Mr. Smith Goes To Tampa

The NFL season is almost over, but it isn't slowing down. Before taking a spin through the coaching carousel, the playoffs and reader emails, we begin with what new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith will do with his $16 million man

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Lovie Smith is back in Tampa Bay as head coach, one season after being fired by the Bears. Earlier in his career, Smith served as the Buccaneers linebackers coach from 1996-2000. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Busy time of year, with so much happening. Eight teams are still playing. Four wish they still were. Five are seeking new head coaches. Two already have completed their changes.

Let’s start there, in Tampa Bay and Houston: 

Lovie's Hiatus

What'd Lovie Smith do with his time off in 2013? The MMQB spent a Sunday with the ex-Bears coach to see how he was coping. FULL STORY

LOVIE SMITH WANTS DARRELLE REVIS ON HIS ROSTER. Talked to the new Buccaneers coach for my podcast this week (it will be up late Tuesday), and he tried to educate me about the real way football is played today. I said to him with so many three- and four-wide formations in the pro game now (most teams are playing three-plus wides more than half the snaps), it makes no sense to me to run off Revis, who is set to make a non-guaranteed $16 million in 2014 if the Bucs keep him. Smith agreed. I am glad to hear he doesn’t care if it means Revis will make 13 percent of the cap in 2014—you don’t discard great cover guys in modern football. “We’re trying to get as many good players as possible to win football games,’’ Smith said. “Any coach around would want a Darrelle Revis to be on his roster. We don’t play Cover 2 each snap. There’s a place for a good cover corner. I can’t wait to sit down with Darrelle and talk to him about his game and just kind of see as we go forward how we’re going to do this and win a lot of football games together. That’s all that’s on my mind right now. All those things work themselves out, but you’re right—the game is now more about three receivers on. And yeah, I’ve never been in a situation where we’ve had too many good corners.” Sound like a guy who wants to cut or trade Revis? I think not.

BILL O’BRIEN’S NOT LOOKING FOR TOO MUCH—JUST ANOTHER TOM BRADY. Just kidding. He’s not. But what the new Texans coach wants in whoever is under center for him in 2014 (it won’t be Matt Schaub, if the rest of the organization has anything to do with it) is someone who, like Brady, has a passion for football that equals O’Brien’s. “I’d be getting texts, calls from Tom on Wednesday night about the third-down package,’’ O’Brien told me. “Thursday night I’d be hearing from him 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock about red-zone plays. Obviously, he’s talented, but Tom never stopped thinking about football. When you coach Tom Brady, you’re not coaching with him; you’re a partner in the offense with him. That’s the ideal for a quarterback—someone who cares about it as much as you do.” O’Brien found that in Matt McGloin at Penn State in his first year there, and it’s why he went to the mat with NFL teams, stridently insisting to them last spring they should give McGloin a shot in training camp. The Raiders did, and McGloin ended up playing seven games for Oakland, outperforming Terrelle Pryor. The big question for O’Brien: Is Teddy Bridgewater that guy with the No. 1 pick? Is Blake Bortles (288 passing yards, three touchdowns, 74 percent completions in a Sept. 14 Central Florida win at Penn State) the guy after a trade down? Or Johnny Manziel, or Tajh Boyd, or Derek Carr? O’Brien will find out soon enough. “I just got in the building,’’ he said. “There are so many scenarios. We draft a quarterback there, we trade the pick to someone who’ll give us a lot for it, or we take another position. Lots of time to figure that out.” The draft is four months from tomorrow. O’Brien will be sick of the over-analysis by then.

