Posted on 15 February 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 06 February 2014 by Drew Forrester
An interesting after-story has surfaced in the Ravens’ search for a new offensive coordinator.
It turns out owner Steve Bisciotti did, in fact, have a specific suggestion for John Harbaugh, but as we all now know, it wasn’t Gary Kubiak.
Bisciotti wanted Harbaugh to look away from the NFL and at least consider bringing in the “new hot offensive commodity” from the college ranks. His only suggestion in the hiring process of the offensive coordinator was, according to a source, “don’t just assume you have to hire someone from within the NFL in order for this to work. Look at the new guy. Don’t be afraid to find someone with new, fresh ideas.”
Interestingly enough, the 2008 coaching search in Baltimore focused on several “fresh” names, including Harbaugh, Jason Garrett, Brian Schottenheimer, Jim Caldwell and Rob Chudzinski. Folks who remmeber that search will recall the “retread” name everyone immediately brought up was Marty Schottenheimer, but he was never even seriously considered by the search committee.
“Steve loved the process we used to uncover John (Harbaugh),” says a team source. ”It delighted Steve that we went away from the tried-and-true and hired a guy with no head coaching experience and it turned out to be such a great hire for the organization.”
It’s assumed based on the term “new hot offensive commodity” that Bisciotti’s formula would have perhaps included Auburn’s offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee. As it turned out, Harbaugh went in a different direction entirely and scooped up unemployed Gary Kubiak to run his team’s offense in 2014.
Harbaugh, in fact, confirmed this element of the coordinator search during last Friday’s live interview with WNST from Super Bowl 48. You can hear that interview here, and hear the head coach acknowledge that Bisciotti pushed for the consideration of a college coordinator or coach to take over the Ravens offensive opening.
“Steve wouldn’t ever stand up in the room and say, ‘This is the guy you’re going to hire’, because it’s just not his style. But, he’s a big believer in looking everywhere for new people. That’s what his core business has always been about and it’s a great way for any company to go about hiring new employees.”
Bisciotti didn’t get his way this go-round, as the hiring of Kubiak and Rick Dennison (plus a handful of other Texans’ staffers) was simply too good to pass up for a Ravens organization desperate for a new offensive philosophy.
But the process is worth remembering, as it once again reminds everyone that the Ravens are always capable of doing something different.
Posted on 02 February 2014 by Luke Jones
The hiring of Gary Kubiak as the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator has been overwhelmingly praised by most experts, but what it means for veteran running back Ray Rice remains to be seen.
Known to prefer bigger backs with better downhill ability in his days with Houston and Denver, Kubiak didn’t go out of his way to single out the three-time Pro Bowl selection with praise at his introductory press conference as Rice will need to rebound from the worst season of his career. The former Texans head coach didn’t say Rice wouldn’t be his feature back, either, but 2014 will clearly be a crossroads in the 2008 second-round pick’s career.
“If they’ll get downhill, we’ll do fine,” said Kubiak when asked to describe what kind of back he prefers in his system. “[They’ve had] some great running backs here that have been very successful. We told John [Harbaugh] we think they fit what we do very well. It’s our job now to go teach our system and get them comfortable with it. But, it always gets back to doing what your players do best. We’ve assured John that’s what we’ve got to do; that’s what we’ve got to go find out.”
Harbaugh made it clear on Friday that he expects to see a lighter Rice after he rushed for just 660 yards and averaged a career-worst 3.1 yards per carry this past season while dealing with the effects of a hip flexor strain suffered in Week 2. Of course, Rice wasn’t the only Baltimore running back to struggle as Bernard Pierce averaged just 2.9 yards per attempt in his second NFL season and underwent rotator cuff surgery earlier this weeek.
Entering the third season of a five-year, $40 million contract signed in 2012, Rice is assured of a roster spot in 2014 because cutting him would be more costly to the salary cap in dead money than it is to keep him, but the 27-year-old will need to prove himself worthy of being the starter like virtually everyone on an offense that finished 29th in the NFL last season.
