Mike Smith is out as defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, replaced by linebackers coach Mark Duffner.
Riding a three-game losing streak and not showing any signs of being able to fix a porous unit that keeps undermining the team’s chances of winning, the Buccaneers dismissed the former Atlanta coach Monday after yielding 92 points in the first halves of consecutive losses to Pittsburgh, Chicago and Atlanta.
Tampa Bay, which has the NFL’s second-ranked offense and No. 1 passing attack, rallied to make two of those games close; however pressure on coach Dirk Koetter to make a change had been mounting since Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky threw a career-best six touchdown passes in a 48-10 rout of the Bucs on Sept. 30.
The day after that loss, Koetter said he had no intentions of dismissing Smith because the defensive woes were not the fault of any one person.
The Bucs had a bye after that game, but having an extra week to prepare for Atlanta didn’t turn out to be an advantage. The Falcons gained 219 yards and scored touchdowns on their first three possessions to open a 21-6 lead before holding on for a 34-29 victory that sealed Smith’s fate.
Through five games, the Bucs (2-3) are 31st in total defense at 439.8 yards per game. They’re last in pass defense (355.6), while also allowing a league-high 34.6 points per game.
Opponents have scored 30 or more points four times, including 40-plus twice.
“I didn’t ever see this day coming, but it’s here,” Koetter said.
Duffner, 65, was the logical choice as a replacement. He’s in his 22nd season as an assistant, third with the Bucs. Duffner also coached in Miami, Jacksonville, Green Bay and Cincinnati, where he was defensive coordinator for two years.
“When you change five games into the season it’s not like you’re going through a whole lot of options,” Koetter said.
Out for the season: Denver’s best offensive lineman, guard Ronald Leary (torn Achilles) and Minnesota rookie cornerback Mike Hughes (torn knee ligament). ...
Out indefinitely: Quincy Enunwa, the New York Jets’ leading receiver, with a high ankle sprain and safety Marcus Maye (broken thumb); Cleveland Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert (hamstring); Tennessee linebacker Derrick Morgan (shoulder); and Detroit’s Jamal Agnew (knee), who earned All-Pro honors last season as a rookie punt returner and was put on injured reserve. ...
Atlanta’s Matt Bryant (strained hamstring) is expected to miss next week’s game, so the Falcons will sign another kicker to fill in — possibly Giorgio Tavecchio, who was with the team at the end of the preseason.
New England said it banned the fan who sprayed beer in the face of Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill on Monday night and turned the matter over to authorities.