After losing his starting job, Robert Griffin III watched the final two games from the sidelines. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
After losing his starting job, Robert Griffin III watched the final three games from the sidelines. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

BRUCE ALLEN NEEDS TO PICK A COACH WITH REAL POWER. The Washington general manager might end up setting the NFL record for coaches interviewed; he has 11 candidates on his list. Monday was the first day teams could interview coaches whose teams played and won in the Wild Card round, so Allen can meet with Greg Roman and Vic Fangio, the two San Francisco coordinators on his wish list—but only if he travels to the West Coast to do so. It’ll be an interesting sign if Allen doesn’t go west to meet with Roman and Fangio. That would likely mean we’re in for a long search in Washington, because I’ve heard Allen is very interested in getting to know Roman, one of the most respected offensive coordinators in football and a guy Robert Griffin III might benefit from in a big way. Look what Roman, the play-caller in San Francisco the past two seasons, has done with Colin Kaepernick. Roman’s a guy Allen needs to see. But whoever gets that gig in Washington needs to lasso control of the team, and the quarterback, from owner Dan Snyder. More damaging revelations Monday from Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, writing that Griffin bragged he could influence the franchise’s direction because of his relationship with Snyder. And you thought Mike Shanahan was exaggerating his claims? The evidence continues to roll in that Griffin needs to be coached, coached hard, and kept away from all the distracting junk that can only hurt him long-term.

THE SAINTS NEED CAM JORDAN TO BE VERY BIG ON SUNDAY. New Orleans got terrific play from its defensive front Saturday night. I thought Philadelphia would control a good Saints front, but the Eagles were beaten more than they did the beating. It happened inside and outside. Twice I saw rookie tackle John Jenkins manhandle Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce and invade the backfield, and in general the Saints got good push in the middle. On the outside, right end Cameron Jordan had 1.5 of the two Saints’ sacks of Nick Foles and was a consistent disruptive force. That’s to Jordan’s credit, going against Pro Bowler Jason Peters, and he’ll be vital to the cause Saturday in Seattle. Jordan faces his second straight top tackle in Russell Okung, and it’s a major problem for New Orleans if Jordan gets neutralized the way he did a month ago in the Pacific Northwest. In that game, New Orleans’ failure to pressure Russell Wilson and cave in the line contributed in a big way to Seattle putting up a gaudy 429 yards, 6.2 yards per play and 34 points. Jordan’s ability to keep outside contain (making it tough for backs and Wilson to string plays around left end) will be important because of Wilson’s practice of using the entire field to make plays; New Orleans will need to funnel him inside between the tackles so the big bodies and active linebacker Curtis Lofton can prevent him from breaking free.

THE COLTS SIGN DEION BRANCH. This is not 2009. The Colts, with Darrius Heyward-Bey sidelined with a sore hamstring, signed Branch to be their fifth receiver five days before traveling to New England to face the team Branch, now 34, knows oh so well. His last catch: 50 weeks ago, in the AFC title game loss against Baltimore. When you’ve signed Griff Whalen and Da’Rick Rogers already, the wideout pool’s getting pretty shallow. This is no attempt to tweak the Patriots or to steal information about them—it’s simply a way to try to get a healthy, smart body who could play 12 snaps Saturday night and won’t be cowed by the moment if the Colts decided to activate him. Colts GM Ryan Grigson never lets convention get in the way of building his roster.

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Now onto your email:

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97 comments
JohnMurphy2
JohnMurphy2

its just great to see Lovie Smith as head coach again, hard working guy, and a great football mind, and just a very personable human being, even though I have been a lifelong Patriots fan,there has always been something intriguing about Lovie Smith, cant put my finger on it, maybe his appearance of being a very patient person??? he should do well in Tampa

thomasoverley
thomasoverley

yawn of kluwe got what he wanted his name in the press for a couple more days.  Unless you are a fan of a team can you even tell me who the punter is for say Detroit or TB, no one cares about punters so Kluwe is determined to make them look at him

Tampalawyer
Tampalawyer

As to Kluwe, he seems to seek out publicity, but that's far from rare in the NFL.  As a private employee, he has no free speech rights -- at least based upon the first amendment.  However, he may be protected from retaliation for opposition to discriminatory actions regarding sexual orientation under Minnesota law.  Also, he has grievance rights under the CBA with the NFL.  I doubt his reluctance to air his concerns earlier because the NFLPA is no wallflower and he had to know [as an activist of sorts] that he had those protections.  Just my humble opinion from my experience in this area of the law.


