Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quotes: Lovie Smith at Combine

Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith met with the media at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

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(Opening statement)
"Whenever you go 2-14, you can't wait to get the next season underway. The Scouting Combine normally kind of kick starts – of course, the draft – but, the next season a little bit as you look at it that way. There are a lot of things we need to do better. As a head football coach, there are a lot of things I know that I can and will do a better job at. Kind of asking all our players to take the same approach. In the offseason, you can first start working on your coaching staff and try to get it right as you go forward. We've done that, adding Dirk Koetter to our staff as our offensive coordinator. I had a chance to compete against Dirk for a lot of years. Whenever a team puts up over 50 points against you, you take notice, which he was able to do as a coordinator. Adding (Quarterbacks Coach) Mike Bajakian and others will help. Then you get around to personnel, and that's kind of where we are right now. Free agency, of course, is first up, but it's about the draft – (that's how) we build our program, getting out of last place in our division. Always excited about the Combine, excited to get a chance to meet players that you haven't met for the first time, and of course to see players work out. I believe in the Combine and think it helps to see a guy, even on a choreographed setting like this, perform at his trait."

(On the decision to release quarterback Josh McCown)
"Just a new year. Things didn't go exactly the way we wanted last year. Bringing in a different offensive philosophy, staff, along with other things, we just felt like going forward with Mike Glennon only would give us our best chance. Josh McCown is a heck of a – Josh is a lifetime friend, did a great job for us in the locker room, different things leadership-wise, [and we] thought it was fair to him to let him go elsewhere."

**

(On what he was most disappointed in last season) * "I'm not trying to run away from your question, but we were happy with very little. Of course, start with the coaching part, we have to do a better job. I think to a position, each position we need to improve. Wide receiver-wise, we got a lot out of our wide receivers. Mike Evans had a great rookie year, Vincent Jackson, but just overall production on offense wasn't good enough. Defensively, of course, Gerald McCoy – there's a reason why we signed Gerald to be the face of the franchise, to lead us forward. Lavonte David is a great player. Young players like Bradley McDougald really stepped up, but we have a long way to go. *"(On the frustration of last season) **

"Frustrating, of course. Two wins – haven't been in that situation before. But I know you have to crawl before you walk, and you just don't get to that place where you're winning double-digit, having double-digit win seasons. But, for us, we've set the bar and we have a long way to go. At the same time, it's not like we were blown out. There were three games we weren't in. The rest of the time we had opportunities to win, [and] a lot of those games right up until the last play. This year we'll finish the job."

(On the importance of signing Gerald McCoy to a long-term deal)
"I think if you just look at the position, especially with 4-3 teams, that under tackle, the guy that's closest to the quarterback, can really impact what you do defensively. You mentioned those two players [McCoy and Ndamukong Suh], about as good as there are at playing that under tackle position. But, for us, everything starts up front with our four-man rush. Gerald, of course, sets the tempo with that. He's a great player and we're paying him that way."

(On having the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft)
"Well, I think we're going to look at it, if you have to be in this position, yeah, you're always looking for the franchise quarterback and people want to talk about the quarterback, and if you're down there and you have an opportunity, you have to really look at that closely, which we'll do. But we like just having options, all options, on the table for us. We like being in that position and seeing what happens in the end."

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(On the plan for Mike Glennon moving forward)
"The plan is, well, to move forward with Mike. I mean, it's about that. You look at our roster, Mike's the quarterback on our roster right now, for good reason. Even though he didn't play as much as he liked last year, we saw some things that we really liked in him. Some of our new coaches that came in really liked him. Made the statement that we would be moving forward in the future with him and that's where we're at now."

(On what guard Logan Mankins brought to the team this year)
"Logan [brought] everything I hoped he would bring. I'm talking about a veteran that's played at a high level, leadership, and then just good play. Logan played well throughout. We need to get others up to pace with him, but everything you want in a player coming in, a veteran player that's done it a certain way, he was able to do for us. Look forward, going forward, with him."

(On reported comments that he would be comfortable making Jameis Winston the face of the franchise and what makes him comfortable with Winston in that position)
"I said what I feel right now, with the information that we have right now, I understand allegations are against him. I understand that he went through the justice system, court system, to be exonerated on some allegations against him. I understand some of the college things a lot of guys do that you're not – you wish you wouldn't later on, and I understand some of the things that he did that are on his record right now. But we just take all the information that we could possibly get at this point – and it's early, keep in mind we're just to the Combine. We have a lot more research to do and we'll do that, but right now with the information I have right now, we haven't taken him off of our list or anything like that."

