The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done something I've never seen a sports team do: produce a long-form, multimedia article that gives fans a glimpse behind the scenes. This project, called The First 100 Days, focuses on the start of Lovie Smith's tenure and gives us a lot of insight into the many different challenges and changes the Bucs faced over the first 100 days of the new head coach's reign. Scott Smith wrote it, as is usual for the Bucs' official site.
It's a massive article that's certainly worth reading in its entirety, so I just wanted to pick three things that stood out to me. There's a lot more to the First 100 Days than just these three items, though.
One of the things we never really saw was the process of putting together a coaching staff. Lovie Smith gives us lots of detail now: he wanted a diverse coaching staff, with experienced coaches he knew, and young, up-and-coming coaches to create a balance. He wanted his coaches to have a certain "look", to fit the Tampa Bay area and the organization.
He also presented five key attributes every coach should have:
"Stern teachers", "knowledgeable", "honesty", "loyalty", "hard workers".
Most of those are pretty obvious, of course, but it's the concept of "stern teachers" that resonates most with me.
"You go back to school, the teachers that you remember, they taught a certain way," he said, throwing out such names from his past as Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. White and Mrs. Pace, the last of whom was an English teacher of his who remains a friend today. "They showed you how to solve a problem. They were patient with you. They were demanding and, if they needed to be, stern to get their point across. They didn't curse in the classroom. There was a certain way that we were taught that worked for us to actually learn.
This is nothing new as such: both Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano talked about coaching being similar to teaching, and both tried to find people who could teach players. That didn't always work out, but the fundamental philosophy isn't ground-breaking.
What is new is the explicit comparison to school teachers. Not just in terms of teaching, but in terms of style. Don't break someone down: build him up and correct him, but be stern when necessary. I'll add another one: respect your students.
General manager interview process
We haven't really known how the interview process for the general manager candidates happened, but the Bucs give us a tiny glimpse: nine candidates interviewed with Lovie Smith first. Four of those candidates passed his pre-screening, and then met with the Glazers. It's not entirely clear who made the final decision, but Lovie Smith was a lot more involved in the decision than we previously knew.
We get a few other details, too. Lovie Smith leaned heavily on Andy Reid's advice on Jason Licht, for instance. And Jason Licht had also interviewed for the general manager position with the Chicago Bears in 2012. The fact that they wanted to create a partnership in Tampa, with neither man being a subordinate. The fact that they need to be on one page for the front office to work: they need to know what the prototype player is for each position, and they'd like to have video to go with it.
Athleticism and the NFL Combine
Lovie Smith loves speed and athleticism, and that comes across very clearly when they start to discuss the NFL Scouting Combine. Not just in the interviews, which are important, but Lovie Smith definitely believes the measurements are relevant. Specifically, he pays attention to the 40-yard dash, the 10-yard dash, the vertical leap and the broad jump.
"I want to know the 40-yard-dash speed. It's a comparison with everybody else; I want to know. Also the 10-yard [run]. The vertical leap. In the vertical, you can't move anything. It's just boom...an explosion, straight up. The broad jump...just explosion straight out. I look at those, and they mean an awful lot. If you give me a guy with that type of ability and he's coachable...those are the ones that are going to really hit. That's what I've seen in my 30 years. I believe that fully."
The common thread there: explosiveness and speed. The ability to move quickly. You can coach up a slow player all you want, but it won't make him a fast player. It's not the be-all end-all of scouting and just one part of a long process. But it's an important part nonetheless.
Again, there's a lot more to be gleaned from the article so make sure to read it. I just wanted to pick out a few notes that stood out to me.