Koetter hires Mike Smith as Bucs' defensive coordinator
New Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has already addressed perhaps the biggest task for him as a head coach, announcing during his introductory press conference that former Falcons head coach Mike Smith will be his defensive coordinator.
Smith and Koetter worked together as coordinators in Jacksonville, and Smith hired him as his defensive coordinator in Atlanta, where they worked together from 2010-14. Their roles will be reversed, but Koetter said his addition was a "huge hire," giving him an experienced voice on his staff as a first-time head coach.
"To get a coach with Mike's experience, not only as a defensive coordinator, as a teacher, as a head coach, but as a man, as the right kind of guy we want in front of our players every day, I couldn't be happier," Koetter said.
Smith, 56, went 66-46 as Falcons head coach, including a 56-24 record in his first five seasons. Before that, he was a position coach on Baltimore's Super Bowl championship team in 2001, and spent five seasons as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator.
"Experience counts a ton in this league," Koetter said. "My first year in the NFL (in) Jacksonville, Mike Smith was the defensive coordinator, I was fortunate enough to be the offensive coordinator. We were both in the press box that year. I've never seen anybody like Mike Smith before. ... Mike was hired by the Falcons the next year. We were never as good after we lost Mike Smith in Jacksonville."
Koetter also said that quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian will remain on his staff, along with a majority of the offensive assistants. He didn't specifiy whether Bajakian would remain in his current role or as offensive coordinator.
Koetter will have a completely new coaching staff on defense, as according to Foxsports.com, the Bucs will not retain defensive line coach Joe Cullen and linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson, instead hiring veteran defensive line coach Jay Hayes, who has been the Bengals' defensive line coach since 2003, and former Maryland coach Mark Duffner, who worked with Koetter and Smith in Jacksonville and will be the new linebackers coach. Cullen moved quickly, getting hired to the same role in Baltimore, according to Fox Sports.