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Coach Lovie Smith insists the Bucs are ‘a good football team’

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Lovie Smith said it again. The Tampa Bay Bucs are a good football team.

Now, about that pesky won-loss record…

The Bucs, 2-14 a year ago and 1-2 in this preseason, wind up their exhibition schedule Thursday night against the Miami Dolphins hoping to make some improvements on its Week Three loss to Cleveland. Many of the regulars won’t play long, if at all, but Smith would like to go into the season with a better taste in his mouth that it had against the Browns.

“We’re a good football team and we need to play that way always,” Smith said. 

We have a high standard. As far as what we are capable of, we want to see exactly how far we can go. We’ve seen signs. We think we’re going to be pretty good. Once you become a good football team – good defensive team, whatever it might be – you expect to play that way always. We know what the standard is and we want to reach that standard each week no matter who is out there.”

The Bucs have some highly regarded players in Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, but Smith repeated that those players have to win to be recognized among the greats.

No doubt that’s how,” Smith said. “It’s one thing to be an all-pro and get some individual awards, but it’s a team sport, yes. Most of the great ones though, it’s funny how it goes that eventually they are on winning teams. Most of the great ones I know. That’s part of your responsibility as a great player to bring your team along to that. We have to get to that point. We have good players. We have great players. I think we have a few great players on our team, but to really validate everything that they stand for, yes, as a football team we need to win more games.”

Offensive coordinator Dick Koetter was blunt in his criticism of his team…and himself.

“Bottom line is we stunk,” Koetter said. “Not good enough in any phase on offense. There were three or four individuals that played OK but this is a team game. We were terrible on offense. Just not good enough. We will watch with the players later this afternoon. Because of the weather we switched around the schedule today so we haven’t had a chance to watch with the players yet. I think they already know. Yeah, just not good enough in any aspect.”

It’s not hard for me to accurately evaluate it. We stunk. I mean that’s what I told you. We stunk. It’s not hard to evaluate. It was a good eye-opener for our guys. Cleveland is the first 3-4 team we’ve played. We are going to open with a 3-4 team. It’s hard to duplicate that look in practice. From that standpoint, great eye-opener for us for what we need to improve on for Tennessee.”

 I’m not going to lie. I was a little disappointed. I didn’t sleep too good Saturday night. Again, that’s coaching. I get paid to coach. The other coaches get paid to coach. We have to figure out a way – this isn’t all players’ errors. I made errors in that game too. I think two of those sacks were on me. You look in the mirror and you say, ‘What do we have to do to get better?’ I say all the time, ‘Play to our strengths, hide our weaknesses.’ I have a pretty good handle on what our strengths and weaknesses are. It’s my job to get our strengths out there and hide our weaknesses. I didn’t do a very good job either.”

The Bucs probably won’t play Winston much on Thursday, even though he could use the work. The risk of injury, however, is too great. Koetter admitted Winston’s ankle affected him some against the Browns.

 

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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