Before turning his attention toward a wild-card meeting with Pittsburgh, head coach John Harbaugh thanked an old friend for helping the Ravens get to the postseason on Sunday.
Harbaugh reached out to Kansas City head coach Andy Reid via text messaging after the Chiefs knocked off San Diego to help the Ravens secure their sixth postseason berth in seven years. Baltimore earned the No. 6 seed after the 20-10 win over Cleveland and Kansas City’s 19-7 victory over the Chargers.
“I promised Andy dinner. He responded very favorably to that.,” said Harbaugh as he laughed. “He’s looking forward to his dinner. It probably won’t be cheap.”
Of course, Harbaugh worked as an assistant under Reid for nine years in Philadelphia, serving as his special teams coordinator for all but one of those seasons. The Ravens coach may need to sweeten the pot when remembering Reid and the Chiefs still had playoff hopes of their own in Week 17 before Baltimore and Houston both won.
It remains unclear whether Harbaugh will treat Reid to Maryland crab cakes or some famous Kansas City barbecue. Perhaps they’ll compromise by reminiscing over a couple Philly cheesesteaks.
Regardless of what’s ultimately on the menu, Harbaugh was glad to see the Chiefs rise to the occasion in the regular-season finale.
“Sometimes we don’t acknowledge how tough it is for everyone, [because] we look at our own situation all the time so hard,” Harbaugh said. “Everyone in this league fights week in and week out. It’s just a great league; it’s a great sport. It was a great victory for the Chiefs, and we’re happy they got it.”
The Ravens are scheduled to host the Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium during the 2015 season.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — You seem like you are the least-stressed coach in the NFL.
That was one of the many things noticed about Steve Spagnuolo during his first chance to address the media after the final day of mini-camp for the Ravens. After three dreadful seasons at the helm of the St. Louis Rams and another year coordinating a Saints defense that gave up the most yards in a single season in NFL history, Spagnuolo seems at ease in his new role with the Super Bowl champs.
“It’s been a tough two years, but I’m focusing forward, and I’m excited. To me, the way I look at this is this is a privilege to be a part of a great organization.”
Spagnuolo said that he is not happy with the way things worked out at his last two stops, but that he has learned from them.
“I’ll tell you what, people say this all the time, and it’s true: You learn more from the setbacks than you do really from the successes.”
Spagnuolo’s official role with the Ravens is senior defensive assistant, a role that he says will essentially be “an extra set of eyes.”
“You can never have enough eyes with some kind of experience to kind of give some feedback or an idea or something that we might have done, or I saw somebody else do that I worked for. I worked for some great people: [New York Giants head coach] Tom Coughlin, [Kansas City Chiefs head coach] Andy Reid.“
Harbaugh and Juan Castillo, the Ravens run game coordinator, were also part of Reid’s staff in Philadelphia. Spagnuolo mentioned how excited he was to rejoin some old friends on a new coaching staff.
“You leave each other, and you hope someday that you are back together. God-willing in this business, you can do that. It’s great. It’s great every day…I remember we used to test each other. I’d watch him coach, and he’d want the feedback. And, I’d ask him to watch me coach and give feedback. We’ve been doing that for years. It’s great to be with him.”
Before becoming the head coach of the Rams in 2009, Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. In New York, Spagnuolo rolled through a bevy of talented defensive lineman, including future Hall of Famer Michael Strahan and Pro Bowlers Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He would often put his four best pass rushers, usually four defensive ends, all on the line at the same time to create mismatches in what came to be known as the NASCAR formation.
Behind these high-pressure schemes and talented pass rushers, the Giants defeated the then unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, launching Spagnuolo into the limelight as one of the premier defensive coaches in the NFL.
And although that group Spagnuolo had in Big Blue was extremely talented, he says that this current group in Baltimore has all of the pieces to be even better.
“I had little visions of the Giants’ front that I happened to be privileged to be working with. They are good all the way around… This is as good as looking football team that I’ve ever seen. I’m talking about physically and stout.“
He specifically pointed to Chris Canty and Terrell Suggs as two pieces who are going to be key to the pass rush.
“You can’t coach that height. He puts his hands up, man. There’s not a coach in the world that can take a six-foot guy and do that. He’s been very impressive to me,” when referring to the 6’7” Canty.
And when he talked about Suggs, he mentioned his fun-loving, joker style that Ravens fans have come to know and love (for the most part), but he also praised the former Defensive Player of the Year.
