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Sidwell gets a look

Candidates for the New England Patriots vacant head-coaching job continue to file in to town. On Friday, current defensive coordinator Steve Sidwell was scheduled to meet with team officials about the job as was Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis.

Sidwell has been the Patriots defensive coordinator for three seasons after spending two seasons as the Houston Oilers defensive coordinator and nine seasons as the Saints defensive coordinator. Sidwell also spent three seasons as a Patriots linebackers coach back in the early '80s. The Green Bay Packers have been granted permission to speak with Sidwell and the Saints may have some interest as well.

Lewis just completed his fourth season as the Ravens defensive coordinator and was the only coach retained by Brian Billick when he took over the head-coaching job before the 1999 season. Before joining the Ravens staff, he coached linebackers for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992-1995.

The team interviewed Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Willie Shaw early in the week and Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Gary Crowton yesterday. Crowton is credited with doing an outstanding job with the Bears in 1999, who had three quarterbacks – Shane Matthews, Cade McNown and Jim Miller – all throw for more than 1,000 yards – the first time three quarterbacks on the same team accomplished such a feat.

Before last season, Crowton was the head coach at Louisiana Tech where he guided a high-powered offense. He also coached quarterbacks at Boston College from 1991-1993 where he tutored former New York Jet and current Seattle Seahawk Glenn Foley.

According to sources, the Patriots brass came away extremely impressed from its meeting with Crowton, indicating he could be the frontrunner if the team is unable to land Bill Belichick.

Crowton spent three seasons at Louisiana Tech before jumping to the NFL with the Bears. His quick ascension to an NFL head-coaching candidate is indicative of the respect he's earned in a short time.

The Patriots also have reportedly sought permission to speak with Rams offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who just spent his first season as the offensive coordinator for a high-octane offense that helped the Rams to a 13-3 record and the NFC West Division title. Martz seems to have a knack for getting production from his quarterback. This season, Kurt Warner came out of nowhere to throw 41 touchdown passes on his way to earning the NFL MVP award. In 1998, as the Washington Redskins quarterback coach, he helped put Trent Green on the map. Green took over for Gus Frerotte in the second game of the season and went on to throw 23 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions.

Marty Schottenheimer remains a possibility, although New England must get permission from Kansas City to speak with Schottenheimer, who is still under contract with the Chiefs after resigning last year. The Chiefs reportedly want to work out a compensation package before granting permission to speak with their former head coach.

Martz and Crowton are the only two offensive coaches the Patriots have expressed interest in thus far. Former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator and current University of Miami coach Butch Davis may draw interest as well, but the Patriots haven't requested permission to speak with him as of yet.

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