ESPN recently went through the list of every NFL team to see what their boldest or riskiest move this offseason was. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the choice was pretty obvious.
The move: Firing coach Lovie Smith
The Buccaneers were only 8-24 in two seasons with Smith, but there was some expectation the team would stay the course while building around quarterback Jameis Winston. Smith had a long track record of success in Chicago, after all. Hiring offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter as head coach maintained continuity for the offense, at least.
I think it’s pretty fair to say that that was at least the most high-profile move this offseason. Whether it was the riskiest depends on how you see a coach who went 8-24 in two seasons. Was last year’s 6-10 season a sign of improvement and something to build on, or proof that Lovie Smith was done as an NFL coach? Most Bucs fans seemed to lean toward the latter, which is fair: Smith was responsible for the defense, and that just wasn’t good enough and didn’t show enough signs of improvement.
Does that make firing Smith risky or bold? Well, given that they replaced him with Dirk Koetter, not necessarily. They kept most of the roster and infrastructure intact. They got a defensive coordinator whose style isn’t that far removed from Lovie Smith’s. And they retained the exact same offensive coaching staff.
Firing Lovie Smith was somewhat bold, but it wasn’t quite firing Tony Dungy and trading for Jon Gruden. I’d rather have a good move rather than a bold one, though. And firing Lovie Smith and hiring Dirk Koetter, probably was a good move.