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After 2nd losing season, Bucs fire Lovie Smith in surprise move

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For the third time in five years, the Tampa Bay Bucs have decided the team needs a new head coach.

In a surprise move, the Bucs fired head coach Lovie Smith late Wednesday night. Smith had tripled his wins in 2015, and his offense had risen to fifth in yardage. Still, the Bucs were 6-10 and lost their final four games.

“This decision was difficult on a variety of levels,” Joel Glazer said in a prepared statement. “I am disappointed that we were not more successful these past few seasons, but we are committed to doing what is necessary to give our fans the winning team they deserve. As we move forward, General Manager Jason Licht will oversee the process for finding our next head coach.”

It’s difficult to say which coaches might be considered for the opening. Bears assistant Adam Gase is getting a lot of attention, as is Patriots’ assistant Josh McDaniels. The Bucs flirted with former Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly before hiring Greg Schiano. Koetter, too, could be a candidate.

Smith was brought in to replace Schiano two years ago, but his first season was marred by expensive signings in free agency that cost the franchise millions. Last year, with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter, the team rebounded somewhat. Still, there was a deficiency in pass rush and coverage.

Smith lost his final four games, which has never been seen with understanding from the Glazers. Jon Gruden lost his last four in 2008, and Raheem Morris lost his last 10 in 2011. In 2013, Greg Schiano lost four of his last five.

The Bucs have replaced coaches often, which has been much of their downfall. One new staff doesn’t see the players of the previous staff in high regard, and every time the franchise has started over.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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