Is Denny Green ‘on the list’?

January 08, 2008 | Drew Forrester

If he isn’t, he sure should be.

As the Ravens enter week #2 of their coaching search, one thing is an absolute certainty.  The club is being extremely tight-lipped about who’s on their “list” and who isn’t.

The secrecy of the list makes sense.  It’s not good for the team’s search if a name leaks out and then the candidate turns them down, a la Cleveland’s Rob Chudzinski, who said, “no thanks”, to the mere thought of an interview when when he signed an extension with the Browns on Sunday.  It’s one thing to lose to the Browns twice in the same season, it’s another to have their offensive coordinator humble you by electing to stay with the Browns and not even fly to Baltimore for a crabcake, a tour of the facility and a brief handshake with Ray Lewis and Jon Ogden.  In fairness to the Ravens, they didn’t tell anyone that “Rob Chud” was on their list.  Phil Savage provided that tidbit to the Cleveland media late last week.

I’ve heard rumors that Philadelphia secondary coach John Harbaugh is on the interview list, but I can’t get anyone at Owings Mills to confirm it.  I understand.  It’s smart business to not reveal any of your potential interviewees until AFTER they’ve interviewed.  The Rob Chudzinski egg-in-the-face leak out of Cleveland proves that point all too well.

As the search continues, I have to wonder if ex-Vikings and Cardinals skipper Denny Green is going to get a look-see at Owings Mills?  He seems like precisely the kind of guy the Ravens would want.  He’s a winner (113-94 regular season, 4-8 post season) and a coach that would demand respect from a locker room that includes a handful of players whose most recent accomplishment was half-creating a Holiday mutiny to get rid of their former boss.  I can’t imagine Denny Green would tolerate a lot of “me, me, me” in the locker room. 

His last stop in Arizona nearly wrecked his coaching career.  He went 16-32 with the Cardinals (that made him 97-62…a .610 winning percentage…before he gambled on that job out west) and was best remembered for his epic post-game meltdown in the ’06 season when the Cards squandered a 20-point second half lead to the Bears.   

Stay in the game long enough as a coach, and you’re bound to crack at some point after a tough loss.  Some coaches do it by yelling at their players, some do it by yelling at the refs and Green did it by yelling to the media.  Big deal.

What the Ravens need to find is someone who can win games as a coach.  Green has done that, although it is fair to note that he hasn’t been much of a winner in the last five years or so.  Still, at 59, you have to believe Green would like at least one more legitimate NFL coaching opportunity to cement his place in the game.  No one has won in Arizona, so you can’t hold that against him.  But he sure did win in Minnesota – even if some guy named Billick was actually the mastermind of the offense – and at this point, he could be the best of all the free-agent candidates and I’m not even sure he’s on Baltimore’s wish list. 

Another name worth considering is Marty Schottenheimer.  His son, Brian, interviewed with the Ravens today but I can only imagine that someone in the front office was merely paying off a bet by having him come in.  There’s no way Brian Schottenheimer is the best candidate available for this job.  His dad, on the other hand, might be.  Another guy who has a massive winning record in his career (200-126-1 regular season…5-13 post-season), Schottenheimer is one of those coaches that will forever be branded “not good enough” because he hasn’t won a Super Bowl.  It’s weird in football…you have to win ONE of those things or you’re just another guy with a clipboard.  Imagine if Tony Dungy wouldn’t have won last year.  There would still be whispers about HIM, even. 

As for Schottenheimer, like Green, he would bring a no-nonsense approach to Baltimore that might be appealing to the 47 guys on the team who appreciate professionalism, but it wouldn’t sit well with the other 6 guys who think THEY run the club. 

His detractors say Schottenheimer stinks in the post-season.  Well, first off, anyone who thinks winning 200 regular season games is a cakewalk has no idea how hard it is to win games in the NFL.  Next, while 5-13 can’t possibly be spun into a positive, it’s also fair to note that in the history of the league, there are only a dozen or so coaches who have coached MORE than 15 post-season games in their career and own a .500 or better record in the post-season.  In fact, until 2005, Bill Cowher was a below .500 playoff coach and so was Tony Dungy prior to last season, but the Colts went 4-0 in post-season play to bump Dungy above .500 for his playoff mark.  Winning regular season games as a coach is a challenge.  Winning post-season games is a totally different animal, because you’re ALWAYS playing someone capable of beating you that day.

I’m not endorsing any candidate in particular.  I think the Ravens are doing the smart thing by interviewing as many people as possible.  Who knows, one of the five they’ve already talked with might get the job and turn out to be a champion like Billick became in his second season.

But, if the interview process ends and the Ravens don’t have a sit-down with Denny Green and Marty Schottenheimer, well, then, they simply haven’t interviewed all of the best candidates for the job.

And, when you’re making a decision like this one, interviewing WINNERS seems to me to be the best way to get your organization back into the WINNER’S circle sometime soon.