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Buccaneer Quotes: Lovie Smith Introduction

Posted Jan 6, 2014

During his first press conference as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, Lovie Smith discussed the building of his coaching staff, the Bucs' current roster and much more

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers introduced Lovie Smith as the 10th head coach in franchise history on Monday in front of a packed team auditorium at One Buccaneer Place. Smith is taking over the same team that gave him his start as an NFL assistant, as the linebackers coach under new Head Coach Tony Dungy in 1996, and he is thrilled to be coming home. Smith hopes to duplicate the franchise turnaround he helped engineer under Dungy.

“First off, is there pressure [coming home]?" said Smith. "No, but we want to get it right for that reason. Coming back, I am coming back in a different role. When I was here, I had a great job as a linebackers coach, coaching a great group of men. My plan though was to advance and then when you advance to that and you get to that top level where you are a head football coach and then for me to have an opportunity to be the head football coach at a place that I started, there is pressure, pressure that we are putting on ourselves.

"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be a relevant team and I am going to take that pressure, it will be what drives all of us, our staff, our players, and all.”

Below is the remainder of the transcript of Coach Smith's introductory press conference on Monday.

-- Lovie Smith said his Buccaneer defense will emphasize creating turnovers

Head Coach Lovie Smith Introductory Press Conference

Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer

(Opening Statement)
“Good afternoon and thank you for joining us today as we welcome Lovie Smith as the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is an exciting day, as we begin a new chapter in our franchise history, one that will energize our fan base and provide the Tampa Bay community with the winning football it deserves. When we began our coaching search for a new head coach, we focused on finding a strong leader with a proven and established track record. We searched for a man who would not only command respect among his players, but stand tall as a symbol for our team in this community. It was easy, not because we knew Lovie from his previous time here, but because he fit our criteria perfectly. It was obvious he was the right man, at the right time, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With over 30 years of coaching experience, including 17 in the NFL, Lovie has distinguished himself as a winner during every stop in his NFL coaching career. He was a key part of Tony Dungy’s coaching staff here that developed and molded our young, talented defense of the mid-90s into the signature dominant defense of the late-90s and early-2000s. Later, in his first season in St. Louis as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, he helped the Rams get to the Super Bowl. Most recently, as the head coach of the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2012, Lovie guided his teams to 81 victories in those nine seasons – that’s the third-best mark among NFL head coaches during that time. All in all, Lovie’s 17-year NFL coaching record includes eight playoff appearances, six division titles, four NFC championship games and two Super Bowl appearances. As amazing as that winning pedigree sounds, what resonates even more is Lovie’s high character and personal integrity. As we talked to people around the league about him, we heard things like: ‘man of high principles and values,’ ‘master motivator,’ ‘great teacher,’ ‘calm and steady leader.’ It’s very evident that Lovie has left a lasting mark everywhere he’s been. His former players love him and we are confident he is the right man to get the absolute best out of our team. Now, as I look down at Lovie’s entire family, I can see them grinning from ear to ear, and it’s not only because of how bright our future is; I think it’s because the current temperature in Chicago is -14 [degrees]. It’s now my distinct pleasure to welcome home and officially present to you the 10th head coach in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history, Mr. Lovie Smith.”

Head Coach Lovie Smith

(Opening Statement)
“Thank you, Bryan. I would also like to thank Joel, Ed and, of course, the rest of the Glazer family for giving me an opportunity to come back home and lead our Buccaneer football team. After we left Tampa many years ago, we kept a home here in Tampa, and every time we got an opportunity to come back, we always would come back to visit, so I feel like it’s always remained a big part of us. I’m so thankful to Tony Dungy for allowing me to be on his first staff and get an opportunity to work on his staff with great guys like Monte [Kiffin], Herman [Edwards], Kevin [O’Dea] and, of course, a guy that ended up being like a brother to me, Rod Marinelli, which allowed us to coach a special group of men like Hardy [Nickerson] and [John] Lynch and Rondé [Barber] and Shelton [Quarles] and [Warren] Sapp and, of course, a guy who ended up being like a son to me in Derrick Brooks. We did, as Bryan said, lay a foundation for Tampa Bay Buccaneer football. There’s a certain brand of football that you expected from us. You knew we’d be relentless, we would play hard, physical, but there was a brand of football that you did get from us each week. At Raymond James Stadium, it was hard for opponents to come in and win. We have gotten away from that a little bit, and it is time, as we go to the future, for us to become a relevant team again. [I’m] so excited about the new group. [I] had an opportunity, of course, to meet some of them. You know, when you’re off for a year, you get a chance to watch a lot of football games, which I did, and I really liked the foundation that’s in place right here for us to make a quick climb. You look to the playoffs right now – two of our teams in the NFC South division are still playing. There’s a certain brand of football that they play. [I’m] excited about being here, excited about taking the next step and just improving our ball club to eventually get back to where we belong. A lot of things are going on right now. I’ve had an opportunity to name a couple guys to my staff – working on that. Of course it’s fluid right now, but [I’ve] gotten an unbelievable response from them. They’re excited. Hopefully, [by] the latter part of the week, we’ll have most of them in place and start going from there. So, again, [I’m] excited about being here. You always want to go back, if you get an opportunity, as I said early about coming back home. We have unfinished business.”

