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Tampa Bay Buccaneers turn focus to interviewing top coordinators for head coaching job

TAMPA — At this rate, confetti will be falling on the Lombardi Trophy before the Bucs crown a new head coach.

Having interviewed or tried to meet with four former NFL head coaches and Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, the Bucs will spend this week talking to some of the NFL's top assistants.

Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski will meet with the Bucs today and the team got permission to interview Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, according to multiple reports.

The list isn't likely to end there. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell also has been discussed as an assistant the Bucs would like to interview, though they will have to wait until at least after Sunday's NFC title game in San Francisco.

It's all in keeping with a pledge by co-chairman Joel Glazer to conduct a "thorough, wide search'' for a head coach.

Since firing Raheem Morris Jan. 2, the Bucs have interviewed former Packers and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, former Vikings coach Brad Childress and former Browns, Chiefs, Redskins and Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer.

One thing is clear: the Bucs will have no problem heading to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., without a head coach or staff.

Philbin's 21-year-old son, Michael, drowned in Oshkosh, Wis., last week. But after spending time with his family, Philbin coached in Sunday's NFC division playoff loss to the Giants. He already has interviewed with the Dolphins and Chiefs (who since hired Romeo Crennel) and could become a Raiders candidate.

New Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is expected to interview several Packers assistants, including Philbin.

Since Philbin became offensive coordinator in 2007, the Packers have ranked in the top 10 in the league in scoring every season.

Clements, a former All-American quarterback at Notre Dame, has spent six seasons coaching QBs for the Packers and is credited with developing Aaron Rodgers. Clements has also been Bills offensive coordinator and Steelers quarterbacks coach.

Since Zimmer took over at Cincinnati in 2008, the Bengals' defense has twice finished ranked in the top 10 and was seventh last season. He is considered a top candidate for the Dolphins and spent several years with GM Jeff Ireland while with the Cowboys.

Under Chudzinski, who is credited with the development of rookie quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers were seventh in the league on offense and set a franchise record for total yards.

The Bucs haven't eliminated any candidates interviewed. The slow process does not surprise coaches who have met with the Glazers.

"They said they were going to take their time and they are," said Childress, who is coaching in Saturday's East-West Shrine college all-star game at Tropicana Field. "It's their team and they need to do as they see fit."

Childress said he hasn't ruled out working for the Bucs or elsewhere as a coordinator if he can't land a head coaching job.

"I just want to make sure it's the right situation, with good people,'' he said. "I think that's huge."

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers turn focus to interviewing top coordinators for head coaching job 01/16/12 [Last modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 11:21pm]
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