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In a results business, Lovie Smith didn’t win enough

Minnesota Vikings v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

The Buccaneers’ decision to fire Lovie Smith on Wednesday night was surprising to most people in the NFL world, but it probably shouldn’t have been. Football coaching is a results-oriented business, and Smith wasn’t getting results.

Tampa Bay’s record in two seasons with Smith as head coach was 8-24. That’s the second-worst record in the NFL over the last two years, ahead of only Tennessee, which also fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

And Smith’s poor performance goes beyond just Tampa Bay: After a promising start in Chicago, he struggled for most of his tenure there. Going back to his time with the Bears, Smith has missed the playoffs in seven of his last eight seasons as a head coach. That’s not good.

Smith now goes down as a Buccaneers coach who had a worse record than both of his immediate predecessors, Greg Schiano (11-21) and Raheem Morris (17-31). Schiano and Morris were viewed as failures in Tampa Bay, and now Smith is as well.

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49 Responses to “In a results business, Lovie Smith didn’t win enough”
  1. Indybear says: Jan 7, 2016 6:16 AM

    Some team, probably on a lord Dungy recommendation, will pick him up as a DC and let him run his ancient cover 2 into mediocrity. This life-long Bears fan hopes he’s seen the last of Lovie’s headphone clad head staring aimlessly at the Jumbotron.

  2. selfpromotingqb says: Jan 7, 2016 6:26 AM

    Good news for Winston
    Lovie is a QB killer. Never hired anyone he felt might be smarter or a threat to him.
    Ruined Rex Grossman before he ever saw the field. Squandered Jay Cutler s prime years in Chicago by getting him killed on a weekly basis. Never upgrading the OLINE and gave him Devin Hester as a No 1 receiver. Fired Ron Rivera for being a threat after having top 5 D for too many years.
    And ruined at least 12 other Bears QBs.
    The Bears paid him to go away too

  3. orndorf2 says: Jan 7, 2016 6:31 AM

    So he didn’t win enough….after taking over a complete mess of a team from Schiano and then starting a Rookie QB? 6 wins was an improvement and things heading in the right direction.

    His time in Chicago didn’t and shouldn’t have mattered in the decision to fire him. Why is that in the article?

    Let’s see what experienced, winning coach goes there next. I bet it will be a coordinator with NO head coaching experience. A real dumb way to go! Bad franchise, poor decision.

  4. wwwmattcom says: Jan 7, 2016 6:31 AM

    It is truly Amazing that teams can take multi million dollar losses in the name of impatience.

    Every NFL team is a winner. Only losers are the fans putting up the dough.

  5. bobbyhoying says: Jan 7, 2016 6:32 AM

    No hope of going to the Eagles for Lovie. Richard Simmons has that job locked up. Howie can’t wait to finalize the deal.

  6. titimium says: Jan 7, 2016 6:37 AM

    He’s a really bad head coach. He makes Rex Ryan look like an offensive genius. Later today Bill Polian & Tony Dungy both get misty eyed about what a great guy, coach Lovie is.

  7. dogdaze123 says: Jan 7, 2016 6:39 AM

    Fine article Mr. Smith. Now explain Jeff Fisher based on your premise.

  8. floridaraven says: Jan 7, 2016 6:56 AM

    Has he ever?

  9. kcflake says: Jan 7, 2016 6:59 AM

    I am glad I am not a tampa bay bucs fan.

  10. colton38 says: Jan 7, 2016 7:01 AM

    Then someone please tell me why coach Jeff Fisher hasn’t been fired…I can’t even remember the last time Jeff Fisher has led his team to the playoffs…

  11. bassplucker says: Jan 7, 2016 7:05 AM

    Thank you for pointing out what Bears fans but seemingly no one else realizes, which is that Lovie’s performance in Chicago wasn’t as good as his record. It got really old watching that outdated D scheme get shredded, no halftime adjustments or creativity at all, consistently losing to top tier teams (especially the Packers) and coming up short in must-win games. He’s a great coach… as long as you’re fine with 8 or 9 win seasons and he requires elite talent to even win that much.

    The fact that his replacement in Chicago was utterly incompetent doesn’t mean it wasn’t time for him to go.

  12. briggsisbrokeagain says: Jan 7, 2016 7:10 AM

    He insists on being heavily involved in personnel decisions but just isn’t a very good judge of talent. Way to many complete busts on his resume especially on defense which is his specialty.