(On hiring Jeff Tedford as offensive coordinator)
“As I said, when you have a year off, you can do a lot of things and what I concentrated on – I prayed I would be back in the league this time of the year, so I wanted to get that ideal coaching staff in place. I did a lot of research, talked to a lot of different people, other quarterbacks in the league. For my offensive coordinator position, I wanted to get a guy that had been a primary quarterback guru, that knew that position in and out. My research led me to Jeff Tedford. After that, I looked at his track record and what he had done, especially at [the University of California] – what he had done offensively – and I brought him in. We spent a couple of days together down in my basement in Chicago and kind of merged our philosophies – and they weren’t off – on how we wanted to play offensive football. And I’m talking about a strong running game, a power running attack. I think you have to have balance with your offense. We plan on having a balanced offensive attack. But at the same time, when I say balanced with the run, [I include] being able to pass the ball and have a big play ability in the passing game. I know a little bit about [wide receivers] Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, some of our players here. [Quarterback] Mike Glennon came in and introduced himself. We’re just excited about putting it all together and competing and having our offense merge with our defense.”

(On making decisions on player personnel)
“First off, I look at it as a marriage and as a big group making the decision. Of course, as a head football coach, most things stop at your doorstep. As you know, we don’t have a general manager in place yet. Once our owners decide who, exactly, will be in that role, I look forward to getting with them and making decisions together that are going to lead us to a championship.”

(On the most difficult part of taking over as head coach)
“There are a lot of things that go into that. Of course the X’s and O’s are important, but I think one of the most important things you can do as a head football coach is get your staff assembled. There’s a lot that goes into it – some experience, some youth, guys with an expertise at certain things and just getting guys that can work together. I have spent a lot of time. That’s why I was able to really move pretty quick on lining the guys up that I wanted on that coaching staff. Assembling a coaching staff is one of the most important things you can do. For me, what I was looking for in our coaching staff is stern teachers that can relate to players. After you get that coaching staff together, then it’s about getting the personnel. You [can] have that good coaching staff together, but in the end, of course, it’s the players out there and getting a certain type of athlete. [In] those old Tampa Bay days I talked about, [there were] athletes at every position, like a Shelton Quarles. So, [get the] coaching staff together, then the personnel, then, just day-to-day, keeping a positive building where everybody feels good about coming here and everybody in the building feeling like they’re part of it. There’s a lot of things that go on with it, but those are important, along with a lot of other things.”

(On the prospect of the team bouncing back next season)
“It’s easy for me to sit up here and say, ‘Hey, this time next year, we’re not going to be having this type of [situation]’ – I’m talking about where we are in the playoffs and doing different things. I do think, though, nowadays, you can improve quickly. As far as the personnel – and again, once you start talking about personnel, you always leave someone out – I think, as you think about the offensive side of the football, you do have to have a quarterback in play. I had a chance to watch growth from Mike [Glennon] from the time he started until the end of the season. We talk about being a physical rushing football team – you have to have a great tailback, and in [Doug] Martin, we have a great tailback, along with others too. When you pass the football, you need big play ability; of course [there’s] Vincent Jackson. I know Mike ended up on [injured reserve], but Mike Williams too. You have some of the key positions in place, but you can’t do anything without an offensive line. I know [guard] Carl Nicks didn’t play a lot because of injury, but [guard Davin] Joseph, [tackle Donald] Penn – we have some good pieces in places on the offensive side. Defensively, I’m a head football coach because of my expertise on the defensive side of the football. I had a chance to meet and talk to [defensive tackle] Gerald McCoy earlier. As you guys know, defense-wise, no one should ask me in we’re a 3-4 team. We’re a 4-3 team. There’s a reason why we have Tampa-2 associated to one of our coverages, but I just want you to know, especially [in reference to cornerback] Darrelle Revis, we don’t play Cover-2 every snap. We have a place for a great cover corner that’s physical and can do all things. But it’s about the three-technique. Gerald McCoy – it’s the reason why he’s going to the Pro Bowl. There’s not a lot of players like Derrick Brooks, and it’s not even fair to compare some guys that way, but [linebacker] Lavonte David has a chance. He’s that younger version coming up and I hear he’s a great guy. I haven’t had a chance to meet him yet – I’m just starting to reach out to some of the players – but you have a good [weak inside] linebacker in place. And it’s about the middle. You look at our safeties, whether it’s [Dashon] Goldson or Mark Barron, we have some good pieces in play. But there’s a reason why Darrelle Revis is one of the best football players in this game. We’re excited about getting our hands on him and putting him in a position to make plays. Offense, defense – it’s important. We have to have great specialists. When we send our kicker on the field, we expect him to make it. We have to have a good punter. But in order for us to have three phases that contribute to wins, we need a great returner also. We’re excited about putting more pieces together with this and then we’re going to take off.”

