The loud cheer you heard around around 2 this afternoon around the Tampa Bay area was Buccaneer fans cheering the news that Mike Smith had been relieved of his duties of DC by Dirk Koetter.
The writing had been on the wall ever since the season began as the defense showed no improvement at all the first six weeks of the season. In fact you could make a good case that the defense regressed and actually got worse week by week. Mike Smith was a lucky man to keep his job after last years performance by the defense as the Bucs finished last in the NFL giving up 364 yards a game.
Here are just a few of the numbers from Mike Smiths defense:
—Giving up 34.8 points a game on pace for a new NFL record.
-Gave up over 400 yards in 20 games in which he was the DC.
-Lack of pressure on the QB 18 Total sacks last season.
There were other reasons as well that don’t show up on the stat sheet. No one is able to cover. These DB’s couldn’t catch a cold. Fear of and lack of ability to tackle. This defense is meek and mild. No one fears going up against this defense.
A change was needed.
There was a lack of communication. No one seemed to know where to be or where to line up. It seems like Smith kept doing the same things, running the same schemes and expecting different results.
There was a time when Mike Smith could coach an outstanding defense. But as offenses became more sophisticated, Smith thought he could keep running the same old schemes and that caught up with him as he wasn’t able to adjust with the times.
This was obviously a difficult decision for Koetter as he and Smith have worked together on different staffs over the years. But as Koetter said today it is a results oriented business and at the end of the day the results on the defensive side of the ball weren’t there.
Mark Duffner the LB coach takes over as DC for the rest of the season. Duffner has been in the NFL as a coach for 22 years beginning as LB coach for Cincinnati in 1997 and served as DC for the Bengals in 2001-2002.
Duffner has done a good job developing the young LB’s from Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David to Kendall Beckwith who had shown great promise before his injuries. The hope is that Duffner can help develop the young DB’s and get their level of play up where it needs to be.
We can expect to see a lot more aggressiveness from Duffner. I can count on one hand the number of times that the defense has been in an all out blitz this season. I expect Duffner to bring a little bit of swagger back to the defense where opposing offenses have a little respect for the Bucs defense.
Duffner has his work cut out for him. It won’t be easy. But with a fresh approach, some new schemes, and a more aggressive game plan on defense, I think that the Bucs can get back to respectability on defense.
The defense can’t be this bad the whole season can they?