Friday, February 08, 2002

NFL notebook

Lewis seems to be Bucs' man

The Associated Press

        TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved closer to making Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis their coach Thursday, discussing a contract and working to assemble an offensive staff.

        Though there was no official word from the club on the coaching search, a formal announcement probably will come early next week. That would give general manager Rich McKay and Lewis time to hammer out details of a contract and make important decisions, including who will be hired as Tampa Bay's offensive coordinator.

        Lewis, the Ravens' defensive coordinator since 1996, emerged as the prime candidate after McKay made an unsuccessful pitch to hire Oakland's Jon Gruden.

        Tampa Bay contacted the Raiders this week about the possibility of hiring Gruden, who has one year remaining on his contract. The Bucs offered draft picks and perhaps cash as compensation, but abandoned hope of making a trade because Oakland's asking price was too high.

        Lewis, Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and former Washington coach Norv Turner interviewed for the Tampa Bay opening last week. Turner took Miami's offensive coordinator job Tuesday.

        This is the third NFL job for which Lewis, who has been Ravens defensive coordinator since 1996, has been a candidate since Baltimore set a record for the fewest points allowed in a 16-game season and won last year's Super Bowl. He interviewed for the Buffalo job that went to Greg Robinson after the 2000 season and talked with Carolina before John Fox was hired.

        Despite Lewis' impressive resume as the architect of one of the league's top defenses, his candidacy has met some resistance because the sons of Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer are concerned that may be too similar to the defensive-minded Tony Dungy, who was fired on Jan. 14.

        The Bucs never ranked higher than 21st in offense under Dungy, who couldn't solve the team's scoring woes despite going through three offensive coordinators in the last three years.

        McKay was unavailable for comment Thursday. The day after Bill Parcells decided against becoming Dungy's successor, the general manager said the team wouldn't necessarily have to hire an offensive-minded coach to fix the problems.

        “What's obvious is that we do have to figure out a plan to deal with our offense and our offensive production. I don't think that necessarily means that the plan means that the coach needs to be an offensive coach,” he said.

        “I just think when you interview coaches ... regardless of what position you are in, you ask: "What is your plan for defense and what is your plan for offense.' In our case, it will be: "Here are the pieces we have, what is your plan to use those pieces and who are the people that are going to do that for you.”'

        The offensive staff of the new coach is already beginning to take shape.

        Former New York Jets offensive line coach Bill Muir, who was rumored to ready to join Parcells in Tampa Bay, will serve in the same role for the Bucs.

        The entire defensive coaching staff from last season, including coordinator Monte Kiffin, remains under contract. It's unclear how many of those assistants would be retained if Lewis is hired and wants to make changes.

        • Although the team hasn't officially hired a coach to replace Tony Dungy, it already is lining up assistants for next season. Bill Muir, the New York Jets' offensive line coach for the past seven years, will join Tampa Bay in the same role.


        The team agreed to terms with free agent Josh Heupel, who quarterbacked Oklahoma to the 2000 national championship. Heupel was a sixth-round draft selection of Miami last year but, after being hampered by a wrist injury and placed on injured reserve, was waived Sept.18.

        Heupel set Oklahoma career records for attempts (933), completions (590) and touchdown passes (50), throwing for 6,852 yards. He led the nation in passing percentage (65.8) as a senior, completing 280 - of - 433 attempts for 3,392 yards and 20 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions.


        Defensive tackle Darrell Russell ran a video camera that taped a 27-year-old woman being raped by at least one of his friends in Alameda County, Calif., prosecutors say.

        Prosecutors are charging Russell with 25 felonies as an accomplice in the alleged attack. Under California law, Russell could be found guilty of crimes committed by either of his two friends charged in the incident because he allegedly did not intervene.

        Russell appeared in court Thursday for the alleged drugging and rape of the woman that police say occurred last week at the home of Raiders defensive back Eric Johnson. Russell's request to reduce his $1.2 million bail was denied.


        Wide receiver Marc Boerigter, who played the last two seasons in the CFL, agreed to a seven-year contract. Boerigter spent the last two seasons with Calgary and caught 111 passes for 2,023 yards and 19 touchdowns in 36 games.


        Dan Henning was hired as Carolina's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

        Henning was coach of the San Diego Chargers and Boston College and was the offensive coordinator for Washington's Super Bowl champions in 1983 and 1988. He was offensive coordinator for the New York Jets from 1998-2000 before leaving coaching last season after 25 years.

        Henning comes to a Carolina team that was ranked last in the league in offense and defense last season and set an NFL record by losing its last 15 games to finish 1-15.


        Johnnie Lynn was promoted to defensive coordinator after five years as the team's secondary coach. He has no previous experience as a coordinator in the NFL or college.

        Lynn plans to make subtle changes to the defense to avoid the breakdowns that led to big plays by opponents last season. New York allowed 24 passes of 30 yards or more, including seven for touchdowns.

        “We're not going to do everything we did last year — we are going to do a lot of them and we are just going to do them better,” Lynn said.

        The Giants ranked 14th in the league on defense last season, giving up an average of 310.9 yards. They were eighth against the rush (96.6 yards) and 21st against the pass (214.4 yards).


        Offensive lineman Bennie Anderson's SUV was stolen, but Anderson was not injured by armed robbers in Jennings, Mo. A shot was fired, and Anderson surrendered his vehicle, Jennings police Lt. John Park Williams said. One suspect, Rodney Patterson, was being held on $100,000 bail.


        The expansion team hired Joe Marciano as special teams coordinator and Reggie Herring as linebackers coach.

        Marciano has directed special teams for 16 NFL seasons, including the last six with Tampa Bay. Herring was Clemson's defensive coordinator the past five seasons.


        Broderick Thompson, 41, died in a motorcycle crash near Las Vegas. He was an offensive tackle for 12 NFL seasons with Dallas, San Diego, Philadelphia and Denver.


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