NFL notes: Lovie Smith set to become Buccaneers' coach
Former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith is set to take on the challenge of rebuilding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Two people familiar with Smith's plans said Wednesday night that the coach has reached an agreement to fill the opening created by the firing of Greg Schiano following a 4-12 finish.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement hasn't been made. One of the people also said that former Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier will be the Bucs' defensive coordinator.
The 55-year-old Smith will replace Schiano, fired Monday after going 11-21 in two seasons in Tampa Bay. Frazier also was fired Monday.
Smith was 81-63 in nine seasons with Chicago, leading the 2006 team to the Super Bowl where the Bears lost Indianapolis. He was fired a year ago after the Bears finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.
Smith was Tampa Bay's linebackers coach under Tony Dungy from 1996-2000, then spent three seasons as the St. Louis Rams' defensive coordinator on Mike Martz's staff.
O'Brien expected to fix Texans' QB woes
Bill O'Brien worked closely with Tom Brady when he was a Patriots assistant.
He's now set to return to the NFL to coach Houston, and he's a long way from Brady. The Texans have the No. 1 draft pick, and O'Brien might well find himself having to groom a rookie quarterback.
Two people familiar with the negotiations, speaking to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement hadn't been made, said Tuesday night that O'Brien reached an agreement to coach the Texans. O'Brien, who spent the past two seasons as Penn State's head coach, is expected to be introduced Thursday.
He inherits a team filled with talent, but whose biggest problem is at quarterback. Veteran Matt Schaub, Houston's starter since 2007, was benched after six games. Case Keenum took over after that, but his lack of success showed he wasn't the answer either, and the team finished on a 14-game skid.
A number of talented quarterbacks could be available in May's draft. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, and Fresno State's Derek Carr, younger brother of Houston's first-ever draft pick, David Carr, are among the top-rated quarterbacks expected to be in the draft.
O'Brien spent 2007-12 as offensive assistant under Bill Belichick at New England. O'Brien was the team's quarterbacks coach from 2009-11, and Brady threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns in the 2011 regular season, when the Patriots went to the Super Bowl.
Dolphins owner considering changes
In the wake of the Miami Dolphins' late-season collapse, owner Stephen Ross immediately began contemplating a possible organizational shake-up.
Ross has been meeting with his top advisers before deciding whether to fire anyone, two people familiar with the situation said.
One of the people said the meetings began Sunday night and will resume Thursday, and a decision could come then. That person said that during the Dolphins' loss Sunday to the New York Jets, Ross became so upset he turned away at one point because he could no longer watch.
Second-year offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is considered the most likely to be fired, and sixth-year general manager Jeff Ireland's job is also in serious jeopardy. Coach Joe Philbin is likely to return for a third season, the two people familiar with the situation said, but that's not a certainty.
The Dolphins, who finished 8-8, were on the verge of earning the final AFC wild-card berth before being outscored 39-7 while losing their last two games to the Buffalo Bills and Jets, two non-playoff teams.
Around the league
Panthers • Coach Ron Rivera said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will interview for Washington's head coaching position this week. The Panthers allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL and had a league-high 60 sacks.
Chiefs • Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was cleared to play in Saturday's wild-card playoff game against Indianapolis after sustaining a concussion, though the status of linebacker Tamba Hali (knee) and right tackle Eric Fisher (groin) remains uncertain.
• Kansas City atIndianapolis,2:35 p.m., Ch. 5
• New Orleansat Philadelphia,6:10 p.m., Ch. 5
• San Diego at Cincinnati, 11:05 a.m., Ch. 2
• San Franciscoat Green Bay,2:40 p.m., Ch. 13