Buccaneers fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith

·Yahoo Sports Columnist
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith. (AP)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith. (AP)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to 2-3 on Sunday after a 34-29 loss to their NFC South rival, the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons had 416 yards of offense, a season-high 26 first downs, and converted 8-of-13 third-down opportunities.

And the man on the sidelines most responsible is being held accountable.

Bucs fire Mike Smith

Buccaneers players were told on Monday that the team is making a change at defensive coordinator, meaning Mike Smith is being shown the door. The team announced the move on its website, along with the news that linebackers coach Mark Duffner has been promoted to coordinator.

“I have the utmost respect for Mike Smith as a man and as a football coach,” head coach Dirk Koetter said in a statement. “These decisions are always difficult, but our top priority here is to ensure that we do everything possible to help this team succeed.

“As I have said in the past, the issues we have had as a team are never one person’s fault. During good times as well as bad, it is a collective effort between the coaches and the players. We all understand this is a results-based profession and our results to this point have not met our standards. I want to thank Mike for all the hard work and passion he has displayed here on a daily basis and I wish him well moving forward.”

Buccaneers defense ranks near bottom of the league

Smith was hired by Tampa Bay in 2016; he was the Falcons head coach from 2008-14.

Through five games this season, the Buccaneers have allowed 173 points, most in the NFL, allowing 21 or more in every game, which clearly puts a good deal of pressure on the offense. They are also 31st in yards allowed, at nearly 440 yards per game; that includes a worst-by-far 368 passing YPG (next closest is Kansas City, which is allowing 340 passing YPG).

For all of the passing yards they’ve given up, Tampa Bay only has one interception on 198 pass attempts against.

Who is Mark Duffner?

Duffner came to the Buccaneers in 2016, when Koetter was elevated from offensive coordinator to head coach. He’s helped mold linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander into Pro Bowlers since joining the team.

A former head coach at Holy Cross and Maryland, Duffner has also coached with the Dolphins, Jaguars, Packers and Bengals during his time in the NFL; he was the Bengals defensive coordinator in 2001-02.

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