Kwon-Smith Battle Looms For Playing Time

May 13th, 2016
It's inevitable that defensive coordinator Mike Smith will struggle to keep all his linebackers happy.

It’s inevitable that defensive coordinator Mike Smith will struggle to keep all his linebackers happy.

Mike Smith wants 16 defensive starters and big-time flexibility in his system to confuse quarterbacks.

And a good problem brewing results from Smith having three legitimate three-down linebackers.

Many teams only have one linebacker who is strong in coverage, but the Bucs have a rare trio: Kwon Alexander, Lavonte David and Daryl Smith, a free agent acquisition who was an every-down stud for years in Jacksonville and Baltimore.

That’s great, but Smith spoke yesterday about playing a majority of sets with five and six defensive backs on the field. That means one of those three linebackers will come off.

Lavonte David won’t lose snaps, but what about Alexander? He’s a young playmaker, but there’s no guaranteed he’ll be on the field as much as he was last year. Smith is a huge step up from Danny Lansanah, last year’s strongside linebacker.

Bucs linebackers coach Mark Duffner talked to Joe and local media yesterday. Duffner coached Smith for seven years in Jacksonville, where Smith was the team’s all-time leading tackler.

Joe asked Duffner if he would have the task of telling the 34-year-old Smith that he would be coming off the field on passing downs.

Not so fast, Duffner replied, noting Smith played 90-plus percent of the snaps in Baltimore last year. The Bucs would be putting the best players/matchups on the field, he said, and don’t count out Smith.

Joe absolutely isn’t counting out Smith taking some snaps from Alexander. Smith was handpicked by this coaching staff because they know and trust him, and he can play instinctively in Mike Smith’s defense because of his familiarity.

Joe also pulled aside assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer to talk about Daryl Smith. Spicer and Smith were defensive teammates in Jacksonville. He said Smith still resembles the young stud he was with the Jags, and it will be a healthy battle for playing time at linebacker.

25 Responses to “Kwon-Smith Battle Looms For Playing Time”

  1. Patrick in VA Says:

    There are far worse problems than having legitimate depth and the ability to spell some of our defensive stars without sacrificing productivity. Let’s just hope that those extra DBs who are taking the spots from our LB corps are at a similar caliber. Or, at least, used well schematically

  2. Bucsfaninchina Says:

    Let the young buck continue to develop and form chemistry with LVD. Plus its hard to be the Jameis of the Defense when you’re riding the pine.

    Smith is a luxury; a high end SAM who would be able to fill in for Kwon and LVD in a pinch due to familiarity with the system. Age 34 prob scared off a lot of teams, but I hope the Bucs won’t be so foolish as to let a nearlt retired player who is more familiar with a system hamper the development of the Wrath of Kwon.

  3. brandonbucsfan Says: this our Bucs they are talking about where we have enough talent to where we have to worry about playing time at several positions? Go Bucs – 9-7 this year and playoffs depending on tie breakers.

  4. The Buc Realist Says:

    Would be a great idea to have Daryl Smith play some MLB as he did in Jacksonville, where he also swapped out to OLB on some plays!!! Also to remember, if KA58 takes a sip of the wrong “energy drink” he is gone for 8 GAMES!!!!! and now they are testing regularly for “engergy drinks” !!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Pickgrin Says:

    I’m guessing there are a lot of people who have no idea how productive of a player Daryl Smith is. He might be “old” by normal NFL standards – but consider his stats the last 3 years in Baltimore (when he was 31, 32 and 33 years old).

    – 372 Tackles (5th most in the NFL at any position over the 3 year period)
    – 8 Sacks
    – 5 Ints
    – 29 Passes Defensed

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Finally….some real disputes over who should stay on the field…..not a bad problem to have at all….

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    @Pickgrin … Those stats amazed me (a one-man wrecking crew). And interestingly, his career stats on show that he’s been a very steady performer since coming into the NFL back in 2004. Looked like 2013 was actually his best year (played MLB that year apparently): 3 INTs, 5 sacks, 18 passes defensed. Impressive. Would’ve loved to have had him on the Bucs last year when opposing teams were running all those slants.

  8. BUC55 Says:

    I totally agree. Most fans don’t seem to realize that Daryl Smith has been one of the best all around linebackers in the nfl for a decade! I love the athleticism and future of Kwon just like everyone, but guess what, Smith is probably a better player at this stage just on experience and smarts alone. There’s no evidence that Smith has slowed down yet.

  9. Bucsfanman Says:

    We’ve finally brought in some legitimate talent and now we don’t know how to keep them on the field. Call me crazy, but I love this problem!

  10. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Depth and crosstraining?????? What a concept, Joe!!!!!!!!

  11. Pickgrin Says:

    Defense Rules – its interesting that the PFR stats you referenced give Smith 16 extra tackles and 2 extra passes defenced in 2014 compared to the “official” stats on – but all the other years stats for him match up almost exactly.

