TAMPA — It has been a Lovie Fest. The 10th head coach in Bucs history is ahead on all scorecards. Even if there were such a thing as East German judges anymore, they'd be for Lovie Smith.
Now, about the offense and the quarterback …
Legitimate questions, and not because Jeff Tedford has coordinated as many NFL offenses for as many NFL snaps as I have. It's more a feel thing, and I've felt all along that Lovie's second time around here will go only as well as his offense does — and his quarterback.
We looked for encouraging road signs during and after Smith's introductory news conference Monday.
Instead, there were some blinking red lights.
Like when Lovie said, “We're just excited about putting it all together and competing, and having our offense merge with our defense.”
Or when he said he didn't think the NFL “has changed a lot.”
Or, my least favorite: “To me, if you play great defense, you can win eight games,” Lovie said. “If you have special teams along with that, you can win 10. But you have to have great defense and takeaways, along with special teams, you can win about 10. From there, you need offense.”
Offense merging with defense?
From there you need offense?
Weren't defense and “running the ball” what Greg Schiano talked about the day he was hired? Isn't the old From There You Need Offense mentality one reason Tony Dungy was fired from here? Or part of why Lovie was let go in Chicago?
Then again, Lovie nearly did the same with Rex Grossman. And he brought then-cutting-edge offensive guy Mike Martz to Chicago. One season, the Bears had the second-ranked offense in football, way ahead of any of Dungy's Bucs teams. And Jeff Tedford is a quarterbacks guy.
But go back to something else Lovie said, right after “ … From there, you need offense.” He said:
“Right now, in the playoffs, it's a lot about the quarterback now — 'We're an evenly matched team, and we need that guy to do something there.' ”
Check out the postseason matchups this weekend: Brees at Wilson, Luck at Brady, Kaepernick at Newton and Rivers at Manning.
Then there are the Bucs.
I'm not sure Mike Glennon is the answer.
I'm not sure Lovie is convinced, either, though he has said some very nice things about Glennon. I want to think Lovie is open to any or all ideas at QB.
So much rides on it.
Lovie looks at the NFL today and sees nothing different. He says, “You look at the final four of the NFC, you have Carolina. How are they winning football games? Defense, running game, big-play ability in the passing game. Seattle. How is Seattle? Defense. Takeaways. Don't belittle takeaways.”
Yes, Seattle and San Francisco have ferocious defenses and running games. And Cam Newton is doing a heck of an impression of Bucs Ball quarterbacking.
Still, where Lovie sees defense and special teams, some of us see offense, some of us see quarterbacks.
You have one or you don't.
Look at the conference. Look at the division. Look at the playoffs.
You have one or you don't.
OK, back to the Lovie Fest ...