Breaking Down Bucs Defense

June 10th, 2019

Lifting the veil.

Mike Smith should not be allowed near a football field again.

Of any sort.

Not NFL. Not XFL. Not college. Not high school. Not Pop Warner. None. Never again. Ever.

What the disgraced former Bucs defensive coordinator did (or more to the point: didn’t do) is a complete and total embarrassment to any coach trying to claw himself up the coaching ladder by his knuckles. If Team Glazer was Al Davis, Smith would (should?) have been fired for cause and had the remaining monies of his contract withheld.

So with that in mind, the Bucs defense should improve. Joe maintains the Bucs defense was so horrible last year that it could again be the worst in the NFL this fall and still improve.

Yes, it was that bad.

Recently, jet-flyin’, kiss–stealin‘, data-analyzin’, Bucs-film-studyin’, limousine-ridin’ Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times caught up with former Bucs defensive back Donnie Abraham, who recently coached with the Orlando Apollos of the now deceased AAF. There, Abraham coached under defensive coordinator Bob Sanders, who ran Bowles’ style of defense. Sanders once was Bowles’ linebackers coach with the Cardinals.

Abraham tells Bassinger he is very bullish on what Todd Bowles will do for the Bucs. The flexibility of the defense is what Abraham likes.

“It looks like something, but when the ball is snapped, it’s something different,” he said. “It’s always changing. You can have one call in this defensive scheme, and it can be played five different ways. It takes a minute before the offense figures it out.”

Abraham went on to explain why the Bucs went so heavy drafting in the secondary this spring despite having bigger needs at pass rush and running back. Corners must be able to cover in press coverage or they could get hung out to dry badly, Abraham suggested.

(This backs up what Joe has presumed all along: That after watching tape, Bowles likely went to Bucco Bruce Arians and Bucs’ AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht and said there was no way his defense could compete with the talent on hand.)

It’s a very good in-depth piece by Bassinger where he breaks down how each new member of the Bucs’ secondary fits in Bowles’ defense and Abraham explains what each players’ likely responsibility will be.

Will the defense be better? Joe’s willing to put cash down it will. Will it be better quick enough for the Bucs to have a winning season? Joe is dubious about that.

However, Smith, to Joe’s knowledge, is hundreds of miles away from One Buc Palace. That is an advantage.

31 Responses to “Breaking Down Bucs Defense”

  1. kyle Says:

    Just want to thank the Joe’s for all of the buc coverage you provide. This is my go to for Buccaneer news. I love the banter in the posts and appreciate all the hard work you guys do to keep an out-of-state bucs fan, in the loop!

    Cant wait for training camp!

  2. Fartman Says:

    I mean… it can’t get any worse. I can understand the hyperventilating about the talent on the defensive line not being upgraded, and it would be nice if it had. However, if you watched that Bears game, they were running around like they didn’t know what they were doing… and the Bears aren’t exactly the greatest show on turf. I have to believe subpar athletes put in the right position is better than subpar athletes running around as if on an old electronic football field. I think competent coaching could dramatically improve the defense.

  3. Jonathan Limpchimpi Says:

    Abraham was an excellent Buc…underrated player who was a part of the insurgence. Glad he likes what they plan to do on defense. Glad to see Joe call Mike Smith out for the lousy coach he became. That lucky 5 game win streak fooled us all…me especially.

  4. joshbucsfan Says: u recall week 1 vs saints when bucs were steam rolling them, up 3 TD’s, then hargraves got hurt nd saints began scoring at will..not to mention vernon forced fumble tht got returned for TD..i get it’s a very small sample size…but should definitely be food for thought at the least..

  5. GetOverIt Says:

    Joe has alluded to behind-the-scenes stories of blatant incompetence by Mike Smith. Those kind of things would be fascinating to read about.

  6. JA Says:

    During his tenure as the head coach of the Falcons, Mike Smith became the franchise’s winningest coach by number of wins in addition to being the recipient of the 2008 NFL Coach of the Year Award by the Associated Press and was also voted NFL Coach of the Year Award by the Sporting News three different times 2008, 2010 and 2012. “Mike Smith-American football coach,” Wikipedia.

    If I remember correctly, many Bucs fans were crowding the pews of their local worshiping centers, asking for divine assistance to keep him in Tampa after 2016 when it was rumored that he might find employment elsewhere.

