The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have decided to fire veteran defensive line coach Jay Hayes. Is it the right move, or did they ax the wrong guy?
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Jay Hayes two seasons ago the move was met with near universal praise. The Bucs had managed to swipe up one of the NFL’s longest tenured position coaches to come help out a defensive line desperately in need of guidance. Hayes had spent the previous thirteen seasons with Marvin Lewis and the Bengals and was regarded as one of the premier defensive line coaches in the league, having groomed and developed all-pro talents like Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.
As is the case so often with the Buccaneers, Jay Hayes did not live up to the hype. Early Sunday morning Pewter Report broke the news that, after two seasons, the Bucs would be moving on from Hayes, who had one more year on his contract. So, was it the right move?
From a strictly results standpoint, it’s hard to argue with the Buccaneers’ decision. Over the last two seasons the Buccaneers have struggled mightily to sack the quarterback, registering 28 sacks in 2016 and a league-worst 20 in 2017. Hayes and company were unable to develop a single young defensive end on the Bucs roster, and couldn’t maximize the talent of all-pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Hayes drew criticism from his players during the season for utilizing too many stunts along the defensive line – in which linemen loop around the line as opposed to straight-on rushing, and it seemed that he had somewhat lost the support of the defensive line room.
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With that said, there’s definitely a sense that Hayes was a sacrificial lamb of sorts. Some heads had to roll after the disaster season that 2017 was, and if they weren’t going to be heads belonging to Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter, they had to be assistant coaches like Hayes. In that sense, Hayes got a raw deal with the Buccaneers. Jason Licht and the front office failed to supply Hayes with the necessary horses to get the Buccaneers pass rush going. The one defensive end that they did draft with legitimate talent, Noah Spence, hasn’t been able to stay healthy.
It could easily be argued that Jason Licht and the front office are more to blame for the lackluster defensive line play than Hayes is, but that usually isn’t the way things work in situations like this.
The NFL – and pro sports in general – is a cold, harsh business that will kick you to the curb unless you produce results, and Jay Hayes simply didn’t produce results. The move is likely good for both parties: the Buccaneers can get a fresh new voice to help resurrect their pass rush, and Hayes can find a team with more quality talent to coach. Hayes did not wake up one day and forget how to coach defensive linemen, so I expect he’ll find work quickly this off-season.
So, Buccaneer fans, do you feel better about the defensive line now that Jay Hayes has been fired? Do you think Hayes is more to blame than the front office? Are there any coaches out there – or on the current staff – that you’d like to see replace Hayes? Sound off in the comments below!