“Honestly, I’m Not Even Sure”

July 4th, 2019

A former Buccaneer weighs in on the collapse of the defense

JoeBucsFan.com intern

It was one of the few times in the last decade that it was good to be a Bucs fan.

The team had won 6 of its last 8 games to finish the 2016 season with a 9-7 record. Meaningful games were played in December and the team looked to be on the rise.

Mike Smith decided to return as defensive coordinator instead of pursuing another chance to be a head coach, and the city of Tampa rejoiced.

Boy, what a year a difference made.

Fast forward to the end of 2017. The team fell to 5-11 and people were calling for the heads of Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith. But nothing changed.

Fast forward another year and everyone was left scratching their heads as to why Smith was retained, and then why he wasn’t fired sooner when the 2018 Bucs defense got off to a historically bad start.

The fans don’t know how it could have happened so quickly, and apparently neither do the players.

One hero of that 2016 defensive turnaround was safety Keith Tandy. He had four interceptions in the final five games during the Bucs’ quest for a playoff berth. When asked this week what happened with Smith after that amazing 2016 run, Tandy had this to say.

“Honestly, I’m not even sure,” Tandy explained. “I just, that’s the crazy thing about football, like you don’t really even know why. Like if we knew why, then we would fix it and we all would still be there and we would win multiple Super Bowls, but I’m not really sure.”

Keep in mind that Tandy is a very cerebral guy who hopes to be an NFL coach one day, and even he can’t understand the Smith implosion.

Tandy was cut by the Bucs in September and landed in Atlanta, which cut him in December. He said he’s training to continue playing, but he’s also attending coaching clinics and working his contacts in the game.

It truly is unbelievable how quickly the flip switched on the Bucs defense. Surely, adding pieces like Chris “Swaggy” Baker did nobody any favors. In fact, one could argue that adding locker room cancers like himself and Desean Jackson are reasons for the collapse.

Still, the team, and the defense looked to be on the rise going into that 2017 season, with a young core to compete for playoff berths for years to come.

Then the winning vanished once again. Smith and Dirk Koetter were left to blame.

How did it happen? Not even the players know for sure.

23 Responses to ““Honestly, I’m Not Even Sure””

  1. Todd Says:

    After re-watching Hard Knocks last week with some 20/20 hindsight, it was very clear to me why there was an implosion. The Peter Principle kicked in full-on with Smith (especially). He’s a buffoon.

  2. BucEmUp Says:

    That five game stretch of wins was a fluke. The Bucs were a joke and they capitalized on very poor and sloppy play from the other team. The true product of that system was before and after that five game stretch. It was never anything more than a fluke…it was a combination of luck and the opposing team being over confident and playing sloppy. That why it never happened before that and hasn’t happened since. Its coaching. Its not Jameis, its not the players its coaching. The least prepared, and most predicable squad in the nfl falls on coaching.

  3. BA FAN Says:

    Letting Tandy go after he had all those interceptions was one reason! Our turnovers then dropped like an anchor on our Buc’s ship! Tandy was the top special teamer too. Now that Tandy is out there without a team and BA wants instant improvement to our special teams give Tandy a one year contract and bring him back and let him teach our CBs and Safeties how to study film and get ready to up their interceptions. When he retires hire Tandy as a CB Coach to start his Coaching career. BA is all into training future Coaches to keep the Bucs as competitive when he finally retires for good so I hope he will bring Tandyman under his wing.

  4. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    How did it happen??

    It’s the perfect example of the Peter Principle*

    The Glazer Boys were elevated to a job level that they were not suited for and thus, incompetence and failure are the norm.

    Dirk Koetter was promoted to head coach. He was a competent OC but never could succeed as a HC.

    Mike Smith is an anomaly, he was a head coach, did ok, but was demoted to DC. Did all right and then, the game passed him by.

    *Observation that in an hierarchy people tend to rise to “their level of incompetence.” Thus, as people are promoted, they become progressively less-effective because good performance in one job does not guarantee similar performance in another. Named after the Canadian researcher Dr. Laurence J. Peter (1910-90) who popularized this observation in his 1969 book ‘The Peter Principle.’

    Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/Peter-principle.html

  5. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    Spot on BucEmUp… I remember that Saints game, and afterwards thinking that was an absolute illusion. It was like that girl that I’ve wanted for so long but always ignored me finally took me home, rocked my world and then never spoke to me again.
    That 2017 season was the most disappointed I’ve ever been as a Bucs fan. Brutal.

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “How did it happen? Not even the players know for sure”. Horsepuckey Joe; losing isn’t accidental. Coaches did their part. The Bucs’ defense did its part. The Bucs’ offense … and Jameis … did their part. Bucs’ S/Ts contributed … very little.