    Interesting how two bad years can ruin a man’s career …
    Be careful what ye pray for. It might get answered …

  7. K2 Says:

    The Bucs only strategy was to try to keep their opponents from scoring on every play. Probably some toxic stuff leftover from the basement strategy. Play from the end zone….try to tackle them before they cross the goal line (bend until the other team scores). Keep opposing teams to under 100 points a game. So, the strategy worked just like the game plan. No 100 point games were permitted!!!!!

    I can’t wait to see the tremendous improvement under Todd Bowles…an NFL defense.

  8. Pickgrin Says:

    “Its a new day in Tampa Bay….”

    There’s an appropriate blast from the past slogan (from the Wyche era I believe) that certainly applies to the here and now. Especially regarding the Buccaneers Defense!

    After suffering through 5 straight seasons of Soft as Charmin Defensive scheming under Lovie and Smitty’s careful guidance (ah-hem) – Bucs fans will be treated to watching an Aggressive style of Defensive play for as long as Todd Bowles is here.

    The Bucs will blitz and blitz often.

    There could be 4 coming – there could be 7 coming. From any position group and any pre-snap spot on the field.

    Olinemen and QBs and OCs HATE that…..

    Oh – and in-game adjustments are back on table too… LOL

  9. 813bucboi Says:


    smitty is “inept”…..

    use his title wisely…..

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  10. DB55 Says:

    No 100 point games were permitted!!!!!
    Only bc the Bears let up in the third quarter.

  11. Howard Cosell Says:

    Koetter and Smith:
    An offensivew coordinator and his good-ol-boy buddy
    except the buddy had completely lost it and got a free pass
    from Koetter

    Who enabled that kind of dysfunction anyway?
    Lol next thing you know they’ll enable nepotism
    …ok wait!…….Lovie had that too!

    Mam! These owners must really care less or just be
    completely inept at management, right?

  12. K2 Says:

    We had the inversion of that last year. We made plays look different, but they were all the same. That really confused everyone…only one defensive play but out of different looks. That simplified the Tampa 2 into two plays…defense alignment and extra point alignment)

  13. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Kind of crazy we picked 2 different prior head coaches that were over the hill when it came to their approach to defense and the modern NFL (lovie & mike smith).

    Hopefully this isn’t strike 3.

    I believe in BA and his staff moreso than the last.

    I had hope in Lovie Smith working because I believed in Jameis Winston, and figured Lovie would be all-in on the defense, so if he could get the defense to be better than average, that’d be a formula for winning (Jameis Winston + an above average defense). It was proven that the game has passed Lovie by tho and he had no plans for the offense.

    I had hope in Dirk + Smitty, because I liked Dirk’s candidness as a coach and thought he at least seemed to be more accountable as a coach. I didn’t like Smitty’s personality in the Hard Knocks for the Falcons tho. His teams were known as soft and he felt fake to me with his whole shtick on being tough that year. I just didn’t buy it. But I had hope that as a pure DC he’d be succesful.

    2016 this actually looked to be playing out… Jameis Winston + not great weapons+ average D + bottom 5 kick game + Bottom 5 run game = winning record. That’s how important defense is.

    I figured if they could just get any sort of run game, and improve teh D from just average to above average, or get a better kicker, or the improved weapons, would be nough to take a 9 win team and make it a consistent contendor.

    Problem was the D regressed back to horrific levels, and Smitty was retained again.

    Meanwhile Koetter continually produced offenses that were top 5 or 10 in yardage but only average in scoring.

    These staffs have sucked and sucked hard for us.

    At least BA has never come off as fake, actually is a b4d 4ss with a great resume as both an OC and coach, and has his fingerprints on the entire team – not just one side of the ball.

    Can’t say the above about Rah/Schiano/Lovie/Dirk

    GO BUCS!

  14. Boogie Says:

    Bob Sanders was an absolute beast for the Colts before injuries robbed his career

  15. Howard Cosell Says:

    Lord Cornelius
    Ironic that BA’s first big move was to run off McCoy and then give his jersey to Suh Lol…..I mean that tells you several things:
    1.) The owners enabled a bad attitude as the face of their franchise probably because he was low maintenance. A technically good player with no heart and the mind of a sixteen year old.
    2.) The BA thing is for real. It’s obvious that he’s been given absolute authority ….which (dare I say it) is good!

    Lol I still laugh about the JBF commenter who said
    “Arians smelled that out like an old bull” Lol

  16. 813bucboi Says:

    the only field smitty should be allowed on is a mine field!!!!!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!

  17. Lord Cornelius Says:


    I think we can for sure point at the owners and the general power structure for failing this fan base.

