What Could Have Been

January 14th, 2018

Painful pass.

Joe was torn watching the final play of the Dixie Chicks last night in their divisional playoff match-up with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Joe wanted the Dixie Chicks to win. Yeah, really. Joe wanted an NFC South battle in the NFC Championship Game a week from today.

But that didn’t happen. Predictably, from the Eagles-2, on fourth down, Matty Ice and the Dixie Chicks couldn’t close the deal. It’s what Atlanta does in tight postseason games.

While watching, Joe was almost ill wondering what might have been because, in a way, that play validated what Joe was pounding the keyboard for two years ago.

The Eagles defense was smothering Matty Ice yesterday, holding Atlanta to 10 points. To do that against such an impressive offense loaded with talent, that’s top shelf defense.

But, that is what Jim Schwartz delivers. The Eagles’ defensive coordinator is one of the best in the game, maybe the best not named Wade Phillips or Dick LeBeau.

And two years ago, out of work for a year after he and Doug Marrone’s staff quit on Buffalo, Joe begged, pleaded, prayed the Bucs would hire Schwartz as a defensive coordinator.

(Feel free to check out Joe’s free archives if you think Joe is pulling a con.)

Alas, the Bucs and Dirk Koetter did not go that route. Instead, Koetter hired Mike Smith as his defensive coordinator.

Whispers in NFL circles at the time — Joe has yet to confirm them — was that in Atlanta. when Smith was let go and Koetter was his offensive coordinator, the two made a handshake deal: whoever would get an NFL head coaching gig would hire the other as a coordinator.

Koetter got the Bucs gig and Smith was named defensive coordinator.

In the days leading up to the announcement of Smith being named, prized JoeBucsFan.com columnist Ira Kaufman kept mentioning he was hearing it was Smith’s job to lose. Given Ira’s strong NFL insider connections, perhaps what Joe heard had merit?

Aside from a five-game stretch last season, Smith’s defense has been atrocious at worst, and incapable of closing out a game in the fourth quarter at best.

Schwartz, on the other hand, has built a choking defense in Philadelphia. And given the Eagles are forced to use backup quarterback Nick Foles due to the injury to quarterback Carson Wentz, if the Eagles do get to the Super Bowl, it will be on the backs of the defense.

Schwartz’s defense.

Meanwhile, Smith, despite guiding the Bucs to the worst pass defense in the NFL, the worst third-down percentage in the NFL, and overseeing a gutless pass rush (can’t finger Swaggy Baker for that) which is — all together now — last in the NFL, apparently is entrenched at One Buc Palace.

Schwartz is one win away from going to the Super Bowl.

Joe is just going to take a wild stab and guess if Schwartz was with the Bucs, the Bucs defense wouldn’t be the embarrassment it is today.

41 Responses to “What Could Have Been”

  1. Pawel Says:

    I believe its DL Cox and Graham putting pressure on the QB. Maybe if we had some pressure on QB, it would of been a better story for the Bucs.

  2. BigHogHaynes Says:

    I can’t for the life of me see where he would have made a big difference…I just can’t see how you make that leap….with no DE!! TAKE A KNEE…KEEP AMERICA FREE…BURN MARALARGO BURN!!

  3. Rod Munch Says:

    I didn’t track the Eagles defense calls much in the game, I was too busy typing that Matt Ryan would pull an Alex Smith in the 2nd half… but how often did Schwartz play his corners 15 yards off the line of scrimmage on 3rd and 3?

  4. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Every defense in the NFL is predicated on the front line getting pressure on the qb and the dbs covering long enough so they can get the sack and EVERYONE being able to tackle something that NO coordinator had been able to get done since Dungy and Kiffin left.

  5. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    It might be a Bortles/Foles Super Bowl kids..just shows you how defense do win games..

    It was proven tonight if anyone had any doubts..

  6. Shabazz Says:

    Bucs need to trade 7th pick n draft alll defense

  7. Skipper Says:

    Spot on Joe, couldn’t agree more.

  8. Joe Says:

    Thanks Skipper!

