Bucs fire head coach Lovie Smith
The Bucs have fired head coach Lovie Smith, changing direction again after a 6-10 season ended with a four-game losing streak.
Tampa Bay went 8-24 in Smith's two seasons, and while the team made progress in improving from 2-14 last year to 6-10 in 2015 with rookie Jameis Winston at quarterback, the Glazer family clearly didn't see enough to keep Smith on for a third season. The team will pay more than $10-million remaining on Smith's contract as it searches for its third coach in four seasons.
"After careful consideration, we informed Lovie that we have decided to make a change," Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said in a statement. "I want to thank Lovie for his hard work and dedication to the Buccaneers during his time here. This decision was difficult on a variety of levels. I am disappointed that we were not more successful these past few seasons, but we are committed to doing what is necessary to give our fans the winning team they deserve."
The Bucs' season ended Sunday with a 38-10 loss at Carolina, a fourth straight loss after the team had been 6-6 and in contention for its first playoff appearance since 2007. The Bucs haven't won a playoff game since winning the Super Bowl in January 2003. The Bucs will have five head coaches in eight years -- Jon Gruden, Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith and the new coach, all since 2008.
The job should be an attractive one for potential hires, with Winston showing promise in his rookie season after being the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft. Smith, 57, had addressed the media Monday, speaking with optimism about the team's chances to improve to a playoff team next season.
The move was met with surprise and shock from players on social media Wednesday night.
"This is stupid," linebacker Lavonte David wrote on Twitter.com. "We can't even have a consistent coach, 3 coaches in 5 years. ... Outside looking in, y'all wouldn't understand how great of a coach/person he is."
"SHOCKED!!" wrote rookie left tackle Donovan Smith, and rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander wrote "Coach Lovie was the truth!"
Smith's firing comes with speculation that the Bucs could promote offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who helped the Bucs reset their franchise record for total offense, with Winston passing for more than 4,000 yards and Doug Martin finishing second in the NFL with 1,402 rushing yards.
"Dirk has been the man since he walked in the door," tight end Brandon Myers wrote on Twitter.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht, who will address the media at 2 p.m. Thursday, will oversee the search for a new head coach.
The Bucs are now one of seven teams seeking a new head coach, joining Miami, Philadelphia, Cleveland, San Francisco, Tennessee and the New York Giants. No new hires have been made yet, allowing Tampa Bay to compete for the best available candidates, including former Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who nearly joined the Bucs in 2012.