Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are angry. Their team is 1-8, those fans paying for season tickets haven't seen a single win in person, every week brings exciting new forms of loss and frustration, and nothing's working well. There are tiny, tiny signs of improvement, but that's hardly enough to hang on your hat on.
And all of that after an offseason of promises about how fans shouldn't be patient, how the Bucs want to win now, how they're planning on making a run at the playoffs. An offseason filled with trades, free agency signings and exciting new draft picks. An offseason filled with hope, as every offseason is -- and a regular season filled with disappointment, as with basically every season since 2008.
So now some fans are calling for Lovie Smith to be fired. He's 1-8, and Greg Schiano was effectively run out of town with that record last year. And at least Schiano put out a mildly competent defense, something the Bucs can't seem to do at all. So why not call for Lovie Smith's head?
Let's start with one thing: this won't happen. Not this year. Firing coaches after one season is already rare, but firing a coach of Lovie Smith's stature after giving him a four-year contract worth over $5 million per year. Coach contracts are fully guaranteed, folkd. The Glazers would be stuck paying three head coaching for the 2015 and 2016 seasons (Greg Schiano had a five-year contract), and (at least) two for the 2017 season.
There are other reasons not to fire Lovie Smith, of course. The talent on this team has turned out to be worse than we imagined, especially in the secondary, which explains some of the struggles. Moreover, many of the problems on defense can be explained by players struggling to adapt to the Bucs' system -- but they're slowly getting better, and any progress made will be thrown out if Lovie Smith is fired.
The roster has also been molded in his image, and firing him after one season means that whoever they hire will have to start re-molding that roster in their image, which means even more turnover and likely another season of struggle. Head coaches need a little time to get their team together, they just need to show progress. And Greg Schiano was fired because his team regressed in his second year.
That doesn't mean there won't be changes after the season. Having to have a straight-out-of-college quarterbacks coach forced into the role of offensive coordinator is an obvious disaster, and that will be corrected. Special teams coordinator Kevin O'Dea is putting his job up for grabs with the performances he's been putting out. And Rod Marinelli might be available with his Cowboys contract running out for a role (any role) -- though Dallas will put up a very hefty fight to keep him around.
So yes, it's Lovie Smith's fault that the Bucs are 1-8. Yes, it's his fault that the Bucs are struggling to adapt quickly to the new scheme. Yes, he's made plenty of mistakes in putting together this roster, in his game-management and elsehwere. And yes, some of these coaches are going to be replaced after the season. But Lovie Smith? He's going to be here for at least one year, and likely a lot longer.