By Evan Winkofsky
The head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lovie Smith, met with assorted media members at the teams training facility Sunday afternoon to discuss his thoughts on the 20-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
“We made progress from last week and that is what we wanted to see,” Smith said. The Bucs fell to 0-2 in the preseason slate and have failed to reach the expectations of both the fans and the organization. Lovie has maintained a positive attitude and is encouraged by the progress of the team.
“Our 2’s (second team) didn’t do as well," said Smith. "We want to see the younger players make improvements but you kind of judge your 1’s (First Team) against their 1’s and our 1’s held their own.”
One position group that continues to make strides is the offensive line. It has been a major focus of criticism from both the fans and the media but Smith knows that they still have time to get the line to where it needs to be.
“Were concerned about it and other positions too. The Offensive line got better last night. We had some guys play better than others. Guys that really played well were (Anthony) Collins and Evan Dietrich-Smith” Smith said.
With the question marks still surrounding the position group Lovie and the coaching staff have come to a consensus at this time but you never know what will change between now and the start of the regular season.
“When you get to the third preseason game you are getting ready for the season and the group we are putting out there right now they have earned that right to get the majority of the plays this week," Smith said. "It will all be fairly clear on what we are thinking this week.”
Expect to see Anthony Collins (LT) Oniel Cousins (LG) Evan Dietrich-Smith (C) Patrick Omameh (RG) Demar Dotson (RT) as the Bucs starting offensive line to take the field in Buffalo next Saturday afternoon.
Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans made his first NFL catch against the Dolphins but the story developed on a play he failed to make. Smith said that he was most impressed by the play he made to get down to the goal line and that the coaching staff isn’t going to be too tough on him for the mistake.
“We are not going to give him a life sentence for having the ball in the wrong arm and fumbling but breaking a tackle to get down there is harder to do,” said Smith.
Lovie continued to praise his team on the growth and progress he saw from week one of the preseason to week two especially when it came to defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and the defense.
“Gerald had a dominant night," Smith said, "More so than I thought after watching the video.”
Lovie mentioned linebackers Lavonte David and Mason Foster as having successful nights and was happy to finally get his starting tandem lined up at safety.
“Good for Dashon to get his first action and Mark Barron made some plays," said Smith. "That tackle in the open field is about as good as an open field tackle, impact tackle, that you can get.”
This is an important week for the Buccaneers coaching staff and its players said Smith, “We are excited about this week. We install our game plan and go through an entire week like we do in the regular season. How we travel and even where we sit on the plane as we continue to get ready for Carolina.”
- Expect the Buccaneers to continue with the up tempo offensive. Lovie likes how much pressure the no-huddle puts on opposing team’s defenses and is not any more concerned over three-and-outs when you huddle versus when you don’t huddle.
- Smith feels like a “broken record” when talking about Gerald McCoy’s game. He is so impressed with the plays in which he makes the stat sheet and the amount of pressure he puts on the offense.
- Smith was encouraged by Mike Evan’s attitude after the over turned touchdown. He said that Mike came over to him and recognized the mistake he made. Lovie is “not a fan” of the upcoming cut. The Buccaneers will reduce the roster to just 75 players after the 3rd preseason game before getting down to 53 before the start of the season.
- Smith talked about the first team’s performance in the preseason. He called the first preseason game “Very disappointing” and the second game “We felt a little better” and “We will put a lot on them this week too.”