The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been very impressive over the past two months, but they may be about to lose one of the most important figures in that resurgence: defensive coordinator Mike Smith.
According to Pro Football Weekly, Smith is set to replace Gus Bradley as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, though Bradley has yet to be fired. PFW claims that Smith believes the job is his if he wants it, and has started tentatively putting together a potential staff — though that doesn’t mean he’ll get the job, or that he’ll take it if offered.
Bradley has been a massive disappointment since taking over the Jaguars three years ago, while Smith used to be a very successful defensive coordinator with the Jaguars, had six mostly good years as the Atlanta Falcons head coach, and has overseen an outstanding defense over the past two months in Tampa — though the Bucs defense started off slowly.
That Smith is a strong head coaching candidate should come as no surprise. He was a solid head coach, an outstanding defensive coordinator, and has turned a struggling Bucs defense into a shut-down unit. Even if this Jaguars rumor turns out to be false, the Bucs may have trouble holding on to their defensive coordinator.
If Smith does leave, that would leave the Bucs with another problem: finding a good replacement. That could happen via in-house replacement, with linebackers coach Mark Duffner and defensive line coach Jay Hayes as particularly strong candidates. Or they could look outside, though that would likely entail yet another defensive overhaul, which is not good for business.
For now, though, the Bucs just have to concentrate on winning the final three games of the regular season, and hopefully a few in the postseason, too.