The surprising firing of defensive line coach Jay Hayes on Friday is one that was difficult for Bucs coach Dirk Koetter.
Not only had the Bucs picked up the one-year club option on Hayes' contract, he and Koetter go back nearly 40 years when they were college rivals at Idaho and Idaho State, along with Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.
The timing is not ideal for several reasons. It limits Hayes' ability to find a new job, and for the same reason, a bunch of good coaches have been hired over the past few weeks by new staffs being formed by the Raiders, Cardinals, Lions, Bears, Titans, Giants and Colts, who hired Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich as head coach Sunday.
A name to watch as the Bucs new defensive line coach is Ted Monachino, who served as the Colts defensive coordinator the past two seasons. He is expected to interview for the position.
Like Hayes, Monachino has a long history with Koetter. He coached the defensive line under him at Boise State and Arizona State. They also were on Jack Del Rio's staff at Jacksonville along with Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith.
It's hard to know for sure why Koetter decided to make this move now. The Bucs were last in the NFL with 22 sacks, so it didn't take six weeks to know that the lack of a pass rush, and the lack of production from the defensive line in general, was a big reason for the Bucs 5-11 season.
The general belief at One Buc Place is that this was 100 percent Koetter's call. It wasn't a situation like after the 1999 season when the Glazer family insisted that Tony Dungy fire offensive coordinator Mike Shula, who was finally dismissed at the Pro Bowl.
Perhaps Koetter finally had some time after the Senior Bowl to do a deep dive or film study on the defensive line. Maybe some interviews with players led to this decision. Who knows?
But Hayes never had much to work with. The biggest reason for optimism on the defensive line was Noah Spence, who had 5.5 sacks in an injury-plagued rookie season in 2016.
But Spence suffered another shoulder injury, this one ending his season after only three games, and the Bucs got almost no production from defensive ends Robert Ayers (two sacks) and William Gholston (zero sacks).
Of course, it's not like quarterbacks were being taken down by the Colts this season. The Bucs were the only team that had fewer sacks than Indianapolis, which had 25 last season.
Koetter could also look to the college ranks. There was a time when Rod Marinelli had never coached in the NFL, coming from California and Southern Cal. Mike Tomlin had coached at Cincinnati and Arkanas State before replacing Herm Edwards as defensive backs coach.
The Bucs are also likely to interview assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer.
You have to wonder, however, if a lot of good defensive line coaches with options would want to come to Tampa Bay at this time. Koetter and his staff were fortunate to be retained for 2018. Anything less than maybe a playoff appearance could mean a new staff in 2019.