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Bucs talk with Hackett

Former Jets offensive coordinator Paul Hackett is expected to be named quarterbacks coach.

By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
Published January 21, 2005

TAMPA - When sleep-deprived coach Jon Gruden closes his eyes, he can only dream about having the fewest turnovers or the league's top rusher.

So why not hire the man who delivered both this season?

That's why Paul Hackett interviewed Thursday for a position on Gruden's staff as quarterbacks coach, one day after resigning under fire as the Jets offensive coordinator.

Hackett would replace John Shoop, who is seeking a job as offensive coordinator with other teams after his one-year contract expired.

An agreement between Hackett and the Bucs could be announced today. Hackett's appointment would highlight an overhaul of the coaching staff after back-to-back losing seasons.

The team announced Thursday the hiring of former Raiders offensive line coach Aaron Kromer as senior assistant.

Gruden said Bill Muir will remain as the offensive line coach/offensive coordinator. But Muir, 62, will not accompany the coaching staff to the Senior Bowl, which is scheduled for Jan. 29, in Mobile, Ala., for health reasons. Gruden said Muir is expected to make a full recovery.

"I want to make it perfectly clear that Bill Muir is the offensive line coach and we're very excited to add Aaron to our staff," Gruden said. "He's a guy who is a great teacher with a unique background, and I'm looking forward to our players working with him."

Defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin interviewed Thursday with the Dolphins for the team's defensive coordinator position. He is considered a strong candidate.

"I don't have any other updates on his situation other than we think a lot of him and certainly we'd like to have him back," Gruden said.

The Bucs want Tomlin to decide by the time the staff leaves for the Senior Bowl Sunday whether he wants to stay. A likely replacement for Tomlin is defensive assistant Raheem Morris, who has helped coach the secondary for three seasons.

Hackett was forced to resign four days after the Jets failed to score a touchdown in a 20-17 overtime loss to the Steelers in the AFC division playoffs. The Jets ranked 17th in the NFL in scoring, despite having the league's top rusher in Curtis Martin and the fewest turnovers.

Hackett has a history with Gruden, who served as receivers coach under Hackett at the University of Pittsburgh in 1991. Gruden is impressed with Hackett's 91-54 record as an offensive coordinator and history of developing young quarterbacks such as Chad Pennington and Carson Palmer. Before joining the Jets, Hackett was coach at Southern California from 1998-2000 and was offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach with Kansas City from 1993-97.

"(Hackett's) experience is unparalleled, in my opinion, dealing with quarterbacks," Gruden said. "From young guys, like Carson Palmer, and the great cast of guys like Joe Montana in his early years with San Francisco. He certainly had a tremendous amount to do with Chad Pennington's uprising in this league."

Kromer, 37, was hired by Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen in 2001 as an assistant under offensive line coach Bill Callahan. When Callahan was named Raiders coach, Kromer was promoted to offensive line coach.

"We want not only Aaron Kromer to help Bill Muir, but I need some help, this football (team) needs some help," Gruden said.

Shoop, who opted to sign a one-year contract with Tampa Bay after being fired by the Bears, appears to have been forced out by Hackett.

"I've got a lot of respect for John Shoop as well," Gruden said. "It's just a strange year where there's a lot of turnover right now. We're going to do all the homework, and as I said earlier, at the end of the day, we will have somebody who's very, very good at that position."

Muir is not the only coach who won't be headed to Mobile. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli is recovering from surgery to repair an undisclosed injury.

"(Marinelli) has had an injury that he needed to get addressed, much like (Anthony) McFarland and some of those other defensive linemen, it wasn't a good year for us," Gruden said. "Bill Muir is having what we're calling a 50,000-mile checkup. He's going to be unable to perform with us. He's on the PUP (physically unable to perform). But he's going to be rearing and ready to go when he gets back. Aaron Kromer will take over the offensive line while we're there.

"I hate the thought of losing Mike. He's a good friend and he's a very good coach. He's prepared himself well. He's been trained by the best. We wish him well in this interview."

EXTRA POINTS: Gruden confirmed the Bucs are interested in trading for Bills running back Travis Henry. "We'll look into his situation as we will any running back that has any availability," Gruden said. He also indicated negotiations with quarterback Brian Griese could take longer than expected. "I had people call and I guess there was a feeling we wanted to get something done immediately." he said. "But this probably is a situation that is going to take a little time."

[Last modified January 21, 2005, 00:30:24]

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