After a huge “step backwards” season of 2017, where playoff expectations in July and August eventually turned into a 5-11 last place finish in the NFC South, everyone believed that changes would be coming for the Buccaneers. Apparently, they have finally started those changes with the dismissal of defensive line coach Jay Hayes.
The Pewter Report had the dismissal news first late on Saturday night:
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) February 11, 2018
F.F.I. has confirmed that Hayes was apparently told he was let go earlier last week, but the word just got out Saturday night.
Despite speculation that he may be out himself, coach Dirk Koetter was retained by the Glazer family for a third season, and he elected to keep his coordinators, Todd Monken (offense) and Mike Smith (defense), in tact.
However, as the last few weeks have gone by, many observers, analysts and Buccaneer fans everywhere were almost dumbfounded that Koetter and his coordinators would not shake something up. After all, the Bucs have not been in the playoffs in decade and have lost 10 or more games in four of the last six years.
We wrote last week that the Glazers announcement that they were raising season ticket prices for the third year in a row despite the losing continuing, was very risky. And, we pointed directly to not making significant changes, as a real credibility problem for the team.
Back to Hayes, the Buccaneers defensive line was a huge disappointment in 2017, and the team registered a league low 22 sacks. While part of the blame can and should be on GM Jason Licht for not drafting or signing a significant pass rusher to add quality depth to line, Hayes was responsible for getting something out of what he had.
And “what he had” included Gerald McCoy, a six time Pro Bowler, who spoke up in October while being frustrated about being asked to almost “sacrifice his pass rush” in a 3-4, as a nose guard at times, to draw double and triple teams. Meanwhile, the outside rushers, who were being left one on one, were repeatedly giving the defense no pass rush help/success.
Hayes came to the Buccaneers prior to the 2016 season, when he was hand picked by new defensive coordinator Mike Smith. He had been a Bengals defensive assistant and defensive line coach for 13 seasons.
Earlier in January Koetter announced a promotion of assistant wide receivers coach Skyler Fuller to the full time position. And Koetter confirmed that Monken, who had been both the receivers coach and offensive coordinator his first two years with the Bucs, would now solely focus on the coordinator role.
And, the Buccaneers may not be done getting rid of assistants, either, as it is curious that they have still not definitely announced their entire coaching staff for 2018.
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