Chapter 1: Meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss

January 12, 2018 | Nestor Aparicio

for an NFL head coaching job. Meanwhile, Reid called Billick and asked if he’d speak with Harbaugh to get him better prepared for the interview for his old job.

“I knew Brian a little bit,” Harbaugh said. “He was always really cordial, and I knew he and Andy were close. Brian was just really honest about the situation. He never really let it get awkward. He was really trying to help me. He was supportive about everything and he said a few times that he really thought that I could do a good job of connecting with the players. He was very straightforward about what I was going to find and the challenges here and he also thought Ozzie and I would work well together.”

Unlike David Modell’s three-page list of “Baltimore Ravens Head Coach Profile” that was listed in great detail in “Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac,” the Steve Bisciotti-led search committee didn’t formally itemize every characteristic of their ideal candidate on a sheet of paper or have a “requirements” list.

Of course, if any of the “Big 3” criteria – college head coach, hot offensive or defensive coordinator or former NFL head coach — were a deal breaker, Newsome wouldn’t have been calling Harbaugh in the first place.

Many times when NFL teams fire head coaches they hire the opposite of what they had in the previous regime. In general, you don’t fire one offensive coordinator to hire another one. And as Billick had said many times, the same expertise you’re hired for will be the same characteristic that inevitably gets you fired.

Bisciotti had a laundry list of expectations, but the initial concerns he saw after firing Billick were his hot buttons:

He strongly disliked the imbalance on the team, which featured a mouthy, powerful defense that looked to intimidate and frighten the offense. Bisciotti wanted a balanced team – on and off the field.

Bisciotti knew the defense had such strong personalities that it was going to take a stern disciplinarian to lead the team and everyone wondered aloud whether Rex Ryan was the right guy to remain with the defensive unit because he was so popular with the core group of players. Not to mention that his idiosyncrasies would be tough to coach out of that unit. But, they all knew he had the ears of the players and he was a world-class coach and defensive tactician. He was, simply, the best in the business.

Despite the acknowledgement of Ryan’s assets, in general, the organization felt that Billick’s second group of assistant coaching hires weren’t up to par with his initial 1999 group and the 2006 mid-season firing of Jim Fassel and the inability for Neuheisel to serve as Billick’s offensive coordinator after Billick hired him were some of the causes for the 5-11 campaign. Sure there were injuries, but the Ravens had better talent than a nine-game losing streak and Bisciotti wanted a coach who could get the best out of his $116 million per year payroll on the field. You don’t get to be a billionaire without valuing your investments and maximizing your assets.

Bisciotti was also looking for a major change in style, a major change in discipline and most importantly a new way of communicating inside the building in his corporate flow chart and to change the culture from the top down.

“All I imagined was: Do I think that this guy can be effective and believable and trusted standing in front of the players, because that’s where the rubber meets the road,” Bisciotti said about his early goal in the search. “I was looking for a leader who shows a baseline of confidence and a baseline of humility. A man is built with those two qualities. Some have too much of one and don’t have enough of the other. Where is that dividing line? You’re looking for as close to the middle as possible. We’ve always looked at this as we’ve built the business. If you have a ton of humility and not a ton of confidence, you’re not strong enough to be a leader. If you had not enough humility and way too much confidence, then it’s arrogance.”

In his mind, he’d just made an $18 million mistake and was now looking for, in his own words, “to find the next Hall of Fame NFL head coach.”

Inside the Baltimore Ravens’ search committee, it was Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta who was the biggest champion of John Harbaugh.

But when the calls got made from inside the committee, it was Steve Bisciotti who took a random call from three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Bill Belichick of