Lewis talks with Pats

Ravens give N. England permission to interview defensive coordinator

January 05, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens have given defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis permission to interview for the vacant head coaching job of the New England Patriots.

Lewis, who has spoken with Patriots senior vice president Andy Wasynczuk about the position, plans to meet with New England owner Robert Kraft as early as tomorrow.

Kraft created the opening by firing Pete Carroll on Monday, the day after the Patriots beat the Ravens, 20-3.

"Obviously, it's flattering to be considered, and I'm excited," said Lewis, who has been the Ravens' defensive coordinator since the team moved here from Cleveland in 1996. Lewis coached linebackers for four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers before joining the Ravens.

"This has been a tremendous learning experience for me here this year and the last four years. I have a feel for what I want to do. Any opportunity that comes, I have to be as prepared as I can be."

Lewis, 41, just concluded his best season with the Ravens, who just finished their best year with an 8-8 record.

The heart of the team was Lewis' defense, which ended the season ranked second overall in the NFL. Four defensive players -- middle linebacker Ray Lewis, outside linebacker Peter Boulware, defensive end Michael McCrary and safety Rod Woodson -- earned Pro Bowl invitations.

The Ravens were ranked No. 2 against the run, and did not allow a 100-yard rusher all year.

"This would be a great opportunity for Marvin, and he would do an outstanding job," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "All a coach can hope for is to be given the opportunity to interview. Marvin has an outstanding name around the league.

"You need a body of work [to be considered as a head coach], and Marvin has that. You have to have a certain amount of success, and we took some steps there this year. And it has to be a year when there are some opportunities."

In addition to New England, the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers have head coaching vacancies. Billick said neither New York nor Green Bay has called about Lewis.

Should Lewis land a head coaching job, he would be one of the few African-American hires at that level in the NFL.

Tampa Bay's Tony Dungy and Minnesota's Dennis Green are the only African-American head coaches presently in the league. Ray Rhodes just lost the job in Green Bay.

"I don't even worry about that," Lewis said.

League sources said that the Patriots are strongly considering hiring Bill Belichick, who resigned from the Jets yesterday after one day as head coach. Belichick's contract with Jets, however, may prevent him from coaching another team.

Meanwhile, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak withdrew his name from consideration for the Patriots' job.

The Patriots had asked for and received permission from Broncos coach Mike Shanahan to interview Kubiak.

But Kubiak bowed out yesterday.

"I'm very flattered and I appreciate being contacted and considered for the position," Kubiak said. "For a number of personal reasons, I will not be a candidate for that job."

Kubiak, 38, previously turned down assistant jobs with Atlanta and the Ravens as well as the head coaching job at Colorado.

Kubiak, who played for the Broncos for nine seasons, has been reluctant to uproot his family, particularly if it were not for a coaching job in his native Texas.

If Lewis becomes a head coach, there is speculation that Ravens linebackers coach Jack Del Rio would be promoted to defensive coordinator.

"I prefer a policy of promoting from within," said Billick, who declined further comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Draft selections

The Ravens' seven choices in the NFL draft on April 15-16:

Rd. Position

1st No. 5 overall (Pick acquired in trade with Atlanta)

1st No. 14 or 15 overall (Position determined by coin flip with Green Bay)

2nd Own selection

3rd Own selection

4th No pick (Traded to Minn. for OL Everett Lindsay)

5th Own selection

6th Own selection

6th Pick acquired from Minn.

7th No pick (Traded to St. louis for QB Tony Banks)

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