On Wednesday, Mike Smith met members of the media at One Buccaneer Place for the first time as the Buccaneers' defensive coordinator. Smith, who was formally introduced as the team's DC on Friday, spoke to reporters for nearly a half hour.
Despite arriving in Tampa Bay this week, Smith already had three key areas he would like his team to focus on this season: stopping the run, creating turnovers and being efficient on third down.
Photos of new Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith.
"What you have to have to be successful on the defensive side of the football is you've got to have the ability to stop the run when people are trying to run the football because, if not, it's a slow death," Smith said. "The other thing that you have to do is you have to be able to take the ball away and you have to be able to win on third down.
"Ultimately, as a defensive coach, you're going to be judged by how many points you give up. That's the bottom line. It's not yards, it's not rushing yards, it's not passing yards, it's not sacks. Ultimately, it's about keeping them out of the end zone. We've got to focus on getting off the field on third down, taking the ball away and stopping the run. Those will be the three things that I will be talking to our guys about from the very beginning."
The numbers suggest that Smith will be successful as he takes the reigns as the Bucs' defensive coordinator. He served as the Jaguars' DC from 2003 to 2007 before becoming Atlanta's head coach and showed steady improvement each year.
In his first season in Jacksonville, Smith's defense was No. 18 in the NFL in points allowed. His unit steadily climbed to No. 7 in his second season, No. 6 in his third and No. 4 in his fourth. Smith's unit ranked No. 5 against the run twice and was in the league's top 10 in interceptions three times.