In the results-oriented world that is the modern-day NFL, Brian Billick’s deficiencies as an offensive guru finally caught up with him. That’s why Steve Bisciotti reconsidered and reversed his decision to keep Billick, turning New Year’s Eve into a frenzy of speculation following the coach’s firing.
Only time will tell if it was a good move. Should the Ravens merely accept someone else’s recycled castoff, it’s a step in the wrong direction. The move was made to shake things up, and is obviously only the first step in what will no doube be an active offseason. By the time the Ravens convene at McDaniel College next summer, they might have also bid adieu to Steve McNair, Mike Flynn, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jonathan Ogden and/or others.
My gut says one of two things happens — and neither of them involve hiring a "flavor of the month" type. After all, that’s what got them into trouble with Billick in the first place. Yes, he won a Super Bowl, and we’ll be forever grateful. But he never delivered on his promise as an offensive genius. In the end, it cost him his job. Not his ego. Not his insistence that he call the plays. Not the injuries.
So, where do the Ravens go from here?
They could promote from within, rewarding defensive coordinator Rex Ryan with his first head coaching position. That would allow for consistency — as Ryan would no doubt keep some of the coaching staff intact — and send a message telling the Ravens that Bischotti thought the messenger and not the message needed to be changed. After all, defense is what the franchise is built upon. Even in this year’s struggles, the defense kept the Ravens in games, as opposed to the offense getting them within striking distance.
Or they could go outside of the system and hire an established NFL coach. Bill Cowher comes to mind, and his no-nonsense style would be a polar opposite of Billick’s tenure. The added bonus, of course, is that the notion of Cowher motoring eastbound on Interstate 70 would annoy the bejeezums out of those black-and-gold-clad Steelers fans who seemed to be everywhere at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday. Silent, yet; but still everywhere.
My guess is that the Ravens will act swiftly and Bisciotti will be decisive, knowing that his decision will put a stamp on the team’s offseason machinations.
Billick’s firing is sad only because it makes him the fall guy for an underperforming bunch of players who sleepwalked through the second half of a 5-11 campaign. The injuries hurt, but when you’re forced to dress an offensive tackle as a tight end, and to dip deep into your practice squad for reinforcements, the problem obviously isn’t the coach or the plays he’s calling.
Thanks for the hard work and the dedication to the franchise, Brian. You deserved a better fate. Even if all coaches are hired to be fired, it’s not fair to gloss over a good coach’s achievements in the rush to see who will replace him.