Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' DC Smith has spot on NFL's head-coaching carousel

TAMPA — The NFL coaching carousel is beginning to spin, and the Bucs could learn soon if it's won and done for defensive coordinator Mike Smith.

The former Falcons head coach (2008-14) should get a lot of consideration for the job openings starting to bloom around the league. Smith, 57, who went 67-50 with four playoff appearances with the Falcons, has turned the Bucs defense into one of the best in the NFL over the past six weeks. It was reported he came close to getting the Giants coaching job last year.

The Rams and Jaguars already have fired their respective coaches, Jeff Fisher and Gus Bradley. There also could be openings with Buffalo, San Diego, San Francisco and the New York Jets, and there's always a surprise firing or two.

Smith's name has been on the lips of many NFL insiders as a possible replacement for Bradley in Jacksonville. Smith was the Jaguars' defensive coordinator from 2003-07. In a bit, we'll get into why he might not be the perfect fit this time around.

The Bucs had to know when they hired Smith to install a new defense this season that he could return to being a head coach after a year. They have other coaches on the defensive staff capable of taking over the job.

"I wish the best for all coaches that they get what they want," Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said. "Smitty has been a way more successful coach in this league than I have. I mean, look at his record. I believe Mike Smith would make a tremendous head coach for another team.

"When I got this job, I was just focused on getting the best staff that I could at the time, and I knew who I wanted leading our defense and wasn't too worried about the what ifs after that because, heck, if we don't do a good job, we're going to be right out there with him. That's just reality. I don't spend too much time thinking about that."

Smith isn't fanning the flames about his chance to become a head coach again.

"Rumors are rampant this time of year," he said. "I'm enjoying my time here. I want to make this team the best team it can be. You don't address rumors."

The dominoes have to fall before you can project who will land where.

The most attractive coaching candidate in the NFL would seem to be Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, who from 2011-14 took the 49ers to three straight NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl, which he lost to Baltimore, coached by his brother, John.

But Harbaugh has had only two seasons at Michigan, where he has a good chance of winning a national championship at some point.

The Rams, and maybe the 49ers, would like to lure former Bucs coach Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth. But Gruden hasn't been on the sideline in eight years, and given that he is the highest-paid ESPN employee with an annual salary reportedly of $6.5 million, many believe his coaching ship has sailed. Other Super Bowl-winning coaches such as Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher have had ample opportunities to return to coaching but have preferred the less-stressful career of TV analyst.

A report by CBS last week said the Saints might be willing to trade coach Sean Payton without demanding much compensation. Losing Payton would free up about $40 million for them. Besides, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has only one year left on his contract.

How would Smith fit with the two jobs currently available? The Rams and Jaguars have made big investments in young quarterbacks and might prefer an offensive coach.

Teams typically hire the opposite of what they had. Bradley was a first-time head coach who had been the Seahawks' defensive coordinator. If saving quarterback Blake Bortles is Jacksonville's priority, do the Jaguars bring in a guy such as Smith or opt for a young offensive mind such as Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter or Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has head coaching experience with Denver?

There is chatter about former Jaguars and Giants head coach Tom Coughlin rejoining the Jags, but that would likely be in a front office position.

The Rams likely have similar desires. They paid a bounty for the No. 1 overall draft pick this year to take Cal quarterback Jared Goff. Los Angeles is a plum job in the No. 2 media market and will have an incredible stadium built in a few years.

For Smith to get either the Jaguars or Rams job, he may have to sell the ownership on a member of his presumptive coaching staff who would fix the quarterback.

It might not happen this year, but sooner than later, Smith will be coaching against the Bucs.

"My focus is on one thing, and that's for us to be the best defense we can be," Smith said. "It's been enlightening for me to be able to get back and coach and roll my sleeves up."

Comments
Winston or Fitzpatrick? Reading between the lines in the Bucs locker room

Winston or Fitzpatrick? Reading between the lines in the Bucs locker room

TAMPA — At some point Tuesday morning, Jameis Winston will walk into the office of head coach Dirk Koetter and get the news.There will likely be hugs and handshakes, but within the first few minutes, Koetter will tell Winston what his role will...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Why the Bucs kept going to Chris Godwin

Why the Bucs kept going to Chris Godwin

TAMPA  — Chris Godwin's first three quarters Monday night weren't as rough as Ryan Fitzpatrick's, but they were close.Through 45 minutes of Tampa Bay's 30-27 loss to Pittsburgh, Godwin dropped two touchdown passes, had another TD reception...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Steelers report card: There is still work to be done

Bucs-Steelers report card: There is still work to be done

TAMPA — They couldn't stick the landing. The FitzMagic ran out.Monday night against the Steelers, Tony Dungy night, was supposed to be the coming-out party, a new beginning, the Bucs on national TV, showing America that 2-0 was not make believe...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs-Steelers: No wrong answer for Tampa Bay at quarterback

Bucs-Steelers: No wrong answer for Tampa Bay at quarterback

TAMPA — So this should be a fun week over at One Buc Place.Who's the quarterback?That question will be asked a few times this week.This question will be asked a few dozen times:Who should be the quarterback?The debate will rage on. We'll talk a...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs-Steelers: Tony Dungy gave us more than wins

Bucs-Steelers: Tony Dungy gave us more than wins

TAMPA — Monday night belonged to Tony Dungy. The former Bucs coach was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dungy's first NFL team.If it seemed strange that an NFL club would honor a ma...
Updated: 7 hours ago
The Bucs Jameis Winston left aren’t the Bucs he returns to

The Bucs Jameis Winston left aren’t the Bucs he returns to

TAMPA — Welcome back, Jameis Winston.At 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, your three-game suspension ended.It looked as if the clock may have struck midnight much earlier than that for Ryan Fitzpatrick.Turns out Fitzmagic may have an expiration date.While yo...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs’ second-half rally falls just short in 30-27 loss to Steelers

Bucs’ second-half rally falls just short in 30-27 loss to Steelers

TAMPA — Ryan Fitzpatrick's magic seemed to wear off against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he had enough tricks to make it interesting.Fitzpatrick was intercepted on three consecutive passes in the first half to fall behind by 20 points.But the B...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs-Steelers: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-27 loss

Bucs-Steelers: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-27 loss

Here's a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 30-27 loss to the Steelers on Monday:3-9Bucs' record in games in which they inducted someone into their Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium. They last won when they inducted quarterback Doug Williams on De...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Is Tampa Bay back as a sports town?

Is Tampa Bay back as a sports town?

TAMPA — The Bucs came into Monday still among the NFL's unbeatens. The Rays authored one of baseball's biggest surprises of the summer by staying in contention until the last two weeks. And the Lightning are considered a favorite to win th...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Tony Dungy in the Bucs Ring of Honor: The tributes roll in

Tony Dungy in the Bucs Ring of Honor: The tributes roll in

TAMPA — There's a weather alert at Raymond James Stadium, halting all pregame activities before the Bucs-Steelers game on Monday Night Football. Feels like a perfect time to talk Tony Dungy.With the former Bucs coach set to be inducted int...
Published: 09/24/18