Several key factors played into the decision to fire Lovie Smith
The Bucs fired Lovie Smith Wednesday night after a series of meetings with the Glazer family which owns the team and general manager Jason Licht.
Among the Bucs' reasons for Smith's termination with two years and $10-million remaining on his contract, in no particular order:
• Smith went 8-24, the second-worst record of any team since the start of 2014.
• Smith's choice of coordinators left something to be desired. He hired former California head coach Jeff Tedford as his offensive coordinator in 2014. Tedford went on indefinite medical league after undergoing a heart procedure in the preseason for a clogged artery and never returned. The Bucs were forced to turn to quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, who had no NFL experience, and the offense finished 30th overall in the NFL.
Former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was hired as defensive coordinator and the Bucs didn't fare much better, ranking 25th. In training camp, Smith decided to take the play-calling duties away from Frazier.
• Smith's decisions in free agency didn't pan out. After wasting enormous contracts on defensive end Michael Johnson and cornerback Alterraun Verner, the Bucs signed a lot of veterans who had either played for Smith or in the Tampa 2 to one-year contracts. But players such as defensive tackle Henry Melton, linebacker Bruce Carter, cornerback Sterling Moore and safety Chris Conte did not make enough plays.
• The Bucs defensive coaching staff was weak. In addition to Frazier, Smith hired his son, Mikal, to coach safeties and his mentor, Larry Marmie, to coach nickel backs. Defensive backs coach Gill Byrd also was on the staff.
• Although Smith was never asked to make changes on his coaching staff, he offered no plan to do so during a meeting with the Glazers this week. His plan was to bring in a former staff member during his time with the Bears as a consultant.
• The Glazers did not see the defense getting significantly better in the third year under Smith when it had regressed in 2016. Therefore, they informed him in a phone call he was relieved of his duties.
• Four of Smith's top six defensive assistants also will be departing, including Frazier. Only linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson and defensive line coach Joe Cullen will remain with the team until the new head coach decides whether to keep them on his staff.
• By firing Smith, offensive coordiinator Dirk Koetter, who is said to be a head coaching candidate in Miami, may be retained. The Bucs plan to interview Koetter for the head coaching job.