It's a given discipline is the cornerstone of any successful NFL coach.
Discipline means penalties and turnovers are kept to a minimum.
We heard it from former Tampa Bay coaches Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith and now from Mike Smith, the Buccaneers new defensive coordinator.
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It's a simple concept that often involves complex solutions because you are dealing with players who bring their own behavioral issues to the locker room.
Schiano was said to be too rigid and Lovie too easy going, a gentleman in the violent world of pro football.
Mike Smith had one of the least penalized teams during his time as coach of Atlanta (2008-2014), but his tenure ended in what can be described as an unruly atmosphere with Falcons going 10-22 his last two seasons.
Marvin Lewis has had a pretty good run in Cincinnati, but he kept what could be called problem children on his defense and it cost him dearly in the playoffs.
The Bucs are not without their share of problems with touted receiver Mike Evans at the top of the list. He needs to change his ways and a change in the overall cultural of the team might push him in that direction.
"I think you can change it (culture) very quickly. I think there in Atlanta, we were able to do that," Mike Smith says. "As leaders and as coaches you've got to always be feeling the heartbeat of what's going on in the team. I think you go away from that, you can lose the culture, very, very quickly."
The Smiths -- Mike and Lovie -- agree on several concepts.
They say defenses are ultimately judged on how many points they give up. Yards allowed
are meaningless because when they occur can be an overriding factor.
In 2012, Mike Smith's Falcons established 16-game NFL records with all-time lows in penalties (55) and penalty yardage (415). His 2010 Falcons had the third-fewest penalties in NFL history with 58.
Last season, the Bucs tied Buffalo with the most accepted penalties in the league (143). They were third in pre-snap penalties, which is an outright condemnation of a coach's lack of control.
Mike Smith's philosophy on defense is simple: Take it right up to the edge, but don't go over it.
"The defensive pass interferences are probably the toughest ones to deal with and then the egregious late hits and things like that," Mike Smith said. "You want guys to play tough; you want them to play smart, though. We want to be tough; we want to be aggressive, but we've got to play smart."
The Bucs didn't look like a smart team last season and it doomed Lovie Smith.
With 53 pre-snap penalties, the third most in the NFL, Lovie Smith didn't have a lot of ammunition to argue his case. They weren't bad with seven defensive pass interference penalties, but they often left wide receivers open.
Among the four teams playing in this weekend's conference championships, three are among the seven least-penalized teams in the NFL. Arizona ranks fourth, New England sixth and Carolina seventh. Denver is 17th.
Mike Smith said it starts in the locker room, and that new head coach Dirk Koetter is the right person to change the culture.
"Dirk has got great people skills. Dirk has a great understanding of what it means to be a teammate," Mike Smith said. "When you talk about leadership, it's really about relationships and I think that's the one thing through the years that I've watched with Dirk Koetter, is that Dirk has great relationships with all the players that he comes into contact with. It's really about the relationships that we build. That's what strengthens an organization and strengthens a team."
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.