Expect major movement on Ravens coaching search

January 14, 2008 | Nestor Aparicio

Four more teams eliminated, four more sets of coaches for the Ravens to sift through before finding their next field general.

The Dallas Cowboys’ surprise elimination will be sure to affect the Ravens search on a few levels in the next 24 hours.

First, they’ve interviewed two of Jerry Jones’ guys (as well as guys like John Harbaugh, Brian Schottenheimer and Rex Ryan…and didn’t hire any of them), so it stands to reason that the Cowboys’ elimination held some deeper meaning inside the Bellagio. (But so could the Giants and Chargers’ staying in the hunt, if they have coaches whom the Ravens covet.)

In the next few hours, we’ll probably find out what’s happening.

If Jason Garrett is indeed the “clubhouse leader” — and there’s no reason to believe he’s NOT — then Jerry Jones’ next step would be to either promote Garrett to assistant head coach and talk him into staying as a “No. 2 in training” with a few million dollars until “Wade Phillips is done” OR fire Phillips today and name Garrett head coach OR allow his young “protege” to walk away.

And that could to be Baltimore, Miami, Atlanta, Washington — or maybe even Indianapolis and/or Seattle by the end of the afternoon or week.

This puzzle is very, very fractured this morning by all of the surprises and the unknowns.

It is a GIANT game of poker amongst the teams, the kind of gamesmanship usually played out on NFL Draft weekend. It’s its own little drama within the drama. No one is showing their hands to anyone. And the rumors swirl from hour to hour, website to website.

Trust me, it’s not in ANYONE”S best interest to leak accurate information. It can only hurt your bargaining position.

Here’s the skinny as best as I can descipher it:

Everyone in the known NFL universe believes Tony Sparano is headed to Miami, maybe as soon as today.

No one seems to have any clue what’s on Daniel Snyder’s mind in D.C. Jim Schwartz (who is NOT on the Ravens’ radar), Russ Grimm and Gregg Williams have all been to Danny’s estate for summit talks. Of course, he couldn’t touch any of the Dallas assistants because he didn’t lose his coach until after they were back to coaching last week. So, today is his first chance.

The Atlanta situation appears to get more grim every day. They have a large committee of people on the search. Arthur Blank runs the team like a Home Depot, where it seems every cashier gets a vote on everything. Pete Carroll has apparently run back to USC. And they’ve interviewed half of the free world and still haven’t picked a coach. But they DO have a general manager, and apparently Blank has never MET him. And if he’s TRULY the general manager, wouldn’t he have been in on the interviews for a head coach before this stage?

All information leads to this: Does Arthur Blank know what the hell he’s doing?

Maybe the Falcons want Garrett, too? Or Sparano? Who knows?

It’s all pretty exciting, actually.

Throw in the Seahawks and Colts as potential “coach-less” places at some point this week — not to mention Jim Caldwell’s potential promotion in Indy, taking him outta the race for the Ravens and others — and you’ve got a nice, thick plot here on “Coach Soup.”

The intrigue, the espionage, the journalism…the guesswork!

But Jerry Jones is probably the most important man in the coaching search for virtually every team in the market. Jerry Jones is holding the dice right now at the table.

And I bet he’s NOT in a very good mood this morning…

Geez, he fired Jimmy Johnson after winning the Super Bowl…who the hell knows how he’ll react to being a beaten home favorite as a No. 1 seed by a division rival with his hunky quarterback running off to Mexico with Jessica Simpson before the game?

Fear Jerry Jones!

And from the Ravens’ perspective, if Jason Garrett IS their man — and he’s gone by tomorrow morning — where do they turn then?

Do they really call Cincinnati and pursue Marvin Lewis and give up draft picks to a division rival to get him? (Far-fetched, I know…but it COULD happen if Steve Bisciotti were truly interested in Lewis.)

Does Marty Schottenheimer really factor into the Ravens’ plans?

What in the world is going to happen to Rex Ryan in all of this? Is he the “fallback” guy? Will he wind up in Cincinnati with Lewis or Miami with Parcells and/or Sparano?

And it’s gonna be VERY interesting to hear what Brian Billick has to say when he comes back to earth and/or Baltimore. If he were truly interested in coaching again next year, I gotta think Seattle might be a place he would call. My guess is that he’s done for the time being with NFL sidelines, especially considering he’s getting paid to NOT coach. And probably will get paid MORE to do television next year. But I’m only guessing.

At this point, it’s ALL a guess.

The game of musical chairs in the NFL head coaching circle is reaching a crescendo.

Grab a seat and come along for the ride…

 

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