It’s no secret that defensive coordinator Mike Smith is not a popular guy in Tampa Bay. I would even venture to say that he is more disliked than S Chris Conte, and we know how many fans loathe him. Well, head coach Dirk Koetter finally got on board with the “Fire Mike Smith” on Monday.
In fact, it was reported per an unnamed source to one of our very own show host’s Peter Blake that, it was rumored that if the team looked bad against Atlanta on Sunday, the Glazers would insist on firing Mike Smith. Blake mentioned this on his radio show, WTAN 1340AM/106.1FM, on Saturday after the Bears games that this was the thought process at One Buc (Play audio clip HERE, @ the 4:20 mark). Even though the rumors could not be 100% confirmed last week, it was ultimately confirmed today—with Dirk Koetter pulling the plug.
Dirk Koetter said publicly, even during his press conference after he dismissed Smith, that he had no plans to fire Mike Smith and that the team issues don’t land squarely on Smith. If in fact Koetter had refused the Glazer’s demands, the thought is that the owners would have made sweeping changes mid-season. He went on to say that he “never saw this day coming.”
Loyalties were obviously thick between Koetter and Smith, which evidently gave Smith more leniency than would be typical. That leniency ran out, though, and for a moment Koetter may have considered making a change during the bye. He didn’t, though, to see if they could make adjustments and get healthier on that side of the ball. That gives merits to the earlier report that there were in fact rumblings in One Buc Place. It is obvious that Koetter as well as the front office were getting frustrated with the lack of consistent progress and the underwhelming results of the defense, which at this point has performed worse than Lovie Smith’s abysmal defense.
So Dirk played the final card (other than actually winning games), confirming the rumors and axing his DC. He did so because, as he explained, it is very much a results-based league, and he had to make a move for of the sake of the franchise, its success, and ultimately to keep his job.