Bucs DC Mike Smith promises flexible scheme, multiple looks
Former Falcons coach Mike Smith knows something about the NFC South and the stockpile of talented quarterbacks in the division. So he promises to bring a 'flexible,' defense with 'multiple looks,' to the Bucs as defensive coordinator, a welcome departure from the staid Tampa 2.
"It's going to be very flexible. I think in this day and age, you have to give different looks," Smith said at his introductory news conference Wednesday. "You can't line up in the same look and the same front every time. So we're going to have a lot of flexibility and identify what players are capable of doing and try to give different looks to the quarterback. Because if the quarterback has time in this league, he's going to be a guy who's going to be able to cut you up so we've got to do a very good job of putting together a package that is flexible, multiple, yet simple for our players and complex to the quarterback and the opposing coaching staff."
Smith, who was fired after the 2014 season following five winning seasons in seven years at the helm, interviewed for several head coaching jobs but said the only place he would consider returning to the NFL as a defensive coordinator was Tampa Bay to work with new head coach Dirk Koetter. The two men served as coordinators with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Koetter worked for three seasons as Smith's offensvie coordinator in Atlanta.
"This would be the one place that I would come and I'm very excited because of my relationship with Dirk," Smith said.
"But I think Dirk and I knew however this thing played out, that if I was not going to be a head coach, Dirk knew I had interest in being the defensive coordinator and it was not a tough decision to come work for Dirk Koetter and come to this organization here in Tampa."
The Bucs finished 26th in scoring defense last season, allowing 26.1 points per game, leading to the firing of head coach Lovie Smith and all but one of the members of the defensive coaching staff.
Smith said he was also attracted to the job because the Bucs have a franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston, a rookie of the year finalist. Smith took over in Atlanta when Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was a rookie.
"Well, you've got a good quarterback and in this league, it's about quarterback play," Smith said. "There's no doubt about it. Jameis had an outstanding rookie season and I think he's going to be a great quarterback. When you have a quarterback, it makes your chances much more. And I also think there's a core of players on the defense that are very good football players and have a chance to be outstanding players."
Smith specifically mentioned Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. Because of their skill sets, Smith said the Bucs will run a base 4-3 defense. But he said they can easily morph into multiple fronts, including a 3-4.
"We're going to base out of a four-man front. But again, if you play in a four-man front, you over-shift and you're in a 3-4," Smith said. "If you start in a 3-4 and you over-shift, you're in a 4-3. There's not a whole lot of difference in what you're going to do it's a matter of how you're going to put your shell in the back end. I think that's the thing you have to do. You have to give the quarterback some different looks. You're front, there's only so many things you can do. In terms of what you do on the back end, you have a lot more flexibility and I think that's one of the things we're going to look at as a coaching staff is to put our guys in the best position and in turn, try to make it difficult for the quarterback and the offensive coordinator on the other side."