Posted January 02, 2014

Buccaneers hire Lovie Smith to be their next head coach

Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After a year away from the NFL, Lovie Smith is back in the coaching business. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

After a year away from the NFL, Lovie Smith will be back in the coaching business. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Two days after they fired Greg Schiano, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to make Lovie Smith their next head coach. Jay Glazer of FOX Sports first reported that Smith, who spent 1996 through 2000 as the Buccaneers’ linebackers coach, will reportedly sign a four-year deal with a fifth-year option. ESPN reports that the contract will be for about $5 million per year.

Smith was the Chicago Bears’ head coach from 2004 through 2012, amassing an 81-63 regular-season record and a 3-3 record in the postseason. Smith’s Bears lost Super Bowl XLI to the Indianapolis Colts, and his defenses regularly ranked among the top in the NFL, but he was fired at the end of the 2012 season after a 10-6 record. Chicago started the season 7-1 that season but faded down the stretch.

Smith also interviewed with the Houston Texans in mid-December about their vacant head coach position before the Texans hired former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien on Dec. 31. The Detroit Lions were also said to be interested in Smith’s services after firing head coach Jim Schwartz. Several reports have indicated that Smith will bring former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford in to be his offensive coordinator, and it’s possible that Rod Marinelli could be Smith’s defensive coordinator. Marinelli was Smith’s defensive line coach in Chicago in 2009, and his defensive coordinator from 2010 through 2012.

Even though the Bears came close to a playoff berth in 2013 under head coach Marc Trestman with a re-defined offense, the defense regressed mightily without Smith’s input. Chicago’s defensive players seemed especially unhappy after Smith’s firing.

“The effect he had on me as a player was that he challenged me to be better than everybody else at my position,” cornerback Charles Tillman told me about Smith last June. “He told me to be bold and brave, and I just thank him for that. Whatever I did well, he challenged me to do it again, and again, and again. His standards for me were extremely high, and things he asked me to do … sometimes I succeeded, and sometimes I failed. But in the end, I think he was pleased with how I responded overall. As a person, he was a guy I would call for advice. When my daughter was in the hospital, he was the first one there. Him and our defensive coordinator, Bob Babich. He wasn’t just a coach; he is a great man and a great person, and there was a friendship involved as well.”

When asked whether he was surprised that Smith was not hired by an NFL team for the 2013 season, Tillman said that he most definitely was.

“Yes, I am. But looking at how things are going, a lot of teams were hiring offensive-minded head coaches. That’s not to say he shouldn’t have a job, but I just think that’s how the league is going.”

In 2012, the Buccaneers finished 4-12 after an 0-8 start. Schiano, who was involved in several controversies including circumstances that led to the release of quarterback Josh Freeman, was fired on Dec. 30, along with general manager Mark Dominik. Given that the Buccaneers have not yet hired a replacement for Dominik, it’s entirely feasible that Smith will have a great deal of control over his own coaching hires.

45 comments
ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

Excellent hire. Packers should have gave him a blank check to run their D and kick capers to the curb.

RandyHayes
RandyHayes

he got screwed by the Bears,. Tampa Bay has a ways to go although they did beat the Lions but then so did 6 of 7 of their last opponents this season.

retro-grouch
retro-grouch

Why do the  Bucs expect Lovie Smith to have success building their offense?  They don't have a QB or an identity and in nine years the Bears were never able to solve those problems.  Nine years!


This is not a rhetorical question.  They don't have a GM but they must have some sort of plan.  Perhaps they think that having Smith on board will help them attract a GM who has ambitions for the offense.  Smith could be a foundation stone for a good partnership, as in Denver, but the QB question will loom large.

UBERTAXTHERICH
UBERTAXTHERICH

Bet Bears fans wish they still had him over what they have now.

Joe R2
Joe R2

Lovie is a good coach.  He'll lead the Bucs to some success for sure, but he won't ever win a super bowl unless he finally figures out how to hire offensive coaches.  If he knew any offense he would've already had a ring with the Bears...

gbgentleman
gbgentleman

Whew...I've always like Lovie, but as a Packer's fan I was never able to root for his team.  Since I also like TB, this is a good move.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

The only way a new hire wouldn't be better than Greg Schiano would be if they hire Miked Shanahan.  Two years and Lovie will have them fighting for a playoff spot. 

