Communication: The Root Of Coaching

July 7th, 2016
No communication breakdown.

No communication breakdown.

Until the Bucs check in at One Buc Palace to report for training camp, Joe will try to get in the mind of defensive coordinator Mike Smith.

Joe will regularly deliver excerpts and/or highlights from Smith’s book, “You Win in the Locker Room,” available on Google Play and iTunes.

A passage in Smith’s book jumped out at Joe so much Joe thought Smith himself had slapped him.

Smith discussed how vital open communications are with players. Without communication, building a winning program is virtually impossible.

“… if you want to win in the locker room and on the field… you have to do it,” Smith writes about communication. Meeting individually with each Falcons player when he was hired “was very time consuming but it was the best way to learn about the culture and the other dynamics that were impacting the team on and off the field. I also wanted to get feedback on why he Falcons had struggled with consistency, so I asked the same questions of each player:

  • Do we have the players on the roster to be a playoff team?
  • Is there a burning desire on the team to be the best that they could possibly be?
  • If not, why do you see it that way?
  • Is the team a group of men that enjoy being around each other?
  • Is this a group of individuals who happen to wear the same colored jersey and helmet, or a team?
  • Are the guys on the team having fun?
  • When you were not getting the results that you wanted, how did the players deal with it?
  • Do they take responsibility or do they point the finger at others?

While these types of questions often make people uncomfortable and usually result in politically correct answers, I was looking for honest, engaging dialogue from guys who wanted to get better – and thankfully I found it.”

Joe highlights this excerpt because it tells Joe how wildly different Smith is to Lovie Smith.

Joe has always believed coaching, no matter what level, is teaching. Coaches are teachers. And players, those who want to be great, hunger to be coached up so they can be the best they can be. Late last season, Joe received a direct message on Twitter from a member of the Bucs defense who was with the Bucs for the full two seasons under Lovie. The player told Joe of Lovie, “Nobody knows what this guy wants.”

That right there folks is a massive communication breakdown. If players who had played defense for Lovie for two seasons still did not understand what was wanted, or what goals were, that is a complete and total breakdown of coaching. That suggests a major disconnect between coaches and players. That is a surefire recipe for disaster and, yes, losing.

Shortly after Mike Smith was hired, Joe noticed whispers (if there is such a thing) on social media from defensive players that Smith was meeting with them one-on-one. Some players flew in from their homes across the country to meet him.

Joe will guess some of the defensive players that did not return to the Bucs did not answer Smith’s questions (like those cited above) satisfactorily; the players that were retained answered Smith’s questions more to his liking.

At worst, Joe does not expect any communication breakdown between Smith and his players. Already there seems to be a bond built between them, specifically between Smith and linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander.

If one cannot communicate with his players, just how on earth can that person coach up the players?

Joe doesn’t think that will be an issue at all for Smith.

29 Responses to “Communication: The Root Of Coaching”

  1. Noneya Says:

    Is there a list somewhere of all players dumped by the bucs so far this year?

  2. Bob in Valrico Says:

    good article Joe and analysis of Smiths approach.This was also one of reasons Greg Schiano failed.Team leaders would go in and talk to him
    about how they were doing things and he didn’t act on the things they
    said to him.All for open lines of communicatrion.An interesting sidenote
    I read if Chip Kelly walked by you in the training facility in Philly he wouldn’t even look at you.

  3. The Buc Realist Says:

    Its amazing to me that some still do not like this coaching staff!! They were only the greatest and record setting coaches that Atlanta has ever had!!! Then throw in the fact that this coaching believes in always learning and evolving, Only lends to even more success and greater heights!!!!

    So once this season starts, they will need to “coach the lovie” out of some of these players who have had very bad coaching the last 2 years!!! The roster is not quite ready yet, but it is getting close!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!

  4. Clodhopper Says:

    “Nobody knows what this guy wants.”

    What the hell? How the heck did Lovie ever make it to the Super Bowl? Rivera must’ve dragged him there kicking and screaming

  5. 1sparkybuc Says:

    I can’t imagine what possessed the 49er owners to hire Chip Kelly. He was a total and complete disaster for the fleagles primarily because of his lack of communication skills. The Bucs dodged a bullet when he reneged on his agreement to coach in Tampa. Schiano was no prize, but he could communicate and players knew what he wanted. I hold a grudge and hope to see Kelly crash and burn in San Fran. I love the way things are falling into place for the Bucs. We have a great balance of talent on offense and defense, and the best possible coaching staff to lead them.

  6. buccfan305 Says:

    If there is any one out there who still thinks coach my scheme shouldn’t have been fired, please have them drug tested (for more than Marijuana) immediately!!!

  7. OneBuc55 Says:

    @ Clodhopper…

    To answer your question about Lovie Smith getting to the Super Bowl…Feminine Hester…Hester won more games in Chicago than Lovie Smiths coaching ever did…

  8. OneBuc55 Says:

    “Devin” not Feminine…

  9. Defense Rules Says:

    Both Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith have proven track records and the players (and fans) know what they bring to the table. Both are forming strong bonds with the players and I’m convinced it’ll pay dividends this year and beyond. What a breath of fresh air. Good article on Mike Smith Joe. Prior to training camp, please try to squeeze in similar articles on the assistant coaches (offense and defense). Would love to find out more ‘inside stuff’ about each of them because this staff that Coach has assembled is impressive from what I’ve read and seen thus far.

  10. tmaxcon Says:

    The player told Joe of Lovie, “Nobody knows what this guy wants.”

