Full Defensive Dismantling, Rebuilding & Teaching Change At One Buc Palace

May 17th, 2018

The juice was detailed today on the Ira Kaufman Podcast, via special guest Mark Duffner, the Bucs’ linebackers coach.

Duffner revealed that Mike Smith and the defensive staff didn’t take a status quo — aka status woe — approach to the defense and attacked change in an unique way this offseason.

Duffner explained that not only was the defense dissected and broken down to its very core elements, coaches started re-teaching it from scratch and players have been highly involved in the teaching process under coaches’ supervision.

That’s hardly typical from a veteran staff in Year 3 of its tenure with a team.

“We’ve re-committed to really establishing this defense from the ground up. We’ve really worked hard right now at kind of unraveling everything, starting all over, building it from the basement so that our foundation is strong and we go forward from there,” Duffner said.

“It’s been Coach Smith’s and the staff’s plan from the get-go [this year], and it really started with us. We took [the defense] apart in the offense and made sure that again, we were detailed in how we’re coaching, teaching and presenting techniques and scheme to our players. And then when the players came back, we started off in the classroom in Phase 1 of [spring conditioning]. And from the get-go, from a communication, an active participation of our players as we taught a defense, it wasn’t coach directing players writing and listening, which was part of it. But then [players] were part of it in terms of being able to demonstrate actively what their responsibility is in communication to one another in front of the group. A player went up and would be involved in installing the defense or saying what’s going on. So there was true ownership and investment as we were puttin’ in the defense step by step.”

There’s more from Duffner in the podcast linked above. And yes, Duffner acknowledged that this approach with the players represents real change from last year.

Man, Joe is so pumped up to hear that Smith and Koetter, as the defense is his ultimate responsibility, are not the kinds of guys to rest on big egos and believe that their system makes sense and only needed better players.

This is the essence of coaching. If it sucks, break it down, tear it down and build it back up with a fresh look and approach.

What a great sign. Frankly, it helped Joe sleep well last night. There are enough good defensive minds on the Bucs staff to pull this defense by the hair and turn it into at least an average unit.

32 Responses to “Full Defensive Dismantling, Rebuilding & Teaching Change At One Buc Palace”

  1. Dave Says:

    Well, it’s about time! How refreshing.

  2. Dewey Selmon Says:

    It sounds like they know their jobs on on the line. If only they can improve from 32nd to 16th, that should result in more wins.

  3. jmarkbuc Says:

    Wow, jobs must be on the line. It really took the coaching staff this long to figure this out?

    Let’s hope this isn’t just coach speak and they actually get something done. They can pat themselves on the back later.


  4. unbelievable Says:

    Let’s hope it works.

  5. Robert Says:

    sounds good, but you could look at as an admission of total failure on the coaches, and letting the players reign.

    but really, what choice do the coaches have. their toast if they fail.

    fingers crossed.

  6. Lamarcus Says:

    Forget what Buckner was preaching this has to be the best news from coaching all offseason long. Destroy and rebuild is music to my ears and definitely we will get the results

  7. The Buc Realist Says:

    Why do you continue to insult Joe and make things up. And why should Joe tolerate it.?–Joe Awareness is the first step towards change, joe!!! And we are proud that you admitted it!!!!!! Now admit that talk show host dominik was a terrible GM and put this whole “status whine” behind you!!!!!!! Talent was the main issue!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. jmarkbuc Says:

    What Robert said

    and Realist, get real. Even good (not necessarily great) coaching staffs can get results from players that aren’t necessarily elite talent. Certainly better than dead last.

    That’s what good (and great) coaching staffs do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Evolvingbucsfan Says:

    My mom used to tell me ” if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”. Great to hear that they are breaking the defense down to the basic level and rebuilding up from there with everyone being involved defensively, going in a different direction it seems and I feel optimistic in a Bucs fan reserved kinda way, lol.

  10. The Buc Realist Says:

    How was that an insult???? I think Joe is a great guy!!!!! I guess some can’t take a complement of overcoming prejudice of a wrong preconceived opinion!!!!!!! C’mon, there were layers of assumptions in what Joe deleted. –Joe
    (is that better?????)
    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Sounds like certain players were not willing to adapt to possible new schemes that were gonna be installed, wonder if one was a certain ALL WORLD player like 93 who wouldnt adjust to playing the 5 tech in the 3-4?

