Friday, January 17, 2003

Bengals coaches coming, going

Lewis forming his first staff

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MOBILE, Ala. - The Atlanta Falcons refused the Bengals' request Thursday to interview secondary coach Emmitt Thomas.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis wanted to interview Thomas for the defensive coordinator's job.

"He is under contract, and we don't want to lose him," Falcons coach Dan Reeves said of Thomas. "He was a big part of our success this year."

Falcons owner Arthur Blank spent heavily to hire Thomas and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The investment paid off, as Atlanta earned an NFC wild-card berth and upset the Green Bay Packers before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles.

NFL rules no longer grant automatic interviews for assistant coaches under contract with one team for a job that would be a promotion with another team.

Another possible candidate to become the Bengals' defensive coordinator is Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Mike Archer.

The Bengals did receive permission from the Carolina Panthers to interview assistant special teams coach Darrin Simmons as Lewis' special teams coach in Cincinnati.

Simmons, 29, has been the Panthers' special teams and strength and conditioning assistant since 1999. He was on the Baltimore Ravens' staff in '98, one of Lewis' six seasons as defensive coordinator.

The Buffalo Bills requested permission to interview Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander.

Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan couldn't confirm Thursday night whether the team has given the Bills the right to speak to Alexander. The Rochester, N.Y., native has been the Bengals' offensive line coach since 1995.

Another offensive-staff opening will become official today when former Bengals wide receivers coach Steve Mooshagian takes the head-coaching job at Division I-AA Sacramento State.

"It's been a dream of mine to be a head coach in college," Mooshagian said Thursday.

As the Bengals' contingent left Senior Bowl week practices Thursday, another name entered the picture for a possible position on the team's offensive staff.

Alex Wood, 47, whose position as the Minnesota Vikings' quarterbacks coach was eliminated by coach Mike Tice, has been rumored to be in the running for Mooshagian's former wide receivers spot or as quarterbacks coach if Ken Anderson is let go.

Lewis, who has retained offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, reportedly is giving Bratkowski free rein to hire some assistants of his choosing - something not done two years ago when former Bengals coach Dick LeBeau hired Bratkowski.

Lewis flew into Cincinnati on Thursday night.

Bratkowski and Wood have coached together at three colleges. Wood coached wide receivers and tight ends at Wyoming in 1986, when Bratkowski was offensive coordinator. Bratkowski took Wood with him for his next two offensive coordinator positions - at Washington State in 1987-88 and Miami (Fla.) beginning in 1989. Wood coached running backs for the Hurricanes.

There was still no word from the Bengals or Packers if Green Bay received permission to interview Mark Duffner, the Bengals' defensive coordinator the past two seasons. Duffner declined to comment.


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