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What’s next for the Buccaneers?


Seven years ago, the Buccaneers provided the NFL with a surprise firing, dumping coach Jon Gruden and G.M. Bruce Allen and replacing them immediately with Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik, respectively. This time, the Bucs have moved on only from the head coach, without an immediate announcement.

So what will the Buccaneers do next? Here’s a look at potential candidates.

1. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

Praised for his work with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston but not yet noticed by the broader hiring cycle, the Bucs could be considering another in-house elevation, like Morris in 2009. A minority candidate, Morris was eligible to be hired instantly. Koetter, who is white, can’t be promoted until at least one minority candidate is interviewed, under the Rooney Rule.

2. Jaguars assistant head coach/offensive line Doug Marrone.

It was believed that the Saints would hire Marrone, if Sean Payton ended up elsewhere. With Payton staying put, Marrone is now in play. If that’s the guy the Bucs want, the delayed decision on firing Smith makes sense.

3. Former Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

He became available Monday, and so far no other team has pursued him. It’s possible that, between Tuesday and Wednesday, the Bucs learned that he’d be interested. Which would explain the Wednesday night decision to clear the decks.

4. Alabama coach Nick Saban.

By saying in August that he’d still be coaching the Dolphins if the team had signed Drew Brees in 2006, Saban dropped a strong hint that he’d be willing to return to the NFL if his next team has a franchise quarterback. In Jameis Winston, Saban would get a young franchise quarterback he once tried to recruit to Alabama.

The only glitch with Saban would be a desire to run the show, which would require G.M. Jason Licht to take a step back. It’s possible Licht already has signed off on that approach, as evidenced by the fact that he’s still employed.

5. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher.

Appearing last year on PFT Live, Fisher (pictured with Winston) said he had gotten calls from NFL teams. While he previously wasn’t interested, a reunion with Winston may get Fisher’s attention.

6. Former Eagles coach Chip Kelly.

Presumed to be a candidate for the Titans job (who are likely to promote interim coach Mike Mularkey), Kelly’s system could work well with Winston, who is as smart as expected and far more athletic than his measurables would have suggested. A year after Kelly tried to get Marcus Mariota with the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, Kelly could end up coaching Winston, who was the first pick.

7. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

He’s reportedly interested in the Tennessee job, for obvious reasons; the Titans have a potentially great quarterback. The Bucs do, too, and it’s possible that the Bucs have been made aware that McDaniels would be interested in working with Jameis Winston.

8. A current coach with another team.

It’s highly unlikely the Saints would do an about-face and trade Sean Payton to Tampa after Payton made it clear he’s staying put, especially since the teams are in the same division. But what if the Bucs have taken a shine to a head coach currently employed by another team, who in turn would be intrigued by the prospect of working with Jameis Winston?

The Buccaneers gave up a pair of first-round picks, a pair of second-round picks, and $8 million to get Jon Gruden from the Raiders 14 years ago. What if the Bucs think they could lure someone like John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, Bill O’Brien, or Jay Gruden to Tampa?

9. Other college coaches.

Whether Urban Meyer, Brian Kelly, Jim Harbaugh, or someone else, the Bucs could try to make a splash with someone other than Saban or Fisher.

10. Former NFL coaches.

Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren lead the pack of former NFL coaches looking for another shot. Other possibilities include Bill Cowher, Brian Billick, and Herm Edwards. Or how about a return by Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? (Dungy has consistently said he’s done coaching.)

Whatever the Buccaneers do, chances are they didn’t dump Lovie Smith without having a plan to replace him. While they’ll surely embark on a full-blown search, plenty of coaching searches begin with the ending point in sight. In this case, the timing makes it seem like the Bucs know exactly what they plan to do next.

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49 Responses to “What’s next for the Buccaneers?”
  1. arpy911 says: Jan 6, 2016 11:41 PM

    Or they could be doing something stupid with no plan. It is the Bucs we’re talking about.

  2. InLavonteWeTrust says: Jan 6, 2016 11:46 PM

    In a perfect world we would steal Sean McDermott…..

  3. doctorrustbelt says: Jan 6, 2016 11:47 PM

    Any word on the findings of the NFL investigation into the illegal release of Josh Freeman’s private medical information?!?

  4. fafaflunky says: Jan 6, 2016 11:48 PM

    this could be the same list, basically for every other team..