As to Revis, he began the season not fully recovered from a knee injury.  From what I saw, when the Bucs allowed him to play man coverage, he excelled against some of the league's best receivers [Megatron, Fitzgerald, White, Smith].  Inexplicably, the Bucs often played Revis in zone coverage and he was less effective.  The way that the Bucs in the past have squandered their cap space I would keep Revis in a heartbeat.  I am sure Lovie and Frazier will figure out how to best utilize his talents.

jim1096
jim1096

..."He beat Tom Brady head-to-head last year." - That's all the evidence PK needs to determine a future hall of fame QB... PK is a homer writing for a national publication. 

DavidHarte
DavidHarte

Your fixation with Revis has now become laughable.  Whatever his worth on the Jets (a team that never won anything that mattered), Revis was nothing but mediocre this season, a marginal player on a truly bad team; going forward he is simply a liability to Smith and Tampa by any standard of "excellence."  To pay this New York media creation 13% of your payroll is akin to professional malpractice.


But do keep the drumbeat rolling, Peter.  No doubt one day soon you'll argue for the Hall of Fame, and then Revis can tuck in right next to Harry Carson, Bill Parcells and all the other bloated New York "Legends."


In the meantime, tell us again how Roger Craig was only "good" (and of course undeserving) as a key part of the greatest dynasty in the modern era of pro football.  The shame is that Bill Walsh died before he could make the case for Craig, as he surely would be doing, while exposing your bias and ignorance in the process.

PaulWeeldreyer
PaulWeeldreyer

Mr. King, I usually enjoy your articles. However, you sometimes are too PC for me. I think, in general, you are too close to some of the people that you report on to have any kind of unbiased view of them. The Kluwe situation is a great example of this. Your tone seems to be that since you know Kluwe and like him, and don't know Mike Priefer, then Kluwe must be telling the truth because you THINK he has always been honest with you. If you would just take a step back from your personal view of Kluwe, you would realize how little sense his argument makes. If he was really cut from Minnesota because of his political views, and not because of his high level of pay and relative lack of high level of play, then why did no other team pick him up this year?? You and I both know that if Chris Kluwe could help a team win, someone would sign him. As a lifelong Vikings fan, I for the most part liked Chris Kluwe. But the fact remains that when a PUNTER is due about 1.4 million dollars, and he's a bit of a distraction in the media (not to mention his vulgarity when published), it makes perfect sense that the Vikings would draft a younger punter that they could pay a quarter of what Kluwe was getting. Kluwe is a sore loser, and he needs to move on. 

bdeviled11
bdeviled11

Honest question... Are supporters of Kluwe also outraged at how P. Robertson of Duck Dynasty got treated? Also, using terms like 'coward and bigot' help or hurt Kluwe's comments?

PO'D in boca
PO'D in boca

Mr king read your MMQB religiously and have disagreed  with a few of your stances, but for you to endorse what Kluwee came out and said is wrong, your strongly supported the union, so why did he not file a complaint there before he goes public with hear say ? 

if he did so in the right way it would have been investigated in the right way by NFL and team. if it comes out that coach said nothing of the sort in the investigation do you think Kluwee offers a public apology ??


if you support gay rights that's fine, there are others who have their opinions but lets keep football a sport and not a soap opera 

pamperofirpo
pamperofirpo

Bill O'Brien, there is one quarterback perfect for your new team: Kirk Cousins. He has a chance to be the next Tom Brady. And, idiotically, the Redskins are more than willing to trade him, and keep the inept RGme.

Jon8
Jon8

O'Brien went and got himself the best available HC job in the NFL!


The Buc's continue their streak of bad decisions by hiring the truly mediocre, Lovie Smith!


