Dirk Koetter was promoted from offensive coordinator to coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, replacing the fired Lovie Smith. Koetter is the Bucs’ fifth coach in eight years.
TAMPA, Fla. – Dirk Koetter is confident the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the verge of becoming relevant again.
The longtime NFL assistant became the franchise’s fifth coach in eight years Friday, assuming the task of transforming a team that has finished last in its division five consecutive seasons into a playoff contender.
Koetter, an offensive coordinator for the Bucs and two other NFL teams over the past nine years, succeeds Lovie Smith, who was fired last week after going 8-24 in two seasons.
“It’s one of the happiest days of my life, but also one of the most humbling. Long time in the making,” said Koetter, choking back tears while giving thanks to his parents for the role they played in a self-described lengthy journey from his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho, to his first head-coach position in the league.
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“I know I can do the job, even though I’m whimpering around up here a little bit. … I’m ready for it. But nothing that’s said here today will affect us one bit in wins and losses. That all comes later. There’s a lot of work to be done to get to the wins-and-losses part.”
Koetter, 56, was 26-10 as coach of Boise State from 1998 to 2000 and 40-34 at Arizona State from 2001 to 2006.
Bucs chairman Joel Glazer said, “His success with our offense last season, along with his familiarity with our players and our organization, makes Dirk the right man to lead our team moving forward.”
Caldwell keeps job
DETROIT – The Detroit Lions retained coach Jim Caldwell for a third season, giving him a chance to work with new general manager Bob Quinn.
It was Quinn’s call whether to keep or fire Caldwell during his first week on the job.
“After spending a significant amount of time together, it is clear that our football philosophies are very similar,” Quinn said.
Caldwell is 18-15, including a wild-card loss last year, in two seasons with the Lions. Detroit dropped six of its first seven games in 2015 before finishing at 7-9.
Steelers are ailing
PITTSBURGH – All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers will not play in Sunday’s AFC playoff game in Denver because of a concussion suffered in last weekend’s wild-card victory over Cincinnati.
The Steelers insist they can get by without Brown. Having an apparently healthy-ish Ben Roethlisberger helps. The quarterback is officially questionable with a sprained right shoulder, but teammates said he threw the ball well in practice Friday.
Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell has been out with a knee injury since the day after Halloween and replacement DeAngelo Williams is out for at least another week with a foot injury.
Cincinnati cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones apologized for claiming Brown was faking a concussion.
Jones said in the aftermath of Cincinnati’s 18-16 loss Brown winked at him before being helped off the field after taking a shot to the head from Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Jones posted a video on Instagram in which he said to Brown: “I apologize sincerely. Get well.”
League issues fines
Four players and two coaches were given fines totaling $83,665 for their actions in the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati wild-card game.
Jones was fined $28,940 for contact with an official, a foul that moved the Steelers closer for their winning field goal in the final seconds.
Cincinnati teammates Wallace Gilberry and Domata Peko were each fined $8,681.
Gilberry’s fine was for unsportsmanlike conduct and Peko’s for unnecessary roughness.
Earlier this week, the league suspended Burfict for three games without pay. Burfict was penalized for the hit that knocked out Brown.
Steelers guard Ramon Foster was fined $17,363 for unnecessary roughness.
Pittsburgh assistant coaches Mike Munchak and Joey Porter were each fined $10,000.
Munchak was penalized for pulling Bengals safety Reggie Nelson’s hair on the sideline after a play concluded.
Porter was fined for being on the field when Jones drew his unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty in the closing seconds.
• Saturday’s Kansas City at New England AFC playoff game seemingly is all about the injury reports.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has knee and back injuries that have kept him out of practice two of four days this week. New England is also hoping to get receiver Julian Edelman and offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer back; all three players are listed as questionable.
Kansas City has had to adjust its offensive line, with Mitch Morse and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif out with concussions. But the big question for the Chiefs is whether leading receiver Jeremy Maclin, who did not practice all week and is listed as questionable because of a high ankle sprain, will be available.
• Green Bay receiver Davante Adams was ruled out of Saturday’s NFC playoff game at Arizona with a knee injury, as was tight end Andrew Quarless.
Arizona will be without one of its best pass rushers, outside linebacker Alex Okafor, and the exact reason is a mystery.
An obviously irritated Cardinals coach Bruce Arians would say only that Okafor injured a toe during the team’s weekend off.
Arizona signed Jason Babin, 35, a former Seahawk, to help at the position.