Buccaneers fire head coach Lovie Smith after just two seasons

Updated: January 7, 2016
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ future looks bright. They have the quarterback who they believe can lead them for the next decade, in Jameis Winston. They have young weapons surrounding him on offense, in running back Doug Martin and wideout Mike Evans. And defensive cornerstones in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David.

However, the Buccaneers did not feel that Lovie Smith was the right coach for the future, as they fired him late Wednesday night.

Smith was 8-24 in his two seasons as the coach of the Buccaneers, which obviously wasn’t good enough for Tampa Bay’s management. Smith was thrusted into a difficult situation in year 1, with Josh McCown and Mike Glennon as his quarterbacks. The Bucs had a disappointing season, and finished just 2-14.

Because of their poor record, the Bucs owned the first pick in the 2015 NFL draft, and they selected Winston from Florida State, whom many thought was the top prospect in the class.

Smith led the team to a 6-10 record, which was improved from the year before. However, they were 6-6 through 12 games and in the playoff hunt, but dropped four straight to end the season, finishing at a 6-10 mark.

The Buccaneers have now fired three head coaches in the last five years, the other two being Greg Schiano and Raheem Morris. If you go back to 2008, the Buccaneers fired Jon Gruden as well. That would be four head coaches fired in eight years.

Now comes the question: Did Smith deserved to be fired? I’m not one who believes he is a great head coach by any means, but the firing seemed questionable in my mind. The team did go on a four-game skid to end the season, and the lack of improvement on the defensive side of the ball is concerning. But it’s hard to expect the team to make great strides year-in and year-out when the franchise is constantly changing coaches, and schemes.

Patience is a virtue in the NFL, especially when dealing with a young franchise quarterback. Changing head coaches and philosophies too often rarely leads to success, just ask the Cleveland Browns. Good franchises (and good businesses out in the world) stick to a plan and allows it to play out.

Many point to X’s and O’s when defining a head coach, and while there is a lot to be said for that (and in-game coaching decisions), being a head coach is more about being a leader of men than anything else. The players love and respect Lovie, and he is well respected by coaches and executives around the league. With a young team like they have in Tampa Bay, it’s important to have a head coach who can be a leader for these young men, and also develop them to succeed in the league.

To me, the Bucs seem to feel that their head coaching job would be one of the most attractive out there this year. With a franchise quarterback in place, and an offense that has explosive capabilities, the Bucs probably feel they can lure in a big-name coach who can immediately get things turned around.

Would someone be hesitant to take the job because of the Buccaneers’ history of firing coaches? Maybe. But the temptation of working with Winston, Martin, Evans, McCoy and David may be too tempting to pass up.

The Buccaneers better have a good replacement for Smith, because this firing raises the eyebrows of many people around NFL circles.


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