Little Trust In Defensive Staff

January 7th, 2018

Development issues stand out.

Yeah, Dirk Koetter said he would retain his staff. That was Jan. 1.

The coaching carousel has really yet to get warmed up. A lot can change in the next month. A lot.

Now Joe has noticed a bunch of Bucs fans getting hot in the pants for this defensive end in the draft or that cornerback. That sounds cool though it is still so, so early for draft talk — we don’t even know who exactly will enter the draft yet.

But here is the big catch with rookie defensive ends: rarely do they get double-digit sacks. For every Joey Bosa there are too-many-to-count Da’Quan Bowers. Bosa and his rookie numbers are the extreme, not the norm.

And besides, do you trust the current defensive staff to develop a rookie defensive end or a cornerback? Sure, Noah Spence showed flashes and yeah, he was always playing hurt. So Joe will give the defensive staff an incomplete grade to be a nice guy with Spence.

Cornerback? Ha! Bucs defensive coaches took a year to figure out their initial prognosis that Ryan Smith is a safety to be wrong (?). And since he moved back to corner, Joe is not sure he’s improved by leaps and bounds.

Vernon Hargreaves? He’s so far off the map it is as if he’s forgotten. When a guy who was a competent rookie ballhawk vanishes that quickly, either something off the field is going on or he’s been virtually ruined by coaches. Can he be saved?

(The Bucs, on the other hand, have done a wonderful job with young linebackers.)

Sure, there could be changes to the defensive coaching staff as it now stands; there should be just on merit and non-results alone. Joe is convinced that quietly at One Buc Palace, folks are hoping John Mara of the Giants decides to shock the NFL world, enrage Gotham media and hire Mike Smith as head coach.

With the current makeup of the defensive staff, Joe has zero faith they can develop a rookie corner, and there are significant questions about developing a defensive end as well.

53 Responses to “Little Trust In Defensive Staff”

  1. BoJim Says:

    Saw some tape on Nelson from ND.Very impressive. All he does is rag doll defenders. Wouldn’t be to upset if we grabbed him. However, a DE should be a pretty big priority.

  2. Dreambig Says:

    Speaking of coaches doing a poor job with players, don’t look now but Adrian Clayborn had 9.5 sacks this regular season. He sure does suck, doesn’t he.

  3. Dreambig Says:

    Also have to give Mariotta props. In a playoff game, he was a deadly leader that beat Kansas City with his legs,arm and brain. It was a big game and he played big.

  4. 2Anglican1609 Says:

    IMO VHIII can be salvaged with a good DB coach. The guy has played all his life, it will not be hard to get him back. God i wish that the NYG wiill see they need Ole Smitty

  5. Mikadeemas Says:

    So YOU would have kept Clayborn, hoping he would have a four sack game and end up with 9.5 for the season!? Or YOU wanted to have him back before THIS season. Calling BS on that BS. And all you Mariota boys would be trying to run him out of town if he was here too. He had a good enough game to win last night, so WHAT!!

  6. Mikadeemas Says:

    Henry won em that game. Marriott was his typical average self, with some good luck.

  7. BringBucsBack Says:

    Has anyone in the organization expressed any doubt in the D-coordinator? If so, we haven’t heard anything other than support. If the Bucs are secretly hoping that the Giants want him, they should just fire him, publicly. It’s their team, right?

  8. Ndog Says:

    Dreambig did you even watch the game, brain????? In the redzone he threw one pick and then threw into triple coverage in which he got lucky and the ball got batted up in the air and right back to him. If Jameis made that exact same throw everyone on this board would be saying he is so careless and we cant win with him. Also Clayborn got 6 sacks in one game vs a 3rd string tackle so geting 3.5 sacks the rest of the year is nothing to brag about.

  9. Guzzie Says:

    Licht needs to stock this team with defensive talent going to be difficult in one offseason, be nice if he had 5 offseasons to do it, oh wait this is his 5th offseason, I don’t know what he has on the Glazers, but it’s something big

  10. JonBuc Says:

    Ol’ Smitty…looking like a confused nursing home patient in the appropriate pic for pthis article. Other than the now very lucky 5 game win streak last season ( now looking fueled by an Ayers’ arse chewing than anything else ), Smiley Smith has been abysmal. Depressing to think he’s back in 2018…

  11. Guzzie Says:

    Gonna be hard getting any good coaches to replace any defensive coaches, all 6 HC openings are better opportunities than our Deadman walking staff

  12. The Buc Realist Says:


    That is a bold and unfounded statement that “folks at one buc” wish Coach Smitty to be gone!!!!!!!!

