Dramatic Change

August 10th, 2020

“Mike, I had to gameplan against the Bucs defense last year. Why was their pass defense so much better than when you coached them?”

One reason the Bucs were so horrible during the Lost Decade? The pass defense had to overcome The Smiths.

No, Joe’s not talking about the alt rock/new wave band of the 1980s,”The Smiths.” It was awful music but not quite as awful as the football coaching offered (or not offered) by The Smiths of Bucs coaching infamy; Lovie and Mike.

As you will hear in the next podcast from internationally popular Ira Kaufman, Lovie Smith was perhaps the worst NFL coach Joe has come across when it came to player evaluation. He was fully inept. Joe is convinced a Tampa Bay area high school coach could judge talent better.

Joe is rock solid in his belief Lovie set this Bucs franchise back years. The team seemingly has finally crawled out of the hole he dug them for them.

This is not to excuse how many careers of young defensive backs Mike Smith may have ruined. Just look at the young talent he had to work with, and they’ve been left on the trash heap of Bucs football history.

Vernon Hargreaves actually got worse from his rookie season. That’s a sure sign of playing for a butcher of a coach. Recently released M.J. Stewart got jerked around from corner to safety to nickel corner to, well, released. Ryan Smith went from a promising talent at corner to being moved to safety to back to corner and if not for special teams, Smith surely wouldn’t be with the Bucs much less the NFL right now.

And Carlton Davis, who was one of the best corners in passes defended last year, after Mike Smith got his hands on him as a rookie, well, did anyone have any confidence in Davis after his rookie year?

Now he is looked at as an anchor if not a veteran in the Bucs secondary on hopefully one of the league’s better defenses.

A local journalist who likes to dabble in numbers comes up with more evidence that Mike Smith was a trainwreck of a coach when it came to defending the pass.

Joe noticed that jet-flyin’, kiss–stealin‘, data-analyzin’, Bucs-film-studyin’, limousine-ridin’ Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times, typing for Football Outsiders 2020 Almanac, recorded that the Bucs’ pass defense nearly did an about-face from Mike Smith’s wreckage when it came to defending short passes (15-yards or shorter).

The Buccaneers defense ranked third in DVOA against short passes (up to 15 yards through the air) after ranking 31st in this metric the year before.

Don’t you think opposing offenses, seeing how Smith enjoyed ordering his corners to practice social distancing from receivers long before social distancing was hip, took advantage of the wide-open spaces off the line of scrimmage to toss short passes right and left?

To be fair, Smith (belatedly) was fired six games into the 2018 season, but there wasn’t nearly enough time to be able to implement wholesale changes to the defense in midseason.

Still, the damaged foundation was already poured.

21 Responses to “Dramatic Change”

  1. lambchop Says:

    How does someone forget how to coach or was he never a good DC wherever he was prior to the Bucs? To be fair, he had the slacker (VH3), the malcontent (Brent Grimes), the out of their league (MJ Stewart and Ryan Smith), and a Rookie Carlton Davis. We weren’t much better at Safety either. He did not know what to do with that personnel and I’m sure those players stopped playing for him. The whole D got better once he left. I wonder if it was partly his defensive philosophy, which the players didn’t agree with, and partly we had scrubs. If they improved, it goes to show the scheme and the respect needed to be resurrected.

  2. Joe Says:

    How does someone forget how to coach or was he never a good DC wherever he was prior to the Bucs?

    He was a good linebackers coach with the Crows (having Ray Lewis helps) but as a defensive coordinator Mike Smith was just so-so.

    With the Bucs, as a defensive coordinator he was oh-no.

    Joe had heard that he was a package deal with Koetter. That the two made a pact when Smith was cut loose in Atlanta that if either of the two were ever hired as an NFL head coach, he would hire the other as a coordinator.

    Koetter always felt indebted to Smith. It was Smith who advised Jack Del Rio to hire Koetter in Jacksonville when Koetter was a college coach — the two first met at a coaches clinic. And of course when Smith got the gig in Atlanta he hired Koetter.

  3. Clean House Says:

    “The Smiths” it like a new DB Virus.

