Monday, December 11, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers receive permission to interview Mike Zimmer, Rob Chudzinski

TAMPA — Perhaps Bucs fans haven't seen the last of their team's plan to hire a first-time head coach.

Having spent the early phase of their search primarily meeting candidates with previous NFL head coaching experience, the Bucs on Friday received permission to interview Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.

The Bucs did not announce when the interviews will happen.

Zimmer, 55, interviewed for the Dolphins' coaching position earlier this week while Chudzinski, 43, interviewed with the Rams and Jaguars before those jobs went to Jeff Fisher and Mike Mularkey, respectively.

Since firing Raheem Morris on Jan. 2, the Bucs had focused on Mike Sherman (former Packers coach), Brad Childress (Vikings) and Marty Schottenheimer (Browns, Chiefs, Redskins and Chargers). Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (Broncos, Bills and Cowboys) had been scheduled to talk to the Bucs on Friday but withdrew his name from consideration Thursday.

Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, 47, was the first candidate to interview with the Bucs and also has no previous head coaching experience.

While Zimmer still is looking for his first head coaching job, he won't be a pushover. Known as a disciplinarian, Zimmer has been confrontational with players, who wind up loving him for it.

"Beyond this game, we consider each other friends," Bengals safety Chris Crocker told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It's just one of those things where you know that he's very, very brute and brash and can be harsh. But at the end of the day, he really does care about his players. I think that's the reason why guys will run through a wall for him. Hopefully one day, he will become a head coach in this league."

Since Zimmer's arrival in 2008, the Bengals defense has finished among the top 10 in the league twice, including seventh this season. In 2003, the Cowboys had the league's No. 1 defense under Zimmer. Only once in his stops in Dallas, Atlanta and Cincinnati since 2000 has Zimmer's defense ranked below 20th.

This season, the Bucs, with Morris also serving as defensive coordinator, were last in the NFL in points allowed at 30.9 per game. And their 494 allowed set a franchise record.

Crocker doesn't expect Zimmer's approach to change when he becomes a head coach.

"He's going to be in your face, and he's going to be a realist," Crocker said. "He's going to tell you the facts, and he's going to have a system, a format, of how he wants things to be done and how they should be done. He's always been about doing things the right way. Any coach like that, they aren't going to be showing favoritism. Things won't slide with him. I think that will be the good thing."

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he's supportive of Zimmer becoming a head coach.

"If Mike gets an opportunity, that would be fantastic, and we'll do nothing but be very supportive of him and any opportunity he gets a chance at," Lewis said.

The Bucs are already admirers of Chudzinski's work. In his first season with the Panthers, he helped develop quarterback Cam Newton into the favorite for offensive rookie of the year. Newton beat the Bucs twice, passing for four touchdowns and rushing for four more.

Under Chudzinski, the Panthers were seventh in the league on offense and set a franchise record for yards. Regardless of their choice of head coaches, the Bucs are looking for someone to get quarterback Josh Freeman on track after he threw 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions this season.

While hiring Chudzinski would potentially weaken a division rival, the Panthers can't stand in his way of interviewing for a head coaching job.

"If you have any one of your soldiers leave, the battalion is going to be down a little bit," Panthers receiver Steve Smith told the Charlotte Observer. "They're going to look for that specialty that he brings to the group. Everybody kind of goes, 'Well, who's going to fill his spot?' And that's natural.

"There is a tendency to worry a little bit, to be concerned because, 'Hey, he just got here and he's pretty darned good, and now we have to break in someone new.' "

Staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report. For the latest on the Bucs' coaching search, go to tampabay.com/blogs/bucs or via Twitter at @BucsBeat.

Comments
NFL Week 14: What we learned

NFL Week 14: What we learned

Aaron Rodgers is ready to return, but is he needed in Green Bay? Backup QB Brett Hundley is 2-0 in OT; Rodgers is 1-7. The Pack has its Mr. Clutch, right? Yeah, right. Its 27-21 OT win at Cleveland keeps it alive for a wild-card spot. Mr. Rodgers, yo...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs-Lions journal: Backup lineman was most unlikely of targets

Bucs-Lions journal: Backup lineman was most unlikely of targets

TAMPA — The Bucs’ unlikely comeback to erase a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter was capped by the most unlikely of targets. Tampa Bay tied the game when Jameis Winston threw a 2-yard pass to 305-pound Leonard Wester, a backup lineman who lined ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Gerald McCoy leaves game with shoulder/bicep injury

Gerald McCoy leaves game with shoulder/bicep injury

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy left Sunday's  game against the Lions in the second quarter with an injury to his shoulder/biceps muscle. The team says his return is doubtful.The Bucs were tied 7-7 with the Lions when McCoy was sidelined. He'...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Fennelly: Gerald McCoy’s lost season may be over

Fennelly: Gerald McCoy’s lost season may be over

TAMPA — It was the face of a losing season.Gerald McCoy’s tearful, contorted face.Up there on the video boards at Raymond James Stadium. On your TV screen. Everywhere."I’m not a quitter," McCoy said. "I don’t play to lose."The Bucs lost their ninth g...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Bucs-Lions: Grading Tampa Bay’s 24-21 loss to Detroit

Bucs-Lions: Grading Tampa Bay’s 24-21 loss to Detroit

TAMPA — It was football weather, cool, crisp, a day for the Bucs and their fans. That explains the crowd. Stow the zinc oxide. Where’s my muff?Oh, and break out the record book.For the 28th time in their 42-year history, the Bucs are losers. They sec...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Buc-Lions: The end could be near for Doug Martin

Buc-Lions: The end could be near for Doug Martin

TAMPA — One costly fumble Sunday did what two seasons with the worst average per carry in the NFL couldn’t do: Put Doug Martin on the bench.Bucs coach Dirk Koetter had stuck with Martin, starting him Sunday even after Peyton Barber rushed for 102 yar...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Jones: Why Bucs coach Dirk Koetter won’t survive this

Jones: Why Bucs coach Dirk Koetter won’t survive this

TAMPA — Dirk Koetter isn’t going to return as coach of the Bucs next season.That’s not official. No announcement has been made. No press conference is scheduled. It’s not an absolute fact. Not yet.And this isn’t a call for his job.It’s a prediction. ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Lions-Buccaneers: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 24-21 loss

Lions-Buccaneers: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 24-21 loss

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs’ 24-21 loss to the Lions on Sunday:28Seasons, out of 42, in which the Bucs have lost more games than they’ve won.81.8Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s completion percentage Sunday. He completed 36 of 44 pas...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Bucs-Lions: Social media reaction from Tampa Bay’s 24-21 loss

Bucs-Lions: Social media reaction from Tampa Bay’s 24-21 loss

Matthew Stafford playing with a bad throwing hand completed 36 of 44 passes. The Bucs committed five turnovers. And yet..... Tampa Bay tied it late in the fourth quarter Sunday before Detroit drove for Matt Prater’s 46-yard field goal and a 24-21 vic...
Published: 12/10/17
Bucs-Lions: Instant analysis from the Bucs’ 24-21 loss to Detroit

Bucs-Lions: Instant analysis from the Bucs’ 24-21 loss to Detroit

Too many mistakes on offense, too many long pass plays on defense, and Bucs are 4-9.
Published: 12/10/17