9:40pm: Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter) hears that offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will be a candidate for the head coaching job.
Former Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik (on Twitter) expects the club to name Koetter as its new head coach within the week, though he anticipates that they will still interview a few other candidates. Koetter has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Dolphins job.
9:24pm: The Buccaneers announced that they have fired coach Lovie Smith. The team issued a press release containing a short statement from Buccaneers Co-Chairman Joel Glazer:
“After careful consideration, we informed Lovie that we have decided to make a change. I want to thank Lovie for his hard work and dedication to the Buccaneers during his time here. This decision was difficult on a variety of levels. 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. As we move forward, General Manager Jason Licht will oversee the process for finding our next head coach.”
The news comes out of left field as there has been no chatter about Tampa Bay making a coaching change in recent weeks. Smith, 57, agreed to become the Bucs head coach two years ago after the team canned Greg Schiano. In fact, tomorrow marked the exact two year anniversary of Smith’s introductory press conference.
Things have not exactly gone as planned for Smith and the Bucs over the last two seasons. In 2014, Tampa Bay finished a dismal 2-14, putting them in the NFL’s cellar. In 2015, they used their No. 1 overall pick on FSU quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston showed flashes of promise in his rookie campaign but Tampa Bay didn’t become a contender overnight. After a 6-10 finish, Buccaneers ownership has decided to go in another direction at head coach.
Now, the Buccaneers join the Browns, Dolphins, Giants, Eagles, 49ers, and Titans as clubs who are looking for a new head coach in 2016. Prominent coaches looking for a promising landing spot could do a whole lot worse than the Bucs. Tampa Bay features last year’s No. 1 overall choice at quarterback, a talented young wide receiver in Mike Evans, and the No. 9 overall choice in the 2016 draft.
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