After the Jacksonville Jaguars hired Doug Marrone and the Buffalo Bills zeroing in on Sean McDermott, it appears the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be on the verge of keeping Mike Smith around for at least one more season.
It has been one of the biggest burning off-season questions – and it started around week nine of the regular season: will Mike Smith leave the Buccaneers to become a head coach? Fortunately for the Bucs and their fans, it appears he will stick around for at least one more season.
After the Jaguars hired Doug Marrone as their head coach and brought in Tom Coughlin as VP of Football Operations – giving him final say on all decisions – Smith’s options were immediately limited. Smith has only interviewed with two teams, the Jaguars and the San Diego Chargers. Now, the Chargers’ gig is the only one open as far as teams that expressed interest in the 57-year old coach. In addition to Smith, the Chargers have interviewed McDermott (who is all but off the table and heading to Buffalo), Matt Patricia, Dave Toub, Vance Joseph, and Anthony Lynn.
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Smith is the only one of these candidates with head coaching experience, but there’s a lot to be said for Patricia working under Bill Belichick in New England as well as Lynn taking over as interim head coach after the Ryan brothers were dismissed. Vance Joseph appears to be closing in on the Broncos’ job and Jason LaCanfora reported that whomever takes the Chargers job will likely keep offensive coordinator Ken Wisenhunt, leading to the notion that the Chargers will go defensive minded at head coach.
That leaves Smith, Patricia, and Toub (who is a special teams coordinator) as the likely choices. Patricia was an up-and-coming name last off-season so he may finally get his chance this year.
All that being said, San Diego passing on Smith would be fantastic news. The Buccaneers would retain their staff that had the team on the cusp of a postseason berth and the players would be in the same defensive system two years in a row, allowing them to continue to grow and improve.
Dirk Koetter built a formidable staff and losing a key member after only one season might have caused some regression – something the Bucs can not afford in 2017. Adding a few key pieces on both sides of the ball via free agency and draft and this team is most certainly a contender to not only get to the playoffs, but win the NFC South outright.
Continue to keep an eye on the coaching situation. Just because Mike Smith hasn’t interviewed for any other jobs doesn’t mean he won’t. It does, however, seem that if he is not offered the Chargers job he will remain in Tampa Bay for at least one more year.