Bucs hire Coyer as defensive line coach

Updated: January 18, 2007, 5:15 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Completing the overhaul of their defensive staff, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday hired veteran assistant Larry Coyer as defensive line coach. Coyer, 63, was fired by the Denver Broncos last week from his post as defensive coordinator.

The addition of Coyer likely completes the makeover of the Tampa Bay defensive staff. The Buc lost linebackers coach Joe Barry, who left to work for Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli, his father-in-law, as defensive coordinator. The club fired defensive line coach Jethro Franklin and secondary coach Greg Burns, each of whom were with the Bucs just one season.

Coach Jon Gruden promoted defensive quality control assistant Casey Bradley into the linebackers spot and hired Raheem Morris, the defensive coordinator at Kansas State, to oversee the secondary. Morris had been with the Bucs 2002-05 before departing for one year.

The defensive coordinator, of course, remains Monte Kiffin, one of the NFL's best.

Hurt by the losses of Marinelli and secondary coach Mike Tomlin in 2006, the Bucs defense statistically rated 17th in the league, the first time in a decade it ranked outside the top 10. Gruden and Kiffin are hoping that the new assistants will help the unit rebound to its former status.

Coyer served the past four seasons as the Broncos' defensive coordinator and coached the linebackers in Denver for three seasons before that. The collapse of his unit over the second half of the season cost him his job.

Over the first six outings, the Broncos surrendered only 272.0 yards per game and allowed only 44 points, the fewest points permitted in the first six games since the adoption of the 16-game scheduled in 1978. In the final 10 games, however, the Broncos allowed 26.1 points and 359.2 yards per contest.

In taking over the Tampa Bay defensive front, Coyer is inheriting a unit that could be in transition in 2007, especially if the Bucs don't retain right end Simeon Rice, who is coming off an injury-marred season. This will be the first time Coyer has coached a defensive line since 1994, when he was with the New York Jets.

Before joining Mike Shanahan's staff in Denver in 2000, Coyer worked with the Jets (1994) and with the Michigan Panthers (1984-85) and Memphis Showboats (1986) of the USFL. He has extensive experience as well at the college level.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.