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Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith to interview for Jaguars head coaching job

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith is seen before an NFL football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith is seen before an NFL football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.

TAMPA — If Dirk Koetter does give up calling plays, the Bucs could have new coordinators on both sides of the ball next season.

Defensive coordinator Mike Smith will interview for the Jaguars head coaching job. Smith went 66-46 as head coach of the Falcons from 2008-14, reaching the playoffs four times including the NFC Championship Game in 2012. Smith was the defensive coordinator under Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville from 2003-07.

"I love it here," Smith said Monday. "It's been fun. It's a good group of guys."

Under Smith, 57, the Bucs showed dramatic improvement on defense the final eight games of the season. Tampa Bay won an NFL-high five games when scoring 19 or fewer after having won one such game in the previous three seasons. The Bucs also were first in the league in third-down defense as opponents converted 34.4 percent of their opportunities.

"As far as Smitty goes, look at his record as a head coach," Koetter said. "All of the guys they're interviewing out there, none of them have Mike Smith's record as a head coach. … What I can tell you is I got a lot of confidence in the staff I put together last year, and I got a lot of confidence in the staff I'll put together moving forward."

It seems less likely that the Bucs would promote someone to replace Smith. Former Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, who was Seattle's defensive coordinator, would be at the top of a lot of lists.

Koetter was asked if the Bucs had begun contacting candidates in case Smith leaves. "That's under way," he said.

Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith to interview for Jaguars head coaching job 01/02/17 [Last modified: Monday, January 2, 2017 7:43pm]
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