Why is it that so many NFL owners do not realize that some coaches: Lovie Smith; Rex Ryan; Kubiak; Wade Phillips; Norv Turner, make great coordinators and lousy HC's?!


The Bengals have two coaches who are getting serious interest from other teams looking for a HC, Zimmer and Gruden. Maybe the Bengals should be interested as well!

logue.justinf
logue.justinf

What qb won more games than anyone in his first two years?  First Name Russell, last name Wilson.  Name the three guys who threw for at least 50 td's in their first two seasons.  I'll give you the first two.  Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and who?  That's right, first name Russell, last name Wilson.

tbdetermined
tbdetermined

enough already. Quarterbacks do not play each other. Wilson did not beat Brady, Either Wilson beat the New England defense  or the Seattle Defense beat Brady.

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

plus the people who want to fire lewis, remember when the chargers fired schottenheimer after a 15-4 season, yeah who'd they end up with, norv turner.  if you fire a coach that has been sucessful, you better have a gooid coach lined up

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

plus also you look at why the 9ers had to take the timeout, it was because kaperncick left his play wristband on the sideline, you should've taken the flag and walked to the sideline to get your band

comments
comments

I know Peter mentioned the inconsistency with which pass interference was called this past weekend, but I'm surprised this, and the supposed rules of the game haven't been a bigger topic of discussion this week. I want to say thanks to the powers that be for letting teams play football last weekend. That said, I have no idea what the rules will be this weekend. ( I assume Seattle and New England at the very least will be allowed to rape and pillage opposing recievers because they're at home and are outdoors, "tough", defensive teams) But beyond that, It's kind of tough to guess. Can I assume from last week's action, that its ok to sack the quarterback again too? Or does that change with Brady and Manning getting back in the action? Does the NFL have a web site where they release the rules on a week by week basis? Can anyone help?

JOBOOZOSO
JOBOOZOSO

Wilson is a Pro-Bowler, yes? Pro-Bowlers aren't "good". They are GREAT!

Ryan19
Ryan19

"He beat Tom Brady head-to-head last year."


Really, Peter?  They played a game of one-on-one football against each other and Wilson won?  Wilson did not beat Brady head-to-head last year.  The SEAHAWKS beat the PATRIOTS.  See Peter, this is a team game not an individual game.  Even if the stats were in favor of Wilson, you need to factor in that Brady played against the best defense in the league while Wilson played against a slightly better than average defense.  It is sad that this is the level of analysis from a professional analyst.  

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Sally Jenkin's story, as always, was top notch. The attitude around Washington has been well reported all year long, and the attitude of Griffin has been a definite negative. He needs a strong hand to bring out the best in him. Shanahan was not the man for the job, but then RG didn't want to be a pupil either. He has the potential to have a great and successful career, but not until he realizes that he has things to learn. It will require a very capable coach to deal with both the QB and the owner. At least, if recent history is any indication, he will be well paid.

kenc29
kenc29

The comparison of Wilson to Brees is because Brees is a top SB-winning QB who is also SHORT, by current NFL QB standards.

Unicornhunter
Unicornhunter

@Tampalawyer Your phrase that he has no free speech rights confuses the issue.  He has the same free speech rights as anyone, that just may not protect him from termination absent the exceptions you provided.

floorme1955
floorme1955

@DavidHarte  Once known as REVIS ISLAND-- he has  become The LOST ISLAND of ATLANTIS- 


It's what happens when ego and smack talk is substituted for hard  work and skill up grades--  In 2010 - he held out while renegotiating a contract- and  in the 2nd week pulled a hammy- In 2012- threatened another hold out- doesn't take spring training serious- not only get a concussion but a torn ACL-- 


Like his uncle- former NFL'er Sean Gilbert- it's never about the team or team mates- it's only about HIM- 

