July 26th, 2016
Good coaches never stop learning.

Good coaches never stop learning.

Until the Bucs kickoff training camp at One Buc Palace Thursday, 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 First,” available on Google Play and iTunes.

You can’t stand still. That seems to be the word from Mike Smith. Joe always believes and has written that coaches are teachers. And from the words in Smith’s book, it sure sounds like Smith believes he is a teacher.

Smith writes there has never been a time in which access to information to improve as a coach has been so rapidly available. And if a coach isn’t trying to learn more and become smarter, Smith believes, he’s doing a disservice to both himself and his team.

I believe every coach at every level should seek out other leaders to learn from. It’s a practice that would greatly benefit businesses and schools as well. Can you imagine how your business would grow if a sales manager met with a few sales managers from a different company or division and they exchanged best practices? Imagine what would happen if teachers from different schools could gather together and learn new techniques and syllabi.

I have had the opportunity to be around some of the most successful leaders in business and sports, and I try to learn as much as I can. When you get the chance to be around teachers, experts, and other people in your profession, act like a sponge and soak up all the wisdom you can. Take time to read about successful leaders and what they have to say about the art of leadership. Even if you have never had a chance to sit and talk with a great leader like coach John Wooden, you can learn from him by reading about his theories on coaching and leadership. Seek wisdom and you will be surprised how it forces you to use your brainpower in ways that you didn’t think was possible.

Challenge yourself and do not let a day go by in which you are not learning something new. The minute you think you know it all is the moment that you stop growing and improving.

To Joe, those are eloquent words. Once a coach thinks he has it figured out, he doesn’t. Hell, Bill Belicheat, who is ahead of the curve like no other coach, regularly invites college and even high school coaches into his Massachusetts lair to pick their brains. If it’s good enough for Belicheat, why wouldn’t it be good for any other football coach?

Joe remembers covering his first NFL training camp in college. It was the old St. Louis Cardinals and Gene Stallings ran the team (Stallings also coached Joe’s high school coach when Stallings was a position coach with the Cowboys).

Back in those days, NFL training camps began in early July and it was common to see college coaches hanging out, trying to learn something. On a particularly steamy central Illinois day (where the Cardinals held training camp), Joe noticed one of the greatest college coaches that ever lived, Grambling’s Eddie Robinson, using a tackling dummy as a desk to constantly scribble notes on a legal pad. Joe can recall that scene today as clear as a bell.

Here was one of the most legendary football coaches of all time, yet he was taking notes of a Stallings practice as if he was an eager college sophomore in a lecture hall. It made a big impression on Joe then, and still does.

If Robinson of all people could learn something from an NFL practice, that told Joe that few, if any, had all the answers when it came to football.

13 Responses to “Learn”

  1. BucP Says:


    I am in China right now and your site is coming through loud and clear as of Tuesday evening, China time. The bloomberg link didn’t work but that makes sense, just like anything google has doesn’t work here. But you’re good so far.

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    The more I look at what Mike Smith has done through the years, the more impressed I get.

    Was a DC for 5 yrs with Jacksonville (HC: Jack Del Rio). Their record in those 5 yrs was 45-35 (average record: 9 wins – 7 losses per season). But look at each year, and the defense ranking in the NFL under Mike Smith as DC:

    2003 5-11 Defense #18
    2004 9-7 ” # 7
    2005 12-4 ” # 6
    2006 8-8 ” # 4
    2007 11-5 ” # 10

    Mike Smith’s record was even better in 6 seasons in Atlanta (2008-2013): 60-36 (average record: 10 wins – 6 losses per season). Their defense did quite well in his years there:

    2008 11-5 Defense # 11
    2009 9-7 ” # 14
    2010 13-3 ” # 5
    2011 10-6 ” # 18
    2012 13-3 ” # 5
    2013 4-12 ” # 27

    Mike Smith’s had only 2 losing seasons out of his 11 as DC & HC … his first year and his last. Very impressive defensive rankings overall. Why Mike’s not still a HC blows my mind. We got a steal folks.

  3. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Mike smith could be a very successful life coach I hope he likes it here.
    Well chosen excerpts and comments, Joe

  4. BigHogHaynes Says:

    I don’t really care about how eloquent the words are not do I care if Coach Smith will learn anything today or tomorrow or week 6 of the regular season, what I want to see is a #7 rated overall defense, new players have come on board, we finally drafted for defense, round hole, square peg, FRIENDS&FAMILY, coach my scheme, Coach Smith you got work to do and what you have learned will be on display!

  5. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    Has any one seen how much bigger Kwon has gotten during the offseason?? U gotta Check it out, I posted it on my facebook. @{Jeremy Loui} somebody’s getting rocked this year, I feel bad for the guy who gets “McCowned”. Lol

    #human heat seeking missle.

  6. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    That pic was taken yesterday, his neck is is the size of my thigh! Lol

  7. The Buc Realist Says:

    Of course you don’t care bighogheinous, with coach my scheme it was a simple defense that would never grow or learn anything new!!! It was simple! even the other teams new what was coming!!! It was simple!! And it works if the incompetent one has overwhelming talent!! I can see why you like the simple!!! But we will try to help you understand this year as you witness a real nfl defense that will disguise and use different looks!!! Do not be scared bighogheinous, other defenses do work and are successful in the NFL!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!

  8. Cobraboy Says:

    When I played in the WFL, camp started early June and we had more college coach hanger-on that team coaches.

  9. Joe Says:


    Hey, thanks for the feedback and thanks for reading!

  10. Buccfan37 Says:

    Agree that Eddie Robinson was a great football coach and mentor, not sure if he is in some level Hall of Fame, but he should be. I have enjoyed the Smith distributed knowledge series, this former head coach’s defensive mindset will impart his style to improve the Bucs defense dramatically. I’m hurrying up and waiting to see the improvement this season.

  11. BigHogHaynes Says:

    There nothing new, it’s 11 players putting it together and trusting in a system, it’s three down lineman or 4, it’s two linebackers or 3, it’s four DB’s or 5, it’s making a play, making a tackle, knocking a pass away, it’s makes it hard to go to different looks when you got guys that can’t even back/pedal, that’s how simple it is!

  12. Bucsfanman Says:

    I truly believe that you must always innovate, listen, and be open to suggestions. Football is a game of strategy.
    Lovie failed to adapt which is why he’s no longer here. But come on, a slant! You’re going to stand there and get beat by the same play again and again?! That goes beyond coaching!

  13. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    The good news…we win 10 this year…the bad news…Mike Smith takes another HC position…the good news..we have Jay Hayes to replace him…although as much as I admire Hayes I’m not sure Duffner isn’t in the mix to replace Smitty as well.

    Mike Smith impresses me off the field much like #3 does. They both get it.
    They always say the right thing which means at minimum at least they understand the right way.