The Mike Smith era is over in Tampa Bay.
According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, players were informed that the team would be making a change at the defensive coordinator position today.
Bucs have fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) October 15, 2018
Linebackers coach Mark Duffner is expected to take over as the interim.
With #Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith being fired, expect LBs coach Mark Duffner to serve as the interim.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 15, 2018
Smith’s defense finished dead last in the NFL last season and has shown no improvement this year. The unit has been historically bad in 2018 and is on record pace to shatter all kinds of defensive records - and not the good ones.
It will be interesting to see how Duffner performs as the season wears on. This type of change is uncommon during the season in the NFL, but it could benefit the Bucs and save their rapidly-declining season.
The Bucs released the following statement, courtesy of the Communications Department.
“I have the utmost respect for Mike Smith as a man and as a football coach,” said Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter. “These decisions are always difficult, but our top priority here is to ensure that we do everything possible to help this team succeed. As I have said in the past, the issues we have had as a team are never one person’s fault. During good times, as well as the bad, it is a collective effort between the coaches and the players. We all understand that this is a result-based profession and our results to this point have not met our standards. I want to thank Mike for all the hard work and passion he has displayed here on a daily basis and I wish him well moving forward.”
Duffner began his career with Tampa Bay in 2016 and has been a linebacker coach since 1997 in the NFL. In each of his first two years with the team, a Buccaneers linebacker earned a Pro Bowl selection (Lavonte David-2016, Kwon Alexander-2017).
He served as the Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive coordinator from 2001-2002.