Mike Smith withdrew from consideration for the Chargers’ head coaching job to sign a new contract to remain the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator. In the end, the decision was an easy one.
There was always that chance Mike Smith was going to leave. We knew that the day the Buccaneers hired him. Despite the friendship and long time work relationship he had with Dirk Koetter, we all know there are only 32 head coaching jobs in the NFL and if presented with the opportunity, Smith would likely take one.
He interviewed with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and the Jacksonville Jaguars and was named a leading candidate for both jobs. The Jags hired Doug Marrone and out of nowhere, Smith removed himself from the running in L.A. to stay with Tampa Bay.
Smith released a statement about his decision;
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"“I am excited about what we are building here in Tampa Bay and would like to thank the Glazer family, Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter for showing faith in what we are doing on the defensive side of the ball.I think we grew quite a bit as a defense this past season and I look forward to working with my staff and our players to continue building upon what we have started. While I did have a chance to speak with a few organizations about head coaching opportunities earlier this offseason, it became very clear to me that I am in an ideal situation here with the Buccaneers. For the next couple years, I am fully committed and focused on my role with Dirk and the organization and will not be pursuing head coaching opportunities during this time.”"
Buccaneers fans were thrilled, but looking at it now, we shouldn’t have been surprised. This ultimately had to be an easy decision.
Look at the teams and the directions they’re heading. The Buccaneers are an up-and-coming team that put together a heck of a run in 2016. Their defense was much improved not only from 2015, but the second half of 2016 over the first. They have a young nucleus that includes a franchise quarterback who is only 22-years old. This team is going to be contending much sooner than later.
The Chargers are a mess. They completely botched the move to Los Angeles – which very well could have played into Smith’s decision. Honestly, how can you want to go work for a company that is in apparent disarray, under poor ownership and management, and just scorned a city with no true attempt to stay?
On top of that, they have an aging quarterback who won’t be around much longer. That means a rebuilding effort is coming. We saw the way ownership handled the Joey Bosa negotiations. All in all, the Chargers do not appear to be a coherent franchise anywhere near making a championship run any time soon.
Mike Smith’s path to a Super Bowl is shortest in Tampa Bay. Fortunately for the team, the franchise, and the fans, Smith realized this and opted to stay. We still don’t know the contract details, but you can bet Smith was given a hefty pay raise to put the Bucs over the top in order to keep him.
Finally. We are seeing the right coaching moves be made and a true effort to keep the coaching staff intact.