  13. thetruth75 says: Jan 7, 2016 7:13 AM

    This just in- POTUS has sent Attorney General Lorretta Lynch to Tampa Bay to perform a civil rights investigation into the firing of Lovie Smith. Inside sources confirm hearing “it can’t possibly be because his record is absolutely terrible”, a statement dripping with irony considering the source:)

  14. tommytd says: Jan 7, 2016 7:18 AM

    Some team, probably on a lord Dungy recommendation, will pick him up as a DC and let him run his ancient cover 2 into mediocrity. This life-long Bears fan hopes he’s seen the last of Lovie’s headphone clad head staring aimlessly at the Jumbotron.
    ********************************************
    You got that right! He and Dick Jauron perfected the art of Jumbotron staring…

  15. ballreaper says: Jan 7, 2016 7:30 AM

    Is there s a FULLMOON out at high noon , What on earth is this garbage about its a results Business in trying to justify this firing , He started this season with a ROOKIE QB.Tampa is outright garbage of an Organization, And i hope they NEVER SMELL anything resembling a playoff moving forward.

    3 COACHES in 5 years, tell me something normal about that.
    .

  16. jagsfan1 says: Jan 7, 2016 7:34 AM

    Lovie was always horrible in my opinion – but it is amazing how many coaches have been fired while the Jags excuse fest and London fest brings back Gus for another year after he is 12-36.

  17. eman79 says: Jan 7, 2016 7:35 AM

    dogdaze123
    or better yet Jason Garrett?

  18. nyjfanz says: Jan 7, 2016 7:44 AM

    A record of 36-76 for the last 7 years? Maybe the owner should be held accountable. Sell the team.

  19. crindal3000 says: Jan 7, 2016 7:47 AM

    Winston will turn out to be a coach killer

  20. chalkruz1989 says: Jan 7, 2016 7:57 AM

    Thank you dogdaze123!

    I’ve always wondered how and why Jeff Fisher remains employed season after season.

    The team EARNED the right to pick first overall in 2015…that wasn’t because of Lovie.

  21. lovef111 says: Jan 7, 2016 8:04 AM

    Finally someone with perspective on Smith’s tenure in Chicago. His overall record looked good but averaged out to 9-7. Just good enough to miss the playoffs. His general decency and stoic sideline demeanor masked his arrogance. This firing was a foregone conclusion as soon as I read that Tampa gave him roster control.

  22. mrgschwind says: Jan 7, 2016 8:05 AM

    He only improved the Bucs by 300% in the win category…

  23. gojags says: Jan 7, 2016 8:10 AM

    When it comes to result, Gus Bradley should be thankful for Shad and Dave. His results were a mere 12-36 and more importantly he hangs on to his job.

  24. grogansheroes says: Jan 7, 2016 8:13 AM

    Please, please, please hire McDaniels. Anything to get him out of NE!!

  25. summitmech says: Jan 7, 2016 8:23 AM

    He got fired from the Bears for missing the playoffs with a 10-6 team in a division that was the best division in football that year (the NFC North, three 10+ win teams in 2012).

    Then gets fired from Tampa Bay after improving a team that has been aimless and without a franchise QB in…forever!

    Imagine if the Vikings had fired Zimmer after one season with a rookie QB. Way to employ that Browns business model: No coach gets more than 2 years to win a Superbowl, and punish anyone who gives you an actual good QB.

  26. joefelicelli says: Jan 7, 2016 8:25 AM

    As a Bears fan who watched that entire tenure, here is what I believe about Lovie Smith:

    1. Outstanding man and person
    2. Players really like him, and want to play for him
    3. He is a marginal game manager (challenges, adjustments, strategy)
    4. He is enormously stubborn and loyal, which is both good and bad. He will stick with players who are struggling when he shouldn’t, but also allows guys to work out of funks to get back on track. Same for assistants on the defense
    5. Could care less about the offensive side of the ball, other than handcuffing the OC to a conservative game plan
    6. His teams have a history of late-season collapses. 6-6 to 6-10 with that offense, and the weak opponents he faced? Should have been 9-7.
    7. Will not adapt his defense. Marinelli has learned how to make his defense work in today’s NFL. Lovie still plays it too conservative
    8. Abysmal talent evaluator. He had personnel control from 2007-2011 in Chicago. 6 drafts, and the only guy from those drafts still on the Bears roster in 2015 was Forte, who is now a free agent. None of the Bears core players were drafted while Lovie had control.

    I think the game is past him now, and he shouldn’t get another opportunity in the NFL. I think he would make a great college coach, because he would be an excellent recruiter, and his system can probably do ok in college.

  27. leatherface2012 says: Jan 7, 2016 8:30 AM

    going to green bay,,,,,,,,,,,,book it

  28. johnnyjagfan says: Jan 7, 2016 8:40 AM

    They were getting better every week and had turned a league-worst defense into something to build upon. Not understanding it.

  29. shlort says: Jan 7, 2016 8:41 AM

    These coaches are permanently in football. All these firings and hirings do is move guys around. Smith will be coaching somewhere else next season. Might not be a head coach, but a coordinator gig most likely. Don’t feel sorry for any of them, they are making millions of dollars and the fans are footing the bill.

