Kiffin Won't Be Meeting in St.Louis

Bucs Defensive Coordinator to Stay

By Jeff Berlinicke

TAMPA – It wasn't a week after the Bucs 2005 season came to an early end when it was back to good news at 1 Buc Place.

Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin is much more than just a coordinator. He's practically a co-head coach. Head coach Jon Gruden felt enough to keep Kiffin on his staff when he took over the Bucs in 2002, a move that most coaches wouldn't have made, preferring to keep form their own staff with no holdovers from the previous regime.

Even during the debacles of 2003 and 2004, it was never because of a bad defensive effort. While players like John Lynch and Warren Sapp have departed, the Bucs defense has always moved on without a beat.

So why did Kiffin down what is surely to be his last chance at a head coaching job when the St. Louis Rams expressed interest last week?

It was likely because, at 65, Kiffin is comfortable, one of the best-paid assistants in the NFL. He also knows he has something special in Tampa with a brilliant defense and an offense that is on the rise. It's also reported that Kiffin simply didn't want to enter the NFL coaching carousel.

You can't blame him. The Rams a re team on the decline and Kiffin's last head coaching experience was mediocre at best when he led North Carolina State from 1980-1982. Some coaches are meant to be assistants and the Bucs and Kiffin have a mutual respect that works well.

Kiffin is also expected to retain most of the current defense although it's likely that either Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice, or Anthony McFarland will be a salary cap casualty. It would be nearly impossible to keep all three, but the Bucs have some solid depth on the defensive line. The money here says that Rice will be the one to go. Dewayne White proved he can play in the NFL and would be a nice replacement as the Bucs look for even more offense in the draft.

The Bucs also have to brace for Rod Marinelli who is expected to interview for the Detroit Lions coaching job. Marinelli has been the Bucs defensive line coach since 1996 when he came to the Bucs with Tony Dungy. Marinelli is also the Bucs Assistant Head Coach, but it is believed the Lions are going strong after Steelers offensive line coach Russ Grimm. The Lions, however, can't talk to Grimm until the Steelers season ends, so that might give Marinelli a leg up if the Lions want to move quickly.

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