    Just another example of the failed Lovie experiment…. lovie a players coach might be the biggest farce since the tooth fairy…. horrible coach and obviously not the players coach the loyalist profess he is….

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    Lovie failed in Tampa Bay, there is no questioning that, and the new staff is vastly different in terms of style. I very much look forward to seeing what DC Smith brings to the table.
    I will still reserve judgement until we start winning some games and put a better product on the field.

  12. Buccfan37 Says:

    The fans were bewildered trying to figure out what Lovie wanted too. Enough to make my head spin.

  13. Bucsfanman Says:

    The weird part to me is how do “leaders”/ “grown men” not understand the importance of communication? If that was the locker-room culture, it’s no wonder we failed. The hardest thing to do in a work environment is to meet head-on with an individual issue. If you don’t, it is allowed to fester and infect the rest of your workforce. A leader should have an open line of communication and always be willing to listen.

    “When you stop learning, you stop living!”

  14. tmaxcon Says:


    Well said sir….

  15. 813bucboi Says:

    @realist….loading up with excuses already huh….it wont be hard at all to “coach the lovie” out of these players when the players on defense never grasped what he was coaching in the first place….as far as proven coaching staff we’ll see….dirk is a rookie hc that’s trying to find his way….hired mike smith to hold his hand…mike smith is a former failure in atl….games have to be played and won before you start throwing out praise….GO BUCS!!!!

  16. Mike Johnson Says:

    WIN some games then I’ll say what a great new coaching staff we have. Until then? They are just recycled coaches from ATL who..could not bring a championship to that city. What the hell makes Bucs fans think its gonna be any different here?

  17. Rick in Fort Myers Says:

    Joe, this series in which you try to get into the mind of Bucs DC Mike Smith is one of your best.

    Instead of a whole lot of rumor, informed sources and babble from “around the league,” you’re using a real honest to God source that any of us can access for follow up or deeper examination.

    Well done, Joe and please try to take more of your stories to this level of football discussion.

  18. Cobraboy Says:

    Communications require listening skills, not just preaching.

    I suspect the Bucs D players quit listening to Lovie’s coaches, because it was clear what they said wasn’t working.

    It’s like tuning out a clueless co-worker or shrill wife.

  19. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “mike smith is a former failure in atl…”

    Lol he is the best coach that franchise ever had. Guy was 66-46. Average of 9.4 wins per year for 7 years. If that is failure then wtf do you call the Bucs in that time span?

  20. Pickgrin Says:

    Some good insight with this series Joe. And thanks for the Zeppelin vid – perfect fit.

  21. Joe Says:

    Rick, Pigskin:

    Thanks for the compliments. Appreciate it.

  22. BigHogHaynes Says:

    There is only two reasons you get rid of a football player, no talent or you don’t want to pay the man, oh yea and maybe he doesn’t fit your scheme, not because he can’t answer a question to your liking, there are 31 other teamed in the league and I would venture to say that 15 of those teams have coaching personal with as much or more experience than the one we have today, but only two teams will get to play for the championship! We have talent on defence now, that defensive backfield will continue to drop a few more big names, because talent will win out.

  23. Vinsane38 Says:

    Dirk Koetter led Boise State before Boise State was cool anded them to national awareness. That track record,as well as his offensive scheme results across the NFL, laid the foundation to be an NFL HC for Tampa.

    Very exciting with the tone of his interviews and how that can affect the Bucs this year and for many more!

  24. 813bucboi Says:

    Lord Cornelius Says:
    July 7th, 2016 at 12:09 pm “mike smith is a former failure in atl…”Lol he is the best coach that franchise ever had. Guy was 66-46. Average of 9.4 wins per year for 7 years. If that is failure then wtf do you call the Bucs in that time span?…..

    he got canned in atl….clearly the front office thought they should’ve been to at least to 1 super bowl or won more games…he won nothing in atl…the bucs failed too…duh…harbough won a lot of games in san fran and he’s coaching in college now….GO BUCS!!!!

  25. Joe Says:

    There is only two reasons you get rid of a football player, no talent or you don’t want to pay the man,

    Jimmy Johnson got rid of guys for all sorts of reasons. But, what the hell did he know? He only built a dynasty.

  26. tmaxcon Says:


    Would that be the same Jimmy Johnson who the joke of a hall of fame has snubbed.??? Yet a mediocre head coach with a career losing playoff record gets in because he’s a media darling arse kisser….

  27. Bring bucs back Says:

    Tmaxcon, you’ve commented about Dungy after a couple of articles now and I applaud your courageous stance. I, and others, happen to agree with you. Dungy is a media darling; that’s why he was voted into the hall. His greatest coaching job was resurrecting the Bucs. We’re greatfull for that! However, his loyalty to unproductive offenses and coaches may have very well cost the Bucs a couple more SB appearances and eventually his job here. He was good but not great.

    As for those that claim that Koetter and Smith were failures in Atlanta, you should be reminded that, in addition to having the best W-L record of any Falcons’ coaches, they were also just a handful of yards away from just one more score that would have sent them to the SB. Is every coach a failure if he doesn’t make the SB?

  28. tmaxcon Says:

    Bring bucs back

    I respect that dungy turned the team around. I have a problem some of fans who act like Dungy was perfect. Someone smarter than me said this first but it sums it up perfect in my opinion… “The legend of dungy has surpassed his actual accomplishments”

  29. Joe Says:

    Would that be the same Jimmy Johnson who the joke of a hall of fame has snubbed.??? Yet a mediocre head coach with a career losing playoff record gets in because he’s a media darling arse kisser….

    Don’t get Joe started. 🙂