Texans interview Bills' Gray, Chargers' Cameron

Updated: January 8, 2006, 8:46 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Buffalo defensive coordinator Jerry Gray met with the Houston Texans on Saturday, the only defensive coach interviewed to replace fired coach Dom Capers.

Gray is the fifth candidate to meet with Texans owner Bob McNair, consultant Dan Reeves and McNair's son, Cal, about the vacancy created when Capers was fired after a 2-14 season.

On Sunday, the Texans met with San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Houston has already interviewed three other offensive coordinators -- Denver's Gary Kubiak, Miami's Scott Linehan and Kansas City's Al Saunders -- and Houston receivers coach Kippy Brown.

Cameron has ties to Houston general manager Charley Casserly, who was the general manager at Washington when he coached quarterbacks there from 1994-96.

"We had a positive experience in Washington and I have a tremendous amount of respect for Charley," Cameron said. "The one thing that I know is critical to not only our success as an organization but to my success as a head coach is the person that oversees the personnel. There's not any coach in this league that can overcome certain personnel deficiencies."

He has worked in his current position with the Chargers since 2002. In that time he's helped San Diego develop into one of the most balanced offensive units in the NFL. The Chargers averaged the fifth most points in the league (26.1) and gained 347.9 yards per game this season.

"I'm trying to get better each and every day," Cameron said. "I'm not near the coach I was 10 years ago. I'm 100 times better than I was then. And I'm going to continue to get better and better."

Gray, meanwhile, said his chances are helped by the success this season of Chicago's Lovie Smith, Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis and Carolina's John Fox -- all former defensive coordinators who have led their teams into this year's playoffs.

"Hopefully, that's a positive for me," Gray said.

Like Kubiak and Cameron, Gray has ties to Texas -- he grew up in Lubbock, was a star safety at Texas in the early 1980s, played for the Houston Oilers in 1992 and coached the defensive backs at SMU in 1995.

"Texas is Texas," Gray said. "There's no place like going back to home."

If the Texans don't hire him, Gray might not have a job to fall back on in Buffalo. The Bills' 5-11 season triggered the firings of five coaches and president and general manager Tom Donahoe.

Gray said he'll discuss his status with Coach Mike Mularkey after he's completed a few more interviews next week. He would not specify which other jobs he was pursuing.

"We're going to sit down and talk and see where he wants to go," said Gray. "If it fits with Jerry, then fine. If it doesn't, then Jerry's got to adjust."

The Bills plunged to 29th in the NFL's defensive rankings in 2005 after finishing second in 2003 and '04. Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes missed most of this season after tearing his Achilles tendon, the most significant of several injuries that ravaged the unit.

The Texans' defense was the only one worse than the Bills in the AFC, but Gray sees potential.

"They've got young safeties, they've got a lot of decent tacklers who are aggressive," Gray said. "The thing you can do is you can kind of mold those guys into what you want. I think they've got a leg up on a lot of people."

The Bills beat the Texans 22-7 in the season opener and Gray spent part of his interview explaining what was wrong with the Texans' offense, the NFL's third-worst in 2005.

"I told them what I thought was best for their offense and some adjustments we've got to make," he said. "They know my strength is defense. If they know I studied the film and know what we can do in order to put defenses in a bad position, they'll give me a chance."

The Texans have the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft and Vince Young's performance leading Texas over USC in the Rose Bowl has sparked debate among fans about who Houston should draft -- Young or Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.

Gray, a UT graduate, was diplomatic when asked about Young, who still has one year of college left and has not declared himself eligible for the draft.

"He's tremendous," Gray said. "He did a great job in the bowl game."

Gray played nine seasons in the NFL and retired in 1993. He coached the defensive backs with the Tennessee Titans before joining the Bills in 2001.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press