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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' coaching search picking up this week

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 11:31 AM
TAMPA -

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' methodical search for a new head coach will pick up steam again this week.

The Bucs are scheduled to meet today with Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, according to sources close to the candidates.

Also, Tampa Bay has received permission to speak to Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, an ESPN report said Monday. It is uncertain when or if a meeting with Philbin will take place.

Philbin coached in the Packers' NFC division playoff loss to the Giants on Sunday, but is still mourning the loss of his 21-year-old son Michael, who was found dead last week in a Wisconsin river.

The Bucs already interviewed former NFL head coaches Mike Sherman, Brad Childress and Marty Schottenheimer and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray. Tampa Bay also planned to interview Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on Friday, but Phillips withdrew the night before.

Tampa Bay is looking for a replacement for Raheem Morris, who was fired on Jan. 2 after the Bucs went 4-12 and lost the final 10 games. Morris was 17-31 in three seasons.

From the beginning, Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said the team would take its time finding a new coach, and that has certainly proven to be the case. The search is entering its third week could stretch into next week or beyond if the Bucs are interested in talking to candidates from the four remaining playoff teams.

The first chance to talk candidates from teams playing in Sunday's conference title games – New England, Baltimore, San Francisco and the New York Giants – is next week, during the first of the two weeks between the AFC and NFC title games and the Super Bowl.

The Bucs appear to be focusing on coordinators with no prior NFL head coaching experience, though Zimmmer, Chudzinski and Philbin have interviewed for other head coaching positions this winter.

Zimmer, 55, previously met with the Dolphins about their head coaching position. He is coming off his 12th season as a coordinator, one in which the Bengals ranked seventh in the NFL in total defense.

Chudzinski, 43, interviewed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and St. Louis Rams for their head coaching positions, but the Jaguars chose Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and the Rams chose former Titans coach Jeff Fisher.

Chudzinski became a coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2007, when the Browns won 10 games and sent four players to the Pro Bowl. With the Panthers this season, Chudzinski orchestrated an offense that ranked seventh in the league in total yards with rookie Cam Newton at quarterback.

Philbin, 50, took over as the Packers offensive coordinator in 2007. Since then, the Packers finished in the top in the league in offense every season.


rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979

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