Pictures from Mike Smith's first season as the Buccaneers' Defensive Coordinator.
When the Buccaneers gathered in the locker room for the final time following the 2016 season, the team's defensive players were unsure of the fate of their leader and defensive coordinator, Mike Smith. A popular name for several head coaching vacancies, Smith was slotted to interview for a handful of positions, and the Bucs knew they could potentially be heading into 2017 with a third defensive play-caller in as many seasons.
On Friday, the Bucs announced that Smith had withdrawn his name from consideration for an outside head coaching position and signed a multi-year agreenement to remain in Tampa Bay. One of the first players to voice his excitement was defensive captain and five-time Pro Bowler, Gerald McCoy. McCoy was one of a handful of players and media to take to Twitter when the news broke.
During his final press conference of the year, McCoy was transparent in his feelings for Smith, not only as a coach, but as a person.
"I love Smitty, man, just as a person," he told reporters. "He's a great man. Smitty's always at Chapel. He's just a great guy. It was a joy to play for him. He has tons upon tons upon tons of knowledge about this game and he just loves this game.
The Buccaneers' final snap counts for the 2016 season, according to Football Outsiders.
"He's one of those coaches who, when things don't go right, he doesn't point fingers. If I didn't make a play, Brent Grimes didn't make a play, Lavonte David didn't make a play and it's blatant that we should have made that particular play, he blames himself. A coach like that, you always want to go out and give your all for. We all love him. Everybody loves him. Nobody has a bad thing to say about him."
McCoy also knows the benefit of remaining in the same system for another year.
"Consistency is always something that will help you improve, keeping the same [pieces]," McCoy said. "Whether it's scheme or players or coaches, keeping them around is how you build. When things go in and out, that's when it's tough."
McCoy won't have to worry about that anymore.