For the first 100 days of his tenure as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 10th head coach, Lovie Smith allowed a crew from Buccaneers.com unprecedented access both to his thoughts and to certain team functions that are usually only open to coaches and players. The result was the first long-form piece on our site, "The First 100 Days Feature" that was posted on Tuesday.
Embedded throughout the 22 chapters of that article are exclusive video clips and behind-the-scene photography. That includes, in the final chapter, excerpts from the last interview of Smith conducted for the article, on Day 100. In that interview, the coach looks back over his first 100 days on the job with satisfaction, believing he and his team have laid the groundwork for a successful season in 2014, and more to come after that. He knows, of course, that his Buccaneers still have to prove he is right on the football field.
As told in "The First 100 Days:"
"I think we're right on track," said Smith. "We know where we're headed now. We changed our roster. It has a different look. The first step was to attack, relentlessly, free agency, and we were able to do that. Most of the guys that we wanted we were able to convince to come here and join our ballclub.
"There is a lot of change, but when you're 4-12 change needs to happen. Some people might be concerned about the number of guys coming in, but I just kind of look at each guy individually. It's not like we're bringing guys in because we're just trying to fill a roster spot. These were guys that we had evaluated, that we wanted. That part, that's the exciting part, bringing a group of guys together from a lot of different places and seeing them grow together as a team."
There were additional discussions from that final interview that did not make it into "The First 100 Days" article (and you can now watch that interview in its entirety here and here). For instance, by the end of those 100 days Smith had been working with his entire coaching staff for nearly three months, and that staff had been meeting with players for the previous week. By that point, Smith was already very pleased with what he had seen from his initial Buccaneers coaching staff.
"[I'm] very happy," he said. "I had worked with most of the guys, some I knew from afar. But from everything I've asked them to do and every situation we've been in so far, I really…I know they're good men. I wouldn't hire them if they weren't good men with great knowledge, with expertise. Guys nowadays, they want teachers. When I talk about my staff I always talk about having stern teachers, to be able to teach the skills that are required for us to catch the Panthers."
Just as importantly, Smith had found his relationship with the team's owners to be smooth and productive. He describes a working environment among the very upper echelon of the staff that is supportive and responsive, and that approved of the plans that he and new General Manager Jason Licht had concocted.
"I've really enjoyed my time working with them, getting to know them," said Smith of Buccaneer Co-Chairmen Bryan Glazer, Joel Glazer and Edward Glazer. "Every decision made during free agency, they were very involved. Every decision we've made, Jason and I, have gone through them. That's what you want from ownerships, their support, backing you in every decision, and that's how they've been."
Smith sat for many interviews for "The First 100 Days" project, most of them casual, some impromptu, before the final formal discussion on Day 100. In that final interview, he explained his decision to agree to the project back in early January, and in doing so hints that Buccaneer fans should expect to continue enjoying greater access to their team and its coach.
"Every time I get a chance to talk about our team," said Smith, "I'm just going to embrace it."