  12. SteveK Says:

    Loving all the coverage today, Joe.

    Can’t wait!

  13. Erik w/ Clean Athletics Says:

    I still don’t know why we ever went away the from the full interactive defensive meetings that were credited for our defensive dominance of the 2nd half of the 2016 season???!?

  14. Lou. Says:

    First, the fanbase — at least here at Joe ucsFan — has been way too negative on Smitty. Two years ago he was an important hire. Last year his re-signing was a highlight of the offseason. This year he is a dunce and a doofus. C’mon, kids, get your homer glasses off and look at reality.

    In 2016 the team had borderline talent. There had been no defensive players drafted for three years other than Kwon. Shoelaces and bubblegum held the team together after Week 5 — and the defense led the way in the playoff charge.

    In 2017 the injury bug wiped out the d-line. The l-b corps was also hurt. The back end, always weak, could not hold up. Talent, not scheme, let the team down. (And for those who want a bump-and-run man-to-man secondary just imagine VH3 getting smoked and how that would play on defensive stats).

    So, really, what kind of D does Smitty like to coach? How ‘bout two big tackles. How ‘bout fast d-ends and backers. How ‘bout interchangeable safeties.

    We can wish that the Bucs could turn around inone year. The Domenic roster and the Lovie/Licht free agent fiasco in 2014 set things way back and new defensive talent was hard to bring in while we reset the O. Now that there are some horses let’s see what this coaching staff can do. We can be skeptical but the 2016 product gives me, at least, hope —and expectation.

  15. Mike Johnson Says:

    You mean to tell me Our Dc Smith is actually going to do some coaching? Thats refreshing. I thought he only sat in the pressbox during games eatin twizzlers and guzzling coke. Guess he knows his job is on the line. Dam..its way past time!!

  16. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We haven’t had so many new players since…..since…..McClown & Ghost Johnson days….
    Maybe more now…just imagine.

    New Kicker
    New Center
    New RB
    New DT or 3
    New DE or 2
    New CB or 2
    New S (maybe)

    Our draft was good enough that I predict all 8 players will make the final 53.

    And there is extreme depth on the Dline….enough that barring his guaranteed salary Will Gholston would have trouble making this team.

  17. The Buc Realist Says:


    Come on,,, 1st of all, we both know that you are way to busy to worry about a “Realist Backhand Compliment”!!!!!!! f

    2nd, call it an layered assumption, prophecy, the truth, call it what you will, the facts will come out in the “Realist Repost”!!!!!!

    FYI, Much bucs talk today on NFL Radio the opening drive, from Rhonde hall of famer, to NFC south and Bucs Improvement!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Ptwalk Says:

    Sounds to me like the coaches new the scheme as it was being taught or run wasn’t wrking. That’s not a talent problem but a coaching or scheme problem. So they get a chance to start over.

  19. m0j0 Says:

    They have the talent now, so no excuses. We have seen flashes of what this defense can be like when they involve the players and get them communicating and understanding their responsibilities, so there is a better than even chance they turn this thing around and put together a very strong defensive effort.

  20. I’m a Tandyman Bucs Fan Says:

    Hey it’s tough hurting feelings by putting someone in someone else’s starting spot! But if it needs to be done it has to be done if your committed to winning!!! One of the toughest things I had to do during my Coaching days!!! Hope Smith really does have the Kahoonas to do it!!! If he plays favorites again like he did in 17 he and his Kahoonas are outta here babeeeee or should be outta here. Put the best 11 on the field man!!! Let’s win this year!!! We do have the talent.

  21. Hawaiian Buc Says:


    You don’t have any credibility with anything Bucs related when you spell Ronde’s name with a “H”. Seriously.

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “What a great sign. Frankly, it helped Joe sleep well last night. There are enough good defensive minds on the Bucs staff to pull this defense by the hair and turn it into at least an average unit.”