    Joe needs to start to look at the big picture and start to wonder how, with that terrible D-line, how Coach Smitty keep the Bucs just to a 24 pts avg the whole year and a close 3 points less a game then loser lovie smith who some wanted back for a third year!!!! And going against the 2nd hardest schedule in the league!!!!!!

    1st rd picks – ME, JW3, OJ80
    2nd rd picks -ASJ, DS76, AM74

    1st rd picks – VH28
    2nd rd picks – NS57, JE21

    It looks a little unbalanced here!!!! But maybe Joe is right!!!!! Maybe the coaches and defense and running are not great enough to DRAG joe’s favorites to the playoffs!!!!!!!!! You better start doing the math, because it is not adding up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Fix the ‘Real” problem, the trenches!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

  13. MadMax Says:

    Just find a way to draft Chubb and Vita or Fitzpatrick and Vita!

  14. Dreambig Says:

    NDog – Clearly you didn’t watch the game. Don’t get me wrong, it kills me that Mariotta got a meaningful playoff win before Jameis but you have to give the man props for playing well in a big game. He was a huge part in killing KC in the 2nd half of that game. As for Clayborn, he gets 6 sacks in one game and you discount that and somehow you make that a negitive. Our sack leader (GMC) got 6 sacks all year, and other than McDonald, no one else did crap. People on this board love to bash Clayborn and others as being garbage players, yet they go somewhere else and play at a high level. Meanwhile we still haven’t replaced Clayborn with anyone better.

  15. MadMax Says:

    Speak it Mika!

  16. Mike Johnson Says:

    This Buc team is going nowhere with Smitty as the DC. The only thing Smitty is going to develop is more SPIN as to why the defense is not getting the job done. Koetter lives with him and will die with him..Buc career wise. I see no enthusiasm from Smith. Just game after game perched high atop in his pressbox….with his fingers crossed. What a very sad organization. He should have been gone 2 weeks ago..Long Gone.

  17. mark2001 Says:

    What you described Joe, is a team that is foundering… a team that has no idea how to get itself out of a “last place in the division” hole. Seems the organization has sunk to a low point only equaled by the 80’s organization. Very sad.

  18. I'm a Tandyman Bucs Fan Says:

    Like I said Smith’s Dog won’t even play with him anymore. Everyone has lost confidence in the Man. Things will remain the same in 18 unless someone hires Ole Mikey as Head Coach somewhere. And I don’t see that happening!!!!

  19. WutdaBucisthis Says:

    All I screamed for last year was #TrenchWarfare…we did nothing. How very sad I was. I lobbied for Dontari Poe with…#bringhomeDPoe…nothing. Damn it sign him this year along with a top tier DE! For crying outloud.

  20. James Walker Says:

    The Bucs has the LB position set, if they can get the D-line to generate pressure and stop the run you the backfield will become better due to more opportunities to make plays. It is that simple.

  21. darin Says:

    Agree. With this staff dont waste any picks on a db. You just keep drafting de’s and hope one of them excels in spite of the defensive coaching. I was never on board with the hargreaves pick, because i thought there were more glaring needs, but an 11th overall pick whos talented as eff, and they cant put him in position to succeed opposite brent grimes. Sad. The 10 yard cushion literally makes me sick now. Cant watch that garbage for a full game. I had to give up drinking years back so its either turn it off or fall off the wagon. The remote control power button hurts less than the ole gravel road. Cant let mike smith drive my wagon anymore.

  22. SOEbuc Says:

    With this 15-yard cushion defense we’ve been running the past couple years how is it possible to teach any rookie CB to become good in his early stages of the game. Especially such a little guy as VH3. He needs to be playing in the slot no matter what though.

  23. lambchop Says:

    I just want us to draft well and get some solid FAs. Once we get that core nucleus of players, you better believe we’re going shopping for a proven head coach and defensive coordinator. Not too many good defensive coordinators are going to come this off season with a head coach on a 1 year prove it deal. The DC has to be unbelievably good to survive a regime change. If 2018 is a failure, but the draft and FAs were solid, I can see Jason Licht surviving but the coaching staff will all be gone. The HC and DC should not be stubborn with regards to the position coaches. If they suck, they must go before the season starts. The team, owners, and fans deserve an honest assessment. And their job security definitely depends on it.

  24. 1sparkybuc Says:

    DE, C, RB, CB, DE. Put Ali back at RG and Mister T next to GMC. Fire a couple position coaches and roll the dice. This team healthy should be able to compete with anybody. The players still have faith in Koetter, and so do I. I’m confident Licht will have another great draft. The Bucs are long overdue for a season with no major losses to injury.