Sammyz
Sammyz

and then he goes and hires Jerry Angelo as the Bucks GM. 

ShawnB
ShawnB

I hope so.  For anyone complaining about "the Rooney Rule", think about Smith.  The guy has been a consistent winner, made the playoffs multiple times, and took Rex Grossman as a QB to the Super Bowl.  Then, he was fired for a 10-6 record and couldn't get another job.  Yet Mike Shanahan and other guys are getting retread.  If you don't think there is a racial component, your eyes aren't open.

metalhead65
metalhead65

nice hire. he will make them respectable just do not expect anything resembling a NFL offense from this team. he knows nothing about that side of the ball and was incapable of hiring anyone who did during his time with the bears. this is the guy who took one of the best young QB's in the game when the Bears got him in Jay Cutler and ruined his career. it's like he looked at the tape of what he did with the broncos and said that's nice but we don't do that here. he refused to to tailor an offense to fit his skills and they paid for it by not winning.

NoQNoSuperBowl
NoQNoSuperBowl

The guy went to a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as his QB. Coaching doesn't get a lot better than that. 

LeslieHoerwinkle
LeslieHoerwinkle

Weren't the Bucs required to interview a minority candidate before hiring Lovie Smith?

ki.nazir72
ki.nazir72

Wonderful hire, Tillman's comments seem to be consistent with what Lovie Smith is about, an excellent teacher which doesn't always translate into a great coach. If he can get a strong O.C. and QB coach the Bucs can over shoot the Saints, Falcons and compete with the Panthers. Who knows for sure?

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

Great hire for the Bucs on this one, definitely need some help at the QB position as well. This automatically makes the Bucs a better team. 

ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

Real good hire, probably will prove to be the best of this years crop. Proven winner at the pro level and doesn't have that joepa/sandusky stench following him.

TheDistrict
TheDistrict

You have to remember - the franchises that are hiring now are by in large failing franchises. So I'm not going to get too excited about poorly run franchises hiring retreads and college coaches. 

NebojsaTodorovic
NebojsaTodorovic

Houston's loss.  They missed an opportunity to get better.  Tampa will be a quick turn around job for Lovie. 

Frotoon
Frotoon

Good hire. He probably shouldn't have been fired.

rckstrscott
rckstrscott

@UBERTAXTHERICH Not this Bears fan. 9 years of Lovieball was about enough. He did a fine job, but 9 years without a result? Very few coaches last that long without a title, and the fact he did shows how well he was respected and the job he did. But it was definitely time to move on. 

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@ShawnBChan Gailey, Romeo Crennel, Norv Turner, Pat Shurmur, Mike Mularkey, Andy Reid, Ken Whisenhunt - they all got fired at the end of last season as well, with Reid being the only one immediately getting a head coaching gig.   Were the rest discriminated against as well?

DennyCrane
DennyCrane

@ShawnBHe was treated like any other coach. He was fired because it became clear he would never win the big one in Chicago. By your own definition he has become a retread himself. So I guess he could get another job and another racist conspiracy theorist has been shot down. Any way you measure it blacks are over-represented in sports. But that doesn't bother you does it?

Sammyz
Sammyz

@ShawnB Smith wasn't fired because of race, he was fired because of mediocrity and his consistent lack of ability to field anything close to a competent offense. 

ShawnB
ShawnB

@metalhead65You're on crack if you think Cutler was ever going to be a top 10 quarterback.  He got ran out of Denver for Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow.

Joe R2
Joe R2

@NoQNoSuperBowl 


He also put Thomas Jones on the bench after rushing for 100 yds in the first quarter of that super bowl, only to let Cedric Benson fumble away any momentum and let Peyton back in the game.  For all his great defensive success, Lovie always knew how to screw up the offensive side of the ball...

ShawnB
ShawnB

@LeslieHoerwinkleIf Smith wasn't black, he would have been hired long before.  They guy has consistently won and was fired with a 10-6 record.

ceejay0804
ceejay0804

Are you just plain stupid? You either hire in the NFL or college what other choices do you have. What a waste of a comment

Frotoon
Frotoon

Well, that's how it always is, isn't it? Franchises hire because they just fired their coach, and the reason they fired him is because they were failing.

