Is Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Muir on the verge of reuniting with his former employer, Bill Parcells, in Dallas? That’s what a report in Sunday’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram suggested after Parcells, the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach, fired offensive line coach George Warhop on Friday.
Parcells praised Muir in a conference call with Buccaneers beat writers prior to the Dallas-Tampa Bay game in 2003, saying that he was the best offensive line coach he had ever worked with.
It is unclear if Muir is under contract with the Buccaneers in 2005. Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen acknowledged that defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin was essentially a free agent coach in 2005, a fact first reported in Pewter Report, but declined to answer the question when asked if Muir’s contract had expired in a press conference on Thursday.
On his last radio show of the season on WDAE 620 AM on Monday, January 3, Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden was asked about Muir, who has come under fire from some fans and some in the media for the continued poor play of Tampa Bay’s offensive line. Gruden defended Muir, and although he didn’t specifically discuss his contract situation, the Bucs head coach indicated that he wanted him to return in 2005.
“Everybody’s going to question you when you don’t win,” Gruden said on his ‘Buc Report’ radio show. “This is part of the deal. Bill Muir has done it 26 years and he’ll do it 27 as long as I have a say. He’s a great coach and a phenomenal technician and strategist. We have to do all we can to stay together through the tough times, and by God, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Muir, who previously coached for Parcells with the New York Jets, was hired by the organization prior to the arrival of Gruden. In fact, Muir was hired to be Parcells’ offensive line coach in Tampa Bay before Parcells backed out at the last minute, which led to the Glazers trading for Gruden a few weeks later.
Muir was considered a guru for his work with Tampa Bay’s offensive line during its Super Bowl run in 2002. The Bucs did not allow a sack in the playoffs and the offensive line paved the way for 121 yards rushing against San Francisco in the NFC Divisional playoffs and 150 yards on the ground in Super Bowl XXXVII. But the line did not build on its strong finish in 2002 and took some steps backwards in 2003.
That led to yet another revamping of the offensive line in 2004. Despite the free agent additions of left tackle Derrick Deese, right tackle Todd Steussie and left guard Matt Stinchcomb, the Bucs offensive line actually regressed last year. In 2003, the Bucs allowed just 23 sacks. In 2004, that number climbed to 45. A year ago, Tampa Bay’s running game averaged 103 yards per game. Last season, that average dipped to just 93 yards rushing per contest. Tampa Bay’s offensive ranking fell from tenth in 2003 to 22nd in 2004, thanks in part to a dismal running game that ranked 29th in the NFL.
If Muir is to leave Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers would likely move quickly to get an offensive line coach in place for Senior Bowl week, which begins on Monday, January 24.
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