Bills clean house, fire five assistant coaches

Updated: January 6, 2006, 7:01 PM ET
Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills fired five assistant coaches Friday, capping a tumultuous week that followed a disappointing season.

Head coach Mike Mularkey announced the dismissals of Tim Krumrie (defensive line coach), Don Blackmon (linebackers), Steve Szabo (defensive backs) and Frank Verducci (offensive line). Mularkey also confirmed that offensive coordinator Tom Clements was fired, a move that was reported by The Associated Press earlier this week.

"It is time for a change in taking another step in a different direction," Mularkey said in a statement.

The announcement came a day after the Bills hired Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy to take over as general manager. Levy replaced team president and GM Tom Donahoe, who was fired on Wednesday.

Mularkey, who has three years left on his contract, was retained despite struggling in his second season in Buffalo.

Krumrie, a former Pro Bowl defensive lineman with the Cincinnati Bengals, and Blackmon had completed their third seasons with the Bills. Clements, Szabo and Verducci joined the team when Mularkey was hired in 2004.

The shakeup was anticipated after the Bills (5-11) ended the season ranked 28th in the NFL in offense and 29th in defense. The team's 4,122 yards of offense were a franchise low in a 16-game season.

Clements' dismissal was expected after Mularkey took control of the play-calling duties a month into last season. He had a year left on his contract.

Clements had previously served as Pittsburgh's quarterbacks coach under Mularkey, who was the Steelers' offensive coordinator.

"It's hard to see him go," Mularkey said. "But that's the tough part about this business when you want to make a change and, in some instances, a big change at the coordinator's spot. But it was necessary to make the change."

Questions have also been raised about defensive coordinator Jerry Gray's future in Buffalo. Gray's status is expected to be determined after he interviews with the Houston Texans this weekend for their vacant head-coaching position.

Gray told the AP this week that he had not yet been informed about any changes to his status.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press