(On being associated with former Buccaneers players and teams)
“I think we all have a history and history is a good indicator of what’s going to happen. For a guy like [defensive tackle] Gerald [McCoy] we have a lot of our players right now wondering ‘What am I like? What are we going to do in every situation?’ Nowadays, with social media guys reach out, they do. They’re going to reach out to their friends. We have a long history of being in the league for them to find out exactly how we’re going to react in every situation, but I’m excited. One thing I am going to do, I’m reaching out, I’m going to reach out to all our former greats, our former Buccaneers will always be welcomed here. We want them around. We want our current players to feel that pressure of how they’re supposed to perform each week. Some places don’t have the tradition that we have, but we’re going to definitely draw on that as much as we can.”

(On how taking time off this past season has helped him as a coach)
“My time in Chicago – of course it was my first head coaching job so I did learn a lot from start to finish – but it was just a great experience. As I come here as a coach that has spent nine years in the league, every situation that will come up I think I’ve been in, just about every level of play. Playoff team, we were able except for holding up the Lombardi trophy. I can draw on all of those experiences to help me in this situation. As a new coach I did come into Chicago, I know some of the things that a new coach has to go through. What I’m going to draw on and this past year of what I did – first off how many times in life do you just get a chance to just take a break and really evaluate everything that you’ve done, everything that you are as a man and just about every situation? That’s what I was able to do. From fending off wild monkeys in Costa Rica with my wife Mary Anne early on, to just seeing how much I love my wife and I’m going to protect her, to just analyzing every situation that came up. I talked about Jeff Tedford earlier, of having a chance to really sit down with coaches and studying the game. My son Matthew is my agent, having a chance to go around with him and just watch college games, I’m a football fan, high school games, I think every time I saw something related to football it helped me and I just put myself in those situations, that should make me a better football coach now.”

(On what made Tampa his coaching destination)
“When you talk about coming home, that kind of says an awful lot. When you feel like you’ve been a part of the foundation, but you didn’t get a chance to go all the way up to the mountaintop – I wasn’t there when you saw Bryan, Joel, and Ed having an opportunity to hold up the Lombardi trophy and Mr. Glazer, I wasn’t a part of that then. Tampa had a special place in my heart. [I] talked about keeping a house here, all of those things came into play and I was just excited that Bryan reached out to me and we got the ball rolling and I was able to become the head coach very quickly.”

(On what he saw from the Buccaneers last season)
“First off, it’s hard winning games in the NFL and people say ‘Just throw the ball out there,’ [but] it’s hard. There are some good football teams that weren’t able to win, as I watched our Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team this year, especially early on some breaks didn’t go our way/ I look more after a while at scheme a little bit and how individual guys were playing instead of trying to – [I] didn’t spend a whole lot time figuring exactly why some of the things happened, but for me I just know that there’s talent on the football team and we have some key position players in place and I just feel like we can, with our system – and as I talk, I talk a little bit about defense and our offensive personnel earlier – but with our system of single-gap football, passing downs being able to mix in a little bit of Cover-Two, but for us the thing that dictates whether you win or lose each week the most will be turnover ratio. As you look at our time in Chicago from 2004 and on, on the defensive side, we took the ball away more than any team around – that didn’t just happen by chance. It’ll be the way that we practiced it and the mindset that we’ll have for our players. [I] don’t know exactly what all went on this past year, I just know that we’re here now and we’re going to evaluate of course the scheme, but more the personnel.”