  4. Clean House Says:

    Yeah, they lined up 15 yards off under Smith

  5. hammerhead Says:

    The Smiths, great music.

    The other Smiths, horrible defense.

  6. Sport Says:

    DVOA – A situational football stat. Also known as a FACT.

    Perhaps our resident lost dog could look up the same stats (FACTS) on JW.

    JW’s Situational Football is below average. FACT!

    Of course we all know he won’t, he only looks and processes things that fit his narrative.

    Thought this was interesting in relation to our lost dog… do you see some signs that fit?

    The most common early warning signs of schizophrenia include:
    Depression, social withdrawal.
    Hostility or suspiciousness, extreme reaction to criticism.
    Deterioration of personal hygiene.
    Flat, expressionless gaze.
    Inability to cry or express joy or inappropriate laughter or crying.
    Oversleeping or insomnia; forgetful, unable to concentrate.


    In BA I Trust!

  7. james west Says:

    hated that dumb SOB so happy he’s long gone, oh i am referring to Mr Smith, was not to happy with Dirk koetter either

  8. I seem to remember Says:

    Hmm I remember that some writers of Bucs information were begging the Bucs to resign Smith right around 2016-2017. They were practically convulsing at the thought Smith might sign with a different team. Hmm

  9. DoooshLaRue Says:

    All that time, while we sucked so bad on defense….. I kept asking myself…….

    How soon is now?

  10. Hodad Says:

    Licht is more responsible for setting the Bucs back then any Smith in the phone book. You say Smith set VH3 back, but he was never good to begin with. Should’ve never been drafted where we picked him. Then once paid, it was VH who didn’t put the work in except at the strip clubs. Can’t blame Smith for that. Can’t blame him for N. Spence, or Justin Evans. Thank god BA has come in, and cleaned up some of Licht’s mistakes.

  11. Buczilla Says:

    Good article. Gosh it’s nice to have quality defensive coaching and we should be even better on defense this year. If we are good on d again this year, I can see Bowles leaving for another crack as a head coach.

  12. maxdrumsalot Says:

    The Smiths are legends! Too bad Morrissey is dumb AF. Comparing Mike Smith to them and calling them awful shows a lack of developed music taste. 🙂

  13. Swampbuc Says:

    The other thing to remember is that Lovie Smith was the GM in 2014 and 2015, so that cumulative 8-24 record he compiled is on him and not Jason Licht. That needs to be known.

  14. zzbuc Says:

    I love Koetter, and have tons of respect, His tenure as a HC in tampa, was not very good, so he had to go, That doesn´t mean I don´t respect the guy as a very good offendive mind…..He had to deal with JW incosistency, with Doug Martin personal stuff, with Austin Seferian Jenkings, Desean jackson, Lazy Baker, very bad kickers,and I keep on naming. But of course he had to deal with his loyalty to Smith, and his bad record…… I love and respect the guy!!

  15. 813bucboi Says:


    pull your skirt down!!!!!

    develop CBs….man please….smitty couldnt develop mud if you gave him dirt and water….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  16. Cobraboy Says:

    Rule changes caused Smith D-scheme to fail, just like it caused the other Smith’d S to fail.

    Lay off, keep the ball in front and then destroy the receiver made for big hits & intimidated receivers, but with twitchy protective yellow flags in favor of receivers & QBs, that strategery was rendered moot.

  17. DoooshLaRue Says:


    I believe you are exactly right.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Yeah, christ I understand if you don’t like Morrissey, but calling The Smiths “awful” music is about as dumb as thinking AC/DC is great music. Wonder what The Joes like.

  19. Christopher Schiefen Says:

    Morrissey notwithstanding, calling The Smiths awful music is about as dumb as loving AC/DC, and we see how well that’s worked out for Tampa Bay 😉. Wonder what The Joes like.

  20. Joe Says:

    Wonder what The Joes like.

    Since you asked, Joe likes AC/DC quite a bit, thank you. Saw them on one of Brian Johnson’s last gigs. Sold out arena.

    Can sappy Morrisssey and those two pansy-asses he played with draw 50 people to a Winn-Dixie parking lot on a Thursday night?

  21. Mrs. Entertainment Says:

    You bet they can!!!