JoeZChi14
JoeZChi14

@rckstrscott @UBERTAXTHERICH Absolutely Rck, I agree, he had more than a honest shot at giving the Bears a title, I bleed the blue and orange here in ChiTown, it was disappointing to go from 7-1 to 10-6 last year but thats the NFL... When u dont win in a city like Chicago they will be calling for ur head, whether its your fault or not, u r the boss. I hope he does good in Tampa, thats a good franchise, and also the Bears r gonna be good w Trestman as well we needed a change. Throwing big bucks at Cutler though? Thats a whole other story... 

slickwilly
slickwilly

@JoeCabot@ShawnB All those guys besides Reid and Whisenhunt suck. Whisenhunt will be an NFL head coach again someday.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@MarkPost Lighten up.  Seemed like a bit of sarcasm aimed at the NFL.

JoeZChi14
JoeZChi14

@ShawnB True Shawn, but I think he did have a decent record ( read my comment above to Rck) but if u look closely to what happened it was due to a couple things: 1)The season collapsing from 7-1 start to a disappointing 10-6. Also 2) The Bears needed to power up in the Playoffs after a couple disappointing years following the Super Bowl vs Indy and Peyton and didnt. Lastly a front office that gave him too much room and time had had enough. I liked Lovie in Chicago but something was missing. 

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@ShawnB And right on cue, the race baiters infest the forum.  How do you know that he even wanted to work this past season?   

ShawnB
ShawnB

@FrotoonThe smart franchises fire their coach immediately after a championship.

BosephHeyden
BosephHeyden

@ElvisHitler@FrotoonThey're all bufoons, then.  Lovie is a GREAT Defensive mind.  One of the best, I'd put him in the top three of all current NFL personnel.  But the man had no sense for offense.  At all.  His first hire as Offensive Coordinator was a man named Terry O'Shea, who Lovie allowed to bring with him whatever quarterbacks he desired.  His first choice was a 6'4" journeyman named Jonathan Quinn, who had zero accuracy, zero mobility, and couldn't throw a spiral to save his life.  Between Quinn and Quinn's replacements, the Bears managed to have an offense so awful it got them the 3rd pick of the draft that year.


The next year he went with Ron Turner, who was okay, so long as the extent of your offense was going to be "run the ball a lot, have your wide receiver run as deep as they can as fast as they can, and have your rocket arm quarterback cannon the ball to him."  That was good enough not to lose football games, and did get them into the playoffs twice and the Super Bowl once (though once they fired Ron Rivera, another of my top three, they didn't make it again until just recently).  But once they got a real quarterback in Jay Cutler, Turner's lack of any sort of creativity or complexity was exposed, and he was fired, too.


Then he went with Mike Martz, who couldn't be bothered with audibles, because his system was the best in his own mind, despite the fact that there was no offensive line to make his system work.  And he followed that up by firing Martz and promoting his O-Line coach, Mike Tice, to Offensive Coordinator, who basically took the previous playbook, dumbed it down to a few plays, and added audibles.  Of course, no offensive line still didn't help, and that's what cost Lovie his job.


A GOOD NFL coach figures out both sides of the ball.  If they're offensive minded, they don't pretend to know about the defensive side of the ball and they hire the best D-Coordinator available.  Same with defensive minded coaches.  Lovie didn't have a good eye for the offensive side of things and it cost the Bears the playoffs a LOT, before and after the Cutler trade.


If Lovie learned from his experience with the Bears and doesn't try to get clever by getting an unknown or a  random offensive coordinator, the Bucs will be a scary good team.  But if he's still same old Lovie, then the Bucs will be monsters on defense, but the second they play a team with an even remotely good defense, they'll be exposed.

BosephHeyden
BosephHeyden

@ShawnBI know, that's why I sum it up in the last paragraph.  One part for the dumb-dumb's, an extension of my point for the people here that actually read stuff (all two of them).

ceejay0804
ceejay0804

Well it's a good thing there is only 2 other good defenses out there. Defense wins football games and championships. Steelers, Ravens, Bears and Bucs all one with great defenses and average at best offenses. I'll take Great defense any day over whatever crap Sciano called "football"