(On if former Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks will have a role with the team)
“My job title duties don’t take me that far, but Derrick Brooks in any organization is a good thing, I will say that. As I’m putting our coaching staff together right now, hopefully there are – it would be great to get an old Buccaneer back on our staff. I’m not talking [just] about Derrick – it would be great to get an old Buccaneer back on the staff. Back to Derrick, we can talk forever, I think most of you know how I feel about Derrick, just one of the classiest, best guys out there, you want him of course. It’s great that he represents the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As I go through this beautiful building, for some of you out here that I know, hasn’t One Buc changed quite a bit from the last time I was here? It’s great to see so many pictures of Derrick up around here.”

(On who the team is looking at hiring as defensive coordinator)
“First off [Dallas defensive line coach] Rod Marinelli as I’ve said before, Rod is like a brother to me, great guy, and great coach, but Rod is a Dallas Cowboy. We’re not going to ask for permission, Rod will be there and will do [Dallas Head Coach] Jason Garrett a great job. I’m excited about Leslie Frazier being my defensive coordinator. I had a chance to get to know Leslie first when we were both assistant coaches, him as a defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings and then lately of course having an opportunity to compete with him. As I looked for a defensive coordinator and it just so happens we played in the NFC North division too, he knows it. He’s a great man for you ladies or gentlemen that know Leslie Frazier, just a great leader. It was a no brainer really to get him, for us to merge together. We always wanted to work together, I think with him leading our defense, Jeff Tedford, and the energy that Jeff will bring too. Jeff’s a fresh guy, he hasn’t coached in the NFL, he has fresh ideas coming through. When we started matching up what I believed in and what he believed in, I just think this is going to be a good deal. Special teams coordinator too, I’m in the process of that, it is three phases for us. Hopefully we can get the special teams coordinator guy I have in mind fairly quick too.”

(On quarterback Mike Glennon)
“We’ll talk about the physical skill in a second. I think as a quarterback you have to command respect. And I’m not talking about the guy that’s going to scream and yell and do all of that, that’s good if you have that personality, but I’m talking about the guy that commands it by his actions. Mike was one of the first guys here early, walked in looked me straight in the eye and said ‘Hey coach I don’t know about the rules, when can we get started?’ That’s a good start right away this time of the year. What I see and what I like from him a little bit is first off he’s a – I wouldn’t say prototype, he’s little bit taller than a prototype quarterback, but just strong armed, he had great pocket presence to me. Mike’s won’t win a 10-yard sprint probably – or maybe not a 40-yard sprint – but he can move around in the pocket enough, make smart decisions and there’s nothing like having that experience that he was able to get his rookie year. [I’m] excited about going forward and I’ll just say roster-wise in general. What we’re going to do is once we get our staff here, we get a general manager in place, of course we’re going to start evaluating our roster and seeing exactly what we have and seeing exactly what direction we need to go, whether it’s with the draft, free agency. There are a lot of good football players out there and we’re going to draw on all of our experiences; from my time in Chicago and all of the other coaches.”

(On fully evaluating the current staff and roster)
“For every new staff, that’s just a part of what you have to do. Even during the course of the year, you’re always evaluating players – when you’re watching video, preparing, game-planning for weeks – so you always go through that. There’s time for it all. We have plenty of time to get all the evaluations down and, of course, to get our different systems in. Our coaching staff, on both sides of the ball, we have some guys that have worked together, so we should be able to get up and running fairly quick.”

(On leading different groups of players)
“First off, I don’t think there’s a big difference. I think, if you’re a leader of men, it could be a couple, it could be a position group of seven guys like I had as a linebacker coach, to the defensive coordinator position – I was able to be in charge of more – to the head coaching position for my last team. It was always the same. This is what I’ve found from men: They will do whatever you ask them to do if you look them in the eye and they feel like you know what you’re talking about and you have a plan. I never had a hard time. I’ve dealt with very few players I haven’t been able to motivate and get them to do what we ask them to do. They’ll listen. Way back when, when I was a younger coach, I thought it would be so much harder coaching NFL players than junior high or high school players. It’s the complete opposite. I think the easiest player there is to coach is an NFL player. Most of them are making a lot of money; they like their life and they want you to help them continue to make that. As far as how we’re going to motivate them, the same way. No one will play harder than we will. We’re going to be a physical football team and, for me, if somebody isn’t, I go to them and we’re going to get them to do it. It’s kind of as simple as that.”