2008 Ravens: More Like Lame Ducks

January 29, 2008 | Thyrl Nelson

“Thyrl’s Mobtown Blog Pound”


Make no mistake, I am a big fan of Rex Ryan and the job that he’s done with the defense here. What’s more, I believe that he’ll be an outstanding head coach one day soon. Even more than that, I am glad to see a Ravens press conference without the Bisciotti, Newsome, Cass triumvirate seated at the table. Actually, having Newsome there would have seemed proper. But with all of that aside, I simply can’t see the logic in hiring back Rex Ryan as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

First, from Rex’s perspective, obviously putting up top ten defense after top ten defense here in Baltimore is not making you attractive to potential suitors. So why not show what you’re made of with another defense? Rex hasn’t done anything that Marvin Lewis or Mike Nolan didn’t do before him. Maybe the Ravens’ defensive coordinators will start to come with a disclaimer, like Jeff Tedford quarterbacks.
The Ravens angle is much more perplexing though. From their side, bringing back Ryan makes much less sense. The Ravens players staged a pseudo revolution last year, and in having their ultimate goal met, some rallied for Rex as the head coach. It was Rex’s players who were making most of the noise, and also that side of the ball, which had the most problems with simple self-control. Whatever “us against them” mentality that existed between the defense and the offense last year is likely to continue unless the offense shows marked improvement, which is unlikely anytime soon. Furthermore, with Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott all likely playing for contracts next season, they would have been on their best behavior and played hard for whomever. It would stand to reason that if those guys were drinking the Kool-Aid, everyone else would follow suit anyway.
That brings me to my next point. I have discussed at length the disturbing (to me) comments by Steve Bisciotti about Billick having to consult him about whether or not to allow Rick Neuheisel to take over play calling. Regardless of whether you believe that this is Bisciotti’s place or not, the fact the he was concerned about Neuheisel pursuing another opportunity makes hiring Rex even worse.
Rex Ryan clearly has his eye on other opportunities, but not only were the Ravens not concerned about that being a distraction, they felt compelled to add assistant head coach to his title too. Additionally, Rex indicated that Bisciotti has offered to help verse him in the interview process, to help him interview for future jobs. This hardly looks like an organization plotting a course for the next decade.
A lot was made throughout the hiring process, of the coaching families of John Harbaugh, Jason Garrett, Brian Schottenheimer and Rex Ryan. In each case it was viewed as a positive. If we are going to give Rex Ryan credit for his coaching family, than you have to be concerned, at least a bit about the family’s history. Buddy Ryan was one of the greatest defensive innovators in the history of the league, however everywhere that he coached, animosity between the offense and defense seemed to follow. Wanting to fire Rex’s brother Rob may or may not wind up costing Lane Kiffin his job in Oakland, and the Ravens locker room was divided this year too.
Remember too, that Ray Lewis didn’t become the outspoken critic of the Ravens philosophies before Ryan was promoted. Under Mike Nolan and Marvin Lewis, Ray was a leader and a pro-bowler, but never a distraction. As soon as Ryan took over, Lewis publicly trashed Kelley Gregg and the 3-4 defense, then he deserted the team in 2005 under Ryan’s watch and we all saw what unfolded this season.
Whether purposeful or not, whether knowingly or not, Rex Ryan had a part in bringing about the discourse that settled into the Ravens locker room this season. The philosophies that he’s grown up around have always perpetuated that type of behavior, arguably, it’s in his genes. The Ravens didn’t just turn on Billick they turned to Ryan. And he was all too willing to step up and try to fill the role. Sadly, for Ryan and his charges, the Ravens took a pass.
When the Ravens passed, they should have passed altogether. Most people would not want to come into a management position, and be assisted by someone who was just passed over for their job, especially if that assistant had been so boisterously endorsed by the employees.
Point to Dan Snyder as an embarrassment if you like, but in this case, he got it right and the Ravens got it wrong. Once Gregg Williams decided to throw his hat into the ring for head coaching consideration, he effectively closed the book on himself as defensive coordinator. It wouldn’t make sense to tell him that he’s not what you’re looking for, and then expect diligence and loyalty from him going forward, especially now knowing that he has head coaching aspirations. Apparently, in some people’s minds it does make sense. In John Harbaugh’s mind, I think the task in front of him just got a little bit tougher.



“Thyrl’s Mobtown Blog Pound”