The man wearing a headset rather than a helmet has the bigger impact on any NFL team. That's why the hiring of Lovie Smith as Bucs coach is almost certain to enhance the performance of several players. Which ones will his arrival benefit most? The least? Let's take a look into our crystal football.
Adrian Clayborn: Under coach Greg Schiano, the defensive end didn't thrive. Instead of putting his hand in the dirt, he was mostly a stand-up end who lined up on the weakside of the formation (opposite the tight end). Schiano believed Clayborn's Erb's Palsy, a nerve condition that occurs during birth and can weaken a shoulder or biceps, affected his ability to get off blocks. Clayborn never complained and still produced. Smith likely will return Clayborn to a three-point stance and isn't as likely to drop him in coverage.
William Gholston: At 6 feet 6, 281 pounds, the end might be one of the team's most athletic pass rushers. It wouldn't have taken 14 weeks for Smith to start him. His defenses thrive on speed and athleticism, and Gholston has no shortage of both. He stands to benefit tenfold if defensive line guru Rod Marinelli is extracted from the Cowboys.
Gerald McCOY: The defensive tackle has made two straight Pro Bowls and last week was named an All-Pro despite a saloon door of defensive line coaches and coordinators. He is the most productive three technique in Tampa Bay since Warren Sapp and could post similar numbers in Smith's one-gap, 4-3 system. There will be a consistency to the game plan, and the days of running stunts and games on every play, giving McCoy a longer route to the quarterback, are over.
Doug Martin: Assuming the running back fully recovers from his torn labrum, he needs only to look at the production of Bears running back Matt Forte to get excited about 2014. Smith is committed to running the ball but also makes good use of his backs in the passing game.
Lavonte David: Smith became Derrick Brooks' position coach in his second pro season. David, the current Bucs weakside linebacker, is on the same glide path as the future Hall of Famer. He already has made first-team All-Pro. Now he has the coach who pulled the talent out of Brooks. David is a better pass rusher with eight sacks in two seasons. Brooks had 13½ over 14 seasons.
Mike Glennon: Before he was fired, Schiano told his players the Bucs had found their quarterback for 2014. Smith won't have as much loyalty. He almost certainly will bring in a veteran free agent to compete (ex-Bear Josh McCown, anyone?) and could even draft a QB with the seventh overall pick. Ultimately, competition will be good for Glennon and the Bucs. But Napoleon Dynamite is no longer the anointed one. Gosh!
Darrelle Revis: Let me say from the start: The notion the cornerback won't be a good fit for Smith's defense is puzzling. His last three seasons in Chicago, Smith played a lot of man-to-man coverage. The Tampa 2 is the foundation for everything the Bucs will do, but it doesn't mean Revis can't be Revis. Besides, when he is playing off the receiver, it will allow him to keep his eyes on the quarterback and create more interceptions. I've never met a coach who didn't want one of the best players in the NFL. Is $16 million too rich to pay Revis when the team might not be Super Bowl-ready? Perhaps, but the deal can be restructured to make it more cap friendly. Revis only falls into this category because regardless of the coach, he's going to do his thing.