When you think of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers you think defense, and when you think defense, you think of a guy like Lovie Smith (helped Tony Dungy develop the Tampa 2 defense).
It just kind of makes sense.
Plus, his players love and respect him, and he’s shown he can lead a team to the Super Bowl.
What is there not to like?
For starters, that Super Bowl was almost ten years ago. Since then Smith has only made it back to the playoffs one time, with just 3 winning seasons, and an overall 89-87 record.
Smith has been known for making iffy personnel decisions. Such as sticking with Rex Grossman far too long in Chicago, and as recently as last year putting his faith in Josh McCown.
Also last year, in a season that ended with a 2-14 record for his team, he decided to try to keep winning instead of getting reps for the talented young players on the roster.
Here are his thoughts after a week 12 loss.
We are still in the playoff hunt. So there’s no looking at younger players — it’s who gives us our best chance to win, period. So it’s pretty easy for us right now. Forget the record right now; everyone in the NFC South is disappointed and has let games get away and feel like they’re a pretty good football team — we’re right in the mix of that. So it’s full steam ahead for Cincinnati [this week’s opponent] for us.
You have to admire the winning mentality, but a coach who is basically building a team from the ground up also needs to use logic.
However, this year, the Buccaneees were a bit more respectable as they jumped out to a 5-5 start, before finishing 1-5 for a 6-10 record. A 4 win improvement over last year.
That improvement seems to be why everyone is surprised that Lovie Smith got the ax.
But how much of that success can Smith really take credit for?
He is a defensive guy, and the Bucs allowed an average of 26 points a game to opposing teams which was 8th worst in the league.
Where the success came, was on the other side of the ball, behind Jameis Winston and the Bucs young and ultra talented offense.
The man responsible for that success?
Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter, who’s offense finished 5th in yards per game this year with an average of 375.9. A huge improvement over the 292 they averaged the year before he arrived.
He originally developed a reputation as an offensive genius as head coach at Boise State, where he led the Broncos to a 26-10 record.
In the past Koetter has spoken to the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and Kansas City Chiefs about their head coaching position, but the final straw for the Bucs may have been this week when Miami showed interest in acquiring his services.
It didn’t take long after that for them to drop Lovie Smith like a bad habit.
Who can blame them?
With names like Winston, Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins littering your offense, and little or nothing to show on defense, it may just be time to start a new chapter in Tampa Bay.
It appears that Koetter may just be the guy to do it.
A lot of Buccaneers players seemed surprised and disappointed at the thought of losing Lovie Smith.
However, if Koetter proves to be the genius the Bucs front office seem to think he is, and this offense can put up the type of numbers they are capable of. It shouldn’t be long before all is forgiven and forgotten.