The Buccaneers have finally made official what the football world learned nearly 24 hours ago: that defensive coordinator Mike Smith is staying put.
That’s the good news. The even better news is that it looks like Smith is staying put for a while.
In his own comments on the decision to end his pursuit of a head coaching position, Smith strongly suggested that his intention is to remain with the Bucs beyond the 2017 season.
“While I did have a chance to speak with a few organizations about head coaching opportunities earlier this offseason, it became very clear to me that I am in an ideal situation here with the Buccaneers,’’ Smith said in a statement released by the Bucs.
“For the next couple years, I am fully committed and focused on my role with (head coach) Dirk (Koetter) and the organization and will not be pursuing head coaching opportunities during this time.”
So there you have it. It looks like for the first time since Monte Kiffin was running his cone drills out on the grass of One Buc Place, the Bucs will finally have some continuity on defense.
Good thing. It’s not often mentioned but continuity on that side of the ball is just as important as it is on the offensive side of the ball, especially when you get the kind of results Smith did.
After a slow start, one that Smith envisioned and warned fans and the media about, the Bucs found their groove in the second half of the season, allowing opponents an average of just 17.1 points per game.
They also became one of the best teams in the league in terms of takeaways and one of the stingiest on third down, where opponents converted just 34.4-percentr of their tries.
“Mike Smith is quite simply one of the best coaches I have had the opportunity to work with and I am thrilled to know that he has committed to remain with us for the foreseeable future,’’ Koetter said.
“In addition to being a great teacher on the field and in the meeting rooms, Mike has consistently been able to get the most out of his players and that was never more evident than this past season.
“The growth and exceptional play of our defense in the second half of the season played a major factor in our success and Mike, along with the rest of the defensive staff, deserves much of that credit.
I can’t say enough about the job he did this past season and I am excited to have him leading our defense for years to come.’’