The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have chosen to make a major change on their coaching staff, elevating linebackers coach Mark Duffner to defensive coordinator. Duffner replaces Mike Smith, who had served in that role since 2016.
Head Coach Dirk Koetter, who also previously worked with Smith in Atlanta while Smith was the Falcons' head coach, stressed that the Buccaneers' current rankings of 31st in yards allowed and 32nd in points allowed should not be blamed on any one person.
"I have the utmost respect for Mike Smith as a man and as a football coach," said Koetter. "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."
Duffner is in his 22nd NFL season, including his third in Tampa Bay. In each of his first two years with the team, a Buccaneers linebacker earned a Pro Bowl selection (Lavonte David-2016, Kwon Alexander-2017). Duffner has also been on the coaching staffs of the Miami Dolphins (2014-15), Jacksonville Jaguars (2006-13), Green Bay Packers (2003-05), and Cincinnati Bengals (1997-2002), where he served as defensive coordinator during his final two years. Prior to entering the NFL, Duffner spent 22 seasons (1975-1996) at the collegiate level, including head coaching stops at Holy Cross, where he was a two-time national coach of the year, and Maryland.
The Buccaneers are 2-3 and two games behind New Orleans in the NFC South race. Tampa Bay's offense ranks second in the league in yards per game, first in passing yards per game and seventh in points per game.