The Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren’t impressed with the improvement in 2015 and fired Lovie Smith after only two seasons at the helm of the franchise, believing more in their ability to improve just by having Jameis Winston and not through coaching consistency.
It seems everyone except the front office were stunned by the decision to let Smith go following a 6-10 year, a four-win improvement compared to his debut season in Tampa. The losing streak at the end probably doomed his fate, with the entire team entering something of a tailspin following the loss that more or less put them out of playoff contention. This makes the Buccaneers the seventh team with a head coaching vacancy, joining the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans.
Smith was a on four-year deal following his hiring in January 2014 instead of Greg Schiano. This makes it three different head coaches in five years, and while it’s not yet known which one of the assistants and coordinators get to join Smith in looking for a new job or staying on board, one has to hope that Jameis Winston doesn’t begin a run of coordinators with different schemes and ideas, which never helps a young quarterback develop.
It has to be more than the losing. It would have made more sense to fire Smith after the abysmal 2-14 debut season which led to the number one overall pick instead of now, when he and the team have shown progress, seems to be loved by his players and staff and there’s actually a direction now. Maybe the Glazers always saw him as a filler until they had potential for a contender in their hands, and will now look for someone they think can lead this team towards a new phase of success, which hasn’t been part of the Bucs M.O. in a very long time.
For Smith, this makes four consecutive seasons without making the playoffs as a head coach. He was fired from the Chicago Bears after nine seasons in which they did make one Super Bowl and another conference championship game, but with only three postseason appearances in nine years including one in the last six, it wasn’t surprising when he got axed. The Bears haven’t’ made the playoffs in the three seasons since he was fired. Overall, Smith is 89-87 as a head coach, 8-24 with the Buccaneers. It won’t be surprising to see him go take a coordinator job after the disappointing seasons he’s had.