  25. Tony from Los Angeles Says:

    We do not need A defensive end. We need to bring in at least 8 new picks and signings on both lines to battle, compete with the incumbents, and completely overhaul the quality and depth of line play.

    Fix the trenches, fix the Bucs.

  26. JMarkBuc Says:

    How many former coaches are the Bucs still paying?

    Pretty sure that’s why this staff was retained, to much dead money on the books., that and Gruden may have stiffed them….

  27. Nobody22 Says:

    Will Noah Spence ever contribute? If we can fix our D line problems we would actually have something.

  28. The Buc Realist Says:


    lovie only had 2 years left when he was fired, with offset language that made the check 3 million a year, which the glazers wrote the final check sometime in 2017!!!!!!

    Currently all the current coaches are the only ones on the payroll!!!!!!!

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

  29. VA BUC Says:

    Thats why i said FIRE KOETTER he’s not head coach material see no diff between him n Raheem how you not man up n fire Mike Smith its a business so what yall friends defense will be even badder next yr lmao watch

  30. Garv Says:

    I feel it makes total sense for Coach Koetter to keep the coordinators and assistants he wants. It’s up to him and not message board posters and “experts.” It’s Dirk’s job on the line!

    Apparently I’ll just have to keep posting it from time to time until it sinks in. It is almost impossible to win football games in the NFL without a pass rush or running game! The Buccaneers CLEARLY gambled on Doug Martin, Sweezy, Noah Spence and Jack Smith and LOST! Without the horses you can’t pull the wagon.

    It’s all about the offseason now, about Jason Licht finding the right players in FA and the draft to address these serious weaknesses. They can start by addition by subtraction on the first day of FA in March. This is not about coaching but clearly about player personnel at some key positions. Fortunately not needing a QB means in effect the Bucs are drafting at 5, maybe 4, so opportunities will be there in the draft. Something to smile about?

  31. Defense Rules Says:

    @Realist “That is a bold and unfounded statement that “folks at one buc” wish Coach Smitty to be gone!!!!!!!! Fix the ‘Real” problem, the trenches!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Oh Realist, you’re firing on all 8-cylinders. Unless you’re a Jag XKE … then you’re firing on all 12-cylinders. But you do realize that Joe has a very clear agenda when it comes to making the offense look better than it’s been performing, and making the defense look even worse than its been performing. Even the pictures he uses for Smitty reflect that.

    This is a highly-experienced defensive staff that’s being used as scapegoats. They ‘broke’ VHIII? Really? He had ONE average year & then other OCs figured out his tendencies. Hard to fix limitations like being short, slow & not really all that quick. Reality is that VHIII was NEVER a Round 1 pick … there were many DEs & DTs still available at that point who would’ve been far better performers for us. That’s on Licht. Same thing with Noah Spence. In our 4-3 defense, who in heaven’s name thought that a 240 pound DE would hold up? Oh yes, Jason Licht. And the other one mentioned (Evans) has excellent potential IMO, BUT remember, Licht drafted him hurt AND in the belief that his tackling needed a HUGE amount of work. Credit Licht? How about crediting the defensive staff instead of Licht for improving his tackling big-time in a very short period of time.

  32. The Buc Realist Says:

    @Defense Rules

    The worst part is all those resources into the offense, and then to see them a tied 26th place in turnovers!!!!!!! How does that help the defense??????? And the teams below them are the worst in the league!!!!!!!!!!

    But we know the agenda!!!!!! One drive in the 4th quarter makes the “offense did their part” and one point against the defense in the 4th quarter means they “yak all over themselves”!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    maybe joe will go to the league meeting and get some informed opinions that will be shocking to him, and just stuff that Defense Rules and The Buc Realist can repost are old comments!!!!!!!

    And why do we just repost???? Because we told the sheep long ago!!!!!!!!!!

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

  33. ruggyup Says:

    Vibes are picking up on the imminent arrival of Jack DelRio.

  34. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    D.R. I hear ya. You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken spit!

    Other than the DL and NO pass rush I wasn’t all that perturbed by our DB’s.
    Football is still a team game and if you gave our DB’s the Ram’s pass rush I suspect we’d see a lot of “improvement” for them.

    I think out LB’s looked “well coached” because of their talent and desire. I’m not sure I see that desire across our DL…and I am sure I don’t see that talent there.

    We are a team that cant run block and worst of all we can’t rush the passer.

    This makes it appear we have no hope at RB and our DB’s are bad…because we leave them hung out to dry.