  9. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    January 13th, 2016 at 12:02 am<–

    (Possible Staff Up-Grades)
    • Defensive Coordinator: Jim Schwartz
    • Defensive Line Coach: Joe Cullen
    • Assistant Defensive Line Coach: Paul Spicer
    • Linebackers Coach: Hardy Nickerson
    • Defensive Backs Coach: Donnie Henderson

    Things would get very interesting- if Buffalo decides to release – Defensive Coach Line Karl Dunbar.


  10. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Now Call Jim Schwartz!

    Some of the comments are funny – in the above two post

  11. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    Do you remember begging for us to sign Nigel Bradham as well?
    Dude was flying all over the field last night.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Agree 100% Joe that Jim Schwartz is an outstanding DC. Eagles had the #4 defense in the NFL this season … not that shabby IMO. (And for those who’d argue that their schedule was much easier than the Bucs’ schedule, I’ll simply say that they’re in the SB hunt & we’re not).

    But to bash Smitty (yet again) using Schwartz as the counterpoint is an apples-oranges argument (unless the common denominator is that they’re both DCs). Schwartz was given SO MUCH MORE TO WORK WITH that it’s ridiculous. Compare the Bucs-Eagles defensive rosters position group-by-position group and the Eagles come out ahead as a T-E-A-M. Example – Sacks. Eagles had 38 on the season (Bucs had 22 in 2017 as we all painfully know) … EXACTLY the same as the Bucs (under Smitty) had in 2016. But the key is to look at who got those sacks.
    o DT Cox (14 games) … 5.5 sacks
    o DT Jernigan (15 games) … 2.5 sacks
    o DT Allen (15 games) … 1.0 sacks
    o DE Graham (15 games) … 9.5 sacks
    o DE Long (16 games) … 5.0 sacks
    o DE Barnett (15 games) … 5.0 sacks
    o DE Curry (16 games) … 3.0 sacks
    o Other DTs & DEs … 1.5 sacks

    So 33 of their 38 sacks came from (tada) … DEs & DTs (BTW, look at the number of games their DLine each played … their AVERAGE was 15 games. Compare that to the Bucs). Interestingly, the Eagles under Schwartz STILL blitzed quite often (on 35% of dropbacks) and yet their LBs/CBs/Safeties only picked up 5 sacks. THEIR DLINE DID THEIR JOBS … PRESSURED THE QBs AND STOPPED THE RUN (#1 defense in both attempts AND yards allowed).

    All I’m saying is that BEFORE we unceremoniously dump experienced coaches, provide them with the resources necessary to do their jobs. Eagles did that for Schwartz. Bucs certainly haven’t done that for Smitty. Fix the DLine AND the Secondary THEN if Smitty doesn’t get the desired results (Goal: Top-10 defense) it’d be time to find another defensive staff.

  13. MadMax Says:

    Lol, bighosh, wants to enjoy a free America but wants a home to burn down….those trump hatting liberals and their tds, smdh.

  14. Nate Says:

    I called it too Joe,

    I wanted Jim Schwartz while many were saying Mike Smith is proven plus great defenses in j’ville with koetter and maybe because of that koetter was gonna choose his buddy

    Ugggggghhh……mannnnn….people running one keep make bad decision after bad decision

    The decision to hire koetter had it’s ripple effect

  15. Nate Says:

    running one buc* typo

  16. dmatt Says:

    Schwartz would’ve brought in the defensive FA that made a difference. He’s the reason the Eagles have two top notch safeties n a corner, which he brought in as FA. I’m sure he would’ve found a way to bring in his type of player at DE for the Bucs. I’m sure he would’ve found a way to influence Ezekiel Ansah to come to Bucs land. Mike Smith has shown me nothing no more than garbage in garbage out.

