Mike Smith was unable to land another head coaching job, but he'll settle for the next best thing.
New Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter announced Friday that Smith will be the team's new defensive coordinator. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Smith had several options to choose from, but he viewed the Tampa job as the best opportunity.
"I've never seen anybody like Mike Smith before," Koetter said during his introductory news conference. "We were never as good when we lost Mike Smith in Jacksonville."
Smith spent this season out of football after being fired by the Falcons last January. He was the head coach in Atlanta for seven years, leading the team to four playoff appearances and a 66-46 (.589) record. He spent five seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Jaguars before taking the Falcons job in 2008.
NFL Media's Albert Breer reported Thursday that the Bucs' brass was unhappy with the coaching staff former coach Lovie Smith had built during his two seasons at the helm. Tampa is unlikely to have any issues with the addition of Smith, who is a name brand with a resume of past success.
The Bucs finished 10th in total defense in 2015, but that ranking disguised some key issues that haunted the team all season. Tampa allowed 26.1 points per game (ranked 26th) and were 30th out of 32 teams getting off the field on third down.
For Smith, this job represents the chance to rebuild his stock and put himself in line for more head coaching opportunities in the future. If he can improve the Bucs significantly -- and he has some tools in place with Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David in the building -- he will be an extremely attractive head coach candidate this time next year.