  30. spiffybiff says: Jan 7, 2016 8:53 AM

    He isn’t a bad coach. Just his defensive scheme is a bit outdated and it fails against good teams and thrives against poor ones

  31. hawks52 says: Jan 7, 2016 8:56 AM

    So Lovie finally gets an OC that knows what he’s doing (something he never had with the Bears), has the loyalty of his players (something he ALWAYS had with the Bears) and gets fired anyway?

    It’s no wonder some coaches get paranoid about assistants who are talented. In fact, Lovie fired Chico for pretty much that very reason.

    I never thought I’d actually feel bad for him. Well, he has a $10 million buyout so I don’t really feel bad.

    Tough business, and that’s why coaches demand and get such high salaries.

  32. Norseman says: Jan 7, 2016 9:02 AM

    Lovie Smith is a defensive coach running cover-2, which is outdated and ineffective, as results have proven.

    Tampa has a rookie QB that needs coaching by someone who knows how to coach a QB.

    He got a huge influx of talent via free-agency and had top draft picks and hasn’t done anything with it.

    Made sense to fire him.

  33. rajbais says: Jan 7, 2016 9:06 AM

    Like Gus Bradley and Jeff Fisher have???

    Btw, Mike Mularkey is still in Nashville.

  34. TS Johnson says: Jan 7, 2016 9:07 AM

    “Now explain Jeff Fisher based on your premise.”

    Or Gus Bradley.

    Or Garrett.

    Or Caldwell.

  35. laughingwillow says: Jan 7, 2016 9:09 AM

    When you play not to lose, when you consistently make opponents’ back up QBs look like Joe Montana, when you take a time out before the first play of a half, when you don’t prepare a team, when you lead a culture of disinterest, when you are soft, when you take a poor team and make it worse, you should be shown the door.

  36. slyder2775 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:10 AM

    So they drafted Winston who can run and throw…

    Hello Chip Kelly…

    You can have him, Tampa!

  37. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Jan 7, 2016 9:12 AM

    dogdaze123 says:
    Jan 7, 2016 6:39 AM
    Fine article Mr. Smith. Now explain Jeff Fisher based on your premise.
    ___________________

    That was exactly what I was thinking when I read the article as well.

  38. liongator says: Jan 7, 2016 9:16 AM

    “orndorf2 says:
    Jan 7, 2016 6:31 AM

    So he didn’t win enough….after taking over a complete mess of a team from Schiano ”

    If Schiano was a mess (and he was) then you can’t survive if you have a worse record than the “mess.” Rookie QB is no excuse, Lovie is supposed to be a defensive coach and his defense sucked. Just like Pettine in Cleveland…if you’re a defensive coach and your defense is worst in the NFL, then what ARE you good at?

  39. secondcityvault says: Jan 7, 2016 9:23 AM

    Couldnt agree more than Rajbias and TS Johnson’s two posts. Take a hard look at Fisher’s, Garrett’s and Bradley’s “RESULTS”

    Bears fans know the utter pain it was watching that team with Trestman and to defend Lovie even more, look at the garbage he inherited in Tampa.
    In this now “Quarterback driven league” with highest value player being the QB followed by DLine and OLine than DBs what has Fisher Done better than Lovie? I’ll tell you.

    Only in Smiths defense and to Hate to beat on Fisher- he has not led a team to winning record since 08 and in 20 year career as HC 6 playoff appearence one super bowl appearence- no titles
    12 losing seasons, 5-.500 season, 5-6 playoff record over those 6 seasons of making playoffs.
    Smith 5 losing seasons total as nfl HC – in 11 seasons and inherited a terrible bears team in 04′ after Dick Jauron and awful buc team after the 13′ season. I wont even mention the QBs Chicago had at that time- but his Super Bowl QB was Rex Grossman!!! Grossman vs Payton Manning in the SuperBowl, if Chicago had any type of Experience in that game at that Position Payton would still be chasing his First Ring!
    Since 1998 bucs have had 5 qbs start all 16 games- winston this year josh freeman twice in 10&11
    Brad johnson in super bowl season
    And 2001
    Shaun King in 2000
    And trent dilfer in 1998
    17 different starting QBs in that time
    Names like luke mccown tim rattay mike glennon bruce gradkowski eric zeier and washed up bryon leftwhich’s and jeff garcia’s- Great Move Glazer’s your team will continue on its NFC Door Mat Title annually.
    Just Disgusted!

  40. ravenmaniac1969 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:25 AM

    I have always looked at Lovie as nothing more than a Rooney Rule hire.

