Mike Smith: “Heat-seeking Missile”

September 26th, 2018

Jordan Whitehead talks about his new opportunity.

Joe loves that the Bucs will start a 21-year-old safety and a 23-year-old safety on Sunday in Chicago.

Let the young guys bring their fire and athleticism.

With fan favorite Chris Conte on injured reserve, it’s a given that rookie Jordan Whitehead, 21, will keep rolling in the job, as he did all through the Bucs’ shutout of the Steelers in the second half on Monday night.

Today, Joe asked defensive coordinator Mike Smith to compare and contrast the games of Whitehead and Conte.

“Well, he doesn’t have the experience of Chris [Conte]. That’s the first thing. We got to get him up to speed as quickly as possible,” Smith said.

“He is a heat-seeking missile in terms of going after the ball. That’s one of the things that he does very well. You know, if you had to say, is he a traditional free safety or strong safety, you would tend to say he’s more like a strong safety. He’s a guy that can really track the ball in the run game and when he gets to you, he’s gonna wallop you with a good punch. That’s one of the things that I think’s his strength He’s sudden. He doesn’t probably have the length that Chris has. But it’s his opportunity, you know, his opportunity to step up and go out and play. I’m anxious to see him play. He stepped up in the game the other night and did a nice job in the second half.”

Joe loves the move to Whitehead. He’s proven he can hit and tackle at this level, and he seems to be learning very quickly. Joe thinks Whitehead could be a clear upgrade to Conte after a few more games of experience.

Joe talked to Whitehead today about his new opportunity.

First, Whitehead went out of his way to thank Conte for his help through the season. Class move.

Whitehead said while he is still learning the Bucs defense, he feels very comfortable. Whitehead added he was still learning in his college defense when he left the University of Pittsburgh, so learning is always an ongoing, daily process for him.

However, Whitehead said he likes what he’s done so far with the Bucs, “playing fast, playing physical, playing hard, doing what I gotta do, just my job, not doing too much.”

Joe likes Whitehead’s game and believes his energy and hitting could be just what this defense needs to kick it up a notch.

30 Responses to “Mike Smith: “Heat-seeking Missile””

  1. AlteredEgo Says:

    2018 DB Draft Class is off to an unbelievable start…. to have 2 rookie DB is scary, but these 3 don’t seem intimidated at all. The communications between a second year guy and three rookies is something to marvel at….at great story… I hope I’m not jinxing anything!

  2. Afrika The Rapper Says:

    Great news. Now let’s go out and whip up on those Bears. Go ‘Bucs !!!

  3. DooshLaRue Says:

    Sounds like Smith has a Conte Crush.

  4. Pickgrin Says:

    The youth movement is fully engaged in the defensive backfield.

    3 rookies and a 2nd year player comprise 4/5ths of our starters.

    All are showing promise – especially Evans and Davis.

    Hopefully Grimes gets back to his usually reliable self soon because Monday night was one of the worst games I’ve ever seen him play. Brent was basically a liability out there on too many plays – especially when we were trying to stop the run…

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “Whitehead went out of his way to thank Conte for his help through the season. Class move.” At first I assumed that you meant Conte helping Whitehead was a classy thing to do. And I thought ‘Wow, what a nice thing to write.’ Then I thought better; not Joe’s style. You obviously meant that it was a class move on Whitehead’s part to thank Conte for his help. My bad.

    I love that our (very) young Secondary is getting so much experience this early in the season. I’m confident that it’ll pay dividends later on this year. Evans (yr 2), Whitehead (rookie), Davis (rookie), MJ Stewart (rookie) and Grimes (old man) … wow, what a combo. Funny thing was, watching the Steelers game I felt that Grimes came back too soon (he got burnt more than once). Would rather have had Ryan Smith in rather than see Brent pull that hammy again & be out for several weeks next time. And with only one real DT (GMC) healthy right now to pressure the QBs, that young Secondary will really be tested over these next several weeks. I feel better though knowing that Scapegoat Smitty and his defensive assistant coaches can’t develop young corners or safeties. (Oops, there’s that danged sarcasm font again).

  6. AlteredEgo Says:

    “Smitty and his defensive assistant coaches can’t develop young corners or safeties. (Oops, there’s that danged sarcasm font again).”

  7. 813bucboi Says:

    I say go with the youth movement in the secondary……davis, smith evans and whitehead…..


  8. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    That’s why Whitehead is so good right now. Because he DOESN’T know the Smith defense yet. once he does, he will go to CRAP!