Yes he his reputation made the pro bowl in 2013- (total of  3 interceptions in the past 2 years)(2 sacks in 7 years)

jim1096
jim1096

@DavidHarte I remember watching Roger Craig with those 49'er teams. He was incredible... Could run the ball and catch. I believe he's the only running back to gain 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, isn't he? 

kungfoomoe
kungfoomoe

@bdeviled11 

they arent, but duck dynasty supporters arent backing kluwe either. works both ways, dude

blynder
blynder

@bdeviled11 

I understand why you asked that question; but I'd offer this may not be the right place to ask. :)


blynder
blynder

@PO'D in boca 

There are plenty of reasons why someone may not "report" right away.  People who research rapists and rape victims have done tons of work on the subject.  If I recall, the same thing was said of J.Martin in Marino land - and the same could be said now as then.  It is a valid question, "why did you wait to say something?" - but the answer should be rendered before we decide the validity of all bits and parts yes?

blynder
blynder

@pamperofirpo 

Inept might be a bit harsh for RG3; but I believe Cousin's could be a really good QB someplace.  I could see the Texans making a run at him, as well as the Vikings or even the Raiders.  The Texas trade their number 1 for the Redskins 1 and Cousins, plus a conditional 3 or 4.  The Texans get a viable QB to work up and D.Snyder gets more draft pics/money to spend on shiny new players.

DOriginalDonald
DOriginalDonald

@Jon8 Lovie Smith went to the Super Bowl. I wouldn't EXACTLY call him mediocre

Sdwalt
Sdwalt

@Jon8I am not even sure Norv is even a good OC anymore, look how much better the Chargers offensive is with him gone.

CoreyLivermore
CoreyLivermore

@logue.justinf

Name the guy who was given a win by replacement officials even though it should count for a loss?  First name Russell, last name Wilson.

RescuedfromESPN
RescuedfromESPN

@tbdetermined Wilson did play a key part in that victory, so it is fair to say he outplayed Brady on that particular day. Also, Brady had an intentional grounding call that ended the first half inside Seattle's 20, had he not done that, the Pats would have likely kicked an FG, and would've won by 2. So it is fair to blame the loss on Brady, and give credit to Wilson.

CoreyLivermore
CoreyLivermore

@JOBOOZOSO

People are selected to the Pro Bowl based on the results of an internet popularity contest.  You don't have to be good to make the Pro Bowl; you merely need to have name recognition.

blynder
blynder

@Ryan19 

I think he probably understood that it was two teams playing - based on what I've read and seen of PK, he seems to be able to grasp at complex dynamics such as team sports.  My guess he was trying to make a point about why R.Wilson gets the attention he does.  ;)

jroane
jroane

@Rickapolis Sally Jenkins has been fed info from the Shanahan camp all year. I don't know how true or not the reporting is but read her with the knowledge that team Shanahan is pumping her with info. And you can bet now that M. Shanahan has been fired, he (or surrogates) will go whole hog on making RG3 and Daniel Snyder to be evil incarnated.

josef918
josef918

@RickapolisNah, her story, as always, was terrible and filled with unsupported facts and personal agendas and attacks.  Remember her Lance Armstrong saga?  And I assume by well-reported, you mean by her, in previous articles, seemingly thinking that if you repeat a narrative often enough, it becomes true.  I'm sure at this point we don't know nearly the truth of what goes on in NFL locker rooms in general, but we do know vultures like her will seize onto any scrap of a rumor or read into any interaction to enough to invent an attention grabbing cover story.

evil.aaronm
evil.aaronm

@Rickapolis If I were a coach, and not desperate for a job, there's are two jobs I'd absolutely NOT consider: the Cowboys, and this one.  Unless RGIII has an immediate change of heart, to become a true student of the game, there's no win-win in this at all.  More likely, a strong coach comes in, says "No," and Griffin becomes petulant, like TO.  Snyder, not wanting to lose his "in" with RGIII, will vacillate between the coach and QB, and nothing changes.  No thank you.  Enjoy your mediocrity, Washington.

mike202
mike202

@kenc29 There is more of a comparison than that.  Wilson's first two years have far surpassed Brees in his first two years and is on a very similar path going down the road to his idol at QB.  Time will tell but Wilson is on track to be as good or better than Brees when he has developed.

