The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially hired Lovie Smith as their head coach on Thursday, January 2nd.
“I think the fit is going to be tremendous,” former head coach of the Bucs, Tony Dungy said, but, is this seemingly perfect fit enough to return the Bucs to the playoffs?
Smith returns to his old stomping grounds, where he was the linebacker coach for five seasons and is regarded as one of the best defensive minds in the NFL. This team will need more than Lovie to succeed. They have yet to hire a general manager and have other holes that need to be filled as well.
It is a rare situation in the NFL when the head coach is in place before the GM and can sometimes cause issues. The Jets, for example, hired John Idzik with the condition that he had to keep Rex Ryan as coach and it seemed to cause tension within the organization. Those kinds of problems are not traits of a strong franchise.
Smith also needs to assemble his coaching staff and the potential candidates seem to be solid. According to multiple news outlets, Jeff Tedford, the long time head coach at Cal, is Tampa’s new offensive coordinator. Speculated candidates to become part of Smith’s coaching staff as the defensive coordinator are former Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier and Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.
Frazier and Marinelli would both be ideal choices as defensive coordinator due to their head coaching backgrounds and familiarity with Smith’s defensive scheme.
Tedford is an intriguing choice as offensive coordinator considering he does not have NFL experience and is known as a college ‘quarterback guru’ with a history of his quarterbacks going in the first round. However, these signal callers also were huge busts except for Aaron Rodgers who has reached elite status. Because of this, there are questions if he can turn Mike Glennon into an All-Pro, if he is the starting quarterback.
Smith will need to solve the problem that has plagued him and this team: can they find a franchise quarterback?
In his last job Smith reached the Superbowl with Rex Grossman as his quarterback. Let me repeat that, Rex Grossman. If he had an average level starter he could have won that Superbowl and his tenure in Chicago may not have ended.
As for the Bucs, they have never had a quarterback start for more than five full seasons. Consistency at quarterback is what you need to win today’s NFL and if they can’t find it, Smith will not last long.
Holes on Offensive and Defensive line, and in the secondary will also need to be addressed if Smith hopes to win. After spending an enormous amount of money in free agency these past two offseasons, ownership may not be willing to throw more money at free agents. Therefore the 2014 draft will be one of the most important in the team’s history.
NFL experts have hailed this as an excellent hire and it has the potential to be one if Smith can put the right pieces into place.