TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their first day off from training camp Tuesday. That makes it a good time to reflect on the first four days.
A couple of things of jumped out. Namely the peacefulness and calmness that new coach Lovie Smith has brought.
Previous coach Greg Schiano was a yeller and a screamer (remember “toes on the line’’?). Schiano and his staff were very loud on the practice field. Smith and his staff are much quieter. They’re teaching, but they’re doing it in a business-like manner.
You got the feeling a lot of players tuned out Schiano. But it appears they’re buying into Smith. He’s a coach who has proven he can win in the NFL and it’s obvious he already has earned his team's respect.
That’s all good, but there’s another big difference from last season to this one. That’s the relationship between the head coach and the quarterback. A year ago at this time, the feud between Schiano and quarterback Josh Freeman was festering behind the scenes.
Freeman was late for meetings, missed the team photo and was not elected as a captain. Things boiled over and the feud became public early on in the season. Freeman was benched after three games and subsequently released.
Schiano’s final year had all the elements of a soap opera. The first four days of the Smith era have had none of that, and I don’t anticipate that changing.
Smith has his hand-picked quarterback in Josh McCown. They have history together from their days in Chicago. McCown’s not the type of guy that’s going to be late for anything.
You can already see the harmony forming on Smith’s team. That puts the Bucs well ahead of where they were with Schiano.