New candidates emerge: Sean McDermott, Harold Goodwin
It's only the morning after the Bucs discussed their decision to fire Lovie Smith, and already, there are two candidates with a history with GM Jason Licht now confirmed as interviewing for Tampa Bay's head coaching vacancy.
The first is a name we mentioned in our potential candidates Thursday -- Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, as first reported by Fox Sports' Peter Schrager. Another promising young assistant confirmed by the Times' Rick Stroud, as first reported by ESPN's Josina Anderson, is Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin.
The logistics of interviewing candidates from playoff teams sometimes dictates early interviews -- McDermott and Goodwin are both on teams enjoying byes this weekend, so they're allowed to interview for other jobs during the weekend off. It's a reminder that Licht has worked with many of the best candidates available, and that the Bucs are looking outside and not just immediately promoting offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
McDermott, 41, worked with Licht from 2003-07 with the Eagles, where he ascended to defensive coordinator after working under the late Jim Johnson. He's thrived with Carolina, whose defense is a big part of their 15-1 record -- they've won their last six meetings against the Bucs, holding Tampa Bay to an average of 14.5 points in those games.
Goodwin, also in his early 40s, overlapped with Licht at Arizona in 2013, and the Cards offense has been arguably the NFL's best this season -- No. 1 in total offense and No. 2 in scoring offense, behind Carolina. The former Michigan offensive lineman came up through the ranks as an offensive line coach -- ironically, his first NFL job came under Smith with the Bears in 2004-06, and he was a young assistant on the Steelers staff when Pittsburgh won a Super Bowl in Tampa in 2009. Goodwin, as a minority candidate, would also satisfy the Rooney rule to have the Bucs' search comply with NFL hiring policy.
Could McDermott and Koetter co-exist on the same staff? As much as Licht called Koetter a "very good candidate" for the head coaching job, Licht has been waiting for the opportunity to hire an NFL head coach all his career, so he might have had someone in mind for years -- could the Bucs hire the coach they want and still keep Koetter as offensive coordinator, providing continuity with QB Jameis Winston?
McDermott and Koetter both have extensive backgrounds with Andy Reid -- Koetter worked closely with him at three college stops before Reid went to the NFL in 1992, and McDermott got his NFL start on with 12 years on Reid's Eagles staff, going from low-level scouting jobs all the way to defensive coordinator. It's likely the two know each other well, having also gone head-to-head in the NFC South for the last four seasons.