    This is the kind of article Joe that gets me pumped. Tired of reading article after article and comment after comment saying that Smitty & his staff ran the Bucs’ defense into the ground (OK, into #32 place). These are highly-experienced defensive coaches who’ve probably seen it all (well, at least after last year). Personally think that Smitty got a lot more out of this defense than our offensive coaching staff has gotten out of our offense.

    I was really excited to see that the Licht bulb finally went on & the Bucs’ powers-that-be decided to get back to our roots and build a staunch defense. Bucs have ALWAYS been a defensive team … throw in a decent offense and that’s when we’ve really kicked some ass. No excuses this year (well, barring major injuries to key players & providing that our rooks play up to their potential).

  23. Locked In Says:

    To the pit of misery!

  24. Trench War Says:

    It will be interesting to see if Smitty will incorporate a scheme that takes advantage of the strengths of his newly revamped defensive line and trust his secondary to play closer to the line. Last year it was pretty evident that Smitty seemed to have his defense play what seemed like prevent the big play defense, rather than be aggressive. These new acquisitions may instill more confidence in coach Smith. Let’s hope so.

  25. BucEmUp Says:

    Sounds to me like the coaches think the players didn’t understand the defense and now they will be tearing it down only to try and teach them the exact same system in different ways.

    Starting from scratch just to try and do the exact same thing will result in another 32nd ranked defense. .

    Hope I’m wrong but it sure smells lime that’s what is going on in there

  26. jmarkbuc Says:

    Wouldn’t appear that the D staff taught much of any defense over the last two years…well except for the 10 yd off, watch the receiver run by you, coverage and the matador run defense..

    NOW we’re gonna teach defense…imagine that.

    Hell I’d be happy if they just taught sound, fundamental tackling

  27. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    John Cooper is perhaps the best coach in the NHL right now. His team won the most games and are in the midst of the Eastern Conference Finals.

    His team is loaded…but when they fell behind two games to none to the Caps Cooper changed up his top two lines moving players to different spots. That took thinking outside the box…cojones to try the move…and a buyin from his team to pull it off.

    I’m glad Smitty and Duffner are going through this exercise. The Lightning missed the playoffs last year and were totally embarrassed. The revamped in the off season starting with the coaching staff and their approach.

    They are playing for a conference title right now. I’d love to see the Bucs play for the NFC Championship in ’18.

  28. echase Says:

    bla bla bla,,, talk is cheap. we will see Oct 14th in Atlanta.

  29. Issic haggins Says:

    Low and behold , some excellent posters on here do know exactly what they are talkin about !!!

    It took Light and professional coaches 2 years what posters knew from watching the Falcons twice a year !!! Licht Seriously !!!! ,,,,,, Come ON MAN !!!!!! 100 percent on you !!! Two wasted years , 100 percent on YOU !!!

    Contrary to your belief , GM s do allot more that evaluate college players and draft !!! Your going to allow a third year of it !!! Dude do your dam job and quit holding fans, players careers and owners value hostage to protect friendships !!! It’s an open book test and you have been given the answers for two years , allot more if you include the Falcons !!! I also don’t wanna here any Jacksonville crap he had the two biggest baddest d tackles in football !!!

  30. Owlykat Says:

    Hopefully Smitty is also listening to Buckner and revamping his defense accordingly. Passive defense and playing zone to stop a deep score and then forcing the offense to use more plays and hoping they make a mistake does not work. The Buc’s need an aggressive defense that disrupts the timing of the offense and knocks down passes, keeps the QB off balance, punches out footballs, stops the run, makes the offense one dimensional, and has playmakers to intercept the ball and create short fields, shuts down the biggest scorers, confuses the offense by disguising coverages, and blitz occasionally and and stops first downs, and uses platooning up front so the defense is fresh in the fourth quarter, and studied film so they can anticipate plays, and have good communication and play as a team. Lets get it done this year!!!

  31. Bucsfan951 Says:

    YO REALIST! Hit me up with another one of those narcissistic reposts again!!! (And not the one of you pissing off joe!)

  32. Horse Liver Says:

    Why not last year? Smitty — after getting blowed out in Arizona, why the hell didn’t you do this then??????