After owning one of the worst defenses in the NFL through the first six weeks of the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are making a change.
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith has been fired from his post, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Monday, per sources informed of the move.
Linebackers coach Mark Duffer will take over as the interim DC.
The team later confirmed the move.
"I have the utmost respect for Mike Smith as a man and as a football coach," 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 the bad, it is a collective effort between the coaches and the players. We all understand that this is a result-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."
While the Bucs upgraded their defensive front this season, including adding pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, Tampa's back-end remains one of the worst in the NFL. Bucs defenders have often been put in bad spots, miscommunicated, and played some suspect schemes.
Through six week, Smith's defense ranked 32nd in points per game allowed (34.6), 32nd in passing yards given up per tilt (355.6), and 31st in yards allowed per game (439.8), and compiled 9 total sacks (28th overall) while being the fifth stingiest run defense (84.2 YPG).
Tampa gave up 400-plus yards in each of their five games this season.
With a high-flying offense, there's an argument to be made that the Bucs could be leading their division if they'd have only given up 350 yards per game and 25 PPG -- near NFL averages.
It's odd timing to move on from Smith. Given that their bye was in Week 5, had the move come earlier perhaps the changes could have been more meaningful. Nevertheless, Tampa will attempt to adjust on the fly.