The head-coaching options for Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase expanded by one late Wednesday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired for Bears coach Lovie Smith despite Smith improving the Buccaneers from two wins to six in his second year.
Like John Fox and the Bears, Smith had Tampa Bay on the brink of a surprise playoff leap, with the Buccaneers standing at 6-6 before dropping their final four games, including a game-15 home loss to the Bears. Tampa Bay ranked in the top 10 in yardage on both offense and defense, but were 20th in scoring even with rookie No. 1 pick Jameis Winston at quarterback, and 26th in points allowed.
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Whether Smith joins Gase on his own North American tour remains to play out. Smith sat out 2013 after his firing by the Bears before taking the Tampa Bay job. Smith still has two years remaining on his Buccaneers contract.
Meanwhile, Gase is on the guest lists of the Philadelphia Eagles (Tuesday), Cleveland Browns (Wednesday), Miami Dolphins (Thursday) and New York Giants (Friday). The Eagles reportedly want a second interview with Gase, expected sometime after his meeting with the Giants.
John Fox was hired as Bears coach after a second interview just a few days after his initial interview with GM Ryan Pace and other members of the organization.