It seems that Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith is now starting to make his mark with the defensive setup. Prior to Smith becoming the defensive coordinator in Tampa he was the Atlanta Falcons head coach 2008 – 2014, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator 2003 – 2007, Baltimore Ravens Linebackers coach 2002, and Ravens Defensive Line coach from 1999 – 2001. This includes being part of the famous 2000 Ravens defense.

Defensive Style

Starting back in Smith’s Ravens days, he had names like, Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa as his defensive tackles. Both weighed about 330, 340 plus, and his middle linebacker was a guy by the name of Ray Lewis.

As the defensive coordinator of the Jaguars his defensive tackles were Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, and his middle linebacker was Mike Peterson. Both Stroud and Henderson were and at a weight of around 315, and 330 plus respectively.

As a Head Coach Smith had players such as linebacker Curtis Lofton, and defensive tackles Grady Jackson, and Paul Soliai, which were also 340 plus size guys in the weight department.
So many changes were occurring within defensive scheme setups that former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White accidently twitted out before the start of the 2014 preseason that the Falcons were going to switch from a 4-3 defensive to a 3-4 defensive. This prompted Coach Smith to clarify that his team’s defensive would remain a 4-3 with a range of amorphous sub packages grouped with a multiplicity of looks throughout each scheme.

Three goals of the Bucs Defense

When Mike Smith was first named the new Bucs coordinator, he stated three goals a defense must do to have success. First, “we must focus on stopping the run”. Second, “we must take the ball away by forcing turnovers”. Third, “we have to win on 3rd down”. Stating “when you make a team go three and out, that is almost just as good as a turnover”.

The defensive staff that the Bucs have also put together consists of Mark Duffner the current linebackers coach. John Hoke coaching defensive backs, and coach Jay Hayes coaching the defensive line. All of which have had extensive prior coaching experience.

Coach Jay Hayes has never had a first round defensive tackle or end that he has drafted. Yes he has had Defensive End Justin Smith, drafted by the Bangles in 2001 before Jay Hayes began coaching there, he also had Defensive End Duane Clemons 2003 – 2005, yet he didn’t draft him, and he also had Defensive Tackle Sam Adams for one year in 2006. The vast majority of defensive lineman he has worked with were draft from the 2nd round or lower.

The Future of the Bucs Defensive

Over the last several weeks Bucs fans have noticed the recent signings of Defensive Tackles John Hughes and Sealver Siliga.

Hughes is listed at 6, 2 and a half and weighing in at 320, 325 plus, Siliga listed at just over 6, 1 and a half and weighting in a 340, 345 plus. Not quite the same sizes that Bucs defensives have had in the past, lighter quicker guys.

John Hughes was signed at a time when the defensive line was facing a lot of injuries, yet Sealver Siliga was more of a signing perhaps based on want. Whatever the case may be it is apparent that the Bucs defensive of the future will have at least a few bigger guys at Defensive Tackle as Mike Smith likes to have as options from previous defensive he has coached.

It certainly appears that coaches Smith and Hayes will use those heavier guys that stop the run and allow linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David to “fly around” and take out what is left. As for the secondary, it’s seems like it might be more of a work in progress. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is slowly coming along, and perhaps look for the Bucs to draft another cornerback or safety on the first 3 rounds in the 2017 draft.