With Tuesday’s news of offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell accepting the head coaching position with the Detroit Lions, the Ravens must now seek a new leader for an offense already expected to undergo significant change this offseason.
Unlike the last time the Ravens were in this position following the dismissal of Cam Cameron on Dec. 10, 2012, there doesn’t appear to be an obvious in-house replacement in mind in the same way that they promoted Caldwell from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Wide receivers coach Jim Hostler served as the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in 2007, but the organization is expected to at least seriously explore outside options in an effort to breathe new life into an offense that finished 29th in total yards and 25th in points scored in 2013.
In addition to finding a new running backs coach following the news earlier this month that Wilbert Montgomery would not be returning, head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens will likely need to find a new secondary coach as Teryl Austin is expected to join Caldwell in Detroit as his new defensive coordinator.
Here is a preliminary list of some candidates as the Ravens begin their search for a third offensive coordinator in the last 13 months:
Jim Hostler, Ravens wide receivers coach
Skinny: The only internal candidate with experience as an offensive coordinator, Hostler is well-respected within the organization, but he doesn’t appear to have a great chance to be promoted since the Ravens passed on him in favor of Caldwell, who had never been an offensive coordinator prior to taking over the duties late in the 2012 season. His lone year as a coordinator in San Francisco was regarded as disastrous with the 49ers finishing last in the NFL in total yards and points scored before he was fired.
Rob Chudzinkski, former Browns head coach
Skinny: Regardless of what really happened in the 45-year-old’s lone season as the Cleveland head coach, Chudzinski’s work as the offensive coordinator in Carolina and in Cleveland before that was highly respected, making it likely that he won’t remain unemployed for long. As for any reservations in hiring someone who was so recently dismissed as a head coach, both Cameron and Caldwell were hired only weeks after being fired from a previous head coaching gig.
Brad Childress, Chiefs spread game analyst
Skinny: The former Vikings head coach has ties with Harbaugh dating back to their days together in Philadelphia, which makes him someone worth keeping an eye on in the search. Childress hasn’t found much success in recent years as a head coach or as an offensive coordinator — he was fired after one season in Cleveland in 2012 –but a 40-year-old Brett Favre had one of the best seasons of his career working with Childress in 2009, cementing the coach’s strong reputation with quarterbacks.
Norv Turner, Browns offensive coordinator
Skinny: Respected as one of the great offensive minds of this generation, the 61-year-old Turner remains under contract with Cleveland but would be an excellent candidate if made available once the Browns hire a new coach. His track record as an NFL head coach is underwhelming, but he’s worked with great quarterbacks such as Troy Aikman and Philip Rivers in the past and would be viewed as a major asset for Joe Flacco in trying to revitalize the offense.
Gary Kubiak, former Texans head coach
Skinny: The 52-year-old spent eight years in Houston before being fired in December, making one wonder if he might choose to take a year off from coaching even though he interviewed for Detroit’s head coaching vacancy earlier this month. He had a sterling reputation working as Mike Shanahan’s right-hand man and offensive coordinator in Denver for a decade and is still viewed as a talented offensive mind if he’s interested in being a coordinator again.