  9. Hodad Says:

    I’m happy to see anybody but Conte back there. However Joe, watch what you wish for, do you have faith in Hoke, and Smith coaching these youngsters up? I don’t. Here’s a question I’d like you to ask Smith. Why can’t he figure out a way to keep Q.B.’s from completing 78% of their pass attempts? One play in particular the shallow cross. Tight ends, and wideouts are killing us with that play, and Smith can’t find a way to stop it. Why Joe, why?

  10. lambchop Says:


    I’m waiting on Kendall Beckwith to come back and help that LB core get at those TEs and RBs. Best LB tandem in the league.

  11. lambchop Says:

    Sorry, best LB triplets in the league.

  12. King C Says:

    To think people thought the defense would improve when Mike Smith was hired.
    The same guy who started Chris Conte for years until a brutal stiff arm ended Conte’s career on live national TV.
    I was never convinced, and I believe it’s the players that make the most difference over coaching.
    Get better players!
    The question that needs to be asked about J. Whitehead is who will replace him if he gets injured?

  13. unbelievable Says:

    So based on that statement from Mike Smith, I’m going to guess he’ll have Whitehead by himself against their #1 WR for about 40% of the game.

    I kid, I kid… sorta.

  14. Brett Says:

    Hey guys… Bucs D tied for 31st in the league. Offense is going better. Best ever in Bucs history if you excuse the lack of the running back in the game. definitely not sustainable. May get some wins.

  15. Architek Says:

    The bar is not very high with Mike Smith’s track record in Tampa. I like this kid and I hope one day we can have a defense that is on par with what our offense brings.

  16. Rod Munch Says:

    Hope he can get out there and perform, but keep in mind safety is probably the toughest position for a rookie to learn, and rarely do rookies come in and look great right away. Justin Evans did a pretty good job however and hopefully that rubs off on Whitehead, but people need to be realistic with their expectations.

  17. adam from ny Says:

    mistake to let tandy go…he could kinda coach from the inside in a sense, as a player…he can ooze his experience on the rooks…unfortunately as i said he would go to hotlanta after their injury – and he did- and will trickle his game knowledge, and knowledge of the bucs, on those mucky birds

  18. LakeLand Says:

    Derwin James

    19 Tackles, 15 Solo tackles
    1 INT
    2 Sacks
    4 Pass Defense

    Vita Vea

  19. Godeep66 Says:

    We worked out Breeland last week and he signed with the Packers today. Word on the street is that he did not get the warm and fuzzy when meeting with M Smith. He probably had a burger in one hand and a milk shake in the other when they met.

  20. BringBucsBack Says:

    Scotty in Fat- Yup!

  21. SOEbuc Says:

    The truth that so many have said finally comes out. Mike Smith keeps Conte as starter for three years because he has experience in the league. And lots of experience s-ing the D as a player.

  22. SOEbuc Says:


    Stop b!tching about Derwin James. It’s over with. You have no clue what Vea will look like when he can get some time in.We have three rookie DBs that have all started to look more impressive with each game. FSU fans we’re crying when we got OJ over Cook last year. OJ is one of the most athletic TE in the league and is looking amazing right now. Cook snapped his leg game 3 and now he’s injured again. Let it go.

  23. BucEmUp Says:

    The best thing that Mike Smith can do is not get him up to speed. D ONT even talk to whitehead, don’t teach him anything that you think you know do even get close enough to smell it if he farts in a room..He will only ruin him and that w ONT take long

  24. BigMacAttack Says:

    Hey Joe, did you send Vonte flowers? jk

  25. BigMacAttack Says:

    *Conte. Dang AC

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Mike Smith: “Heat-seeking Missile” Great mike Smith has someone that can hit and tackle because he sure doesn’t care much about passes defensed. A mike smith press conference is reminiscent of Lovie smith, hard to watch and little to no substance. The guy can talk for 10 minutes and say nothing

  27. Rod Munch Says:

    adam from ny – Yeah, was really dumb to let Tandy go considering how poor the depth was at the position and Tandy’s track record of being an adequate starter. Certainly Tandy is older, but this is like when they let Bradley McDougald walk, again, just a dumb idea many of us said at the time was a dumb idea. McDougald meanwhile has been a solid starter for the Seahawks while the Bucs rolled out Chris Conte.

  28. unbelievable Says:

    ^ Yup

  29. Brad Says:

    He’ll have a lot of room to be a “heat sealing missle” for all the WRs that catch 80% of balls thrown.

  30. Dapostman Says:

    I’ve mentioned the 1981 49’ers and their 3 starting rookie DB’s before. They won the SB that year so it can happen with rookies in the secondary. Once you get to the last 3 or 4 games these guys aren’t really rookies anymore. Especially if they have been playing all year. Go Bucs!

    #Get After It!