The Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a total mess last season. Players played poorly, coaches seemed to bench cornerbacks and safeties at random and there was zero consistency throughout the year. And while the Bucs were one of the best teams at preventing big plays, quarterbacks had few problems completing short passes and marching down the field.
And now Pewter Report is reporting that people at the Senior Bowl are slagging both Lovie Smith and the team's secondary coaches, all of whom have now been replaced.
Yet another source confirmed to PewterReport.com what we've written at the end of the 2015 season - that Tampa Bay's former secondary coaches - Gil Byrd (cornerbacks), Larry Marmie (nickel cornerbacks) and Mikal Smith (safeties) - were awful and a big reason why the defensive backs played so poorly.
Of course, some of these sources are undoubtedly saying some self-serving things. After all, these are the same coaches that had them playing well at the end of the 2014 season. But it's hard to argue that the consistent and across-the-board decline in cornerback wasn't a problem, and it seems highly likely that coaching had something do with that. It seems that the rest of the NFL agrees.
When Lovie Smith was fired, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and secondary coaches Larry Marmie, Mikal Smith and Gil Byrd were all let go while the team wanted to give whoever their new head coach was the opportunity to retain defensive line coach Joe Cullen and linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson.
As it turns out, Mike Smith didn't particularly like Cullen and Nickerson -- but those two had no problems finding new jobs, with Cullen being pursued by several teams before landing with the Baltimore Ravens, while Nickerson is going to coach linebackers for the San Francisco 49ers. Leslie Frazier, who was stripped of his playcalling responsibilities last season, is now coaching the secondary in Baltimore alongside Cullen.
But Marmie, Smith and Byrd haven't been hired anywhere. That won't necessarily stay that way: the Senior Bowl is traditionally a big jobs market and that's not even over yet, but recent firings among the Bucs' coaching staff have generally led to demotions or just not being hired anywhere. Greg Schiano spent two years away from football before becoming a college defensive coordinator. Raheem Morris was stuck as a defensive backs until last year -- except now he's back to being a wide receivers coach. The only significant coach to still be at the same level since being fired is probably Greg Olson, who's now the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That seems like it'll be less of a problem with this coaching staff. Everyone's got at least a decade of experience and this is no one's first try at the job he's been hired for.