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More interest in Crennel, Weis

Firings open up their possibilities

Three NFL teams dismissed head coaches yesterday. That meant there are three more clubs interested in talking to New England's coordinators about a head job.

 

The Arizona Cardinals fired Dave McGinnis, the Buffalo Bills let go of Gregg Williams, and the Chicago Bears parted ways with Dick Jauron. Arizona and Chicago then requested permission from the Patriots to speak with defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Buffalo has asked to interview both Crennel and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

That brings the number of teams interested in Crennel, coordinator of the league's top scoring defense, to five. The Giants and Falcons also have been granted permission to meet with Crennel, whom Atlanta general manager Rich McKay is said to be high on.

Weis has drawn interest from the Giants and Bills. Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi and chief operating officer Jon Mara already have sat down with former Jaguars and Boston College coach Tom Coughlin and will interview St. Louis defensive coordinator Lovie Smith today. They reportedly will interview both Crennel and Weis Thursday at a Foxborough-area hotel. Crennel was an assistant coach with the Giants from 1981-92, and Weis was an assistant there from 1990-92.

Teams have until Friday to interview assistants whose teams are in the postseason. After that, Crennel and Weis won't be available to interview until the Patriots are eliminated from the postseason. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has said he would accommodate his coordinators' interviews as best he could. The team is off Thursday and Friday.

Cardinals vice president and general counsel Michael Bidwill, son of owner Bill Bidwill, announced Crennel as a head coaching candidate along with former Vikings coach Dennis Green, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, and recently ousted Giants coach Jim Fassel.

Crennel needs no introduction to Bears general manager Jerry Angelo. Angelo, who is close to Belichick and talks frequently with the Patriots coach, was a regional scout for the Giants from 1982-86. Angelo's coaching background, like Crennel's, is in the defensive line.

The Bills could take a major step toward closing the gap between themselves and the Patriots by luring one of the coordinators. Buffalo's major weakness this season was offense, and Weis worked with Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe as New England's offensive coordinator in 2000.

As for reports that the Dolphins were interested in Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli -- the team yesterday stripped coach Dave Wannstedt of his personnel powers -- Pioli is under contract with New England and would not be free to leave for a general manager's position. If Miami wishes to pursue Pioli anyway, the Dolphins wouldn't be allowed to speak with him until after the season.

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