Tampalawyer
Tampalawyer

@Unicornhunter@Tampalawyer Not sure your clarification adds much because we clearly only are discussing his treatment by the Vikings and not the government, but if we're here to teach con law -- posters:  we all have constitutional rights and they protect us from governmental action which infringes upon those rights; however, the Minnesota Vikings football club [whatever their business name is] is a private employer/entity; and thus Mr. Kluwe cannot use the first amendment's protection of free speech as a basis to challenge any adverse employment action by the Vikings against him.  Mr. Kluwe still retains his first amendment rights in all other respects.  Better? 

Maplesyrup
Maplesyrup

The Redskins don't have a first round pick and the whole "Kirk Cousins could be really good" story is based on 6 good quarters of football.

tbdetermined
tbdetermined

@RescuedfromESPN@tbdetermined I'm not saying Wilson is not a good quarterback, and he did play well that day. I'm tired of hearing this quarterback beat that one , when they do not play against each other. Some teams have better defenses than others, they never get the credit, it's always the quarterback that gets the blame.  another part of the game that is underrated is the offensive line that gives the quarterback the time he needs. The is a TEAM game.

TerrapinStation87
TerrapinStation87

@CobyPreimesberger  First off, no one called him a failure. Now, for the record, Lewis has led the Bengals to the playoffs in five of his eleven years- twice with Carson Palmer. He carries an overall record of 90-85 and has never won a playoff game. Not one playoff win in eleven years. (two more years? eleven isn't enough, eh?) The time for Lewis and the Bengals to "take the next step" has arrived. If losing home playoff games in that role is satisfying to you, then it's easy to understand the "new culture" in Cincinnati.

Wombat
Wombat

@TerrapinStation87 @CobyPreimesberger By changing a culture within an organization to the point where they have the opportunity to win. If Lewis had not worked on Mike Brown to change how the Bengals draft, train, acquire and keep talent the Bengals would still be stuck in the late 90's. There was a lot broken in Cinci... it is taking a while to fix. Give a year or two more before we call him a failure. The change he has wrought here so far has been tremendous.

evil.aaronm
evil.aaronm

@jroane @Rickapolis That's possible.  Question, though: If RGIII flounders, next year, who will his supporters blame?  I mean, RGIII did well enough, last year.  Was that due to Shanahan or RGIII?

CMFJ
CMFJ

@mike202 @kenc29 


mike202, I think you are missing kenc29's point that the only reason they are compared is because of their height.  Brees and Wilson are very different kinds of QBs, with their height is the only real similarity.   


You write "there is more of a comparison than that", but the comparison of relative success could be made to any other NFL QB.  The point is that there is not reason to select those two together as much as the NFL media does.


The other point (SB-winning, success in first two years) is a different issue.  Brees played on a far inferior team and his real statistical breakout came when he was paired with Sean Peyton - they are a great pairing.   


Also, why choose Brees for the comparison of relative success? 

blynder
blynder

@Maplesyrup 

No first round pick? That is right they traded those away. LOL  Add to that a new coach?  Bummer! :)  That team needs to over achieve in 2014...


True, it is based on not a large body of work - but, look at how people pursued M.Flynn, even after he flamed out in Seattle.  I'd guess Cousin's will get a serious look.

Wombat
Wombat

@TerrapinStation87 @CobyPreimesberger We are happy to have a winning team and a positive future. I have never believed that changing coaches that are winning is a recipe for more success. I do know that changing coaches or QB's often is a recipe for failure, (i.e. Browns, Redskins). So call me wary of changing to an unknown away from a known, winning quantity... at least until I know I have something better available. Is there anything better available right now?

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