    All I had to do was scan the 2017 season and the ‘WHY’s’ jump out, but they’re often different in each game. Some games the defense stunk it up & couldn’t hold a lead. Some games the offense stunk it up, and some games the S/Ts stunk it up. Some games ALL THREE stunk it up. Losing isn’t accidental. Some people look for EXCUSES; others look for REASONS. Well, the REASONS jump out IF you look for them.

    BTW, Fitz started 3 games that season (won 2, lost 1) & relieved in 3 others and we were losing in all 3 when he did (almost won 1 … Arizona). Jameis was up & down (inconsistent) in the games he started, and played hurt in several (didn’t help the team much by doing so). Bottom line though still reads the same on the season … 5-11 record and cellar-dweller honors in the NFC South.

  7. Cobraboy Says:

    I was one of those who thought to keep Smith was an excellent move.

    I was badly wrong.

  8. ben Says:

    fans blame Smith but i believe Licht should take the fall for bad management and bad players..WHY is he still here?? no money and a bad team is a joke!

  9. Buccfan37 Says:

    Smith was riding high with many Buc fans for a spell there. Then he got on the slide lined with razor blades and was quickly ejected into obscurity.

  10. unbelievable Says:

    I can’t remeber who it was, maybe Louis Riddick, but someone was on tv shortly after that 2016 season talking about the Bucs defense… in particular our 3rd down defense.

    They said that they expected us to be much worse in 2017, because we werent good enough on 1st and 2nd downs, and that playing strong defense on 3rd down only was not a sustainable method.

    Didn’t really make sense to me at the the time, but they sure were right.

  11. Magadude Says:

    Speaking of him…I’d not mind them bringing either Keith Tandy and/or Adarius Taylor (I knew him as “Glanton,” he and his family…very nice folks) back in.

    I know it’s all about results and both were hot and cold in that regard, but I think worthy of being depth and special teams players. If Keith is available, would be nice to keep tabs on him, especially if someone goes down. One the greatest plays in (I think it was ’16) was Tandy’s pick of Brees to seal the win at home. It was the type of game we are all too familiar with…where there’s a narrow lead and we lose in the last minutes.

  12. Magadude Says:

    @ben…I think they both needed to go…and Licht is still hear only because he managed to pull in Arians. Common belief is that Licht will be here as long as Arians is. I don’t agree at all. If the Bucs don’t improve this year with arrows pointing up at the end of the season, Licht will be gone and it won’t matter what Arians says. In fact, good chance the Glazers give Arians more “formal” control (we know right now he’s de facto in control). Arians has to fun a football team (oh, for a little bit) but the Glazers own and have to run the business and are responsible for the team longer term.

  13. Destinjohnny Says:

    I’ll solve the mystery for you
    Worst pass rush talent in football
    One good linebacker the rest below average
    Worst secondary talent in the league.
    Mystery solved

  14. BucEmUp Says:

    If it hasbeen talent for all.og these years why do Mike Smith and Lovie Smith drae zero interest from one single team for ANY position? NOT EVEN AN INTERVIEW!!!!!!!


  15. Destinjohnny Says:

    So who are these great players?

  16. Joe Says:

    If it hasbeen talent for all.og these years why do Mike Smith and Lovie Smith drae zero interest from one single team for ANY position? NOT EVEN AN INTERVIEW!!!!!!!


    And Lovie probably has U-Hauls on reserve for December.

  17. Bucsfanman Says:

    Somewhere, the Tandyman is smiling!

  18. rhenry Says:

    Author Blank probably paid both of them off.

  19. Getaclue Says:

    Absolutely love that idea with Tandy BA FAN.

  20. Bucnjim Says:

    Tandy is not going to give you anything but a politically correct answer. Really you’re telling me you have no idea what happened? I can watch a high school team for a couple years from the bleachers and give you an educated guess as to what went wrong. Most ex players will never throw others under the bus! They have to see each other at events and ceremonies so won’t happen. Beckles isn’t always right but have to hand it to him he’s right more than he’s not.

  21. I’m a Tandyman Bucs Fan Says:

    Told you guys 2 years ago!!! Smith was a Dumbass for not playing Tandy after what he did in 2016 those last 7 games!!! The thing to do after the way the organization did him is to bring him back and start him at Safety for as long as he can hold his own, cause I guarantee he is. as good as they have got on their roster now. Let him teach the young Bucs how to be a pro!! Then hire him as a Secondary Coach!! He is sharp, Disciplined and a great Teacher!! Hope Bucco Bruce is the winner everyone says!! He would be wise to Hire Tandy as he also is a winner!!!

  22. I’m a Tandyman Bucs Fan Says:

    What up Bucsfanman my Man!!! Miss you Brother!!

  23. Brandon Says:

    I for one, publicly stated that I wanted Smith to get a HC gig after 2016. I never thought he was much as a DC and the implosion wasn’t a surprise at all. The dude was in Atlanta for all that time with good to great offenses but couldn’t get it done because of his horrible defenses despite the fact that he was a coach from a defensive background. He never should’ve been hired.