The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went a combined 8-24 throughout the last two NFL seasons. Despite this atrocious record, most NFL fans were shocked at the firing of Bucs head coach Lovie Smith just three days after their final game of the season.
But how could you be shocked? In Smith’s first year, the Bucs went 2-14, and their only consolation prize was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
This year, Tampa Bay looked promising when they got off to a 6-6 start and looked to vie for a playoff spot. When I say they looked promising, I mean they looked promising to someone who might not follow the Bucs or not know much about their history.
They went on to lose their last four games in a row in typical Bucs fashion with undisciplined play and turnovers with games on the line.
Smith was brought into Tampa Bay to be the discipline coach, to be the guy who eliminated the constant penalties and strengthened the defensive side of the ball.
Not a single thing I said in the previous sentence was accomplished by Smith, and that is why he is out of a job.
There were injuries along the way and only one pick from last year’s draft went toward a player on the defensive side of the ball. The speculation was that Smith would have one more year to shape the team on the defensive side of the ball through the draft.
“You have got to look at that team and you have got to kind of temper your expectations,” said Cooper McNiel, a junior at UCF. “The defense has got a few good players but you can’t fire someone after two years.”
A good amount of students here at UCF are from the Tampa Bay area, and many more are just fans of the NFL. Many were surprised that Lovie Smith was fired, and many of them thought he should not have been fired so soon.
“I felt like he was changing the culture, you heard the players speak out a little bit kind of defending him so he had the locker room in his favor,” said Zach Barrows, a UCF junior. “I am a Dolphins fan but from my perspective I do not think he should have been fired.”
Don’t get me wrong, many including myself were surprised by the firing of Smith as well.
The team did have three times the wins they had the previous season, and had an offense that showed flares of greatness at times.
So why did the Glazers decide to call up Lovie Smith on a Wednesday night to fire him over the phone?
It wasn’t because they didn’t think he deserved another year, but rather that they most likely wanted to retain offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
Koetter has done a great job shaping the Bucs No. 1 overall draft pick Jameis Winston into a NFL quarterback. Winston threw for more than 4,000 yards under the direction of Koetter, and the Bucs offense kept them in games when the defense could not get stops or hindered themselves with penalties.
Koetter was speculated to possibly leave Tampa Bay if offered a head coaching job somewhere such as Miami or Philadelphia. Though Koetter is not the only candidate for the head coaching position in Tampa Bay, it looks likely the Bucs could go that route.
The Penalty Box is a weekly sports opinion column that is produced by either Matthew Saunders (Digital Producer), Christopher Davis (Digital Producer), Jimmy Calhoun (Senior Staff Writer) or Evan Abramson (Sports Editor). The columns will bring a little bit of humor to you, have a competitive mentality of arguing with others' opinions and provide a different perspective of the sports world.
Matthew Saunders is a digital producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @ClassicSmit or email him at MatthewS@CentralFloridaFuture.com