    I’d like perhaps an OG who can start from the draft…after that all DE’s maybe a great DT…but all DE’s…..and this year if there is a Calais Campbell we’ll break the bank.

  35. TonyC Says:

    Who among us has any trust/belief in Licht’s free agency evaluation/selection process. He’s been an utter failure in this regard so what makes anybody believe he’s going to bring in the “right players” for the d-line when all he’s done is bring in the “wrong players?”I”m actually rooting for J-Ville in the playoffs not that I’ll ever switch allegiance but at least I can sit back and admire the personnel they selected on defense.

  36. Cover Deuce Says:

    If nobody on that defensive staff loses their job on results alone it’d be borderline criminal. When you’re the worst defense in the NFL, someone needs to be held accountable.

  37. TonyC Says:

    When I say “wrong” players I”m referring to Swaggy in particular because he completely screwed up the chemistry that may have been there last year.I do think that McClain was a decent pickup but overall Licht has not done a D-F job in FA.

  38. not there yet Says:

    Rarely do defensive ends get double digits sacks!!! You keep using this argument and makes you sound like you have tunnel vision which is why you like koetter so much. Who says you need double digits sacks to be considered effective and a good player. Is sacks the reason you keep talking up McCoy? You were here beating the drum to resign gholston because of everything he can do besides sacks now you think he should be let go. Sacks aren’t the only thing that determine whether a player is good or not. The now Atlanta falcon Clayborn was an impact player as a rookie which is why he started and they should have kept him and this speaks to the stupidity of this franchise. He’s not elite but he’s better than anything we’ve had since he left and he doesn’t have a big contract. Just goes to show what happens when you bring in multiple coaches and when all those coaches are trash and/or amateurs

  39. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Possible Free Agent Picks-Ups
    • Dion Lewis
    • Isaiah Crowell
    • Jeremy Hill

    Possible Draft Picks
    • Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
    • Damien Harris, Alabama
    • Akrum Wadley, Iowa
    • Ronald Jones II, USC
    • Martez Carter, RB, Grambling State

    Possible UDFA Signee’s
    • Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
    • Lavon Coleman, Washington
    • Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
    • Kalen Ballage, Arizona State


    • Doug Martin (Age:29) – $6,750,000
    • Jacquizz Rodgers (Age:28) – $1,600,000

    • Dion Lewis (Age:27)

    • 3rd Kerryon Johnson
    • 5th Martez Carter

    Depth Chart
    • PB – Peyton Barber | Kerryon Johnson
    • SB – Dion Lewis | Martez Carter

    Possible Undrafted Free Agents – Ralph Webb & Lavon Coleman

  40. LakeLand Says:

    I have trust in the Defensive staff.
    I have no trust in Jason Licht

  41. Defense Rules Says:

    Realist & StPete … For many years in the military I remember the slogan ‘Do More With Less’. Guess what, you rapidly reach a point where that’s BS … all that results is that you ‘Do Less With Less’ if that philosophy is allowed to continue. Have always been very much opposed to commanders (or ANY leader or manager) who provide their ‘subordinates’ with fewer quality resources but keep expecting them to ‘Do More With Less’. That’s a strategy for D-E-F-E-A-T, and that’s unacceptable in the military … AND in any business (such as football).

    That same ‘Do More With Less’ strategy has unfolded at 1 Buc Place for the past 4 years at least (much longer in actuality). Bucs’ ownership & management continually raised ticket prices after the SB victory, but refused to bring any truly quality players on-board (see the talent that was provided to Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano & Lovie Smith). When we finally started adding talent in 2014, it was one-sided (spelled O-F-F-E-N-S-E) .

    2018 is the year to fix that. We’ve got the $$$ in CAP space, we known definitively what our priorities need to be (i.e., what our weakness are), and there can’t be any more E-X-C-U-S-E-S for not fixing this mess. This coaching staff is plenty good to get us into the playoffs IF JASON LICHT DOES HIS JOB !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. Defense Rules Says:

    Oh and StPete, I agree with you about OLine & DLine needs. I tend to look at the Top-3 draft picks and expect them to play key roles in the coming year. I’d personally do whatever it takes to grab the highest-ranked DE with our #1 pick … UNLESS there happens to be a truly superior LT on the board who we’re 100% certain will anchor our OLine for many years (still wish we’d grabbed Tunsil but that’s water under the bridge now). That way we could slide D. Smith to LG, slide Marpet to RG, start Hawley OR pick up a stud FA Center. That’s give us the option to keep Dotson at RT or re-sign Pamphile for that spot. Might take a few games to develop the necessary chemistry, but we’d be set for years once that chemistry is set.

