If you are an NFL fan or football fan in general, you are probably familiar with the name Lovie Smith. And if you live in the Ohio/Kentucky area, you may know Smith from his coaching stints with the University of Kentucky and Ohio State University in 1992 and 1995 respectively. He was a linebackers coach at UK and a defensive backs coach at OSU.
Smith has had a career in the NFL dating back to 1996 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was a linebacker's coach under the guidance of Tony Dungy and was a key member in designing the now famous Tampa 2 defense. From there, Smith went on to be the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. There, he took a league worst defense and transformed it into a squad that allowed almost two touchdowns less per game on average. This defense aided the team in their Super Bowl appearance that season -- 2001.
Bengals vs Buccaneers
Bengals vs Buccaneers
From there, Smith took on the head coaching job for the Chicago Bears. Smith's time in Chicago was ultimately unsuccessful due to the struggles on the offensive side of the ball. The defense, was a feared unit during Smith's tenure. In 2005, the defense allowed the fewest points in the league.
Smith then returned to where it all started: Tampa Bay. He is now the head coach of the team.
So what does this have to do with the Bengals? Everywhere Smith has landed, the defense has been stellar. In his second year in Tampa Bay, we have a chance to see Smith's magic on the defensive side of the football. A defense that is built around pressure and turnovers could be a nice test for this Bengals team in the second week of preseason.
Last week, the starters on offense took the ball down the field and scored with ease. Tonight, as the starters spend a little more time on the field, I hope to see them face a defense that could cause them problems. Seeing how the starters react to pressure and opportunistic players will be a nice measuring stick for what we may see in the AFC North this season.
Be on the lookout for Alterraun Verner shadowing Jeremy Hill to stop the run. Watch Gerald McCoy try to cause havoc up front, and keep an eye on young linebacker Lavonte David as he tries to live up to his Derrick Brooks comparisons. It could be a fun puzzle for the Bengals offense to solve tonight.