“I think Ray’s determined to be the best he can ever be, and I know Gary likes Ray,” Harbaugh said in an exclusive interview with WNST.net. “It’s going to be up to all our players. Everybody’s going to have to come in and prove themselves. I’m not going to sit here and anoint anybody ‘the guy.’
“Ray Rice is a heck of a back in this league, but Ray has said — and I totally agree — that he can’t be playing at 216 pounds. He was 207 [pounds], I think, his first year. He’s not gotten fat, [but] he’s gotten thick through all the weightlifting. We’ve got to find a different way to train Ray.”
Rice vowed at the end of the season to come back in the best shape of his life, but it’s difficult to explain how much his poor production can be attributed to health and poor conditioning, the struggles of the offensive line, and even the reality of Father Time as he enters his seventh season at a position where the shelf life generally isn’t very long.
The Rutgers product also carried the ball an incredible 910 times in three seasons for the Scarlet Knights, which is additional wear on his legs that can’t be dismissed when looking at his entire body of work. Rice often dealt with defenders in the backfield as soon as he took the handoff in 2013, but he wasn’t able to show the same overall elusiveness while averaging a career-worst 5.5 yards per reception and ranking 34th in the NFL in yards after contact.
Harbaugh knows Rice has plenty to prove in 2014, but the head coach isn’t doubting the back’s ability if he puts in the work this offseason.
“Was he in the greatest shape of his life? No, he said he wasn’t,” Harbaugh said. “That’s on Ray. You’ve got to come back in the greatest shape of your life every year, especially as you get older. The older you get, the harder you’ve got to work. That’s just the way to keep even and give yourself a chance. Ray knows that. He’s going to have to come back in the greatest shape of his life. If he does that, I would not bet against Ray Rice.”
To listen to the entire interview with Ravens coach John Harbaugh from Radio Row in New York, click HERE.
Posted on 01 February 2014 by Luke Jones
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has heard the criticism in recent days about a perceived track record of hiring unqualified coaches and how he was allegedly overruled by owner Steve Bisciotti in the process of finding new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.
He fired back at his critics in an exclusive interview with WNST.net in New York on Friday afternoon where he was accepting the NFL’s Salute to Service award this weekend.
“It’s definitely insulting; it’s really stupid,” Harbaugh said. “It’s reflective of not knowing the facts. People who are putting it out there know darn well what they’re saying and they know it’s not true.”
Harbaugh didn’t shy away from the fact that he communicated regularly with Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome throughout the process as he does on a variety of matters related to the organization. Many have assumed that Bisciotti was enamored with hiring a big name such as Kubiak or longtime NFL offensive coodinator Norv Turner, but the owner wanted to be thorough enough to potentially “find the guy that nobody had ever heard of before,” according to Harbaugh.
This led the seventh-year head coach to consider a number of college names as he looked at upwards of 30 potential candidates for the job Kubiak ultimately won. After previously working under the assumption that Kubiak wouldn’t be interested in the position, Harbaugh reiterated that it was a conversation with new quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison — originally about former Washington Redskins offenive coordinator Kyle Shanahan — that prompted a call to Kubiak and set the wheels in motion for the former Houston Texans coach to be hired for the coordinator job.
Bisciotti remained in the loop and offered insight along the way but never gave the directive of who to hire, according Harbaugh.
“Of course he’s going to have a lot of insight into that,” Harbaugh said. “You’d be pretty dumb not to listen to it. Steve and I talked probably through that process more than we usually do. He knew what was going on, who we were interviewing [and was] asking me questions. ‘Have you talked to this guy? Have you talked to that guy? Why haven’t you talked to him? Are you going to talk to him?’ He wanted to know all of that.
“His biggest piece of advice was if you weren’t going to hire right away out of the gates and you didn’t know who you had, then take a thorough process on very similar to the one that [the Ravens] used when they hired me in 2008. He kind of laid out to me how that works. That was really great and very helpful in terms of how to go about doing it. That was really it. He didn’t give me any interview questions or anything like that, and he certainly didn’t say who to hire.
