The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fired Lovie Smith, and it's not entirely clear why. The Glazers, the Bucs owners, talked about a disappointing record in their statement but only in vague terms. No official word on reasons to fire Lovie Smith beyond that, so consider these mostly educated guesses instead of thoroughly-proven causes.
When you go 2-14 in your first year and 6-10 in your second, most NFL coaches would expect to be fired. That's no different for a veteran coach, and four losses to end the season certainly didn't help Lovie Smith's case. This is also the only concrete reason the Glazers actually mentioned in their
The defense in particular will have been a sticking point for the Glazers, given Lovie Smith's (supposed) expertise and the consistent struggles on that side of the ball for two years, despite several free agent splashes and expensive re-signings. Lovie Smith lacked quality personnel on defense, but that was also his fault given that he had a say in every personnel move the team made.
Bucs source: There's nothing below surface on Lovie firing. It is, very simply, a team that believes defense should be better than it was.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 7, 2016
Free agent busts
No owner likes it when head coaches waste their money, and Lovie Smith and Jason Licht did just that in their first few years. They signed a slew of free agents in their first year, including massive busts Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins. Alterraun Verner has also turned out to be a disappointment, while most of the players brought in as "at least they know the scheme" this past offseason haven't been much better than replacement level, either. Meanwhile, Darrelle Revis continues to ball out all over the league after Smith and Licht cut him in 2014. Oops.
Licht made it clear to me 3 weeks ago Lovie deserved time because draft focused on offense first 2 years. By that account, Lovie got robbed.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 7, 2016
All the good things happened on offense
Lovie Smith, the defensive guru, had a mediocre-at-best defense the two seasons he was in charge in Tampa. Nearly everything that was positive about the Bucs' performance the past season year happened on offense, with Doug Martin, Jameis Winston, the offensive line and Mike Evans starting out. All of that despite the fact that Smith assumed defensive playcalling duties this offseason. When your head coach can't get his side of the ball working, that's a strong reason to say goodbye.
Tough to find a breaking point for the #Bucs. Lovie Smith wasn't asked to fire coaches. They'd really only started meeting.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 7, 2016
A lack of perspective
More than anything, the Glazers must have felt that Lovie Smith didn't give them much of a chance to win going forward. Firing a head coach is always more about a perspective for the future than a look at the past, and outside of Jameis Winston there wasn't necessarily much reason to feel optimistic about the Bucs' chances under Lovie Smith.
To hire Dirk Koetter
Koetter is in play as a candidate for the Dolphins HC job. As their interest peaked, Glazers and Licht felt they had to move quickly.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 7, 2016