Ravens' M. Lewis on Bills' short list

Defensive coordinator has ties to new Buffalo GM

Pro Football

January 11, 2001|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Station WGRZ-TV in Buffalo reported last night that Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis is the leading candidate to replace deposed Bills coach Wade Phillips.

Citing NFL sources, the station said Lewis was on a short list with defensive coordinator Dom Capers of the Jacksonville Jaguars, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey of the Miami Dolphins and Bills defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.

Lewis' connection to Buffalo is Tom Donahoe, who was hired as Bills general manager yesterday. Lewis was linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992 to 1995, when Donahoe was director of football operations. Capers was defensive coordinator of that team.

NFL rules prohibit contact with coaches whose season is not yet finished. Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens vice president of player personnel, said yesterday the Bills have not notified the team of any interest in Lewis.

Donahoe, who will be introduced in Buffalo in a news conference tomorrow, was on the West Coast for the East-West Shrine all-star game and unavailable for comment.

Lewis, meanwhile, acknowledged he has talked to Donahoe on a weekly basis this season. "But it had nothing to do with if he became the general manager that I'd be a head coaching candidate," Lewis said.

Donahoe spent 14 years with the Steelers before he was fired last January. For the past season, he worked as a football analyst for ESPN.com. It was in that capacity, Lewis said, that he talked with Donahoe this season.

On Tuesday, Donahoe told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Lewis had credentials that warranted consideration.

"Marvin is an outstanding coach," Donahoe said. "He really has an ability to relate to people.

"He's put together some good things that people will look at, no doubt about that. When you get into the playoffs and you set the records he did, it's bound to get people's attention.

"He's got some great players, but he's got some high-strung personalities on that defense, too. He's done obviously a good job of keeping them focused and on track."

The Ravens set 16-game NFL records this season for fewest points and rushing yards allowed.

Lewis' agent, Ray Anderson of Atlanta, said he has had no formal or informal contact with Donahoe, but said the expansion Houston Texans, who begin play in 2002, have expressed interest.

"I've been notified he'd be on a wish list of folks they'd like to bring in," Anderson said. "Until the Ravens complete their journey, [Houston] can't invite him formally. We anticipate we'll get a chance to go down there, as well."

At the suggestion of Ravens coach Brian Billick, Anderson said Lewis had a seven-minute video made recently for the purpose of sending to "designated clubs" that have coaching vacancies.

Billick, Newsome and Lewis all make remarks on the video.

"I wanted those people that will be evaluating that to hear me and Ozzie give our perspective on his attributes, his ability to work with players, evaluate talent, and on his organizational skills," Billick said.

"More importantly, it would give Marvin a chance to articulate himself on camera, because the biggest problem with most assistants is people in a hiring position don't have a lot of natural interaction with them."

Another team with a head coaching vacancy is the New York Jets, where former Steelers executive Dick Haley is director of player personnel.

Said Billick of Lewis' head coaching candidacy: "He'll make an outstanding head coach, and not only is he worthy of the head coaching position, he'll do a great job as head coach."

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