“Steve Bisciotti would never do something like that, and not very many coaches in this league would stand for something like that. That’s not what it’s about.”
In addition to Kubiak and Dennison, new tight ends coach Brian Pariani is coming over from the former Texans staff, but Harbaugh refuted reports that other Texans assistants would be coming to Baltimore to fill the vacant running backs coach and wide receivers coach openings.
Harbaugh said Kubiak identified Dennison and Pariani as assistants he would need to help install and teach his offensive system, but the Ravens will look at “some younger guys” for the remaining two openings instead of hiring other former Houston assistants.
In addition to shooting down reports about Bisciotti and Newsome going over his head to hire Kubiak, Harbaugh took exception to the criticism of his track record hiring assistant coaches as many have used offensive line coach Juan Castillo as a damning example and predicted that he would tab wide receivers coach Jim Hostler as the new offensive coordinator despite his unsuccessful one-year stint with San Francisco in 2007.
The 51-year-old coach reminded that he’s hired a number of former or future NFL head coaches as assistants, ranging from Rex Ryan, Cam Cameron, and Chuck Pagano to Jim Caldwell, Jim Zorn, and Steve Spagnuolo. Kubiak became the Ravens’ first external hire for a coordinator position since Cameron was selected as Harbaugh’s first offensive coordinator in 2008.
“I want to have the best coaches we possibly can,” Harbaugh said. “If you go back over the last six years all told, it’d be hard to find a better six years of coaching staffs than the Ravens have had. Criticize me the other way –- say that I need great coaches around me to be successful. But don’t say that I’m hiring bad coaches or guys that won’t speak their opinion.”
To hear Ravens head coach John Harbaugh’s entire conversation with WNST.net on Radio Row in New York, click HERE.
Posted on 31 January 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 28 January 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 28 January 2014 by Drew Forrester
I spent the better part of two hours yesterday writing my Sweet16 entry and getting it ready for publication this morning at WNST.net.
That’s a nice way of saying, “Drew’s not necessarily in the writing mood right about now.”
But I won’t let you down, because I know faithful readers of WNST.net need their fill of Drew’s Morning Dish.
The obvious topic this morning continues to be the hiring of Gary Kubiak as the Ravens new offensive coordinator. For the record, I think it’s a terrific hire. That said, I’m about 90% sure a large portion of the local football fanbase will be disenchanted with Kubiak by this time next year. That’s how we roll around here, it seems.
A national media member who follows @WNST on Twitter said to me yesterday in the Super Bowl Media Center: ”When did Ravens fans get so hateful?”
We had a brief discussion about the last twelve months and how things change quickly in sports when you go from the penthouse to the outhouse like the Ravens did in 2013.
“I assumed Baltimore was sort of exempt from that type of foolishness,” he said.
I hope Kubiak does well in Baltimore — for a lot of reasons — but he’s not coordinating anyone to the top of the football world with the players currently on the offensive side of the ball.
The Ravens need improved players and better play, period.
Barney Rubble could coordinate the offense if they get better wide receivers, better offensive lineman and a rise in quality from their running backs and quarterback.
They got the offensive coordinator they wanted.
Now…go get him some players.
Posted on 27 January 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 27 January 2014 by WNST Staff
The Baltimore Ravens have hired Gary Kubiak as their offensive coordinator, head coach John Harbaugh announced Monday afternoon.
“We are excited to announce Gary Kubiak as the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator,” Harbaugh stated. “After studying many different candidates, we believe our research and our evaluation process have been as thorough as we could make them.
“The Ravens’ offense will work to be a physical, down-hill, attacking unit that is precise and aggressive. We will be rugged, balanced and hard-nosed. We will play Ravens football, and Gary will help us achieve the offense we aspire to be.
“We left no stone unturned in this search. We are excited about the result and cannot wait to get to work.”
Coach Harbaugh also announced that former Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will join the Ravens as their quarterbacks coach.
