TAMPA — If there is even an ounce of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano inside the body of current Bucs coach Lovie Smith, this is the time when it would start to show.
An 0-3 start that includes one of the most humiliating losses in franchise history is enough to alter the demeanor of even the most stoic of coaches, but Smith’s players say he has yet to lose his cool.
Or his optimism.
“He’s tightened up a bit with some of the things we do,’’ defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “There are a couple more consequences for mistakes now. Even for the little mistakes.
“But other than that he’s been the same. And he’s been surprisingly optimistic. But that’s just who he is. He’s very optimistic and he has belief in his team, so he hasn’t changed.”
Combined with his consistent manner, the Bucs slow start already has some wondering if Smith’s calm, controlled approach has created too much of a relaxed atmosphere in the locker room. McCoy was quick to point out that while Smith might not demand excellence in the same way the iron-fisted Schiano did, he is no less of a disciplinarian than his predecessor.
“Who said it was relaxed around here?’’ McCoy asked rhetorically. “When we said it’s not as strict as it was, we never said it was more relaxed. There’s a big difference between relaxed and strict.
“(Smith’s) not as strict, but it’s not relaxed here at all. (Smith) requires discipline, and if you don’t do it, there are consequences. He just doesn’t require as much as last year.”