Tampa Bay fires Lovie Smith, Bucs’ players, NFL reacts

Tampa Bay’s firing of head coach Lovie Smith Wednesday night sent shockwaves across the NFL and, of course, the Internet.

The Buccaneers went 6-10 this season and 8-24 in two years with Smith at the helm. Still, it was understood when he was hired that Smith was going to have to put on his hardhat for the team’s rebuilding process after the fiasco that was the Greg Schiano era. Drafting quarterback Jameis Winston with the number-one overall pick in last year’s draft seemed to be a step in the right direction as Winston could finish at the top of Rookie of the Year vote. But firing Smith after just one year with the franchise quarterback makes it feel like we didn’t really get to see what he could really accomplish. The guys at Fantasy Sports Radio discuss here:

Tampa Bay players sounded off on social media and were not happy. Linebacker Lavonte David was particularly vocal, but has since deleted his tweets.

“This is stupid,” he wrote. “We can’t even have a consistent coach, 3 coaches in 5 yrs.”

Mad Dog Sports Radio’s Adam Schein, for one, didn’t find an issue with Smith’s firing.

Schein sounds off on the decision here:

Media personalities Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe raised questions about a deeper issue surrounding the Buccaneers’ decision to let Smith go:

The St. Louis Rams have yet to make the playoffs under Jeff Fisher, finishing with a sub-.500 record and no higher than third in the NFC West in his four seasons as head coach. Despite coaching talented players like Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, Jason Garrett has led the Dallas Cowboys to just one playoff appearance and one divisional crown during his six-year tenure. Stephen A. Smith expanded on his comments on his show today:

For a coach who led a Rex Grossman-quarterbacked Chicago Bears team to the Super Bowl in the 2006-07 season and the NFC title game with Jay Cutler in 2010-11, Smith’s firing seems to be a bit premature and somewhat odd to say the least. Additionally, it whittles the number of black coaches in the NFL to four: the Jets’ Todd Bowles, the Bengals’ Marvin Lewis, the Lions’ Jim Caldwell and the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin. Steven A. and Sharpe’s insinuations about race factoring into the decision are not unfounded, as the numbers indicate a clear discrepancy.

It is widely believed that Tampa Bay will promote offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to head coach. Koetter was receiving interest from other teams with head coaching vacancies, namely the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers. Winston has a good rapport with Koetter and the young quarterback’s development likely wouldn’t be stunted should he be hired. Maurice Jones-Drew, who played under Koetter while he was Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator, discusses the relationship Koetter builds with his players on NFL Radio:

With a young nucleus led by Winston, running back Doug Martin and wide receiver Mike Evans, the Buccaneers seem to be trending upward. It’s unfortunate that Smith won’t see his vision come to fruition as his attempt at rebuilding the team was cut short.

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