Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht used the word “brutal” to describe a season that began with high expectations and ended with a 5-11 thud.
But despite that, Licht think it’s better for the franchise to stay the course with head coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith and the rest of the staff.
Via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Licht said there could be some “tweaks” to the staff, but that the options on all their assistants wee picked up for 2018. That means another year for Smith, after the Bucs finished last in the league in defense. But Licht said it’s clear the front office has to give Smith more to work with.
“We’ve been pretty heavy offense,” Licht said. “It’s the way things fell. We wanted to surround our quarterback with good players. Now it’s a little bit more of a challenging phase right now to concentrate on trying to build that defense up.
“The last eight games – this is typically what you get from teams that didn’t make the playoffs – we were close in this many games and we should’ve won these games and blah, blah, blah. But as bad as everybody wants to say the defense was, we did have moments. At this point last year, we were being lauded for the best off-season move of keeping Mike Smith after a historic turnaround in 2016. And now we had a year where I’ve been on record saying it – it was brutal. But you know, you don’t just forget how to coach. You know, in the past the team has been criticized for making changes too fast. For wiping the slate clean and starting over. In this day and age, it’s understandable that people seem to want instant change.
“We feel like it’s continuity, after a deep dive here in the off-season of what the issues were, we know what they were we all think we can get better. We know we can get better. Nobody is working harder than these guys in this building right now on both sides. The answers are here in terms of the coaches, the personnel people and we have a lot of good players we feel like in this locker room that can turn this thing around.”
The Bucs had plenty of problems on that side of the ball this year, including some actual football things like an injury to defensive end Noah Spence rendering their pass rush ineffective. But there were plenty of other issues such as locker room shouting matches and it seems obvious the Bucs are going to retool that defense this offseason.