TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith has made no attempt to disguise his desired plan for winning football games. Much like his mentor, Tony Dungy, Smith believes a dominating defense and strong running attack are the keys to success.
Now, that may seem a bit old-fashioned, especially in a league that has become as pass happy as the NFL. It may even seem a bit boring to some. But could it be that Smith is actually on the cusp of a new wave?
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock believes so, and the proof, Mayock said during a conference call this week, lies in the winning formula’s used by two of the most recent Super Bowl participants.
“Football is a cyclical game, and I think it’s intriguing that the two best teams in the league last year, in my opinion, Seattle and San Francisco, what was their recipe for success? They played great defense, they ran the football and they asked their quarterbacks to make a less percentage of plays than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady,’’ Mayock said. “So the two best teams in the league utilized the tailback and the run game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that come back in vogue.’’
It will certainly be in vogue with the Bucs. Smith said almost immediately upon his return to Tampa that he wants the Bucs to get back to the style of football that made them one of the NFL’s best teams in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“When I was here before, there was a certain brand of football that you expected from us,’’ said Smith, an assistant under Dungy with the Bucs from 1996 to 2000. “You knew it would be relentless, because we played hard and you got that each week from us and we’re going to get back to that.’’