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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gus Bradley a likely target should Buccaneers go looking for new DC

Roy Cummings



Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Changes are coming within the Buccaneers coaching staff. In the wake of the one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, that is all but guaranteed.

Even if Dirk Koetter survives as head coach he will surely be asked to dismiss some and perhaps many of those who have failed to get more out of a roster of players that is not devoid of elite-level talent.

One of those who could be let go, of course, is defensive coordinator Mike Smith. If that proves to be the case, don’t be surprised if the Bucs go after former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley as a replacement.

Bradley, who caught on with the Chargers as their defensive coordinator after he was fired by the Jaguars last year, only signed a one-year deal with Los Angeles so he will become a free agent at season’s end.

Coming off a season in which he’s fashioned the Chargers into the No. 3-ranked scoring defense in the league, Bradley will be a much hotter commodity this year than he was last year.

The Bucs, though, might have an edge in the sweepstakes. Longtime Bucs fans will remember that Bradley first came to the NFL in 2006 as a linebackers coach with the Bucs.

He went on from there, of course, to become the defensive coordinator of the Seahawks, where he helped build the Legion of Doom into one of the most feared defenses in the league.

That earned Bradley his shot at a head coach’s job and while it certainly didn’t work out in Jacksonville, Bradley still has one of most respected defensive minds in the game.

“He’s got a brilliant football mind,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Bradley when he made the move to the Chargers last season. “He’s got a way of reaching people and touching people and getting the best out of them.’’

That’s what the Bucs will be looking for – coaches who can reach their young players in particular and get them to play at the level their talent suggests they can.

The Bucs thought they had that in Smith. That’s why they signed him to a multi-year extension after his defense became one of the stingiest in the league through the second half of last season.

For whatever reason, though, and injuries have certainly played a part in it, the Bucs just haven’t played at the same level on that side of the ball this year and so there’s a chance Smith will pay the price.rice.

In fact, it’s possible that given the opportunity to go after Bradley, Bucs ownership and management may even encourage Koetter to make such a change in the hopes of landing a coach seemingly on the cutting edge on the defensive side of the ball.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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