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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lovie Smith, Whisenhunt among candidates for Buccaneers coach

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Published:   |   Updated: December 31, 2013 at 05:35 AM

TAMPA — The Glazer family that owns the Buccaneers have fired a head coach for the third time in five years.

And this time, Mark Dominik was also dismissed after compiling a 28-52 mark in five years as general manager.

Their history suggests the Glazers will select Greg Schiano’s successor, rather than hire a new general manager first and allow Tampa Bay’s chief football executive to pick the head coach.

Expectations were high for the 2013 Bucs, but the club lost its first eight games en route to a 4-12 record.

When Raheem Morris was fired after the 2011 season, the Bucs were still in rebuilding mode, but many NFL observers believe Tampa Bay is poised for a quick turnaround — with the right moves.

“There’s no question that the talent level of the Bucs is there to rebound quickly,’’ said Fox analyst and former Ravens coach Brian Billick. “If they can get an edge rusher and maybe another piece or two, they could turn things around like the Chiefs did this year. I think it would be an attractive job that would have a lot of people interested.’’

Ownership signed off on an April trade for veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was the highest-paid defensive player in the league at $16 million. The Bucs also signed free agent safety Dashon Goldson to a lucrative contract and the new additions helped the defense improve from 29th to 17th.

Revis and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy each made the Pro Bowl while outside linebacker Lavonte David turned in a stellar season.

There is talent on offense with running back Doug Martin, wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams and a veteran line that struggled in 2013.

Speculation has already begun about replacements for Schiano and Dominik, so here is a look at some potential candidates.

COACH

Lovie Smith

Smith, who has already interviewed for the Houston job and is listed as a candidate in Washington, has ties to the Bucs organization after serving as linebacker coach on Tony Dungy’s staff from 1996-2000. After three seasons as defensive coordinator of the Rams, Smith was named head coach of the Bears and he posted an 81-63 record in nine seasons. He guided the 2006 Bears to a Super Bowl appearance against Indianapolis and in 2010, Chicago lost to Green Bay in the NFC title game.

If Smith is the choice, the Bucs could surround him with a comfort level by bringing back former Tampa Bay executives Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell, or even try to coax Super Bowl-winning GM Rich McKay back to Tampa. Angelo and Smith worked together in Chicago and Ruskell was a key talent evaluator in Tampa before building the 2005 Seahawks into an NFC champion as Seattle’s GM.

Smith is a defensive-minded coach, with his downfall in Chicago an inability to build a productive offense to go with a stellar defense. Reports on Monday indicated Smith has lined up former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, a quarterbacks guru who coached Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in college, as a possible offensive coordinator.

Ken Whisenhunt

With Whisenhunt serving as offensive coordinator this year, San Diego earned an AFC wild-card playoff spot on the strength of the NFL’s No. 5 offense. He helped QB Philip Rivers enjoy a superb season and Whisenhunt boasts previous head coaching experience in the NFL.

In 2008, Whisenhunt led the Arizona Cardinals to the NFC title, losing a last-second decision to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. He is known for his sharp offensive mind and he is expected to return to the NFL sideline after a one-year absence.

Bill O’Brien

After providing a sense of normalcy to Penn State following the John Sandusky scandal, O’Brien finds himself a hot NFL coaching commodity. He went 15-9 in his first two seasons with the Nittany Lions and boasts NFL experience as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Bill Belichick in New England. The Glazers have been know to turn to Belichick for advice.

Other names to know: Stanford coach David Shaw, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

GENERAL MANAGER

Omar Khan

This 36-year-old NFL executive has built an impressive reputation as director of football administration in Pittsburgh, where he is considered astute in managing salary-cap issues. He is also known as a sharp contract negotiator, which could appeal to the Glazers after doling out all those big contracts. Khan began his NFL career in New Orleans, where he caught the eye of Steelers owner Dan Rooney.

Mike Tannenbaum

The winningest GM in Jets’ history, Tannenbaum spent 16 years overall in New York after working with the Browns and Saints. The Jets earned back-to-back appearances in the AFC championship game (2009-2010) while Tannenbaum was the GM. He currently serves as the president of coaching, front office and broadcasting division of priority sports & entertainment.

Jerry Angelo

From 1987-2000, Angelo was the overseer of a Bucs player personnel department that built the foundation for a perennial playoff contender, ultimately leading to a 2002 Super Bowl victory. In Tampa, Angelo worked closely with McKay and Ruskell in stocking the Bucs with talented players. He was named GM of the Bears in 2001 and Chicago went 87-73 during Angelo’s 10-year reign in charge of football operations. After his dismissal from the Bears two years ago, Angelo returned to the Bay area and he is determined to return to the league in an executive capacity.

Other names to know: Former Colts vice chairman Bill Polian, former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and former Panthers general manager Marty Hurney.

ikaufman@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7833

Twitter: @IKaufmanTBO

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