    Another point about Daryl Smith – he is durable. Hasn’t missed a game in the last 3 years even at an advancing age – and other than early in 2012 when a serious and lingering groin injury landed him on IR – Smith has only missed 4 games in 12 years.

  12. Bucsfanman Says:

    @Pickgrin- The best ability is…availability! Good point!

  13. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I’m glad everyone is high on Daryl Smith, but the man is 34 years old. At this point, every time he tackles there is risk of injury.

    He’s had a good run of injury-free years, but that can’t last forever.

    So forgive me if I feel he is NOT a good option to start for the next couple years.

    Just another example of Jason Licht going after a guy who won’t last more than a year.

  14. Biff Barker Says:

    One more reason to skewer Licht because he signed a proven player?

    The guy already knows both the staff and scheme and will mentor a player Licht ALREADY drafted to replace him? Guy has enough tread left to give us two solid downs as well.

    Unlike some message board heroes, it’s too bad our GM/staff know nothing about football.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Bonzai, don’t give up on Daryl Smith too quickly. A number of LBs (like James Harrison?) played at 36 years old. Besides, the Bucs have a young linebacking corps, and someone with Smith’s experience and leadership can be invaluable. I really believe that Daryl will be with us for 2 good solid years.

  16. cover deuce Says:

    You keep referring to smith as a 3-down guy, but at 34 I just don’t see it in the cards – the wheels are bound to fall off at some point and Father Time is undefeated. Past production is not an indication of future returns, and to add to that I just think Kwon is too talented and athletic to take snaps from. I think if all Smith does is provide a heady veteran presence then he’ll have been worth every penny, but I think you’re overhyping his ability as a 3-down guy.

  17. DaRealistBucFan Says:

    Although aside from Spence I’m not happy with the draft I do believe that if Koetter and Smith can have so many winning seasons together with avg talent on D that they can make bigger things gs happen here in Tampa. Most talented D M. Smith has had since Jvillle. Go Bucs.

  18. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    I think a lot of u are u devaluing D.Smith just because he’s 34. He did just fine last year, what makes u think he’s gonna fall off the mountain all of a sudden within one year?

    I think the plan is to play Smith full time at weak side and sub in for Kwon sometimes (depending on the matchups) in the first part of the season until he can get a good grip on the new scheme. Kwon is faster and more athletic but Daryl makes up for it with his experience and knowledge of the scheme that Smith wants to run already. Until he showed me other wise I think he is fully capable of playing athe a high rate athis any of the LB positions if we needed him to. And that’s a great luxury to have, Especially if one of your star LB’s go down or get suspended.

    Make no mistakes, Kwon is the future. Smith will only be here for 2 seasons at the most so it’s best we get all we can from him and let guys like LVD and Kwon learn as much as they can from him. This guy has been one of the most reliable and productive LB’s in the league since he’s came in. And he will only make this Line backing core even better not only as a player but as a teacher as well.

  19. Destinjohnny Says:

    Without much of a pass rush our back end is going to be really challenged.
    I wonder why in the deepest defensive line draft in 20 years and that being the teams weak spot why we only drafted one lineman?
    We could have locked down d line for the next 6 years in this draft.

  20. ptwalk Says:

    I think some of you are underestimating Kwon. He just like David did came in as a rookie and called the plays and was the heart of this defense. Without him this defense went back to sucking. Kwon is becoming our best LB.

  21. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    This will be a non issue by the time preseason is over. Kwon is a stud young LB. Smith is almost 35 years old. He may take a few snaps from Kwon but not that many. Kwon is close to David’s talent level. Smith is not. Competition is always a good thing. Kwon will excel with Smith pushing for his spot.

    How many rookie 4th round draft picks start at MLB and wear the headset on D? That just doesn’t happen. The kid is the real deal and that’s fact.

  22. bucsfaninchina Says:

    @DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Great analysis. This linebacking corp should be fun to watch.

  23. Sacbuc$ Says:

    I said it when we got Smith.Quote:” We have at least 300 solo tackles at LB now”. We have this problem on the Dline too. I just seen a week 13 replay of the Panther vs Giants. Robert Ayers was a 3 down RE causing havoc off the edge. George Johnson did a great job until he got hurt. Noah Spence can probably play both but what about Jac and Golston. Plus I think Howard is the guy and everybody seem to have forgot what he did in a short period of time.

  24. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    Preciate it bucsfaninchina

  25. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    I agree sacbuc$,

    I think a lot of ppl forgot about the rookie in Howard coming in the middle of the season and providing 5 sacks in limited playing time. He’s very young and talented but raw. Im interested to see what coach Hayes can do with him and mold him into a speed rusher or possibly even play him at LB on passing downs. He’s certainly got the speed to do so. He’s a intriguing prospect imo.