  5. robigd says: Jan 6, 2016 11:49 PM

    The Titans have a great QB? Really? If the guy can complete a season, it will be a miracle.

  6. bugorfeature says: Jan 6, 2016 11:50 PM

    Since the Bucs have had three coaches over the last five seasons their next coach should rent rather than buy a house.

  7. therealraider says: Jan 6, 2016 11:52 PM

    That just sounds wrong.. “A minority candidate, Morris was eligible to be hired immediatly. Koetter , who is white, can’t be promoted..” The Rooney Rule is a form of Affirmative Action that disenfranchises caucasians.

  8. tjacks7 says: Jan 6, 2016 11:55 PM

    A minority candidate, Morris was eligible to be hired instantly. Koetter, who is white, can’t be promoted until at least one minority candidate is interviewed, under the Rooney Rule.

    How is this acceptable in todays society?

  9. coltzfan166 says: Jan 6, 2016 11:56 PM

    I’m sure Lovie will get interviews with the other vacancies and probably has a good chance of getting one of those jobs

  10. ryanbaker0303 says: Jan 7, 2016 12:00 AM

    Nick Saban? …….NFL ? ………… No thanks.

    Bucs fan.

  11. buccaboo says: Jan 7, 2016 12:01 AM

    It’s great gig. Collect 5 years of salary for 2 years of work. It’s becoming a pattern.

  12. couchbasher says: Jan 7, 2016 12:04 AM

    wow.. the bucs are really effing stupid.

    and I thought my Browns were making crap moves…


  13. brucetrimble says: Jan 7, 2016 12:06 AM

    Cowher has said he’s done and Billick enjoys feeding his ego by consulting and appearing on NFL network. Scratch these two along with Gruden.

  14. chace1986 says: Jan 7, 2016 12:09 AM

    It’s probably going to be Koetter…

    but I would think that Hue Jackson would be above most of the candidates listed after Koetter.

  15. davej13 says: Jan 7, 2016 12:16 AM

    After getting over the shock, your idea that they already have the next guy in place makes sense. Firing Lovie only makes sense if you already have a handshake agreement with his replacement.

    The big thing I worry about is the offensive system. Either keep the same system or use it as a base and add on to it. Good QBs have been ruined by having to learn new systems every couple of years.

  16. pittsburghdamned says: Jan 7, 2016 12:37 AM

    I forgot the Bucs were technically an NFL team.

    Who knew?

  17. mikeyhigs says: Jan 7, 2016 12:42 AM

    “Koetter, who is white, can’t be promoted until at least one minority candidate is interviewed, under the Rooney Rule.”

    I’m so glad it’s 2016 where one of the biggest corporations in the world is REQUIRED to use skin color as a determining factor as to who they want to promote from within their own company or even interview from another.

    I guess the best way to promote equality is to treat people differently based on the color of their skin

  18. ch1ggs says: Jan 7, 2016 12:48 AM

    More losing seasons would be my guess.

  19. jlokc says: Jan 7, 2016 12:57 AM

    I think they are bringing back Leeman Bennett

  20. decaturstaley75 says: Jan 7, 2016 1:02 AM

    Jim Tomsula is available. Championship!

  21. realdealsteel says: Jan 7, 2016 1:34 AM

    There are ton of candidates and the Bucs want to take advantage of that which tells me they were never really that high on Lovie in the first place.

  22. tdubdizzle says: Jan 7, 2016 1:37 AM

    Buccaneers new Browns?

  23. tdubdizzle says: Jan 7, 2016 1:38 AM

    Jk, the Browns are there own come dumpster.

  24. bucqueen72 says: Jan 7, 2016 2:08 AM

    Jon Gruden, absolutely, even Coughlin maybe. But Chip Kelly- GTFOH!! After the Schiano disaster not too crazy about college coaches with no NFL experience…

  25. kcl10 says: Jan 7, 2016 2:24 AM

    I like Koetter and Coughlin as the guys with the inside track.

  26. mf7krime says: Jan 7, 2016 2:39 AM

    What’s next?


  27. crotchpunch says: Jan 7, 2016 4:22 AM

    Josh McDaniels is interested in the Tennessee job? That’s great! The Cowboys would love to have Marcus Mariota in exchange for Matt Cassel.

  28. sopadegato says: Jan 7, 2016 4:26 AM

    Other than rapidly becoming Cleveland South, I wager they’ll use a dart board to choose the new HC. Until they fire him in a year or two. Along with the GM. Again.