  17. Nate Says:

    You people don’t know what TYPE of defense/ player or WHO Schwartz would of brought in for his D

    Coming from someone who PLAYED to y’all bashing smitty stickup fans

    THAT makes a difference….he would probably be running a 3-4

    And not getting his smaller quicker Noah Spence/

  18. Nate Says:

    Jaqueis Smith ends hurt

    In a system they are not BEST fitted to play

  19. Nate Says:

    For instance a Chubb body type is built for a 4-3 vs a Arden key for 3-4

    I can remember the combine the word from analysts was that Noah is more of a 3-4 end

    Not forced to take on doubles of 350 pound mfs(in the great words of Jamie foxx-any given sunday)

    Hahaha…nate dubb
    Hahaha…nate dubb

  20. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Wow Defense ,22 sacks from the DE’s . One would have to think that keeping
    the starting Dline on the field might be the only way to attack this D ! Even then
    this is a huge task. Philadelphia basically took away one of Atlanta’s main weapons away in the running game ,Freeman struggled where Coleman made some plays taking it outside.

  21. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I’m sorry, but does anyone here really think the Eagles are good enough to win the NFC Championship game, then beat the Pats?

    Frankly, I thought the Eagles played horribly most of the game. I was rooting for them though, because I want the Saints in the superbowl, where they will lose to the Pats and Brees might decide to retire.

    Out of all these playoff games, the Pats have been the only team that looked like they belonged in the playoffs. The rest were slightly above average teams beating each other in close games.

    I want a Titans vs Buccaneers Superbowl at some point..where Jameis can finally show he;s the better QB and get that monkey off his back.

  22. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    So far as Jim Schwartz, I did not see what J0E saw. I saw a team that played poor defense much of the game, and only barely succeeded in the end. The Falcons moved the ball constantly. The Red Zone defense is what saved the Eagles, and that was only barely.

    Would Jim Schwartz have been a better DC for Tampa? I doubt it. Regardless of who the DC was, there would have still been a roster talent issue. The DC would still not have had the players he needed to succeed. HE still would have been stuck with a bad defensive line, a lazy DT (Baker) and Ward, among others.

    Smith was hampered with bad talent this year. Yes, Licht tried to address it in free agency, but he failed miserably. He needs to address it in the draft this year.

  23. darin Says:

    I couldnt agree more either. N all you guys saying its the “talent” are like chinese water torture that just wont end. Well in mike smiths “system” it is the talent. Thats why great coaches “adjust” their systems according to the talent. Of course the defense will be better with better defensive ends getting to the qb. But we now know IF that happens it wont be because of smith. So why in the world do we want a coach around in the future who we know is not gona make adjustments? If we get a few defensive ends that get us into playoffs great. Playoffs are a different beast. I sure as hell wont trust smith to game plan and adjust in the playoffs, say if he has to face off against payton, shurmur etc. Those coaches will chip the ends and throw screens, run draws…negate the ends. Whats smith gona do then wise guys? Weve seen it this whole year. He is gona do nothing. Game over. Now if we had Schwartz. Whew sign me up

  24. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    @Defense Rules

    Very well said.

  25. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    darin Says
    “Thats why great coaches “adjust” their systems according to the talent.”

    Not to pick on you, but you are mistaken, Darin.

    Even the best coaches cannot adjust to bad rosters. Imagine if Bill Belicheat had the roster of the very first Bucs team that went winless. Do you think he would have adjusted and had a winning season?

    Doesn’t work like that.

    A good coach takes GOOD players and adjusts his scheme to them. No coach can win with bad players, unless he has a very easy schedule…and even then they will struggle.

  26. BucEmUp Says:

    At this point I’ve been a broken record on this subject for two years now since Smith was hired. I’ll never forget hearing he was hired because he was literally THE WORST option for a defensive Coordinator.

    I am hoping very much that Licht finds a way to trade up…do what it takes to get two of the nastiest pass rushers in the draft and another in free agency. That way when the defense STILL sucks all these fans will finally realize that you can’t rush the passer when every WR on the field is wide open by 12 yards before the ball is even snapped.

    Guess this broken record is just gonna keep on spinning baby!

  27. Bob in Valrico Says:

    While I thought Eagles got away with a PI on the last play. The eagles did
    keep the game close and Atlanta’s offense was not in rhythm. they were also stout up the middle.
    Offensively they are a different team with Foles at QB.

  28. Architek Says:

    Joe we talked about this last year and on Twitter – my stomach turns whenever I see philly pass rush Just smother offenses.