    With the other 2 picks (Top-3), I’d grab a CB and either a DE or DT. In other words, the only way I’d draft an OLineman is IF an incredible talent was available in the FIRST ROUND. Other than that, I’d go D-E-F-E-N-S-E with all 3 picks. (And yes, I’d be happy with a 2 DE & 1 DT or 1 DE, 1 DT & 1 CB or 1 LT, 1 DE & 1 DT … I’m not picky).

  43. Gambelero Says:

    On Del Rio, it would be great to have him in the house. I was hoping the Titans lost, fired their coaches and we would bring in Labeau as whatever he wanted to be. Co-head coach, Consultant, Czar of the Defense, Shrive of Shrampa. Nice place to retire, I hear, South Florida.

    On Smith, I was very critical of his lack of willingness to adapt. If a four man rush almost never works, you can blitz, but as Joe pointed out, we were a really bad blitzing team as well. Why not go 3/4 and drop 8 or go Belichek and drop 9. If our dline and secondary were below average and our linebackers were deep and skilled, why go 4-2-5 as our primary pass formation. Surprisingly, we did a bunch of 3/4ish, drop 8 stuff against the Saints. Finally, before the season Smith said (either quoted or paraphrased very closely by Joe) that his defense wouldn’t work unless we could get pressure with four. Well, we didn’t and it didn’t.

    I was more of a fire Licht and keep Koetter guy. Nevertheless, it’s also possible (okay, probable or at least likely is more apropos) that the Glazers aren’t investing in the scouting/evaluation infra-structure like other teams are. It’d be interesting to see how much is spent on that compared to other organizations. I’d love to hear about new analytics or scouting hires. You take some of the $10m+ you didn’t give Gruden and the $5m or so he’s going to overpay to get his cronies as staff and pay an extra $20k-$50k to scouts and analytics guys to get the best evaluation staff. Do that and Licht may suddenly turn into a genius on both (pretend you see italics on “both”) free agency and the draft.

    I want oline in the draft, not at 7, but a right tackle in the round 2. Protect Jameis should be the battle cry this off season. Of course one way to protect him is to develop a run game. Another is go with tempo (like McVay and what the Titans do for Mariota).

    If a Chubb or someone similar isn’t there at 7, trade down. The best organizations rarely trade up, but frequently trade down.

  44. Sydney Says:



  45. JWBUCS Says:

    Joe: I was recalling that Mike Smith’s name does not even appear on a short list of potential interviews for a Head Coaching position on even Team in need…. Do I recall correctly?

  46. BucEmUp Says:

    Couldn’t agree more the largest needs on defense as far as players go is DR (TWO OF THEM ) AND CORNER. (VH3 plays better in press which we all know that never happens in Tampa)

    Mike Smith needs to.go because no.matter who they draft it will still be the league’s worst secondary and we will lose Koetter and Licht because of it

  47. Mike Johnson Says:

    JWBUCS..Why would anybody hire Smith as a HC now? He could not take ATL anywheres and he certainly has not been sucessfull here. Nope. He ain’t on nobody’s short list cept..retirement!

  48. Rod Munch Says:

    If Ryan Smith is anything other than a 5th corner and special teams player next year AND Chris Conte is still employed by the team then Licht needs to be fired. Ryan Smith is the worst corner I’ve ever seen ever, he’s awful. If he’s good on special teams then make him a special teams player, but him running around completely clueless getting burned on every play was the worst part of that Bucs defense. He’s truly terrible at corner and does not deserve to have a spot as a defensive player on the team.

  49. Mike Johnson Says:

    How bout them JAGWARS..Huh? They held a playoff team to 3 points and then..smash-mouthed the other QB and took him out of the game? Thats MEAN man MEAN!!!We use to have that..once upon a time in Bucland. DEFENSE WINS. Congtats to J-VILLE!!!

  50. Sydney Says:




    NT- TBD






  51. Eric Says:

    Nobody is hiring Mike Smith, except us of course.

    But we always get people nobody wants or considered. Schiano, Raheem, Koetter, etc.

    Just like the Browns nobody wants to coach for a dysfunctional ownership.

    That’s why they got Hue Jackson and we have Dirk.

  52. Joe Says:

    Joe: I was recalling that Mike Smith’s name does not even appear on a short list of potential interviews for a Head Coaching position on even Team in need…. Do I recall correctly?

    Joe wrote about that last week.

  53. Mike Johnson Says:

    Sadly are Correcto Mundo!!