With the news made official by several sources including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, large sections of the fan base can rejoice. Mike Smith has left the building.
In a move that seemed unlikely after the bye week, the team decided it was time for a change after seeing another defensive collapse against the Falcons in Atlanta. Looking back at Smith’s time in the Bay Area, it’s easy to see why this change needed to be made. The defense was set to break all the wrong records. After 2016 Mike Smith was a hot coaching candidate, and after seeing an improvement in the unit fans were aghast at the thought of losing the defensive coordinator. Rumours circulated that the contract extension from 2017 made Smith the highest paid coordinator in the NFL—that is hard to swallow.
The defense led by Smith declined each year and never seemed like it was becoming the unit that was temporarily a top 5 NFL defense. How Smith was able to keep his job during the bye week is open to conjecture; however, he ran out of time when he ran out of excuses.
What sums up the need for his departure was a specific moment during the Falcons game. No, not the shots of the coordinator looking confused, but of Alexander and David still trying to work out what they were supposed to be doing as Matt Ryan handed the ball off seconds before the Falcons’ TD. Why? These guys are good football players; they’ve been playing the sport most of their lives. They understand plays. But their confusion on the field lands solely at the feet of the defensive coordinator. Don’t blame the players here because it was Smith’s job to realise something didn’t work and change it, coach the players so they did understand. Mike Smith did not put his players in a position to succeed and ultimately it cost him his job.
Now fans will look to Linebackers Coach Mark Duffner. Having spent the majority of his career as Linebackers Coach for several NFL teams outside of a stint as Defensive Coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, fans and the organisation hope Coach Duffner will bring some fresh ideas to a stale defense currently devoid of confidence.
Here at Bucs Report we wish Duffner the best of luck.