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

January 12, 2018 | Nestor Aparicio

the strong personality of Ryan and the even stronger personalities of some of the defensive personnel led by arguably the greatest leader in the history of the NFL in Ray Lewis?

How would things change moving forward? Could Ryan really fall in line with the “Harbaugh Program” now that he didn’t get the job as head coach?

Even Ozzie Newsome would acknowledge that over his tenure the draft days had been more unkind to the Ravens on the offensive side of the ball, especially with later round draft picks, wide receivers and the ever-elusive franchise quarterback that inevitably cost the team missed playoff chances, and ultimately, cost Billick his job.

But the offense had always been a patchwork of ways to win without allowing the quarterback gamble away the game. For a few years, the running game led by Jamal Lewis was enough. In 2006, at least for one season, Billick had veteran Steve McNair in the October of his career to protect the ball and make some plays in leading the Ravens to a 13-3 finish before a devastating playoff ouster to the Colts in a game where Baltimore couldn’t manage a late touchdown at home to win a close game after a bye week.

It had almost become a franchise mantra of “winning with defense” while making excuses and future promises about when the offense would finally begin to carry its weight.

After long meetings and a heart-to-heart between Ryan and Harbaugh, everyone agreed to come together and make 2008 strong. Rex Ryan would stay on to be the defensive coordinator of Harbaugh’s rookie year as coach for the Ravens.

On the offensive side of the ball there were some rumors about Harbaugh attempting to bring Pat Shurmur and some other friends from Philadelphia, but without a doubt Cam Cameron was the first choice and he was a natural fit. Cameron was just fired by the Miami Dolphins after a disastrous 1-15 initial season as an NFL head coach after five tremendously productive offensive seasons as the offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers with quarterbacks Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. His only NFL head coaching win of the 2007 season for the ‘Fins’ was on December 16 over the Ravens in a 22-16 overtime outcome that in some minds sealed the fate of Billick’s firing on December 31.

Now, less than three weeks later, Harbaugh was bringing in Cam Cameron – the same plan Billick was looking to execute on the morning he was executed – to lead the Ravens’ offense and call plays on game day and to help the franchise and the scouts find a franchise quarterback in the 2008 draft.

Like many of Harbaugh’s initial targets, there was a deep relationship and lineage with Cameron, who got his first job with Schembechler at Michigan and was the college boss Harbaugh never wanted to leave in Indiana in 1998 when the Philadelphia Eagles called to come to the NFL.

It was a reunion for these two friends and you could tell from the way Harbaugh filled out the rest of his staff that roots to his father and Bo Schembechler would be easy to find. Harbaugh had a strategy and knew what he wanted from his coaches.

“My Dad and my brother, they’ve told me what to look for,” Harbaugh said. “Plus, I’ve known coaches since we were little kids. Rex Ryan is a great example. Coach’s kid. Half our staff is made up of guys who are coach’s kids.”

Andy Moeller coached the offensive line and was a Michigan legacy through his father. Several like Craig Ver Steeg from Rutgers, had been a coordinator elsewhere. Greg Mattison worked with Harbaugh at Western Michigan in 1984. Dean Pees coached at Miami of Ohio in 1983. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was tied to Harbaugh through Western Michigan and they were on the same staff at Cinncinati in the early 1990’s.

Harbaugh managed to attract a mixed staff of older and younger coaches as well as some who came from college and others who had already coaches and played in the NFL like Wilbert Montgomery. Harbaugh hired Ted Monachino, who was Terrell Suggs’ coach at Arizona State, and Chuck Pagano whose roots went back to Ed Reed at the University of Miami at the turn of the century.

But Harbaugh knew it was the coaching staff that would create the atmosphere and energy for the team to stay focused and improve. He visited the studio in March 2008 and spoke about his plan and vision.

“One thing my brother Jim taught me is that players don’t understand what coaches do,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a two way street. They’re not living it like a coach is on Monday and Tuesday. You always expect that player to be ready to go. You spent 2 ½ days (and nights) building a game plan till all hours of the night breaking down film. When we have that first meeting on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m., I want that guy with his feet on the floor, I want that pencil in his hand, I want him bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready to learn because we’ve got a lot to get over here.”

It didn’t take long for Harbaugh to lay down the law:

“If guy comes in with that bad body language, he’s been partying the night before and he’s not ready to work that’s not going to work for the coaches,” Harbaugh said. “But when guys need rest we’re going to give it to them. Sometimes coaches don’t give players enough credit. This game is like a train wreck on a body. Physically, these guys get beat up and they get worn out. As coaches, we didn’t get in a car wreck every Sunday. So it’s a two-way street. We’ll always have mutual respect and communication.”

But discipline was what Bisciotti wanted Harbaugh to instill, and he was looking for a new set of rules, a new way of doing things in Owings Mills and a new culture for the Ravens moving forward. Bisciotti wanted more open communication in the building at every level.

Harbaugh’s first target? He shook up the locker room – literally and figuratively. He randomly (if not strategically in some cases) moved players’ lockers and made strangers find new