Tempering Expectations on Lovie Smith

NFL NEWS: Lovie Smith

The Bucs are 1-5 under head coach Lovie Smith in his first year and some are already calling for his job.

Is it because despite all the acquisitions and the all-offensive draft, the Bucs rank near the bottom in all team yardage categories? Is it because of the lackluster effort shown in two of those losses being outscored a combined 114-31 at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens?

To break it down, the Bucs currently ranked 26th in passing averaging 217 yards a game and 27th in rushing with an 89.8 yards a game on offense, which is good for 29th overall with an average of 306 yards a game. On the other side of the ball, the Bucs rank 31st defending the pass with a 294.5 yards a game and 25th against the run giving up an average of 128.3 yards a game, which is good for dead last overall with an abominable 422.8 yards a game.

The Bucs gave up a combined 488 total yards in their 56-14 loss against the Falcons. The Falcons were up 35-0 by the end of the first half. The only Bucs offensive touchdown came middle of the fourth quarter from a 15-play 80 yard drive. The second Bucs touchdown came on a Danny Lansanah 27 yard interception return.

The Bucs were able to give up an almost equally impressive 475 yards in Sunday’s loss against the Ravens. The Ravens racked up 38 points before the end of the first half before the Bucs offense decided to finally respond with a nine-play 51 yard drive ending with a field goal. The offense did add two touchdowns before the game mercifully ended with a 48-17.

So what is to be said about Smith’s progression so far? Consider this.

Smith returned to coaching a year after being fired from the Chicago Bears, a team he lead in 2006 to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1985 and two other playoff appearances. Doesn’t that alone doesn’t deserve at least two seasons?

Bucs fans should be frustrated from a 1-5 outing, but let’s consider that Smith is the third coach since their Super Bowl winning coach in Jon Gruden, who was fired in 2009. The Bucs have only had one winning season since Gruden’s departure and neither of Smith’s predecessors held any coordinator positions in the NFL.

Much of Smith’s success with the Bears predicated on staples like Brian Urlacher, Matt Forte and Devin Hester, none of them did he coaxed/traded to join him in Tampa Bay. In nine seasons with the team, Smith accrued an 81-63 record with three playoff appearances, and a Super Bowl appearance. If he can get to a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman, a career 71.4 rated quarterback, he can get to one with Mike Glennon.

In drawing comparisons to Tony Dungy, Smith’s mentor in his first stint with the Bucs and opponent in Super Bowl XLI, one must wonder if social media was around in 1996 what would fans would have said after Dungy’s 0-5 debut in 1996.

Not everybody can be Jim Harbaugh and turn things around immediately like that. It’s what we call rebuilding. Bucs fans haven’t had such a coaching figure to really rally around behind for a long time.

For now, as Dungy did before him, Smith asks for your patience. Let’s give it to him.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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