New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith is tasked with turning around a franchise that hasn't enjoyed much success since its 2002 Super Bowl victory, but he also knows that he's getting more talent than your average first-year head coach. Smith spoke to the media on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine, and heaped praise upon his new players.
Well, most of them.
On QB Mike Glennon:
Smith said that Glennon "can make any throw you ask him to make" and that it's difficult to step in right away and play, but he didn't hand Glennon the starting job by any means. In fact, Smith said that when the Buccaneers pick seventh overall in this May's draft, they could very well consider a quarterback.
Using a pick that high on a QB would almost certainly spell doom for Glennon, at least in Tampa Bay, but given what Smith said about playing as a rookie, it wouldn't be surprising to see Glennon still start from day one. This year's class of quarterbacks is considered strong at the top with Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles. Whether or not one of those three will be available at No. 7 remains to be seen.
On RB Doug Martin:
While noting that he thinks Martin can handle the load as a full-time back, Smith added that he wants to use two running backs next season, per Mocking the Draft's Dan Kadar. There were high expectations for Martin headed into 2013, but he underwhelmed on the field and missed 10 games with a shoulder injury.
On the defense:
As a defensive guy who once coached Derrick Brooks when he was the linebackers coach in Tampa from 1996 to 2000, then as the Rams defensive coordinator before taking over the Chicago Bears for nine years, it's not surprising that Smith is excited about some of his defenders for the Bucs. Kadar noted that Smith started by talking about Gerald McCoy, the All-Pro DT coming off of his finest season.
Smith also said that he couldn't wait to "get our hands on" linebacker Lavonte David. Many considered David to be the most underrated and underappreciated defensive player in the NFL last season. Smith compared him to his former Pro Bowl linebacker in Chicago, Lance Briggs.
On Mike Williams:
Williams was recently charged with a couple of misdemeanors, and Smith seemed to show no mercy when it comes to any off-field incidents, saying that the team was "disappointed" in Williams and that they "won't put up with it." Williams has had an inconsistent career thus far and missed 10 games last season.
It's not yet known how far any discipline could go, but it appears Smith isn't going to be pulling any punches on a team that was surrounded by apparent mismanagement under the previous regime.