M. Lewis, Bucs officials meet

Ravens coordinator among 4 in running

Pro Football

January 30, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis met with Tampa Bay executives in Baltimore yesterday regarding the Buccaneers' vacant head coaching position, according to league sources.

Lewis, interviewing for his third NFL coaching job in the past year, is one of a reported four candidates for the job. He could not be reached for comment.

Tampa Bay reportedly will interview former San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Norv Turner within the next few days. Turner opted out of his contract after one season when Marty Schottenheimer was named coach yesterday.

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is also rumored as a candidate for the Buccaneers' job, and Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden is the supposed front-runner, according to sources. Gruden, though, still has one year left on his contract with his current team. The Bucs are trying to work out compensation with the Raiders for Gruden, according to sources.

Tampa Bay, which fired now-Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy following a 31-9 playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, is not expected to make a decision until after Sunday's Super Bowl.

"The Ravens have granted Marvin Lewis the opportunity to interview with the job for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," Ravens senior vice president of football operations Ozzie Newsome said.

Tampa Bay general manager Rich McKay talked with Newsome last week at a practice for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. But the Ravens had not been asked for official permission from the Bucs to speak with Lewis until yesterday.

The Bucs have been extraordinarily quiet concerning their coaching search after Bill Parcells declined the team's contract offer and remained retired two weeks ago. Parcells' surprise decision left Tampa Bay without much of a backup plan, and the team may now have to go with a first-time head coach.

"We're hoping the best for Marvin," said Ravens coach Brian Billick. "The Bucs are well-advised to interview him, because he is a good coach. We hope this works out for him, but if it does not, we will always welcome him back here."

It is the second straight week in which Lewis has interviewed. Lewis met with Carolina Panthers officials last week, but former New York Giants defensive coordinator John Fox got the position.

Lewis and Fox also interviewed after last year's Super Bowl - one in which their respective teams met - for the Buffalo Bills' vacancy. That position went to then-Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Last week, Fox hired former Ravens linebackers coach Jack Del Rio as his defensive coordinator. Such a move could pose a problem for the Ravens, because Del Rio was the likely successor to Lewis.

Billick declined to say whom the new defensive coordinator would be if Tampa Bay hires Lewis.

"I'm not going to comment on the direction we are going," he said. "But we do have a specific structure in place."

The Ravens have finished second in the NFL in defense the past three seasons. Lewis' defense set the NFL record for fewest points allowed (165) in a 16-game regular season in carrying the team to a Super Bowl title last season.

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