Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How Bucs defense made Mike Smith's Atlanta return triumphant

ATLANTA — Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith liked the 31-24 win here Sunday for the pragmatic reasons — on the road, in the division, starting the season off right.

His players were thrilled because it came against the team Smith coached for seven seasons.

"Coach Smith loves it, man," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said in the locker room after the win. "He and Coach (Dirk) Koetter. We knew. We talked in the locker room: This is a huge deal. Going back there, you have to get a huge win. I'm happy we were able to do it for him."

McCoy said he saw a fire in Smith's eyes this week, and the Bucs carried the extra motivation of giving him a win in a familiar place — head coach Dirk Koetter was Smith's offensive coordinator from 2012-14, but beat Atlanta twice last season as the Bucs' offensive coordinator.

"He might not say it, but it means a lot to him to come back here, first game of the season and get a win," said cornerback Brent Grimes, who played for Smith in Atlanta as well. "He coached a great game, made some great calls, and while he didn't say it, I know he's happy about it,"

Matt Ryan threw for 334 yards and two touchdowns, rallying Atlanta from 18 points down late in the third quarter to have the ball with a chance to tie. But the defense got that last stop to clinch the win, and Smith likes when players can learn from their mistakes in a win.

"It wasn't pretty. We made lots of mistakes," Smith said. "But they did not quit. It was fun to watch them go play. We have a lot of things we have to get fixed. After a win, you can get those corrections made."

If anyone knows what Ryan can do late in a game, it's Smith, who went 54-26 from 2008-12 with Ryan as his quarterback, four times reaching the playoffs.

"When he's in the no-huddle, he's probably his most efficient," Smith said. "We were very fortunate to come up with some plays there at the end. We've played two-minute defense well all through training camp and I think that carried over to this week."

Atlanta scored one touchdown in four trips inside the 20, three times settling for field goals. In those three stops, the Bucs held the Falcons to 1 total yard on nine plays, with key tackles for loss from Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David.

"When you're put on a short field, you have to respond," Smith said. "It shows their resiliency."

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

   
Comments
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Published: 05/25/18
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Published: 05/25/18
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

TAMPA — Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has always been generous with his time, staying after practice to work with younger players. That should be a real added benefit for first-round pick Vita Vea.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"That's my M.O.'' Mc...
Published: 05/25/18
The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

TAMPA — Only three players in NFL history have posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in each of his first four years seasons: Randy Moss, A.J. Green and the Bucs' Mike Evans.RELATED: More Bucs coverageBut by Evans' standards, 2017 was "proba...
Published: 05/25/18
Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

TAMPA — If the first few days of OTAs are any indication, the Bucs secondary could be much improved.Completions may be down, interceptions should be up.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"A lot of interceptions,'' coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday' afte...
Published: 05/25/18
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Published: 05/24/18
Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Two high draft picks that could earn starting jobs signed four year contracts with the Bucs Thursday.The team signed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to r...
Published: 05/24/18
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Published: 05/24/18
Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

The dust has settled from another NFL draft, and Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made three promotions in his scouting department as a new year of player evaluation begins.Byron Kiefer, entering his 14th season with the Bucs and fourth as a nati...
Published: 05/24/18