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Friday, January 20, 2006
Bills interview Capers, Caldwell

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

Buffalo Bills officials pulled double duty Friday as the team interviewed former NFL head coach Dom Capers and current Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach/quarterbacks Jim Caldwell for the club's coaching vacancy.

The session with Capers, first reported Thursday by ESPN.com, was anticipated. The addition of Caldwell to the process, which could wind down over the weekend, was more of a surprise. Bills officials sought permission earlier this week to meet with Caldwell, though, and quickly arranged an interview when it was granted.

The Bills have interviewed six candidates, including three former NFL head coaches, for the vacancy created by the abrupt resignation of Mike Mularkey last week after just two seasons on the job.

Caldwell, 51, served as the interim head coach for the Colts last month when Tony Dungy was forced to leave the team for nearly two weeks after the death of his son. A five-year NFL veteran, Caldwell served on Dungy's staff in Tampa Bay in 2001 as the quarterbacks coach, then moved to Indianapolis in 2002.

Caldwell, who interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings' opening two weeks ago, also spent eight seasons (1993-2000) as head coach at Wake Forest, where he compiled a 26-63 record. His Demon Deacons teams did rank among the top 10 in passing offense for four seasons during his tenure.

Caldwell's college coaching résumé also includes stops at Iowa (1977), Southern Illinois (1978-80), Northwestern (1981), Colorado (1982-84), Louisville (1985) and Penn State (1986-92). He played defensive back at Iowa and was a four-year starter.

Recently dismissed as the Houston Texans' head coach, Capers posted an 18-46 record in four seasons (2002-05), including a league-worst 2-14 mark this year. He was 31-35 in four seasons (1995-98) with the Carolina Panthers, and Capers was the first head coach in the history of both teams.

In only the second season of the franchise's existence, Capers, 55, led the Panthers to the NFC Championship Game in 1996. He was unable to register the same kind of results, though, in Houston, where the Texans never won more than seven games in a season under his stewardship and regressed badly in 2005.

Earlier this week, the Bills met with former Chicago Bears coach Dick Jauron and one-time Green Bay coach Mike Sherman.

Jauron, who served as the interim head coach of the Detroit Lions this season, has been pegged by several media outlets as the favorite to land a Bills job for which he also was a candidate two years ago. But a source close to the Bills' search said that Sherman, who took the Packers to four playoff appearances in six seasons, had a Wednesday interview in which he "knocked the socks off" Buffalo officials.

The Bills also have interviewed incumbent special teams coach Bobby April and San Diego wide receivers coach James Lofton. April is popular among current Buffalo players and was named the NFL's special teams coach of the year for 2004. A Hall of Fame wide receiver, Lofton played four of his 16 NFL seasons (1989-92), with the Bills under now-general manager Marv Levy.

Neither April nor Lofton has experience as a head coach at any level.

Indications are that Bills officials will spend the at least part of the weekend deliberating the merits of the six candidates interviewed, and either settle on one of them or expand the search. With so many head coaching positions filled this week, and intense competition to complete staffs, the Bills might opt to move quickly.

There is some feeling owner Ralph Wilson and Levy prefer to have a coach in place next week, when most teams gather in Mobile, Ala., for the annual Senior Bowl college all-star game.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.