Buccaneers fire head coach Smith after 2 seasons

  • Associated Press
  • Wednesday, January 6, 2016 7:44pm
  • SportsSports

TAMPA, Fla. — Jameis Winston had a strong rookie season, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tripled their victory total from the previous year. Still, it wasn’t enough to save coach Lovie Smith’s job.

Smith was fired Wednesday night after going 6-10 this season, 8-24 overall in two years running a team that has missed the playoffs eight consecutive years.

The late-night announcement came as a surprise because Smith’s job was not considered to be in danger after the Bucs improved from two wins and landing the No. 1 overall draft pick in his first season to rebounding from a slow start to briefly contend for a wild-card berth with a rookie quarterback starting every game.

“This decision was difficult on a variety of levels,” Buccaneers Co-Chairman Joel Glazer said in a statement. “I am disappointed that we were not more successful these past few seasons, but we are committed to doing what is necessary to give our fans the winning team they deserve. “

General manager Jason Licht will oversee the search for a new coach.

Smith led the Chicago Bears to the NFC title in 2006, when they lost to Indianapolis in the Super Bowl. He was 84-66 in nine seasons with Chicago.

The Bucs showed some improvement this season with Winston joining Andrew Luck and Cam Newton as the only players since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger to throw for 4,000 yards as rookies. But they lost five of their last six games, including the final four to finish last in the NFC South for the fifth straight season.

“I don’t think any of us would say that we’ve met our expectations. We had high hopes when I took over the franchise. You just can’t build a program overnight,” Smith said earlier this week, reflecting on the progress the team made over two seasons under his guidance.

“You’d like to have a quick fix, but that just wasn’t part of the process. When you get to 6-6 in a season, it makes you think that maybe you’re a little bit further along and we can get it done. But in the end, we weren’t quite there. ‘We’re not where we want to be and eventually, we’re going to get there.”

For the first time, the Bucs ranked in the top 10 in total offense and defense. But finishing No. 5 offensively and No. 10 defensively was deceptive. The Bucs struggled to get the ball into the end zone, ranking 20th in points. They were 26th in scoring defense, allowing 24 or more 10 times.

The shortcomings on defense were especially frustrating because that’s been Smith’s area of expertise as a coach. He took over play-calling responsibilities from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier this season, but an inconsistent pass rush and constant shuffling of personnel in a leaky secondary contributed to a lack of success.

Nevertheless, Smith reiterated his belief that the team is headed in the right direction.

“Our football team isn’t a finished product yet, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re in pretty good shape going forward with (Winston) leading us, on and off the field,” Smith said.

Now the Bucs will move ahead without Smith, the team’s third coach since Jon Gruden was fired after the 2008 season. Gruden led Tampa Bay to its only Super Bowl win; none of his successors had an overall winning record in Tampa.

Tampa Bay cornerback Johnthan Banks was sitting courtside Wednesday night at alma mater Mississippi State’s home basketball game against Texas A&M when he learned Smith had been fired. Banks starred at his phone for a few minutes before abruptly walking out of the gym.

“I’m just not ready to talk about it,” Banks said.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Stanwood's Ryder Bumgarner rushes with yardage with Arlington's Trenton Lamie, left, closing in the third quarter Friday night at Stanwood High School on September 24, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
A look at this week’s top local high school football matchups

Rivalry games and conference matchups highlight Week 5 of the local prep football season.

The Everett Silvertips’ Olen Zellweger maneuvers around a Vancouver Giants defender during a strong first period for the Silvertips in the first round of the WHL playoffs Friday, April 22, 2022, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Ducks send star defenseman Zellweger back to Silvertips

The 19-year-old standout and reigning WHL Defenseman of the Year should provide Everett with a huge boost.

Cascade's Julian Thomas jumps over multiple tackles during the game against Jackson on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Week 5 prep football leaderboard

A look at the area’s top passers, rushers and receivers.

X
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 19-25

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 19-25. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Seattle Mariners, including Adam Frazier (26), J.P. Crawford, center, Chris Flexen (77), Luis Castillo, second from right, and Cal Raleigh, right, celebrate after a single by Crawford in the 11th inning drove in the winning run in a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Seattle. The Mariners won 10-9. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Mariners outlast Rangers, reduce magic number to 1

Seattle wins 10-9 in 11 innings to move one win, or one Baltimore loss, away from clinching a playoff berth.

Retired professional bowler Darrell Storkson beams as he walks on stage to accept his Hall of Fame induction during the 2022 Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame banquet Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2022, at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
GALLERY: Class of 2022 inducted in county sports Hall of Fame

The nine new members, plus The Herald’s Man and Woman of the Year in Sports, were honored at a banquet Wednesday evening.

White line on Green grass sport field for sport concept
Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 29

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Stanwood's Michael Mascotti relays the next play to his teammates during football practice on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football picks for Week 5

Local experts take a crack at picking the winners for the fifth week of games.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. attempts a pass while being pressured by Stanford defensive end Stephen Herron Jr. during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Preview: No. 15 Washington at UCLA

The Huskies travel to face the Bruins in their first road test of the season.

Most Read