Black Monday is upon us and while there’s nothing to suggest this will be a dark day for Buccaneers rookie head coach Dirk Koetter, it could still prove to be a day that negatively impacts the Bucs.
Before the day is done, the Colts, Jets and maybe even the Bengals might join the Jaguars, Bills, Rams, Broncos, 49ers and Chargers as teams looking for a new head coach. With every new team that joins that group the chances of the Bucs losing defensive coordinator Mike Smith increase.
Smith wasn’t a real popular candidate among teams looking for new coaches a year ago. During a hiring season in which offensive coordinators became the flavor of the day only the Giants expressed a real strong interest in Smith before retaining Ben McAdoo.
That probably won’t be the case this year. After a year away following his dismissal by the Falcons two seasons ago, Smith re-established himself, particularly during the second half of the 2016 season, as one of the league’s best defensive architects.
Though it took him almost twice as long as he expected, Smith eventually turned a mostly unheralded group of defenders into one of the stingiest and most opportunistic defenses in the NFL, a unit that limited its opponents to 17 points or less seven times this year.
That kind of success will get you noticed and you have to believe that the Jaguars, who Smith served as a defensive coordinator for four years before he was hired by the Falcons as their head coach in 2008, have indeed taken notice.
Yes, the Jags interviewed Tom Coughlin last week, supposedly for their head coaching job, but NFL insiders believe there’s a chance Coughlin will eventually join the Jags as an overseer who will then hire a head coach to run the on-field operation.
Would Coughlin in that role hire Smith as Head Coach? There’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t. In addition to having a brilliant defensive mind, Smith has had success as an NFL head coach and he’s had it while working with a young developing quarterback such as Blake Bortles.
Of course, the Jaguars aren’t the only team in need of skill set the likes of which Smith possesses. Smith could probably do wonders for the Bills, Rams, Chargers or Colts as well. For various reasons, none of them seem that far from contending again.
And make no mistake about it, Smith was a big reason the Bucs became contenders again this year. While the offense faltered in the second half of the season the defense kept the Bucs viable, which is why this is a Black Monday worth monitoring.
One of the drawbacks to having success in this league is that rival teams come after your top coaches and there’s a good chance that in an effort to find some stability again, several will come after the man at the top of the Bucs defense.