    It’s like watching art when great defense is played.

    The alternative – the Bucs – is like watching Kindergarten kids play duck duck goose on defense!

  29. Eric Says:

    It’s disturbing because since the bucs routed the Eagles in philly the teams have gone in opposite directions.

    The jags, Eagles, Rams, bills, etc were all no better than us or worse.

    Yet they have progressed, and we have regressed.

    And they all accomplished this with new coaching staffs.

  30. Destinjohnny Says:

    With no talent it doesn’t matter who the coach is

  31. BrianBucs Says:

    Guys, there is a great article on ESPN RIGHT now about how the Vikings built the NFL’s #1 defense. It’s a good read

  32. Defense Rules Says:

    @Bonzai … “I want a Titans vs Buccaneers Superbowl at some point..where Jameis can finally show he;s the better QB and get that monkey off his back.” What I’m rooting for Bonzai is a Bucs-Titans Superbowl. THEN folks can make the Jameis-Marcus comparisons. ‘Course even then it’d be just one game. BTW, neither QB has yet shown the ability to carry their respective teams. Marcus won more this year because the Titans overall are a better T-E-A-M.

  33. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    Don’t know if they were guilty of interference on JJ but they clearly threw Sanu to the ground…hanging on him with a clear defensive holding penalty.

    I agree with Big Hog and D.R.

    I agree with Joe as well that Schwartz is a talented DC but he wouldn’t have gotten us to the playoffs with the talent on this team.

    Stroud does a breakdown of what he believes is missing for a real playoff run.
    A shutdown corner….a great DE…a solid running game with a great RB.

    We have no pass rush…no running game…but Brent Grimes has more ints in the last five years than the rest of the DB’s…he’s tied with Sherman. And this is a place I cannot defend Smitty. Why he didn’t have Grimes on JJ and back it up with a safety is beyond me. We could perhaps debate whether Grimes is a shutdown corner…but there is no doubt he is the closest thing we have to one.

  34. SB Says:

    Dick LeBeau had no answer to Tom Brady’s Dinking and Dunking last night.

  35. cmurda Says:

    Schwartz has always had great defenses save for when he was Head Coach of Detroit. At that time the Lions had a lot of money tied up in Calvin and had drafted for offense. Even then, the Lions defenses were serviceable. Instead the Glazers and Licht allowed Dirk to hire his buddy who was far less qualified. I’ve repeatedly said that Mike Smith has never had squat for a defense. All hands are thrown in the air for the Glazers hanging on to Smith and staying status quo for next year. D Coord’s are being fired for far better results than Smith’s putrid scheme and results. I was beating the drum for Schwartz. The Eagles just advanced to the NFCCG solely because of their defense. The Bucs aren’t cursed. They have failed to hire professionals that can assess talent and they have made stupid hire after stupid hire when great coaches have gone elsewhere. Unless Licht knocks this offseason out of the park and we have a winning record next year, Licht very well might follow Dirk and Smith out the door and deservedly so. We can all talk about the free agent failures but that happens to all GM’s. The only issue I take up with Licht is allowing Dirk to hire his buddy when Schwartz was the obvious choice. That’s a fireable offense in my book. Dirk has 1 more year to right the ship but so does Licht.

  36. Not there yet Says:

    Hand shake deal to get fired again for the rest of their careers. You don’t make those kinds of hand shake deals if you both see yourselves as head coach not coordinators. What a joke koetter clowns are.

  37. Wausa Says:

    Two of the last four seasons Mike Smith has coached his defenses finished last in the NFL.


    Is he still the defensive coordinator

  38. grafikdetail Says:

    and the eagles defense has not given up a TD in the final 2 minutes of a game all season… while the Bucs you pretty much know the team is gonna march down the field and score to win or tie the game

  39. MadMax Says:


  40. Westernbuc Says:

    Our GM neglecting the defense in the draft probably has a bit to do with our lack of success

  41. Fire Goodell Says:

    Remember when Mike Zimmer was passed over Greg Schiano? Now Zimmer is one game away from the Super Bowl in his own stadium.