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Mike Smith will put players in the best position to succeed

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If the words of Mike Smith are to be believed, Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans will witness something that they haven’t seen in four years.

Mike Smith brings a different temperament and philosphy to the defense than Lovie Smith.
Mike Smith brings a different temperament and philosphy to the defense than Lovie Smith.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Although the previous two coaches—Greg Schiano and his successor, Lovie Smith—were drastically different in their styles, one frustrating similarity they shared was their inability to put players in best position to succeed. With one simple quote, Coach Smith implied that the new regime of Buccaneer coaches would not be scheme-dependent like the preceding regime, but would build around their players’ strengths…and by "implied," I mean plainly and clearly stated:

"We want to be as multiple as we can be and play to the strengths of our players. We’ve got some guys that have some unique skills sets and it’s our job as a coaching staff to put those guys in the best position possible."

Fans who witnessed the teachings and coaching of now-University of Illinois head coach Lovie Smith should be elated by these words, particularly after the miserable state of the Buccaneers defense last season. That defense—the one that allowed 70 percent completion to opposing quarterbacks, lived and died by the Tampa-2 and, fairly often, the players who were on the field last year were not put in the best position to succeed.

The most egregious offense, to most, was seen in the play of the cornerbacks. Cornerbacks routinely played off coverage, allowing wide receivers to run their routes with little to no disruption or re-routing [and making them vulnerable to quick drops and slants]. Along with the poor scheming (and adaptation), the talent in the secondary was lacking, which lead to undrafted rookie free agent Jude Adjei-Barimah, over-the-hill Tim Jennings and never-been-good Mike Jenkins starting several games amidst the constant shuffling of the secondary.

Within the same statement, Smith points out the different, unique skill sets in the group of cornerbacks on the Buccaneers’ roster. Although first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves is virtually guaranteed to, at least, be the "starting" nickelback, the different sets of skill sets will allows for true competition, another aspect sorely missing from the secondary within the past two years, as Johnthan Banks was regularly benched in favor of the aforementioned Jenkins and Alterraun Verner was demoted for ex-Bear Jennings.

With the addition of talented cornerbacks Brent Grimes, Josh Robinson and Hargreaves, the cornerback group has gotten a shot in the arm. The hope is that the cream of the crop rises during the remainder of the offseason and, when it’s all said and done, this secondary is much more competent than the group that was fielded last year, Coach Smith does put them in the best position to succeed and the group reverses the trend of terrible pass defense that has plagued the Buccaneers for years.