Assistants set new standard
By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 17, 2002
TAMPA -- Remember all the hand-wringing a year ago over losing Herman Edwards and Lovie Smith off the Bucs defensive staff in the same season?
To make it more disconcerting, Tampa Bay hired Mike Tomlin and Joe Barry, young assistants with virtually no NFL experience, to coach the secondary and linebackers, respectively.
There's no minimizing the job done by Edwards, the Jets head coach, and Smith, the Rams defensive coordinator, during their five seasons with the Bucs.
But Tomlin and Barry didn't just live up to the standard set by those coaches. They raised it.
Under Tomlin, the Bucs are ranked No. 1 in pass defense and lead the NFL in interceptions with 18. Six interceptions have been made by Barry's linebackers. Four of them belong to Derrick Brooks, who has returned three for touchdowns.
Barry, the son-in-law of Bucs defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, also has orchestrated the switch of Shelton Quarles to middle linebacker. Quarles has responded by tying Brooks for the team lead in tackles and helping the defense maintain its No. 1 ranking.
As it turns out, the shadows cast by Edwards and Smith weren't so long after all.
"I'm just proud of the way the players have responded," Tomlin said. "I was going to coach the same way regardless of what happened. It's all about winning. Where you're ranked is not important. I'm pretty sure the New England Patriots secondary felt pretty good about themselves because they were being fitted for Super Bowl rings."
PREVENT DEFENSE: After watching his defense blow fourth-quarter leads in five of their six losses this season, Carolina coach John Fox is taking no chances.
The Panthers worked repeatedly on a defensive two-minute drill.
"It's up to the individual who wants to say, 'Look, I'm tired of this happening, and I'm going to take it upon myself to get it done,' " Carolina quarterback Rodney Peete said of the collapses.
SOUND MACHINE: It's one thing for a team to pipe in crowd noise during practice to prepare its offense for a road game. But for a home game?
Yet, that's what happened when Bucs coach Jon Gruden ordered that the speakers be turned on in preparation for Sunday's game at Raymond James Stadium.
This time, the benefactor was the Bucs defense.
"Defensive players actually want it," Gruden explained. "One of the things we've made as a theme here is we have not, in our opinion, played together and played our best football at home yet. I'm talking about all three phases. At times, we've played better on offense, we've played good on defense, or special teams have played solid.
"But we want to get the crowd into the game and we want to show them how it's going to sound like from a defensive standpoint.
"They're not going to hear each other communicate on defense, and Carolina has got a lot of shifts, different formations. We count on this crowd. We're going to try and get them off their seats and give them something to be excited about. It's going to create some problems defensively communicating."
Back to the Bucs
BucsBucs prepared to face tough times
Assistants set new standard
High profile -- Simeon Rice
Chucky's Chalk Talk
''It's not all about biceps (or triceps)
Athletes can learn a lot from Alstott
LightningA big shot at legitimacy
Andreychuk keeps focus on No. 600
One season later, Seminoles exact revenge
Gators' win bittersweet
A prime time
Iowa fans storm Minnesota field
SEC: Georgia clinches East with fourth-down TD
Big Ten: Bigger scare than usual for Ohio St.
State: Golden Knights top Flashes, stay alive in MAC
Unknown Gators have banner day
Injuries hit Gators' top wide receivers
Florida by the numbers
Blackwell leaves home a big winner
Falcons get desperate in search of offense
South Florida by the numbers
Big East: Late field goal lifts Owls past Rutgers
C-USA: Black Knights break two losing streaks
Pac-10: Huskies humble Ducks
Nation: Colorado State wins 5th straight
Boldin returns to best form at last
Injuries put freshmen in backfield
Florida State by the numbers
Big 12: Red Raiders outgun 'Horns
ACC: N.C. State falters 3rd straight week
The madness comes to Tampa
March to Madness
Nos. 1, 2 get early matchup
ACC to discover its stars
FAU survives Cleveland St.
Federenko leads Falcons to state
AHN girls, Jesuit boys in state meet
Bucs not their best in final
Seminole finally gets past Largo
3 from Pasco Co. collect five titles
Forry outlasts Lyons for title
Mustangs dominate yet again
Panthers refuse to lose
Final doesn't go Berkeley Prep's way
Indian Rocks girls nip Berkeley Prep
New NASCAR poster boy won't pose for honor
Highs & lows
Change of heart clears way for Hampton deal
Baldelli carries breakout into AFL
Mavericks stay perfect
Division-leading Flyers, Bruins play to tie
Palmer sparks a Warburg rally
Wimmer passes dried-up Keller to win BGN finale at Homestead
Rejected appeal keeps Martin a title longshot
Stewart bumps photographer, apologizes
New rescue system may save lives
NFL Game Day: Week 11
Packers making early run
Taylor hit with fine for gesture
Daily fishing report
Paterno column a disgrace