to wall street and the Big Banks, Since 2009 they have been part of the upward swing of the economic recovery. Forget the Fact that they ran it into the ground so bad and almost left the country in economic ruin!!!! lets give them credit too!!!!!

  35. Mike Johnson Says:

    Nothing new here. many defenses have been playing intelligent defense for yrs. Alls I can say is WIN. Don’t care if you gotta implement trigonometry to get it done. WIN DC Smith or…find your spot on the infamous Tampa Bay Buc 2 year fishing bridge. I’m patiently waiting……

  36. BigHogHaynes Says:

    @ The Buc Realist: Seems like your the forgetful one!

  37. Trobes05 Says:

    I live in South Dakota and the small towns have 9-man football here. Our divisions go 9B, 9A, 11B, 11A, and 11AAA, with the number pertaining how many players.

  38. Mike Johnson Says:

    BigHogHaynes..Listen, Don’t be to harsh on Buc Realist. Rumor has it he has been struggling mightingly to complete his..Special Education Diploma. So he get frustrated from time to time. We applaud him for his efforts in Remedial thinking.