“He put his uniform [on] and came out there. I looked at [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] and I’m laughing, saying ‘Wow. That’s what they’re supposed to look like.’ He is one of those blue-chips prospects in this league. He’s an elite player.”
Along with Canty, a slimmed down Suggs, and talented players like Elvis Dumervil and Haloti Ngata, the Ravens pass rush should be one of the most feared units in the entire league, which would be a significant improvement from last year’s squad, who finished tied for 15th in the NFL with 37 sacks.
With success in Baltimore, Spagnuolo could see his name be brought back up in conversation as a future head coach in the league, something that he is still striving for. When asked if he was looking to get back into head coaching, he had a very direct answer, one different from the lengthy answers he gave when asked other questions.
“Oh yes, yes, deeply. “
You could sense right away that this is a man who, even if he seems relaxed, is dying for another chance to get back at the helm of a football team and redeem his reputation. But he realizes that to get to that point, he needs to do his best in his current job in Baltimore.
“I listened to [Dick Vermeil] speak one time, and his advice to young coaches, any coach was, ‘Be the best at whatever job you have right now.’ So, I’m trying to be the best that this particular position and let the rest take care of itself.”
And if he can do that, it will not only be a positive for his personal future, but also for the future of a transitioning defense in Baltimore.
A source with knowledge of the situation tells WNST.net the University of Maryland will hire Brian Stewart to fill their vacant Defensive Coordinator position. The school agreed to a buyout with Todd Bradford last week, he served as DC last year during head coach Randy Edsall’s first season in College Park.
The hiring was first reported by the Big Ten Network’s Tom Dienhart.
Stewart spent the past two seasons in the same position at the University of Houston. He spent the 2009 season on Andy Reid’s staff with the Philadelphia Eagles and spent the two years before that as the Defensive Coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. Previous National Football League coaching experience includes time as the secondary coach for the San Diego Chargers (2004-2006) and as assistant Defensive Backs coach with the Houston Texans (2002-2003).
Prior to joining the Cougars, Stewart had college coaching experience as a defensive assistant on the staffs at Syracuse (2001), Missouri (1996, 1999-2000), San Jose State (1997-1998) and as an offensive assistant at Northern Arizona (1995) and Cal Poly (1993-1994).
Stewart is originally from San Diego, California and played college football at NAU.
The Terrapins also made a change at Offensive Coordinator following their 2-10 campaign. Gary Crowton left the program and was replaced by former New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley.
More information on this story as it becomes available.
Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio had a late celebratory dinner with our fantastic attorney Sunday night at Fogo De Chao. As I walked in, I said to Drew “is Tebow going to do it again?” He responded “nah…it’s like 10-0 at the end of the game.”
I responded “um…actually it’s 10-7.”
Within moments we were all doing this…
So that I’ve covered myself here, a LOT of credit for the Denver Broncos’ win over the Chicago Bears has to be given to the fact that Marion Barber absolutely fell apart late and Matt Prater’s UNREAL game-tying boot. In fact, Prater’s boot was so incredible it deserves another look…
Just stop already. Just stop. Frank Reich might want to go ahead and make the congratulatory call to Tebow, because you KNOW “The Mile High Messiah” is going to eventually break his record for the greatest comeback in National Football League history.
As far as the Bears go, it’s over for them. You have to have a quarterback. It would be over in Charm City if Tyrod Taylor had to play.
That is…of course…ENOUGH about the Bears. Tim Tebow played Sunday. We’ll be talking about it until next Sunday.
Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe you DON’T have to have a quarterback. Maybe T.J. Yates is enough…
With Andre Johnson sidelined, Kevin Walter was the hero. I’m so confused by everything happening here. I know the other teams barely tried, but aren’t the Texans supposed to screw this up so that these t-shirts are never printed???
A large crowd welcomed the AFC South champs back to Reliant Stadium Saturday night. No word on whether or not they had all sent Peyton Manning Thank You cards or not.
Even if I had to make a trip to Landover and that AWFUL dump known as FedEx Field, it was worth it for Army/Navy.
My highlight this year? The press box (which Dan Snyder and company placed in the WORST possible location otherwise) was directly behind the brigade of Midshipmen, allowing me to hear every word of “The Goat is Old and Gnarly.”
If you’re not an Annapolis regular, you might not be familiar. Here’s a 4 year old singing it…
The Mids were 27-21 winners thanks to 4th quarter heroics from kicker Jon Teague. The game (as always) was “more than football”. Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama attended, watching one half of the game on each side. At halftime, he was walked from side to side through a tunnel formed by members of each branch. The word “goosebumps” fits.
