Gut Wrenching

January 16, 2008 | Thyrl Nelson

“Never ignore a gut feeling, but never believe that it’s enough”
– Robert Heller
I wonder who is having a tough time getting to sleep tonight? Steve Bisciotti and Dick Cass probably are, Jerry Jones and Arthur Blank might be too. Jason Garrett is certainly smiling from the catbird’s seat, and Wade Phillips is probably running through the gamut of emotions. And the wheels of progress just keep on turning.
Speaking of progress, that’s what this, was all about in the first place right? The Ravens were clearly a team on the decline, and this move was supposed to bring a stabilizing force to the franchise. A little over two weeks later, the franchise is looking anything but stable. The job that Bisciotti thought would be one of the leagues most coveted is turning out to be anything but.
Perhaps the bar has been set too high, perhaps the expectations of the front office are unrealistic in the minds of the prospective coaches so far. Maybe the amount of control that Ozzie Newsome has is uninviting to some, or maybe Bisciotti is quickly gaining a reputation as a “butinski”. He did after all take over one of the league’s model franchises, and immediately began exacting changes. First hiring Dick Cass (a name you ought to be careful not to say too quickly), advisor to maverick owners Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder, to replace David Modell.
Even more glaring is Bisciotti’s hypocritical stance when it comes to his desire to remain anonymous. Watching and listening to Bisciotti for 5 minutes will tell you that he is anything but a wallflower, and has probably spent his entire life commanding the room. His hairstyle alone tells all that you need to know about his ego. Although Bisciotti shuns public speaking during the season, he is certainly high profile both in and out of M & T Bank Stadium. And it could be argued that his refusal to speak does more to keep him in the headlines than simply going on the record once in a while. Bisciotti has also been spotted on the sideline during at least one Ravens game this season, and is routinely seen with players at basketball games and other events.
Think about this for one second. Who would you say is the most meddlesome owner in town? Now, have you seen or heard from that owner more than Steve Bisciotti in the last 4 years? I am not trying to compare Bisciotti to Angelos yet, at least not here, just stating my opinion. This will be my last Orioles reference in this blog.
(Okay, I lied. Does Garrett flying out of town to possibly go back to being an assistant with Dallas remind anyone else of Joe Girardi?)
So now, since hiring Cass, establishing the new open communication era, publicly chastising his coach one year, extending his contract the next, and firing him the year after that, what has Bisciotti got to show for his efforts? It appears at this point that he may have fired Billick specifically to hire Garrett before someone else had the chance to do it, and now may be left with neither.
Jim Caldwell will likely get the Colts job or decide to stick it out, as Tony Dungy seems bound for retirement soon, if not this season. Tony Sparano looks like he’ll be in Miami. Kirk Ferentz, Josh McDaniels and Rob Chudzinski all declined to interview. Other names thrown around early like Steve Mariucci, Sylvester Croom, Jim Schwartz and even Marvin Lewis seem to have no merit. And it appears that the veterans Cowher and Schottenheimer will continue to enjoy retirement for now. The Ravens seem to have painted themselves into a corner with this one.
(Given the stir caused now by the competition for the few coaches who seem to be good candidates, it’s no wonder the Patriots never seem to lose any assistants. By the time they are usually finished playing out the schedule most of the vacancies are already filled. This may be the biggest drawback of losing early in the playoffs.)
The Ravens appear to have gone all in, and depending on how this last card falls, may have lost. I wonder what Plan B is at this point, or if there even is a Plan B. The job that they thought would have potential head coaches chomping at the bit is not as attractive as they may have imagined.
Aside from the beautiful complex at Owings Mills, the Ravens have little else to offer a young head coach. There is no offense to speak of, a dysfunctional locker room, immediate expectations, and a meddling owner. Take a job here and you could be out on your butt in 2 years. Take the job in Atlanta and .500 within 2 years probably insures that you’ll stick around for 5. Whose locker room would you rather try and take control of, the veteran Ravens who just stabbed their last coach in the back, or the young Falcons who were just stabbed in the back by theirs? Frankly, neither team looks poised to win the Superbowl anytime soon from where I’m sitting.
If Garrett just wants to be a head coach, this may be the best place for him. If he wants to grow as a coach and to win, he’ll probably stay in Dallas. Even after the way the Cowboys offense shut down in the second half on Sunday, Garrett is still beloved there. I suspect he’ll remain a Cowboy and wait it out, ala Girardi.
If Jones really is willing to match whatever money the Ravens have offered, it could be an interesting week in Dallas. What if Garrett was offered more than Wade Phillips makes? Will Phillips be given a raise, out of fairness? Or told to quit if he doesn’t like it? Sooner or later, Phillips will be moving aside for Garrett either way.
Maybe Billick sent Garrett 2 years worth of Vikings tapes and 9 years worth of Ravens tapes and asked him to figure out whether Billick had forgotten how to coach, or there was some other glaring difference.
You’d think getting Garrett out of Dallas would be an easy sell. After all, there he has to deal with a rock star owner, too involved in football matters, who patrols the sidelines, commands the headlines, and has consistently unrealistic expectations. And here he’ll have…