Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht never had his job too seriously brought into question, which can’t be said about head coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Speaking to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the returning general manager gave his thoughts and comments on 2017, and what’s to come for 2018.
When the Buccaneers wrapped up their 5-11 season, the coaches had been assured of their job security, the general manager had his option picked up (in the summer), and all the questions really surround the roster.
Basically, Licht placed blame on injuries and struggles at key positions.
For one, at quarterback, with Jameis Winston who struggled to get into a consistent groove early in the year and then suffered a shoulder injury setting him back even further.
Then of course there was the pass rush. Noah Spence and Jacquies Smith are two guys who showed a lot of potential. Smith throughout his time with the Bucs, and Spence while enduring a shoulder injury which plagued his rookie year.
Instead, Spence ended up on injured reserve never to return, and Smith was released as they must have run out of patience waiting for his health to catch up to his potential. There’s a lot in what he said, and I do plan on getting to it all.
But in this publication today, I want to talk about his comments on one specific side of the ball. The defense.
"“…as bad as everybody wants to say the defense was, we did have moments. At this point last year, we were being lauded for the best off-season move of keeping Mike Smith after a historic turnaround in 2016.”"
Licht continued on talking about the return of his defensive coordinator, saying,
"“..you don’t just forget how to coach.”"
He has a point, and while I was one of many who didn’t see too many scenarios taking shape which saw the team retaining its current coaching staff; I wasn’t exactly mad they did either.
Consistency is an important thing when building a successful NFL franchise. I don’t anyone would argue this.
Scrubbing the coaching staff means scrubbing the direction of the team. No two people are the same, and therefore, no two coaching staffs can be the same.
It doesn’t necessarily waste the work your scouts have been doing all year, but it certainly shines the light on it a bit differently. Teams don’t normally take steps forward with new coaching staffs.
Now, Licht and the coaching staff will get a third year to get it right. I call it a rubber-season.
They’ve had one good one, and dropped one. Now it’s time to win the series. This doesn’t mean a Super Bowl necessarily.
But as much as the team has potential, another lost season, and it’s going to be really hard for anyone to justify keeping the current staff.
Licht said much more in his conversation with Mr. Stroud, and we’ll be diving into every bit of it. For now though, a little clarification as to the reasoning behind holding on to embattled defensive coordinator Mike Smith, at least gives insight into the mindset of the organization.