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Buccaneers hiring Jay Hayes and Mark Duffner to replace Hardy Nickerson and Joe Cullen

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting started on their defensive coaching staff, and they started by replacing the only two coaches the Bucs retained when they fired Lovie Smith. According to Fox Sports' Alex Marvez, Mark Duffner will replace linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson, while Jay Hayes will come in as the team's new defensive line coach to take Joe Cullen's spot on the coaching staff.

Marvez reported earlier that Cullen was interviewing with the Ravens, and that the Chargers requested permission to interview him for a second time, after being rebuffed by the Bucs initially. Presumably both he and Nickerson will be gone.

Duffner was the Miami Dolphins' linebackers coach the past two years, and spent the previous eight seasons coaching linebackers for the Jacksonville Jaguars -- the first two seasons of which he coached under Mike Smith, now the Bucs' defensive coordinator. Duffner was also the Bengals' linebackers coach from 1997 through 2002, spending the final two seasons pulling double duty as a defensive coordinator. He was the Green Bay Packers' linebackers coach between 2003 and 2005.

Hayes is the stand-out hire, though. He was the Bengals' defensive line coach for the past 13(!) seasons and has consistently produced a terrific unit there. Under his guidance, the Bengals' defensive line has been the engine of a consistent, quality defense for a decade, with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson (before he went to the Bucs and failed) as standout players in recent years. The Bengals have posted 40+ sacks in all but one of the past five seasons, and Hayes was a major reason for that. Hopefully, he can bring that dominant performance to Tampa Bay -- the Bucs haven't had a consistent pass rush since Simeon Rice left.