The hiring was announced by the Bucs last Thursday, but today saw Lovie Smith officially introduced as the 10th head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Preceded at the podium by Buccaneer co-chairman Bryan Glazer, Lovie Smith covered a wide range of topics in his introductory press conference, from the great joy he had in "coming home" - a phrase he used numerous times throughout the presser - to his take on the current state of the roster. Here are some of the highlights and key points from today's press conference:
Bryan Glazer's introduction
- Wanted to give the Tampa Bay community the "winning football it deserves".
- When starting on the head coaching search, the Glazers wanted someone with a "proven and established track record" who would command the respect of his players, and be a "symbol" in the community.
- Described the choice as "easy", as Smith fit the criteria "perfectly", calling him the "right man at the right time".
- Glazer said they asked around the league as to Smith's reputation; he was described as being a "man of high principles and virtues", "master motivator", "calm and steady".
- Ended his introduction by "welcom[ing] home" Lovie Smith.
Lovie Smith's opening statement
- After thanking the Glazers, Smith said that being hired by the Bucs felt like he had "come back home". Smith kept his house in Tampa after leaving the team for the Rams.
- Thankful to Tony Dungy for hiring him to his coaching staff back in 1996, also mentioned by name Monte Kiffin, Herm Edwards, Kevin O'Dea and Rod Marinelli, who he described as being like a brother.
- Made special mention of some of the players who were with the Bucs last time he coached there: Hardy Nickerson, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Sheldon Quarles, Warren Sapp, and Derrick Brooks, who - continuing with the familial theme - he described as being like a son.
- Described the team Bucs historically as "relentless, play[ing] hard, physical", which the team had "gotten away [from] a little bit".
- "Time to be relevant again".
- Smith likes the foundation the Bucs have in place, and can foresee a "quick climb" to "get back where we belong".
- Still working on his coaching staff, but hopes most of it will be in place by the latter part of the week.
- Again reiterates he feels like he's "coming back home", said he had "unfinished business".
Smith takes questions from the assembled media
- On Jeff Tedford: said that during the 2013, when he was unemployed, Smith "prayed" he'd be back, so wanted to get an ideal staff in place. Was first and foremost looking for a "quarterback guru", which led him to Tedford. Smith said that Tedford and he shared a similar offensive philosophy - a "strong power running game", but keeping a balanced attack - need to be able to pass, and have big play ability. Mentioned in specific Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, said Mike Glennon "came in and introduced himself", and Smith is excited about putting them all together and competing.
- On a general manager and personnel decisions: said that the hiring of a GM is like a "marriage" and sees personnel control as "a big group making decisions". Said that the buck stops with him as a head coach, but looks forward to working together with the general manager. He said that the owners would be making the decision on who the GM is.
- On the most important steps he needs to take: getting a coaching staff together. Spent a lot of time during his year off in order to be able to move quickly to "get guys together." Smith is looking for "stern teachers who can relate to the players". After that, he talked about the roster - he wants a certain type of athlete at every position. He also added that he wants to establish a "positive feeling" in the building everyday.
- On the pieces already in place: there are enough pieces that the team can improve quickly. Said that you "have to have a quarterback in place", and said he saw growth in Glennon. Identified Doug Martin as a strong tailback, and brought up again Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Most important of all is you need to have an offensive line, though he said there are good pieces in places there, identifying Nicks, Joseph and Penn. Drew a line in on the sand on defense - will only be a 4-3. Though he said there's a reason why it's the "Tampa" 2, there is absolutely a role for Revis, saying "we don't play Cover 2 every snap". Then emphasised that "it's about the three-tech", Gerald McCoy. Made some comparisons between Lavonte David and Derrick Brooks, before saying that Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron are a strong pair of safeties. On special teams, said that you have to be able to make kicks, there's a good punter but that you need a "great returner".
- On former players: Smith wants to reach out to all former great players, to put pressure on the current players to reach that level of greatness. Said former players will always be welcome, which will no doubt be to the liking of Dexter Jackson.
- On why he chose the Bucs: Again emphasised that it was "coming home" for him. Felt that he was part of a foundation under Dungy but never got to "climb the mountain top", having left for the Rams in 2001. Bryan Glazer got in touch with him, which got the ball rolling.
- On why he felt the Bucs only won four games in 2013: "Hard to win games in the NFL". Some lucky breaks went against the Bucs, and then made mention of scheme and how individual players played. Said that there was talent on the team, with key positional guys in place. Smith said he will be focusing on getting turnovers on defense.
- On Derrick Brooks: Again mentioning that Brooks was like a son, he said that he didn't have the power to make Brooks part of the front office, but that he might get Brooks involved. Went on to say it would be great to have a former Buccaneer on his staff.
- On there being added pressure due to his "homecoming": There is no external pressure, but he wants to "get it right". He always wanted to advance beyond being a linebacker coach, so now that he's back with the same team as a head coach, he's putting a lot of pressure on himself to make the Bucs a "relevant team" again.
- On his coordinators: Smith gave the first official confirmation that Leslie Frazier would be defensive coordinator, and that "Rod is a Cowboy" so they never asked Dallas for permission to speak to Marinelli. Described Frazier as being a "great leader". Said Tedford will bring "energy" to the offense, being "fresh" to the NFL. Still looking for a special teams coordinator.
- On Mike Glennon: Says a quarterback has to "command respect" by his actions, and said that Glennon coming in early to meet him and asking how soon the offseason programme can begin is a great example of that. Described Glennon as being a little taller than a "prototype QB" but that he had a powerful arm. Said Glennon wouldn't win any sprints but he moves "well enough" in the pocket. Thought Glennon made smart decisions and he's excited about "going forward with him". Then added that, as a generality for the roster, when the general manager is in place, they will asses the roster and decide on what "direction we need to go" with the draft and free agency.
- On motivating players: Said that he's never had a problem getting players to buy into the plan. Of all the levels of football, Smith feels the NFL is where you least need to motivate players, as they tend to want your help to get better. Said that "no one will play harder; we will be physical".
So, that's our first look at Lovie Smith as the Bucs' head coach. My biggest takeaway was that a lot of what he said seemed not a million miles removed from what Greg Schiano preached - except with more earnestness. There were no sound bites like "Buccaneer Men", "Buccaneer Way" or "Trust, Belief, Accountability". Essentially, Lovie came across as wanting to do everything the Glazers thought Schiano would be able to do, except knowing how to do so in the right way. What was your biggest takeaway from the press conference?