  41. Shilen Patel says: Jan 7, 2016 9:34 AM

    as a longtime bucs fan, i consider myself a bit of a connoiseur of losing seasons. the was as bad a 6-10 as you can get. the team was extremely luck to win 6, veterans were leading the parade of mental breakdown, and when we weren’t blowing leads in close games or completely rolling over, we were doing unbelievable things like allowing a rookie QB playing his first NFL game to have one of the best statistical performances of all time. and Mariota wasn’t alone – a murderer’s row including ryan mallett, case keenum, matt cassell, kirk cousins, and matt hasselbeck to pass for an unbelievable 70% completion rate.

    maybe you want to blame it on the talent. that’s fine if you don’t look at the success of guys lovie cut – they are thriving and if not contending for pro bowls around the league, including Darelle Revis who apparently was not worth building around despite the fact that the bucs would still have $40 million in cap space this offseason even working around that awkward contract

    lovie failed horribly as a personnel guy. lovie set franchise and challenged league records for defensive futility as a D coordinator and play caller. the job he was best at was head coach, and he was merely okay at that. so, really you fired a guy because he demanded to have 3 jobs and sucked at at least 2 of them

  42. sammievee says: Jan 7, 2016 10:04 AM

    Poor head coach, sure. Weak game manager, absolutely. Still, head coaches get way too much blame and way too much credit. Those with the legacy had fantastic assistants and/or extraordinary special qbs.

  43. jamesefallen says: Jan 7, 2016 10:11 AM

    His time in Chicago didn’t and shouldn’t have mattered in the decision to fire him. Why is that in the article?
    ======================================
    You are as good as your record. Those games in Chicago counted.

  44. packergator says: Jan 7, 2016 10:14 AM

    dogdaze123 says:
    Jan 7, 2016 6:39 AM

    Fine article Mr. Smith. Now explain Jeff Fisher based on your premise.
    __________________________________

    Jeff Fisher had a successful track record as HC of the Titans. What a HC did with previous teams is relevant when a GM is evaluating how likely said HC is to be successful in the future.

  45. deadeye says: Jan 7, 2016 10:14 AM

    The real reason he was fired was they had to retain Dirk Koetter. DK was going to be a head coach somewhere. The Bucs simply decided it would be in their best interests if that place was Tampa Bay.

  46. noteamforlosangeles says: Jan 7, 2016 10:15 AM

    Nice to see all these impatient NFL teams giving these coaches massive severance packages after one or two years. (See: Whisenhunt, Ken and Tomsula, Jim). But I guess as long as butts are in the seats, it doesn’t matter, right?

  47. t81o says: Jan 7, 2016 10:25 AM

    For those bringing up Fischer…if the bucs think lovie is a mediocre coach, should they be forced to keep him just because the Rams are stupid and keep Fischer. Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree about Fischer and I think he’s the most overrated coach in the nfl (we hear how the Rams completely won the rg3 trade, but while the skins have won their division twice since then, the amazing Rams continue to compete for last place in theirs). But that shouldn’t mean the bucs should have to keep another overrated coach. People just look at at team that improved from 2 to 6 wins…but last year the bucs were picked by a lot of people to make the playoffs and ended up as the worst team in the nfl. There is a chance the bucs wanted to fire him after last season, but kept him around because they didn’t want to be the franchise that cut a coach after one season…who knows.

  48. zampft says: Jan 7, 2016 10:54 AM

    He was 10-25 in Chicago in games without future Hall-of-Famer Brian Urlacher, whom he inherited.

    8-24 sounds pretty close to his level.

  49. secondcityvault says: Jan 7, 2016 3:43 PM

    And Dick Jauron was 24-24 with Urlacher on the team and won how many playoff games for the Bears? Not buying into nonsense that Urlacher Made Lovie successful with Bears – especially that in Lovie’s last 3 years of his tenure Lance Briggs was the better of the two between 55 and 54.
    Love to hear your response why Lovie had better playoff record than Jauron and why that was.. Quarterback play maybe?
    What your short mind of anaylsis may be forgetting is Lovie took the Bears to NFC Championship games twice! Took Bears to first Super Bowl appearance since Buddy Ryan’s 46 Defense and Dikta Led Bears in ’85- and of course in 2010 season Green Bay came to Chicago to beat Bears with Caleb Heine playing QB for second half?!?!
    Lets go one step further- to earlier posters who may or may not have facts right Jerry Angelo was responsible for drafts during Lovie’s time as Bears HC- not sure where you pulled that Smith had personal decisions?!? Bucs Yes! Bears.. no!!
    In closing the final point to the meatball comments about Smith and his defense and especially Bears fans… With the pieces given to Lovie during his time in Chicago and awful OC’s and less than mediocre QB talent there, (minus Cutler) those Bears Defenses and Special Teams excuted like no other, created turnovers, created scoring on defense and most importantly had teams nervous playing them.. Bears have not had anything remotely close to that since Lovie.. So say what you will but the guy did a damn good job for his run in Chicago and was not given enough time in Tampa.

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