Down 23-7 at the half and watching their Wild Card hopes crumble, the Falcons became energized and clinched a win with this 75 yard TD to Julio Jones…
After finishing the win over the Carolina Panthers, the Falcons had quite the scare when coach Mike Smith felt chest pains and was taken off the team flight and instead to a Charlotte hospital. When reached for comment, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger described Smith as a “pansy.”
The Bolts are pretty healthy and playing really well just in time for a date with the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. Phillip Rivers is playing well. Vincent Jackson is playing well. Ryan Matthews is playing well. Antonio Gates is playing well. They kept their slim playoff hopes alive while ruining any hopes the Buffalo Bills had Sunday.
WNST will be in San Diego next weekend, partnering with Los Angeles Ravens fan club The West Wing. That means Perry Hall High School alum Daniela Pane will be in the house…
It’s a shame she has to compete with me every year for the “most popular alum” award. Otherwise she’d probably have it nailed down.
Before the season began-what, maybe 10% of college football fans could name the Baylor Bears quarterback? Just before Christmas, RG3 has not only won the sports’ highest honor, he’s also started a craze in footwear…
Superman socks. Actually quite awesome. Everyone else is so much cooler than me.
There were a handful of goofs who thought the Oakland Raiders could give the Packers a run for their money. Here are some highlights-or at least the best I could find on YouTube…
If Greg Jennings really does have a torn ACL, the Packers are hurting. But this is a team that has Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, ah you get the point. They’re going undefeated and they’re probably going to win the Super Bowl.
The scene at the Towson Center Saturday afternoon rivals some of the most incredible I’ve seen in Charm City sports history, but sports had very little to do with it.
The most special moment of the visit from President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama (Michelle’s brother Craig Robinson is the head coach of the Oregon State team that crushed the Tigers Saturday afternoon) came at halftime.
Athletic Director Mike Waddell introduced Head Coach Rob Ambrose & the CAA Champion football team, who were enjoying a week off as they prepared for their FCS playoff showdown with Lehigh next Saturday at Unitas Stadium. The President walked out to greet the team, then posed for a picture to the absolute delight of the young men.
It was the type of moment that induces chills. Wow.
They duo (and Cincy QB Andy Dalton) were vital in the Bengals’ come from behind win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday in a game that judging by the attendance no one in the Queen City knew was happening…
Can’t help but notice a few empty seats in the background there, gang. This is a team fighting for AT LEAST an AFC Wild Card spot, not completely out of the AFC North race. This is the best you can do? Maybe “Los Angeles Bengals” has a nice ring?
Since we’re here, here’s a picture of Colt McCoy Tebowing…
The other candidate in the mix (and perhaps the frontrunner) is Alabama RB Trent Richardson, but we’ll get back to him.
After an incredible performance a week earlier against Oklahoma, the Baylor QB might have been one more spectacular performance away from locking up the chance to hear his name called in New York in two weeks. Unfortunately, RG3 was taken out of the game in the second half (probably for a concussion) and had to watch the second of the Bears’ win over Texas Tech from the Cowboys Stadium sideline…
So…Stanford QB Andrew Luck (the preordained winner of the Heisman before the season) was back in the picture with the chance to lock the thing up. Luck was good but not great in the Cardinal’s win over Notre Dame and left the thing up for grabs again.
As I searched YouTube for a recap video of Luck’s final game at Stanford Stadium I believe a Fighting Irish fan summed it up well by channeling M*A*S*H…
I don’t even know what that means!
The (regular) season is over for Richardson so he won’t have another chance to make a statement. Luck’s Cardinal don’t get another chance either since Oregon won the Pac-12 North. Baylor will play host to Texas next week in Waco, but Griffin’s status is up in the air due to his injury.
If none play again, I think I’d vote Luck. Someone will yell at me for that. Go ahead.
Fourth on the list (of three) candidates to win the Heisman is Cougars QB Case Keenum, who shredded Tulsa Friday in a manner similar to the way he’s shredded everyone else he’s played this season.
If the Cougars top the Golden Eagles in next week’s C-USA title game, they’ll become the first ever team from the conference to make a BCS bowl. Teams from the WAC and Mountain West have played BCS buster, but never C-USA.
Someone will call the occasion “historic”. Those people won’t really know what the word historic means.
You know what’s the ONLY THING IN THE WORLD that could make us not spend the entire week talking about the Denver Broncos’ QB? How about a picture of San Diego Chargers kicker Nick Novak peeing on the sidelines at Qualcomm Stadium?