“I have worked with Mike in both Jacksonville and Atlanta and I consider him one of the best defensive minds in the game,” said Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter. “I have worked alongside many coaches throughout my career, but Mike Smith stands as one of the best I’ve seen. He has great attention to detail, is an outstanding teacher on the field, and the right man to lead our defense. I could not be happier to have him on our staff.”
Smith joins Tampa Bay with 16 years of NFL experience, most recently having spent seven seasons as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. While with Atlanta (2008-14), Smith posted a record of 66-46, tied for the seventh-most wins in the NFL during that timeframe. Named Sporting News Coach of the Year three times (2008, 2010 & 2012), Smith recorded 56 wins in his first five seasons, the second-most by a first-time head coach in NFL history. The Falcons won two NFC South division titles under Smith, while making four postseason appearances, including a trip to the NFC Conference Championship in 2012.
Under Smith’s guidance, Atlanta’s defense saw two top five finishes is fewest points allowed as well as interceptions (2010, 2012). Smith helped several players post career years, including defensive end John Abraham, who tallied a career-best 16.5 sacks in 2008, the third-most in the NFL, leading to a second-team All-Pro selection. Abraham earned a Pro Bowl berth and first-team All-Pro honors after notching 13.5 sacks in 2010, the fifth-most in the league. Abraham totaled 54.5 sacks in Smith’s defense, the fourth-most in the NFL during that time. He also saw excellent play from his defensive backs, with CB Brent Grimes (2010/11), Thomas DeCoud (2012/13) and William Moore (2012/13) all earning Pro Bowl selections while playing for Smith.
Prior to his time in Atlanta, Smith spent five seasons (2003-07) as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive coordinator. With Smith’s leadership, Jacksonville proved to be one of the best defenses in the NFL, allowing the fourth-fewest yards per game (300.1) and points per game (18.2) during that timeframe. Smith’s defenses were equally adept at handling the run and the pass, as the team allowed the third-lowest rushing average (3.75) and fifth-fewest rushing yards (99.5 per game) and rushing touchdowns (49), while conceding the sixth-lowest passer rating (76.9) and recording the eighth-most interceptions (90).
Smith began his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens, entering the league as a defensive assistant/defensive line coach (1999-2001), before being elevated to linebackers coach in 2002. Smith was part of the coaching staff that won Super Bowl XXXV, behind a defense that allowed only 165 points (10.3 points per game), an NFL record in a 16-game season. In his one season as linebackers coach, Smith worked with Ray Lewis, who earned All-Pro honors, and Peter Boulware, who was elected to the Pro Bowl.
Before entering the NFL ranks, Smith spent 12 seasons at Tennessee Tech (1987-98). He was the Golden Eagles’ defensive coordinator for the last three seasons (1996-98), including two top 10 finishes in total defense (1997 & 1998). He joined the Tennessee Tech staff as the defensive line coach (1987) and then served as the Special Teams Coordinator from 1988-95. In his final season with the Golden Eagles, Smith was promoted to assistant head coach on top of his defensive coordinator duties.
Smith played collegiately at East Tennessee (1977-81) and was named defensive MVP twice. He and his wife, Julie, have one daughter, Logan.