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Mularkey, Lewis to interview Wednesday

12/31/2003 - Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA -- Falcons' owner Arthur Blank and general manager
Rich McKay met with San Francisco defensive coordinator Jim Mora on
Tuesday to talk about Atlanta's head coaching position.

Atlanta's itinerary, which included an interview Monday night in
St. Louis with Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, was
confirmed by two sources close to the Falcons' interview process
who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Falcons' schedule for the rest of the week includes
interviews Wednesday in Pittsburgh with Steelers offensive
coordinator Mike Mularkey and defensive coordinator Tim Lewis.

Atlanta officials will be in Boston on Thursday to interview New
England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. They likely will meet
Friday with Atlanta interim head coach Wade Phillips, who went 2-1
after Blank fired Dan Reeves on Dec. 9.

McKay, the team president, is serving as the point man for
Blank, whose entourage also includes Atlanta's three executive vice
presidents, Ray Anderson, Dick Sullivan and Wayne Luke, senior
adviser Bobby Beathard and vice president of football operations
Ron Hill.

Of the six candidates, only Phillips has head coaching
experience in the NFL. He went 29-19 with two playoff appearances
with Buffalo from 1998-2000 and 16-16 with one trip to the playoffs
in two seasons with Denver from 1993-94.

The Falcons are coming off a 5-11 season, marking the 19th time
in their 38-year history that they've lost at least 10 games.
Reeves led Atlanta to its only Super Bowl, but the Falcons went
29-50-1 after winning the 1998 NFC championship.

Atlanta's season ended Sunday with a 21-14 victory over
Jacksonville. Phillips was the team's defensive coordinator from
the start of 2002 through the 13th game of 2003 and in his only
full season in that job, the Falcons were third in the NFL with 39
takeaways, fourth with 47 sacks and ninth in points allowed (19.6
average).

This year, however, the Falcons allowed more yards (6,108) than
any team in franchise history and finished last among NFL teams.

Mora, who flew in from San Francisco Monday night, was a
finalist for the 49ers' job last February and interviewed in
Carolina after the Panthers fired George Seifert after the 2001
season. His San Francisco defense was 13th in yardage allowed and
21st in scoring.

Smith's Rams led the league in takeaways and finished 16th in
yardage allowed and 17th in scoring. The Patriots, who lost safety
Lawyer Milloy to free agency right before the season opener and
then played most of the year without top linebacker Rosevelt
Colvin, were No. 1 in scoring and No. 7 in yardage allowed under
Crennel.

Mularkey's Pittsburgh offense averaged only 18.8 points per
game. Under Lewis, the Steelers' defense was ninth in yardage and
14th in scoring.

Smith, 45, interviewed Tuesday with the New York Giants for
their head coaching job. He worked as linebackers coach in Tampa
Bay from 1996-2000 and has a good relationship with McKay, who
served from 1995 through this past Dec. 12 as the Buccaneers'
general manager.