Dwight Smith plays strong safety for the Buccaneers, and that means...uh...um...help?
And Answer Man thought this would be a part-time gig.
The ol' (e)mailbag was bursting this week, making it nearly impossible for the Answer Man to take care of his other jobs at One Buc Place (i.e. sharpening cleats and polishing free weights). But, hey, it's the will of the people...
And the people are sending in missives from as far away as Anchorage Alaska and regarding issues as far back as the early '80s. Since Answer Man doesn't have every single answer on the tip of his tongue (shocking, I know), I sometimes have to track down the experts around the building. Subsequently, I can't get to everyone, but I'll take a stab at five questions this week, my highest total yet.
Who knows? I may have to dip into the mailbag twice a week from now on!
Anyway, on to this week's questions, all sent in through my own personal page on Buccaneers.com. Visit there if you'd like and send me a question, or submit one for a player or coach. We'll get more video answers from Buccaneer players and coaches later this week.
1. Jorge Hernandez of Yuma, Arizona asks:
What is the difference between strong and free safety?
Answer Man: That's an excellent question, Jorge, though you might be surprised how basic the answer is. Answer Man thought he had a good feel for the answer, but he asked Defensive Backs Coach Mike Tomlin just to be sure. The brevity of Tomlin's answer surprised me.
"The strong safety lines up on the tight end's side," said Tomlin. "The free safety lines up on the other side."
Well, that's about it, really. The strong safety plays on (naturally) the strong side of the offense. In a base set, that's on the side where the tight end lines up at the end of the offensive line. In other sets, such as three-receivers or two-tight ends, the strong safety still lines up on the strong side; that is, the side of the offense with the most receivers split out beyond the offensive line.
In the Buccaneers' defense, there truly is little difference between the two positions. In fact, it might surprise you to know that John Lynch was actually playing free safety last year, even though he was generally thought of as a strong safety. Thus, Jermaine Phillips is the Bucs' starter at free this year and Dwight Smith is on the strong side. If you don't believe us, check out the depth chart. The Buccaneers ask much of the same thing out of both safeties.
That's not particularly uncommon, either. The two safety positions aren't drastically different. In general, you're likely to have the more rugged, hard-hitting type at strong safety, because he's more often involved in run-support, and the more rangy type at free safety, because he's more likely to play 'centerfield' in the pass defense.
Just kidding. I think you're trying to stump us, Jeff. Chances are, if you know that nickname, you know the answer. A good number of the Bucs' long-time fans probably know the answer as well. We won't keep the others in suspense: It's Jack Thompson, Buccaneer quarterback from 1983-84.
Thompson held the starting job for roughly half of his time with the team, appearing in 18 games with 16 starts. He started the final 13 games of 1983 and the first four of 1984 before being replaced by Steve DeBerg. The Bucs were 3-13 in those 16 games.
Tampa Bay traded a first-round pick in the 1984 draft to Cincinnati in 1983 to get Thompson, who had played only sparingly the previous two seasons. That pick, which ended up in the hands of New England, was the first overall selection in 1984, and the Patriots used it on WR Irving Fryar. This time, we're not kidding. Oh, that we were.
And the context was a beautiful night in Tampa, a little party attended by the team and about 80,000 of its fans. The Bucs had just returned from its Super Bowl triumph in San Diego in 2003, on the Monday following the big game. Raymond James Stadium was packed to the light standards with fans, who had been let in free of charge.
The Bucs' plane flew right over the stadium on its way into Tampa, dipping one wing to allow the passengers to see the packed stadium. After deplaning at the airport, the Bucs bused directly to the stadium and walked out into the howling throng.
Gruden made that remark on the stage set up at midfield. He was promising that the team would continue to go all-out for the Super Bowl every year. Hopefully, it's true that Tampa hasn't seen anything yet.
The media guide, a professional tool produced by the team and used by other teams and members of the media around the country, is printed each summer before training camp. It is not meant as an item for sale, and thus the team does not order an enormous amount of the books. The first priority is to distribute them to the media and the other teams.
That being said, there are often books still around at the end of the season, and the team will eventually sell them to fans. You can send a request to the Buccaneers' public relations department now or at any time during the season, and the request will be kept on file. At the end of the season, the P.R. department will fulfill as many requests as possible.
Media guides cost $12 through the mail, $10 in person. If you want a quicker alternative, might we suggest the team's 2004 Yearbook. It's available in many bookstores and contains much of the same information - player bios, stats, coaches' information - and it is filled with attractive, glossy action pictures.
In the Bengals game on Monday I spotted #28 on the field with the defense during the second half. I believe the TV color commentator identified him as Kenny Williams, a rookie cornerback out of Southern University. Yet, his name appears nowhere on the Bucs' official roster posted on their web site. Nick Setta's name has been added to the roster, but not Kenny Williams'. Is Williams on the Bucs roster at the present time or not?
So we talked to our good hosts here at Buccaneers.com. Sheepish looks all around. Seems Williams, a rookie and the team's final draft choice last April, had been accidentally deleted when the latest roster changes were made (the addition of Nick Setta, as you noted). Oops, our bad.
We reactivated Williams' name, of course. The Buccaneers.com staff prides itself on always having the most up-to-date roster, depth chart and transactions page concerning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thus, we have to thank you, John, for finding our little glitch and allowing us to correct it.
Lenny Williams was a seventh-round pick out of Southern, so you heard that correctly. Williams was a four-time all-conference pick at Southern and he was the 2003 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year. He came recommended by the Bucs' personnel executive, Doug Williams, who was the head coach at rival Grambling during Lenny Williams' college career.