Risk of losing Dirk Koetter factored in Bucs firing Lovie Smith
The Bucs' decision to fire coach Lovie Smith came Wednesday night as the team weighed the risk of losing offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to another team, and all signs point to him being the team's next coach after the interview process is completed.
Koetter, whose work with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston set franchise records for total offense and helped the Bucs improve to six wins, had drawn interest from the Miami Dolphins for their head coaching opening. Koetter has a relationship with Mike Tannenbaum, who was his agent before joining the Dolphins and now running their front office moving forward. Though Koetter had not yet interviewed for the job, Bucs general manager Jason Licht saw that he risked losing Koetter at the expense of keeping Smith, and moved quickly.
Also playing a role in Smith's dismissal were the Bucs' struggles on defense, dropping to 26th in the NFL in scoring defense. Part of that was Smith's decision to bring in his players familiar with his defense — he was not asked to make changes to his defensive staff before his firing, however, and was not asked to relinquish control of the team's 53-man roster.