In a shock move, the Buccaneers have released head coach Lovie Smith. The news was announced in a statement by team co-owner Joel Glazer late on Wednesday night. Despite having the team at 6-6 and just one win out of a wildcard spot at the three-quarter mark of the season, the team completely fell apart at the end of the season, losing three straight games to teams with losing records and then being demolished by the Panthers. The move is still surprising, as there had been a four-win improvement compared to the 2014 season, and that the team seemed to be heading in the right direction, but it must be said that the team’s improvement lay mostly on offense, whereas defense – Lovie’s supposed area of expertise – was a consistent failure. In his two seasons in charge, Smith oversaw statistically two of the worst defenses in Buccaneer history, which is more egregious for the fact that Smith took over playcalling responsibilities from DC Leslie Frazier, and the defense took a step back from where Frazier had gotten the unit by the end of the 2014 season. Despite this, there’s still questions about the shakeup, and the Buccaneers players seem to be the most vocal about those questions: https://twitter.com/PP_Rich_Hill/status/684943523406331904 One thing to keep your eye on is offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Koetter is a highly-touted coaching candidate around the league, and has unquestionably done a fantastic job getting the offense together with rookies, so the team may have decided that it was more important to keep Koetter than Smith. In any case, with the promise that rookie QB Jameis Winston is showing, the Bucs opening could be highly-regarded.