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End of the Lion?

Ravens' Lewis, Bucs' Edwards top coaching lists

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Posted: Friday January 12, 2001 8:11 PM
Updated: Saturday January 13, 2001 4:55 PM

  Gary Moeller It looks as though Gary Moeller has coached his final game for the Lions. Tom Pidgeon/Allsport

By Don Banks, Sports Illustrated

After another busy week in the NFL head coaching ranks, we hold these truths to be self-evident: Gary Moeller is all but out in Detroit. Marvin Lewis and Herman Edwards appear to be very, very in.

Moeller officially is still the head coach in Detroit. But his fate was effectively sealed Friday when the agent for Edwards confirmed that the Lions requested and received permission from Tampa Bay to speak to his client about their head coaching position. Edwards is the Bucs assistant head coach.

"I don't think anyone seeks permission to talk to someone else if they're going to keep their current head coach," said Ray Anderson, Edwards' Atlanta-based agent. "The Lions sought permission from the Bucs today and permission was granted."

The New York Jets and the Houston Texans, who begin playing in 2002, also are interested in Edwards. He is expected to meet with Jets general manager Terry Bradway within the next two days in New York and the Texans on Jan. 22.

A date has not been set for an interview with Matt Millen, Detroit's new president and chief executive. Millen spoke with Lions coach Gary Moeller on Thursday.

The St. Petersburg Times reported Edwards may interview with Detroit as early as Sunday night in Newark, N.J. The Tampa Tribune reported Millen most likely would speak with the Bucs' assistant later in the week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

"I don't know what exactly is going on up there, but he sent the release form. He got approval to interview me for the Lions' head coaching job," Edwards told the Times.

Edwards is confident he's ready to take over a team.

"The thing that gets overlooked is that I've been the assistant head coach under Tony the last five years and he's given me the opportunity to be in on everything that happens with the football team as a head coach," he said.

"It's not just the X's and O's or the offense or defense. It's the whole football team. If we've had to discipline a player, or whatever has come up, I've seen the whole gamut."

Newly hired Lions team president Matt Millen was somewhat vague earlier this week when asked about Moeller's fate, saying he needed to get to know the Lions head coach before he made any decision. But indications all along were that Millen intended to choose his own head coach, and that Moeller's chances to remain were slim. Moeller replaced head coach Bobby Ross in mid-season, but the Lions lost three of their last four games and missed the playoffs at 9-7.

Anderson said Edwards has yet to schedule an interview with the Lions, but that it will likely be Tuesday at the earliest. Edwards is scheduled to interview with new Jets general manager Terry Bradway on Monday about New York's head coaching vacancy.

 

As for Lewis, Baltimore's defensive coordinator, he and Edwards have emerged in the past few days as the two assistant coaches who appear poised to become head coaches in the coming weeks.

Lewis can not be contacted by any interested team until the Ravens are eliminated from the NFL playoffs. But all four teams in the market for a head coach -- Buffalo, the Jets, Cleveland and Detroit -- have Lewis high on their list. If the Ravens would fall to favored Oakland in Sunday's AFC title game, Lewis could be the object of a fast and furious bidding war next week.

The Bills and Browns are believed to be the teams with the best shot of landing Lewis, and Buffalo may hold the trump card in that chase. That's because Lewis served as Pittsburgh's linebackers coach from 1992-95, where he worked with new Bills general manager Tom Donahoe. With the Steelers, Donahoe served as the team's director of player personnel.

Cleveland is attracted by Lewis' experience within the AFC Central and is expected to make a strong push for him. But all things being equal between potential offers from Buffalo and Cleveland, it is believed Lewis would lean toward the Bills, based on his association with Donahoe and their superiority in terms of personnel. Buffalo went 8-8 this year, and despite impending cap problems, have a good nucleus of talent. The Browns were 3-13 in their second season, and are basically starting over with Thursday's firing of head coach Chris Palmer.

The Bills also plan to interview the team's current defensive coordinator, Ted Cottrell, next week. But while Cottrell has the support of many Bills players, he is viewed as a longshot candidate.


 
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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