    Whether it be in their general plan regarding personnel like McCoy or stuff like that, or the lack of having any plan, or the GM’s they hired, or the coaches/GM staffs & structures they put together, etc. They have failed us hard for a while now.

    That’s why I hope that BA is taking the whole thing over and even putting the Glazer boys in their place if that’s what it takes lol.

  18. wausa Says:


    The Bucs defense the last three years reminded me of an eloquent quote from the great Patches O’houlihan from The American Classic Movie Dodgeball.

    “It’s like watching a bunch of ret—- trying to hump a doorknob’

  19. Howard Cosell Says:

    You have to admit that Schiano could rock a defense though.

    I always liked Schiano….and truthfully Raheem is a great coach (not a HC)…and Koetter is a great OC (not a head coach)………Lovie had no redeeming qualities other than he was a nice guy

  20. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I was done with Schiano pretty early. Just something about him rubbed me the wrong way. Cartoon like character lol. And I can never get over him thinking that half time was just for going to the bathroom vs making any adjustments.

    We literally averaged like 6 points per game under Schiano in the 2nd halves of games lol. It was one of my early JBF stat dives. His D was decent 1 season out of 2 at least.

    The 2010 team was a huge fluke if you go back and look at it. Historically weak schedule compared to what we’ve been playing with in the NFC South of 2015-2019

  21. Joe Says:


    Kind of crazy we picked 2 different prior head coaches that were over the hill when it came to their approach to defense and the modern NFL (lovie & mike smith).

    Hopefully this isn’t strike 3.

    That very thought crossed Joe’s mind. Instead of an up-and-coming young DC, the Bucs went former head coach mode.


    Good one!

  22. Joe Says:


    Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated!

  23. Slugglife Says:

    Well good thing we’ve gotten that weak schedule thing out of the way.

  24. RustyRhinos Says:

    Great to hear wisdom and praise for the future from one of my Favorite Buccaneer players. Future Ring of Honor recepiant? Didn’t know about him coaching with the Apollos. Have to go back and re watch some of those games. Hope one of the new DB’s or any DB can come close to Abrams success for us, he was a baller. Felt bad he missed the Superbowl with us.
    His assessment sounds promising of both DC game plan, and projection of our new drafted DB’S in this system. Excited for Training Camp
    Go Bucs!

  25. Succaneers Says:


  26. NOSBOS Says:

    Looky looky,there’s a Sucka.Near..

  27. BucEmUp Says:

    Hey JA,

    When Mike Smith coached Atlanta, he had an electric offense and a power running game with Michael Turner. Year in year out the one thing that lepy them down from going to the chamionshios and suoerbowls was their horrid defense. Smiths teams won because of special teams, offense and lack of penalties. They lost games because their defemse sucked. He hot fired because the defemse sucked. He never stepped in a fixed the defense because HE sucks..His assistants coaches and coordinators did an excellent job other than the defnese..

    Yes.many fans wanted smith to stay, but some of us knew it was the start of a dumpster fire the day he was hired.

  28. Br luceletdadogsloose Says:

    I 💯 what Kyle says Joe’s…I definitely don’t always agree with you especially.about friggen GMC and hope to never hear his ugly name on this site again but I definitely agree with 1st poster on here in Kyle when we say you guys THANK YOU so much for constantly providing us with excitement in bucs coverage and reading material about our team..I am 1050 miles away from where I grew up in Seminole Florida Pinellas county and have been stuck in Canton Ohio trying for years to have everyday bucs in my life ! Once I found you guys and this site , I go on it at least 5 times throughout the day and I even take the phone right out of my lil munchkins hands when I think you guys have posted something new…lately I really have been enjoying the posts and can’t get enough in depth news from y’all about everything going on lately..GREAT GREAT STUFF !..I have a really good feeling that this year once the season starts is going to be exciting like no other in a long long time ! Last time I was this excited was the 2003 season where I felt we had a.really.good shot at defending our chaps trophy to repeat…go bucs y’all and some of you need to stop being so damn negative Nancy on here !

  29. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    Having Smith come back for year 3 was a criminal offense to us fans

  30. Lord Cornelius Says:


    Just saw this reply – but this was one of the main reasons I was all in on Kris Richards if it wasn’t going to be Bruce Arians.

    Hopefully Bowles is not a deja vu vu.

    GO BUCS!

  31. Jackpc1 Says:

    Joe is right. Bucs D could improve and due to strength of schedule and very young inexperienced players, the team can have a worse year by Wins and Loses. I am not getting any younger, I miss when winning was fun.