(ALLEN PARK) - Steve Mariucci had a chance to shake up his coaching staff a
little bit more over the weekend, but instead elected to stand pat with an old
hand who's steady at the helm.
Mariucci might have had San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Knapp had he wanted, but instead passed on his former play caller, recommending him to Falcons owner Arthur Blank to become Jim Mora Jr.'s first offensive coordinator.
By passing on Knapp, Mariucci appears to have settled on keeping Sherman Lewis, a 19-year NFL assistant and West Coast offense veteran at Minnesota (offensive coordinator), Green Bay (offensive coordinator) and San Francisco (wide receivers and running backs) on as his offensive coordinator. Lewis, who was special assistant-offense under former coach Marty Mornhinweg, was promoted to offensive coordinator by Mariucci last season.
Mariucci may however, be interested in two other coaches that were on his
staff in San Francisco. Brett Maxie, the defensive backs coach for the 49ers and
perhaps defensive line coach Dan Quinn. San Francisco head coach Dennis Erickson
will release any coach, according to his words "that doesn't want to be here."
Mariucci appears to be standing pat for the moment waiting on the availability
of Dick Jauron, the former Chicago Bears head coach.
Jauron, along with former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel, are said to be the front-runners for the vacant Buffalo Bills head coaching position. The job is Jauron's if he is available and wants it. If Jauron doesn't get the Bills job, he would be Mariucci's first choice to take over as defensive coordinator.
This is the reason Detroit has told current coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer that he is free to pursue employment elsewhere. If Jauron were hired, Mariucci would give him wide latitude in assembling a staff on the defensive side of the ball. Mariucci trusts Jauron implicitly and the two are good friends dating back to their days on Mike Holmgren's staff at Green Bay. Former Lions safety Dick LeBeau, also on that Green Bay staff, would likely be one of the first coaches that Jauron would call if available. LeBeau has interviewed for coordinator jobs in Pittsburgh and New York.
AROUND THE LEAGUE: Watch for the re-emergence of Marty Mornhinweg who is expected to become the Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach. Mornhinweg also is in the running for the Arizona Cardinals coaching job if ESPN announcer Shawn Salisbury turns it down to stay in television. Salisbury is said to be leaning towards taking the job under Dennis Green because he wants to be an NFL head coach someday.
Indianapolis left tackle Makoa Freitas has done a great job protecting quarterback Peyton Manning throughout the playoffs, but no better than his father did during his 12 year career with the Lions. Rockne Freitas' tenure with Detroit including two Pro Bowl appearances before retiring and becoming assistant AD at Hawaii.
Don't second guess St. Louis head coach Mike Martz for running out the clock before settling for a Jeff Wilkins field goal that sent the Carolina/St. Louis tilt into overtime. While some criticize Martz for playing "not to lose", Martz was aware of a little known fact: St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger led the NFL with 22 interceptions, tied with, guess who? Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington. St. Louis lost the game when Bulger threw yet another pick in overtime and Carolina converted on a Jake Delhomme-to-Steve Smith touchdown pass.