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Bills clean house, fire five assistant coaches

1/6/2006 - NFL Buffalo Bills

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.