Lewis, Carolina begin talks

Panthers eye Ravens' defensive coordinator

January 23, 2002|By Brent Jones and Mike Preston | Brent Jones and Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens' loss could be Marvin Lewis' gain.

Lewis, defensive coordinator the past six seasons, traveled to Charlotte, N.C., yesterday to meet with the Carolina Panthers about their head coaching vacancy.

Lewis met last night with Marty Hurney, the Panthers' director of football operations, and team president Mark Richardson, the son of owner Jerry Richardson. He is expected to meet with the elder Richardson today.

According to a league source, Lewis has also been contacted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and could meet with their officials by the end of the week.

The Panthers, whose 1-15 record was the NFL's worst, leading to George Seifert's firing, are likely to decide by the end of this week.

"I think the meetings and the interviews went well," Lewis said last night. "Every owner is a little different. Some know more about football, others know less. Some are more detailed than others. We talked about players, where their program was, and where it was headed."

Asked if he was confident about getting the job, Lewis said: "When I leave here [today], that's all I can do. It's a great place. They have some young players, some fine talent. They just need some direction."

If Lewis gets the job, two Ravens assistant coaches he is considering taking are Chip Morton, the assistant strength and conditioning coach, and Donnie Henderson, one of the team's two secondary coaches.

Had the Ravens not lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-10, on Sunday in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs, Carolina likely would have made a hire before Lewis got a chance to interview. NFL rules do not allow coaches whose teams are in the playoffs to interview for head coaching jobs.

New York Giants defensive coordinator John Fox is the leading candidate for the job, according to published reports. New York Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell is also said to be a candidate.

Fox and Lewis interviewed last year - after their respective teams met in the Super Bowl - to be coach of the Buffalo Bills. The job, though, went to then-Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

If Lewis leaves, linebackers coach Jack Del Rio would be expected to become the Ravens' defensive coordinator. Del Rio is also rumored to be in the running for the vacant defensive coordinator position with the Detroit Lions.

Lewis was one of the league's hottest coordinators last season after his defensive unit set an NFL record for fewest points allowed, 165.

The Ravens were not as dominant this season, but despite a season-ending injury to Pro Bowl defensive end Michael McCrary and minor injuries to tackles Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams, the team still finished second in total defense in the NFL.

NOTE: Linebacker Shannon Taylor and fullback Alan Ricard will have surgery on their left shoulders. Ricard's surgery will take place today, Taylor's tomorrow. Recovery time is expected to be four to five months.

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