  29. ebr362 says: Jan 7, 2016 5:20 AM

    Half that list is a crock of wishful thinking as a lot have already said they have no intention of coaching or coaching pro.

  30. namingrights says: Jan 7, 2016 5:38 AM

    As a Panthers fan I say cool
    Our best defense against Winston is a turnstile of Head Coaches and OC which has stunted many a young QB’s career.
    Hire Chip and keep the dumpster fire burning


  31. noteamforlosangeles says: Jan 7, 2016 5:41 AM

    And it’s moves like these that people will still call them the Suckaneers.

  32. mikedaddyguy says: Jan 7, 2016 6:29 AM

    They plan to lose.

  33. drjoemck says: Jan 7, 2016 7:12 AM

    The Rooney rule does not apply if a team is promoting from within. Know the rules of the league you are covering.

  34. Mike Florio says: Jan 7, 2016 7:13 AM

    That’s not the rule.

  35. footballgawd says: Jan 7, 2016 7:32 AM

    The Rooney Rule when it was put in place was for a good reason, to get more minority assistant coaches chances to become head coaches, however it has now become a travesty. I believe it is time to do away with this.

  36. footballgawd says: Jan 7, 2016 7:33 AM

    Why in the world is Doug Marrone a candidate for all of these coaching jobs? What has he done? Syracuse… average. Buffalo… essentially quit on the team. I just don’t get it

  37. bleedeaglegreen says: Jan 7, 2016 7:55 AM

    Ladies & gentlemen the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
    Tom Coughlin.

    Bet on it.

  38. spartyistheclassofthenationinfootballandbasketball says: Jan 7, 2016 7:58 AM

    It’s funny how Mark Dantonio is a better coach than Meyer or Harbaugh but he never gets mentioned for these jobs. I guess maybe the media just understands that he’s not a complete sellout and that he actually understands what the word loyalty means

  39. joenash72 says: Jan 7, 2016 8:49 AM

    Mike Leach 😉

  40. jrossizzle says: Jan 7, 2016 9:03 AM

    They will do the Rooney Pony Show and then promote Dirk. Look for a strong DC and get to work.

  41. knowledgeoverpower says: Jan 7, 2016 9:06 AM

    I think some of you need to revisit exactly why the NFL implemented the Rooney rule. Prior to its implementation, minorities were by and large being overlooked for HC and front office positions and by overlooked I mean not even considered/interviewed. I’m sure the ‘color of their skin’ as some put it wasn’t the only reason some didn’t get a shot but it was a reason and a overwhelming consistent one. I think the NFL should be applauded for taking action on this issue. To give a person an interview is not giving them the job it’s giving them an opportunity that was previously denied to them based on ‘the color of their skin’. This is a rule almost every owner is satisfied with and that has opened the door for the Dungy’s, Tomlin’s, L. Smith’s of the League. Let’s be clear about this – if the NFL didn’t put something in place, I’m sure those who felt disenfranchised would have eventually challenged them in court.

  42. junkmtb says: Jan 7, 2016 9:21 AM

    ^^^^ This dude! Thank you!

  43. Bob says: Jan 7, 2016 9:21 AM

    “Whatever the Buccaneers do, chances are they didn’t dump Lovie Smith without having a plan to replace him.”

    You give the Bucs management and ownership too much credit.

  44. jjackwagon says: Jan 7, 2016 9:42 AM

    It will be Coughlin. It just makes too much sense.

  45. billytodd2013blbaad says: Jan 7, 2016 10:09 AM

    I hear Coach Klein the head coach of the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs is possibly available..LOL

  46. rjm0824 says: Jan 7, 2016 10:25 AM

    Ted Cottrell stopped doing interviews because of the Rooney rule. He felt it was demeaning to be a token candidate. If any organization is racist enough not to hire a man because of the color of their skin, they certainly won’t hire him because they were forced to conduct an interview.

  47. therealjr says: Jan 7, 2016 11:36 AM

    Who in their right minds would make Coughlin their coach? Based on the most recent Giants season, the guy no longer has the mental capacity to manage a football game.

  48. PokeSalad says: Jan 7, 2016 12:21 PM

    Jim Tomsula is available. Free pizza!

  49. fanofpft says: Jan 7, 2016 8:13 PM

    As of 2010 whites made up 53 % of the population. 6 years later I’m sure that it is below 50 % by now. Minorities have to outnumber whites collectively.

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