Two days after Black Monday sealed the expected fate of an over matched Greg Schiano, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired what may be the best head coaching candidate available this offseason.
It didn't take long for the Buccaneers to make former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith the lead man of a team that is rich in defensive talent. It is a fit that, unfortunately, seems to be a perfect one for our rival in the NFC South.
Lovie Smith brings a career 81-63 regular season record into Tampa finding success with a Chicago Bears team that usually flaunted scary and sometimes dominant defenses. In four of his nine seasons in Chicago, the Bears were top 5 in least points allowed. His recipe for success involved ferocious play with the front seven and solid rushing on offense. With young talented players already on the roster and a seventh overall pick in this upcoming draft, Smith isn't exactly working with scraps.
To further help his cause, ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that long time friend and colleague Rod Marinelli will join Smith in Tampa Bay as his defensive coordinator. Marinelli was Smith's defensive coordinator in Chicago from 2010-2012, where he produced a defense that was top 5 in points allowed in 2 of his 3 seasons. Marinelli (as defensive line coach) also coached with Smith (as linebacker coach) from 1996-2000 under head coach Tony Dungy. These two guys work well together and have some really nice toys to play with. It may be scary to see what these two can do with guys like Darrelle Revis, Lavonte David, Gerald McCoy, Mark Barron, and Dashon Goldson, just to name a few.
While Smith coached in Chicago, the Bears' offense was in the bottom half in points scored in six of his nine seasons. Former University of California head coach Jeff Tedford will take over as offensive coordinator for a Bucs team that has work to do on the offensive side of the ball. As a college coach, Tedford has helped develop six college quarterbacks into 1st round NFL draft picks, including Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. Tedford has a pretty solid offensive resume and could be the right guy to groom Mike Glennon or whoever may possibly replace him. Doug Martin is the perfect running back for Tedford's offense.
Three days after the Bucs sealed their fate as a 4-12 team, it looks like Tampa Bay already has a lot to be excited about for 2014. Greg Schiano was a terrible fit for a young team that needs discipline and order. Lovie Smith and his coaching staff could be what it will take to make this group a contender again.
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So why care about this now? The Saints in 2013 still have unfinished business to take care of in Philly this weekend. Well, maybe you don't and maybe you shouldn't, but the NFC South just became a tougher place to play. The undisciplined, dirty playing Buccaneers that we have loved to hate in 2013 will be a different animal in 2014. This could be a division with 3 of the top 10 defenses in the NFL.
It's also worth mentioning that Lovie Smith is 4-1 against the Saints, including the NFC Championship win from the 2006 season. I definitely did not want to see the Bucs end up with this guy. Great hire for the Bucs, and another tough obstacle for the Saints to overcome in the NFC South.
So while I understand that everyone is hyped up and looking forward to the Saints battling it out with the Eagles on Saturday, I'm wondering what you guys think of Lovie Smith in Tampa. Since the NFC South has never had a repeat champion, will Tampa Bay be a threat for the NFC South title or will Smith not make enough of a difference?