Fewell to meet with Giants, Bears

Updated: January 6, 2010, 11:45 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Perry Fewell is scheduled to interview with the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears for their defensive coordinator openings while his coaching future with the Buffalo Bills remains uncertain.

Fewell finished the season as the Bills interim coach, but was relieved of his duties along with the rest of the coaching staff a day after Buffalo (6-10) closed its season with a 30-7 win over Indianapolis. Fewell, though, is a candidate for the head coaching job and had a four-hour interview with the Bills general manager Buddy Nix on Monday.

Fewell's interview with the Giants is scheduled for Thursday; his visit with the Bears is next week.

The Giants are seeking a defensive coordinator after Bill Sheridan was fired on Monday. The Bears have a vacancy after coach Lovie Smith announced Tuesday that he is relinquishing his defensive play-calling duties.

New England Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, a former Giants linebacker, said he would be very interested in the job, the New York Daily News reported, citing sources. The 45-year-old Johnson, who has never been a defensive coordinator, won two Super Bowl rings as a Giant and three more as a Patriots assistant coach.

Fewell has connections to both Smith and Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

Fewell broke into the NFL in 1998 as a defensive secondary coach in Jacksonville under Coughlin. He also worked two seasons with Smith in both St. Louis and Chicago.

Fewell spent Tuesday cleaning out his office at the Bills headquarters. Though the coaches remain under contract, the Bills have informed them they won't return unless the next coach wants them on his staff.

After his interview with the Bills, Fewell said he came away "optimistic," but still considers himself a long shot for the job.

Nix has said he prefers hiring an experienced coach. The team is reportedly focusing its attention on former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who is currently working as an NFL broadcaster. However, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter has reported that Cowher is not likely to return to coaching in 2010.

Fewell called Nix "a standup guy," and was left impressed by how extensive the interview was.

In completing his 12th NFL season, Fewell had no previous head-coaching experience before going 3-4 after Dick Jauron was fired in November. He did become the first of Buffalo's five interim coaches to win more than two games in the season he took over, surpassing the win totals of Hank Bullough (2-10 in 1985) and Marv Levy (2-5, 1986).

In four seasons as the Bills defensive coordinator, Fewell was credited for getting the most out of a unit that was perennially young and plagued by injuries.

Buffalo finished 19th in the NFL in yards allowed this past season with a defense that ended the year with five starters on injured reserve. It's a banged-up group that included linebacker Kawika Mitchell, cornerback Terrence McGee and rookie safety Jairus Byrd, a second-round draft pick out of Oregon, who finished with nine interceptions to tie for the NFL lead with the Saints' Darren Sharper and the Packers' Charles Woodson.

The Bills were porous against the run, giving up 150 or more yards rushing 10 times. Their pass defense was solid. Buffalo had 28 interceptions to finish second behind Green Bay, and finished second in the NFL in yards passing allowed.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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