The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to interview several candidates for the defensive line coaching position that was vacated when the team fired Jay Hayes on Saturday. has learned that one of those candidates is current assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer.

Spicer, who joined Tampa Bay’s coaching staff as Joe Cullen’s assistant in 2015, stayed on when Dirk Koetter was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach following the firing of Lovie Smith in January of 2016. Cullen departed for Baltimore that offseason and Koetter hired Hayes to be the defensive line coach in 2016 after he served in the same capacity in Cincinnati for the previous 13 seasons.

Spicer spoke to back in 2016 about having the opportunity to work with Hayes after working with Cullen.

“Now I have the opportunity to be with Jay, and I was with Joe for four years in Jacksonville and Tampa and I learned a lot,” Spicer said. “That’s what this business is all about – learning and growing. I’m a young coach as far as my years and tenure as a coach, but I’m learning everyday. I’m just taking what Joe has done and take it and apply it where it’s needed. But now we have Jay, so it’s a little different philosophy as far as playing D-line. Realistically, everything is all the same, but Jay has his was of doing things, and as an assistant, I want to be a extension of Jay – just as I was with Joe – and continue to broaden Jay’s message to the defensive line. I want to help those guys apply the technique that Jay has brought to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”

Bucs DC Mike Smith and assistant DL coach Paul Spicer - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs DC Mike Smith and assistant DL coach Paul Spicer – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The fact that Spicer is interviewing for the defensive coordinator position means the team believes his approach to coaching the defensive line is not necessarily in lockstep with that of Hayes. The team is expected to interview other candidates as well, and might consider Cullen if he could get out of his contract in Baltimore.

Tampa Bay could very well have difficulty attracting a qualified, experienced defensive line coach because coaches around the league know full well that Dirk Koetter and the coaching staff has one more year to turn the Bucs around or there could be another regime change. That, in addition to the fact that he knows Tampa Bay’s existing defensive line personnel, could actually work in Spicer’s favor.

Working against Spicer could be the fact that he may be partly responsible for the fact that the Bucs registered just 22 sacks, which ranked last in the NFL in 2017, and that poor production got Hayes fired. However, Spicer was part of the coaching staff that saw Tampa Bay produce 38 sacks while Cullen was the defensive line coach and 38 sacks in Hayes’ first year in Tampa Bay in 2016.

The Bucs defensive line registered just 20 sacks last year, led by six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy’s six, but produced 28 sacks in 2016 and 27.5 sacks in 2015. The sacks numbers for McCoy, defensive ends Will Gholston and Robert Ayers and defensive tackle Sealver Siligia all went down from 2016 to ’17 on Hayes’ watch.

The 42-year old Spicer, who was a defensive end in Jacksonville from 2000-08 where he recorded 28.5 sacks and forced six fumbles, played under Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith from 2003-07 when Smith was the Jaguars coordinator. Spicer won a Super Bowl as a reserve defensive end in New Orleans in 2009.

Prior to coming to Tampa Bay in 2015, Spicer was an assistant defensive line coach in Jacksonville from 2011-12 where he began working in the NFL as an assistant coach under Cullen.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at:
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3 years ago

Curious if Buckner is on the list. He worked in a 3-4 during his five years in Arizona, but would assume he could coach in a 4-3 as well. With the idea that Koetter & Co. could be one and done, hard to see Cullen trying to get out of Baltimore just to walk into that situation. Though it could be said he’s in the same boat with Harbaugh.

3 years ago

So what have we changed so far? We made O.C. Todd Monkin O.C. again, but took away coaching receivers, gave that to his assistant. Still both guys will be working on the same thing, but will have improved titles. Now we want to promote the assistant who wants to carry on “Jay’s” message, how does that make us better? They need to bring in at least one outside coach I would think? Adding by firing one guy, and promoting everyone one else isn’t really improving.

Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

Don’t think Spicer would be the second coming of Hayes, as he was doing his job as an assistant in conveying his bosses message to the players. Think we can all relate to that. We may not agree with the methods our bosses use, but while we’re employed under them the job is to follow their instructions. Now, when we get our own chance to lead, we can run things our own way. Believe Spicer was more in tune with the way Cullen operated than Hayes, but guess we’ll see. Personally like a the sound of a Buckner/Spicer collaboration. Both… Read more »

3 years ago

We have to go to a three four if we are going to be successful on defense this year and Spicer has no experience there. Get someone who can coach the NT in a three four!

Pit of misery
3 years ago

How long can it take to replace this guy?