Lovie Smith wasn't shy at today's owners' meeting, addressing a lot of different issues openly. He acknowledged the team's interest in quarterbacks in the draft, talked about the defensive scheme and the slot cornerback position, mentioned Adrian Clayborn's status as a starter and more.
Mike Williams pattern of behavior may be an issue
Again, you don't get a (death) sentence from one incident. You look for a pattern. If a player shows a pattern of behavior that we don't feel like is what we want displayed by our Tampa Bay Buccaneers then more drastic measures come into play. I'm not to that point right now. (via Pewter Report)
To be fair, the pattern isn't all that troubling, either. At least not the pattern that is in the public record. Williams ran a party house back in August, and he trespassed and damaged a door in December. He hasn't gotten in trouble since then, and the recent stabbing had nothing to do with partying -- so it doesn't fit that pattern. As long as Williams can stay out of trouble, he should be just fine with Lovie, unless they can find a good offer in trade.
The Bucs want to win now
There is no four-year plan. There is no, in year four we want to show improvement. We want to improve right away. And I've seen it happen before. Teams can go from the bottom of the division to back up top, so things can change quickly. (via the Tampa Tribune)
This is no shocking revelation, of course. The Bucs were the biggest spender in free agency this year, by some measures, and they're not entirely done either. They added a veteran quarterback to not be beholden to a developing Mike Glennon or a rookie. They rebuilt their offensive line in short order. They added a pass rusher to complement an already talented defense. This is no rebuilding plan. This is a plan to win immediately.
Quarterback is in the cards at no. 7
Yes we are [in a good spot to pick a QB at no. 7] I guess if there is something positive that comes out of being a new staff coming in is that you get an early pick to be able to add a good player. I'm just going to make a statement. As I talk about Mike and as I talk about Josh, we have all positions on the table. I'm leaving here to go watch Johnny Manziel's workout. We have a lot of different options we can go with. In the end it will all fit together from what my experience has shown me. (via Pewter Report)
The Buccaneers are doing their homework on all of the draftable quarterbacks, as he mentioned both Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel. We also know the team has talked to Jimmy Garoppolo and there have been reports that they're interested in Brett Smith. And then there's the Derek Carr-Jeff Tedford connection. Overall, the Bucs are very likely to add a quarterback in the draft -- whether that's at number seven or later on.
Jeff Demps will have a role on offense
He loves track, but he considers himself a football player and he's anxious to get started with whatever position we ask him to play, whether it's running back or wide receiver or returning kicks. Again, we're a new staff coming in so we're going to give guys an option to do what they feel like they do best. (via Pewter Report)
It seems the Buccaneers are intent on using the speedster in various ways on offense and as a returner. Of course, that's easier said than done, especially so when we're not certain whether Demps will even be there in training camp. He wasn't last year. Still, he'd probably be a good fit in Jeff Tedford's offense.
Mason Foster will get to blitz, a lot
Smith said he's convinced @Mason_Foster can cover deep middle in Cover 2, cover in man, and blitz. He will blitz him a lot.— Pewter Report (@PewterReport) March 26, 2014
It sounds like Mason Foster is Lovie Smith's guy at middle linebacker. There's been some concern over Foster's abilities in coverage, and I think some of that is justified: he's a little on the slow side and that can get him in trouble. But he's also an outstanding blitzer (six sacks in three years) and he did manage three interceptions last year -- no mean feat for a middle linebacker.
This won't rule out C.J. Mosley for the Bucs, but it would make him a less likely first-round pick. Smith would be perfectly happy with Foster as his middle linebacker, it seems. In part, that's because Lovie Smith doesn't play strictly Cover 2 -- in fact, his later Bears teams and Leslie Frazier's recent Vikings team played a lot of man coverage and Cover 3.
Smith says if you think all we play is cover 2 then you aren't watching what we do— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) March 26, 2014
Adrian Clayborn will start at left defensive end
"Odds are Adrian will go out there first on the left side. From there, though, once we start working with them, they tell us who should be right, left, who should play, who should dress. We're going to pay close attention. I also tell them, I'm 55 years old so my hearing is just okay. My sight, though, we're going to go with what we see. And that will determine everything. Normally it's all clear for you once it's all said and done." (via Pewter Report)
This is interesting, because Clayborn has historically not played this position. Apparently this coaching staff doesn't believe his Erb's Palsy will be an issue at the position, but his technique against tight ends will have to be refined nonetheless. We speculated earlier that his limitations as a left defensive end may mean that his days of receiving significant snaps in Tampa, but he will at least get the chance to convince the coaching staff that he can play the position effectively.
The Buccaneers have at least one decision to make on Clayborn before training camp gets under way: whether to exercise his fifth-year (2015) option. That would give the defensive end a 2015 salary of $5.5 million, which is guaranteed for injury only. He hasn't earned that kind of money with his play so far, but there's very little risk involved in exercising the option for the Bucs. If they don't exercise that option, Clayborn will be a free agency after this season.
Nickel cornerback is a separate position
The nickel CB is a specific position that will be coached separately by Larry Marmie. Coach Smith considers it a 12th starting spot.— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) March 26, 2014
Smith says his top two corners will stay outside and the slot corner will stay in the slot and be coached as a slot corner.— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) March 26, 2014
In years past, the Bucs frequently had a cornerback moving from outside to the slot. That was Ronde Barber's specialty, but the past two years we've seen players like Eric Wright and Johnthan Banks do the same thing. No more, and Lovie mentioned that it was a separate position with a separate coach.
Slot corners generally have to be a little better in space than boundary corners, because they don't have a boundary to work with. That usually means slot corners are a little smaller and quicker than boundary corners, which opens the door for playing time for the smaller cornerbacks like Leonard Johnson. It also probably means that Alterraun Verner, the big acquisition who can play both on the outside and in the slot, will stay on the outside.
A few other topics Lovie Smith mentioned
It was very important to Lovie to sign Gerald McCoy to an extension, calling him a special player and a leader (Pewter Report).
The offense will be up-tempo, but they're not going to a no-huddle dominated offensive style (Rick Stroud).
Lovie Smith likes Mike Jenkins' speed, quickness and his willingness to tackle (Tampa Bay Times).
The Bucs will consider their third receiver and third cornerback to be starters (Pewter Report).