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(On if he has spoken with Winston)
"Can't really talk with the prospects until right now, so we'll start that process. I'm looking forward to getting to know and spend time with not only Jameis but Marcus also, and the rest of the athletes this week."

(On what kind of benefit it is for Marcus Mariota to throw at the Combine)
"Oh, I think whenever you get an opportunity to prove to people what you can do – we haven't seen any of the players live, get a chance to compete. I mean, all your competition that you'll have throughout the rest of your time throughout the Draft is here, and for a player to choose to work out in this environment, it's probably not ideal. First time they've probably, for the quarterbacks, they've thrown here. For the receivers, first time they've caught the ball outside in this environment. It says a lot about them."

(On how he determines or assesses if a player's maturity issues are behind him)
"I think you just start the process and you – for us, to initially tell that first conversation and you just start asking questions. And on a lot of different topics. Of course, we understand the obvious one, we do our research, and then there's a lot of people for us to talk to. We've talked to a lot of people so far on both of the players, if we're just talking about quarterbacks, and we'll continue to do that. I think you just start the process and then in the end, you gather all of the information that you have and you make a decision. And for us, of course, when you have the first pick in the Draft, it'll be an organizational decision where everybody's on board with whoever we decide to go with. Ownership, of course personnel and of course coaching."

(On if Glennon can be the team's future franchise quarterback)
"Yeah, I think you can definitely say that Mike can be a quarterback that can play at a high level in this league, and for us, we're at one quarterback on our roster. You look at my comments I've made about him, yes – I think he can be that."

(On potential rule changes that might be made this offseason, including expanding replay to include pass interference calls)
"I have definite opinions on that. I think the rules we have in place right now, they're there for a reason. I think any way that you can make a wrong right during the course of the game, whether it be penalties – any part of the game, I think eventually that will help our game."

(On quarterbacks making the transition from college to the NFL)
"I've heard a lot about this pro-style system in college, but I think if you look at a quarterback, I think there are some offenses you can run in college that maybe will get you more ready to make that transition. But it is a transition for any college player coming to the NFL and in Marcus' case, he ran an offense that most teams in the league don't run, but I see him scrambling around, I see him making decisions, I see him making – for the most part – most of the throws that he'll be making in the league. Again, you look in our league right now, there are different quarterbacks. There are some mobile quarterbacks, there are some more drop-back, pocket quarterbacks, but guys are having success doing it a lot of different ways."

(On if it is more of a projection for players that did not play in a pro-style offense in college)
"I think it probably helps a little bit if you've done more of the things that you'll be doing in an NFL game, but a lot of this is about projections  though, really."

(On if the off-field issues that the NFL dealt with in 2014 have changed how he views Jameis Winston's off-field issues)
"No, it can't.  We're going to go and evaluate each player based on what they've done and their individual situation, period. We can't let things that have happened with others – that doesn't affect these athletes right here. We're going to judge Jameis, Marcus, the rest of the players based on what they've done in their career up to this point individually."

(On players facing punishment from the NFL despite not facing legal punishment)
"I support the league and any decisions they make. Whatever they go by, I understand that. As far as how we look at it, I think if a player has been accused of something and – again [if] they've been exonerated of it, you have to go with it. That's what our justice system is all about. That's how we'll go forward."

(On how he compares Winston and Mariota)
"With what I know – and that's only based on being a college fan, watching them play on TV and of course watching a lot of video right now – I see two talented players that are different, they have different styles. [They have] won a lot of football games. What do you judge a quarterback by? Accuracy, decision-making, leadership and can he win football games. Both of these players – Marcus has won a lot of games for about the same period of time. Jameis, the same thing, I think he didn't lose a game until the last one he played. That says an awful lot about both of them. I think you have two very good quarterbacks that both will have a lot of success in the league."

(On if Tampa Bay would fit the offense to either Mariota or Winston's playing styles)
"We would have to, of course. But, again, we need a quarterback that can throw the ball and make a variety of throws. We need a leader and we need a guy that makes great decisions. We would like to have a guy that's mobile in the pocket, a guy that's won football games. We'll take this, along with a lot of other things. Again, this will help in the process when we get a chance to know the players and see them up close and personal. When you have the first pick, all the information we need we'll be able to get. As much time as we need to spend with all of the guys, we'll be able to do that also."

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