Bucs set to hire Lovie Smith as new coach

TAMPA, Fla. — A person familiar with the negotiations said former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith has reached an agreement to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Speaking to The Associated Press on Wednesday night on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement hasn’t been made, the person also said former Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier will be the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator.

The 55-year-old Smith will replace Greg Schiano, fired Monday after going 4-12 this season and 11-21 in two years with the team. 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 to 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 FACES NEW CHALLENGE: 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. He is expected to be introduced Thursday.

He inherits a team filled with talent, but whose biggest problem is at quarterback. Matt Schaub and Case Keenum both showed they were not the answer in 2013 after the team finished on a 14-game skid.


THOUSANDS OF TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE: If you want to go to the Packers-49ers playoff game this weekend in Green Bay, Wis., it’s still not too late to get tickets.

As of Wednesday morning, the team was about 8,500 tickets short of a sellout, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The team made about 40,000 tickets available Monday morning. Those were ones that remained unsold to season-ticket holders as of Dec. 4. At the time, the team was in the middle of a five-game winless streak.

The first fans to get a crack Monday were season-ticket holders. At 3 p.m., the tickets were made available to the rest of the public.

Prices range from $102 to $125, with a four-ticket limit.


BOWE CLEARED TO PLAY; FISHER HURTS GROIN: Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is cleared to play in Saturday’s wild-card playoff game against Indianapolis after suffering a concussion against the Colts two weeks ago.

Bowe was among several starters held out of last week’s overtime loss at San Diego.

Kansas City could be without right tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft. He strained his groin near the end of Tuesday’s practice and was not working Wednesday.


PANTHERS’ McDERMOTT WILL INTERVIEW: Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will interview for the Washington Redskins head coaching position this week, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said.

Rivera said the Redskins called Tuesday to ask permission to speak with McDermott.

McDermott, 39, joined the Panthers in 2011. His defense allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL and had a league-high 60 sacks.


OWNER COULD BE MULLING SHAKEUP: Two people familiar with the situation said Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has been meeting with his top advisers before deciding whether to fire anyone in the wake of the team’s late-season collapse.

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.

Both people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because discussions regarding a possible organizational shakeup have been private.

Second-year offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is considered the most likely to be fired.