Lovie Smith is in the midst of painting his version of the Mona Lisa, and if you're a connoisseur of Lovie Ball, you have to like the progress.
The Buccaneers are fourth in takeaways and second in rushing yards per game in the NFL. That makes Lovie the Leonardo da Vinci of the league, with a take-no-prisoners approach to defense.
"To be a tough football team you need to be able to run the football. Run it when they know you are going to run it," Smith says. "On the other side of the ball defensively, it's just not a good defensive effort unless you can take the ball away. It's about scoring or getting the ball back for the offense. We are not the best in the league at either one of those, but I would still say it's trending in that direction."
Lovie is trending in the way the Glazer family thought he would when they hired him to coach their Bucs prior to the 2014 season.
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Tampa Bay is at Indianapolis on Sunday to take on the Colts and Lovie is hoping they provide further proof his blueprint for success is legitimate.
Indianapolis leads the NFL with 22 giveaways (14 interceptions, eight lost fumbles) that opponents have turned into 69 points.
That's sweet music to Lovie's ears, though he won't let you see his glee.
Instead, he talks about fearing 40 year-old Matt Hasselbeck, who is replacing injured Andrew Luck at quarterback for the Colts.
Truth is, even at 40 Hasselbeck is not your run-of-the-mill backup. He is 3-0 as a starter this season and ranks 20th all time in passes thrown, just a shade behind Johnny Unitas, in case you need a reference point.
But Lovie has a way of painting opponents into Mount Rushmore candidates.
"We've seen him so many years and it just doesn't seem like he should still be playing, especially at that level," Smith said. "When you've been in the league that long, there's nothing you haven't seen. He knows exactly where to go with the ball. We need to able to put pressure on him."
If the Colts have a strength, it's in red-zone offense, where they rank fourth with a 64.5-percent touchdown rate. If there's a weakness (there are more than a few) Indy's pass defense ranks 29th in the NFL and has allowed 43 completions of 20 or more yards, second highest in the league.
Both teams are 5-5 and riding two-game win streaks, though you could argue the Colts had two quality wins in beating Denver and Atlanta.
Bah humbug: Lovie doesn't think that way. Just ask him. When things are bleak, he says you don't understand. When things are good, he says you don't understand. That's why the players love him.
Ask Lovie if he thinks his players will suffer a letdown because they've won two in a row and you know he sees that as an insulting question, so he responds with a cryptic answer.
"We don't think that way. I'm just not a part of things going good, well something bad is going to happen," Smith says. "We have a two-game winning streak going and all I'm talking about is No. 3 and everything positive. I'm a half-full guy. The glass is always that way,"
One person who doesn't conceal his emotions is Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. The return of Vincent Jackson to join fellow wide receiver Mike Evans last week was an early Christmas present.
"When you have your bookend guys out there -- one of them playing X, one of them playing Z and then we flip them over sometimes -- we can call it how we want to call it," Koetter says.
The Bucs are coming off their best game offensively with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston throwing five touchdowns and obtaining a career high quarterback rating of 131.5 in a 45-17 demolition of the Eagles. The run game is percolating, with Doug Martin ranked second in the NFL with 941 yards rushing.
A win over the Colts and the Bucs can ratchet up that playoff discussion even more, especially with Atlanta coming to Tampa next Sunday.