The firing season is upon us in the NFL. There were coaches that were seemingly given the option of stepping down or being fired (Giants coach Tom Coughlin). And there were some that made the choice quickly and swiftly, like the Cleveland Browns. It seemed like all the firings had been done already by Wednesday. But there was a surprise firing awaiting us. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released information Thursday night saying that they fired head coach Lovie Smith. The news of his firing spread like wildfire across social media. Many began to voice their opinions on him being fired. You even had players getting on social media from the Tampa Bay team that were in shock. But what’s done is done and the team is now looking for its fourth head coach in six years.
The Bucs were not that good last season. They struggled to find a quarterback among other things as they went on to a 2-14 record. Heading into this season, there was supposed to be some progress shown. They drafted quarterback Jameis Winston to lead their offense and they also had returning wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans along with running back Doug Martin. And defensively, the Bucs were to be led by linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. With the addition of Winston, many wondered how he would play. He struggled in his first game, throwing two interceptions. But as he got comfortable, he began to play better. The Bucs made it to 6-6 at one point and were on the verge of actually making the playoffs. Then, the bottom fell out for the Bucs. They lost their last four games of the year and fell to 6-10. Many look at that and think it’s bad, but they were four games better than they were last season. The defense was atrocious this season, but the offense was able to bail them out at times. It seemed like Lovie’s team was on the verge of something when Year Three began. But something we could not see ended up blinding the Bucs’ front office and they decided to pull the plug on Lovie without giving him three years to get it together. So, where do the Bucs go from here?
Apparently, the Bucs had someone in mind before they fired Lovie. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter did great things with the Bucs this season. The first-year Bucs assistant worked with Winston and over the year, Winston became a dependable piece for the Bucs. Koetter also helped the Bucs’ offense as a whole set records for that organization. Reportedly, the Bucs did not want to lose Koetter as a coach that works with Jameis Winston. He was reportedly in line at a few places to get an interview for a coaching job. The fear of losing him was something they did not care to bear. So instead of potentially losing him to another team as a head coach, the Bucs decided to part ways with Lovie. The Bucs are taking a serious chance by making this move. What if the offense that Koetter helped put together flops next season? If it does, then they will be looking for another head coach again soon. If Koetter is able to continue the movement upward of Jameis Winston, then fans of the team will forget about what happened for Koetter to get the job over time. But in the meantime, it seems like Koetter’s arrival stirred up a few things. If for some reason that Koetter does not get the job, then there is one other person that Tampa Bay should look at. The team was deplorable defensively despite the ascension record-wise. So current Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin would be a perfect candidate here. Although it seems like the Bucs have their mind made up, Austin is impressive because he brings a ferocious defensive mentality to the team. He can take the pieces that are there and make them better defensively than what they were. Koetter will likely be the answer, but he could be the question as well because he has never been a head coach in the NFL.
The Bucs surprised us all with the move they made Thursday night. And there has been much backlash out there on social media about the move they made. Lovie was making progress and it seems the Bucs pulled the rug out from under his feet. And now they will be placing it right back as they try to appear to want to hire Dirk Koetter. Amazing that Lovie got this short a rope when trying to rebuild the Bucs while Jeff Fisher is getting almost forever while he messes up over and over in St. Louis.