A Peek At Mike Smith’s Philosophy

August 3rd, 2017

Common sense approach.

If you haven’t listened yet to today’s “Ira Kaufman Podcast,” what’s the matter with you?

This post is about something Joe spoke about in eye-RAH’s podcast. Here, Joe will get to flush it out a bit more.

Joe has been reading “Son of Bum,” a book written by long-time NFL defensive coordinator and former NFL head coach Wade Phillips.

Phillips is the son of former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips, hence the name of the book (which is also Phillips’ Twitter handle). Phillips was a mediocre head coach. Had a 1-5 record in the playoffs with teams in Denver, Buffalo and Dallas.

As a defensive coordinator, he’s right up there with Monte Kiffin and Dick LeBeau.

(Interestingly, per Phillips in the book, Team Glazer wanted to interview Phillips for the Bucs opening that eventually was filled by Lovie Smith. Phillips was with the Texans then and Houston owner Bob McNair wouldn’t let Phillips interview until after the Texans’ playoff run was over. Too late for Phillips and Team Glazer.)

The book isn’t so much about football but about football life. It doesn’t go deep into X’s and O’s but does touch on coaching philosophies.

Phillips, of course, learned a lot from his dad but picked up on all sorts of concepts through his career, including when he was Buddy Ryan’s defensive coordinator in Philadelphia.

(One saying Phillips said he got from his dad was, “B!tching ain’t coaching.”)

Anyway, Phillips is a 3-4 defense kind of a guy but he is also a strong believer that you take the talent you have on hand and craft a defense based only that. Joe had an NFL personnel guy once tell him about Phillips, “He just tells [scouts] to pick talented players no matter what scheme they played in and he will find a way to use them.”

In other words, don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole or you will be looking for a new job soon, Phillips wrote. Phillips often says he uses a four-man front when it is called for, if he has the talent to do that, and it would be dumb not to. But the following item really hit home with Joe.

Phillips wrote a coach has to be flexible and open-minded because rosters change so much each year. Joe immediately recalled how often winning Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says this.

Koetter often talks about how 30 percent of an NFL roster typically changes each year. By simple math, that’s 17 new players a team will have each season.

That brought Joe to Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Often, a roster tells a story. In the offseason, the Bucs signed defensive lineman Chris Baker who, at times, played defensive end in a three-man front.

The Bucs also — though it is very early — appear to have good depth at linebacker. Joe has heard from someone who would know that Devante Bond is practicing well at the SAM linebacker position. He’s getting a lot of reps with the first team defense. And Joe’s written about the rise of rookie Kendell Beckwith. Suddenly, it appears the Bucs have depth at linebacker. And not to be forgotten is that Noah Spence was an outside linebacker in college.

The Bucs are tinkering with a three-safety look as well with the additions of safeties J.J. Wilcox and Justin Evans

Joe is convinced the Bucs will play some 34-front defenses. Not saying it will be a lot; the base defense will continue to be a four-man front. A three-man look might only be used 10 percent of the time. Still, do not be shocked if the Bucs show a three-man front at times.

Why is Smith doing this? Of course, the goal is to get off the field. But Smith is taking a page — no pun intended — from Phillips’ book. Smith is working with the players he has using their individual talents to put them in the best position to make plays, and in turn, play good defense.

11 Responses to “A Peek At Mike Smith’s Philosophy”

  1. Baz Says:

    “flush it out”
    Did you mean flesh it out? I thought once we fired Lovie Smith we had already flushed everything out that needed to be flushed.

  2. Pickgrin Says:

    If we play any 3-4 looks this year it probably won’t be seen in pre-season. Probably not much in practice either as they will likely work on it days that are not open to the pubic. The whole point is to use the 3-4 alignment to confuse the opposing offense so they won’t show it on tape until the games start counting.

  3. GoBucYourself Says:

    Smitty has always preferred to refer to his defenses as ‘hybrid’ or ‘flexible’. He bristles a bit if laymen try to lay a 3-4 or 4-3 label on what he does because it underestimates his intent. And even if you see a conventional 3-4 or 4-3 formation at the start of a down, there’s a good chance it will be something else by the time the ball is snapped.

  4. Negative Jeff Says:

    Baz, that is hilarious!!!!!! Lovie was such a crappy coach. Total Fraud!

  5. The Buc Realist Says:

    So Much to be excited about for this season!!!!! We just need to stay healthy!!!!!! I love to hear about the ” using what you have” and placing players to succeed!!!!!!! I wonder if anyone was this excited last year?????? I wonder????????

    OMG……..ITs The “Realist Repost”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Buc Realist Says:
    April 26th, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Why did you not name Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith???? Coach Smitty is going to be a huge leader and very important piece for this team!!! From a Sound board for Head Coach Koetter to Incredible Defensive Coordinator that will put players in position to win!!!!!

  6. WhatdaBUCisthis Says:

    The 3-4 is coming!! I’ve been waiting on this lineup. Now we have the players to execute it IMHO

  7. Fsuking Says:

    It’s gonna be a lot more than 10% of the time this year. We were in the 30’s last year as far as % and this year we have Stevie T and more linebackers in addition to a lighter, faster, hopefully better Noah Spence!

  8. tmaxcon Says:

    everything depends on the health of the dline and there are more question marks than not. history is not on the side nor a friend of the bucs current line up of dlineman.

  9. Joe Says:

    Did you mean flesh it out?

    No, meant “flush it out.” Just what Joe wrote. You know, like a hunter flushes out a covey of quail?

  10. Joe Says:

    I thought once we fired Lovie Smith we had already flushed everything out that needed to be flushed.


  11. martinii Says:

    I think every team needs to have the ability to run a 4-3 or 3-4, if for nothing else to be able to practice against it based on their next opponent. It gives versatility and unpredictability to a defense also. I truly believe that Smith in his second year will use much more 3-4 because of the number of returning veterans and for the fact this is his second year at DC he will be able to open up the scheme a little more. It has been awhile since we have had familiarity as an ally. Would also like to see Spence operate from LB position.