TAMPA — Shortly after withdrawing his name from consideration from the San Diego, er, Los Angeles Chargers head coaching job Thursday, the Bucs made sure defensive coordinator Mike Smith was not relocating.
Tampa Bay signed Smith to a contract extension, keeping the cohesiveness to a unit that showed considerable improvement in 2016. Terms of the new deal were not released.
The Bucs ranked 23rd in the 32-team league in total defense this season, but they showed noticeable progress the final eight games. They ranked third in takeaways with 29, including 17 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries. They won a league-high five games when scoring 19 points or less; they won one such game the previous three seasons.
The Bucs also ranked first in third-down defense as opponents converted only 34.4 percent of their opportunities, improving from 30th in 2015.
"Think how much better that number would've been had the offense not put our defense — that goes back to turnovers — in such short field so many times," coach Dirk Koetter said recently. "The fact is, when you look at all the stats, the numbers at the end of the year as far as records go, let's face it, the history of offensive football in Tampa Bay is not nearly as good as the history of defensive football. Our defense came a long way this year."
Smith, 57, interviewed for the Jaguars and Chargers head coaching jobs, bringing an impressive resume. He went 66-46 as head coach of the Falcons from 2008-14, reaching the playoffs four times including the NFC Championship Game in 2012.
Rams tab youngest head coach ever
LOS ANGELES — The Rams have made Sean McVay the youngest head coach in NFL history. McVay, who turns 31 on Jan. 24, was the Redskins' offensive coordinator on Jay Gruden's staff the past three seasons. Lane Kiffin was 31 when the Raiders hired him in January 2007. McVay's NFL coaching career started in 2008 with the Bucs as an assistant receivers coach on Jon Gruden's staff, but Gruden and most of his staff, including McVay, wire fired after the 9-7 season.
L.A. CHARGERS: The Chargers are moving from San Diego to Los Angeles, where they will join the Rams to give the nation's second-largest media market two NFL teams for the first time in decades. Team chairman Dean Spanos made the announcement that the Chargers will relocate for the 2017 season. The move comes less than three months after San Diego voters rejected a team-sponsored measure asking for $1.15 billion in increased hotel occupancy taxes to help fund a $1.8 billion stadium and convention center. The Chargers eventually will become a tenant in the stadium being built for the Rams in Inglewood. They will make their temporary home at the 27,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson.
STEELERS: All but the two least-serious charges will be dropped against assistant coach Joey Porter stemming from an altercation outside a Pittsburgh bar Sunday. District Attorney Stephen Zappala said that after viewing surveillance video, he decided to drop charges of aggravated assault involving a police officer and a simple assault charge for Porter's actions involving a bouncer, as well as charges of resisting arrest and defiant trespass. He will be charged with summary disorderly conduct and summary public drunkenness.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.