You could say that Lovie Smith has been preparing for this Buccaneer job for an entire year. After he was fired in Chicago, Lovie Smith sat out the season -- he could have quickly been back on another sideline -- to just soak in some football.
He talked to colleagues and coaches, went to college and high school games, spent some family time -- all of it designed to learn by watching not working.
The Buccaneers will benefit from that -- and Lovie Smith tells me, he isn't rebuilding this franchise, he is restoring it.
"We did lay a foundation for Tampa Bay Buccaneer football," Smith said. "There's a certain brand of football that you expected from us. That would be relentless, you 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."
Smith pointed out two teams in his division, the Saints and Panthers, and he says there is no reason why the Bucs can't be part of that mix next year.
Smith has already added former University of California head coach Jeff Tedford as his offensive coordinator, and former Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier as his defensive coordinator.
That's what I mean by saying he has had a year to prepare for this job. He and Jeff Tedford would meet this past season, watching games and talking offensive philosophy.
"We spent a couple of days together in my basement in Chicago and kind of merged our philosophies, they weren't [that far] off, on how we wanted to play offensive football," Smith said. "I'm talking about a strong running game, a power running attack. I think you have to have balance with the offense ... with a big-play ability in the passing game."
Lovie Smith is already creating one element that has been missing from the Buccaneers for two seasons: a buzz in this community about this franchise. Fans have high hopes for Lovie Smith.
Now, it's Smith's job to turn that hope into a reality.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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