Kubiak, 52, is a 21-year NFL coaching veteran who spent the past eight seasons (2006-13) as head coach of the Houston Texans. Under his guidance, Houston earned back-to-back AFC South crowns from 2011-12 – the franchise’s first division titles – and two playoff berths. Kubiak owns a Texans’ franchise-record 63 total wins, posting a 63-66 overall mark (61-64 regular season, 2-2 postseason).
Under Kubiak, the Texans earned their Top 6 all-time offensive outputs in scoring, total offense and passing yards from 2007-12. During this time, the Texans also boasted the franchise’s Top 3 rushing outputs, including the NFL’s No. 2 ground attack in 2011 when they posted a franchise-record 153.0 yards per game. From 2008-12, Kubiak’s offense was one of only two teams (Denver) to have its total offense, passing offense and rushing offense each rank in the Top 5 at least once during that span.
After finishing a franchise-best 12-4 in 2012, Houston earned its second-straight AFC South title and reached the Divisional Playoffs for the second-consecutive season. The Texans were one of two teams (Denver) to finish in the Top 10 in both total offense and defense (seventh in both that season), while the offensive unit set a team record averaging 26.0 points per game. WR Andre Johnson led the AFC with 1,598 receiving yards, while DE J.J. Watt registered an NFL-best 20.5 sacks, becoming the first player in franchise history to be named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year. Three starting offensive linemen – LT Duane Brown, LG Wade Smith and C Chris Meyers – earned Pro Bowl honors, while a conference-best nine total Texans were voted to the NFL’s All-Star game.
In 2011, Kubiak was named the KC 101 AFC Coach of the Year after leading the Texans to a 10-6 regular season finish and the franchise’s first division title, playoff berth and postseason victory. Despite losing QB Matt Schaub and QB Matt Leinart to season-ending injuries, Houston produced a franchise-record seven-game winning streak and ranked second in the league in rushing (153.0 ypg). Behind rookie QB T.J. Yates, the Texans earned their first-ever postseason win in the Wild Card round over Cincinnati and advanced to the Divisional Playoff against Baltimore.
In 2010, Houston set a team record in total offense for the fourth-consecutive season and ranked third in the NFL by averaging 386.6 total net yards per game. Impressively, the Texans were the only AFC team to finish in the Top 10 in both rushing (127.6 ypg – third) and passing (259.0 ypg – fourth). RB Arian Foster set new team standards after finishing with a league-high 1,616 rushing yards, 2,220 scrimmage yards and 18 overall touchdowns, while Schaub became the NFL’s 12th-ever quarterback to eclipse 4,000 passing yards in back-to-back seasons.
During the 2009 campaign, Houston’s offense ranked fourth-overall in the NFL (383.1 ypg) and averaged an NFL-high 290.9 passing yards per contest. Schaub ranked first in the league with 4,770 passing yards, also tallying a career-high 98.6 passer rating.
Prior to his time with the Texans, Kubiak spent 11 seasons (1995-2005) as the Denver Broncos’ offensive coordinator, also coaching the quarterbacks during his first seven seasons. Under his guidance, Denver’s offense reached new heights behind the likes of QB John Elway, TE Shannon Sharpe and RB Terrell Davis, with the team earning seven postseason trips and back-to-back Super Bowl titles (1997-98) during that span. As Denver’s offensive coordinator, the Broncos averaged NFL bests in yards per game (365.0) and points per game (25.2) from 1995-2005.
Kubiak’s NFL coaching career began in 1994 as quarterbacks coach of the San Francisco 49ers, where he helped guide Hall of Fame QB Steve Young to his best pro season. Young, who posted a career-high 70.3 completion percentage, 35 passing touchdowns, 3,969 passing yards and a then-NFL record 112.8 passer rating, earned NFL MVP honors for the second time in his career en route to a victory in Super Bowl XXIX.
Kubiak began his coaching career in 1992 as the running backs coach at his alma mater, Texas A&M, where under his guidance, RB Greg Hill was named a second-team All-American. Hill was a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1994.
As an NFL player, Kubiak spent nine seasons (1983-91) with the Broncos, serving primarily as the backup to the Hall of Famer Elway. Kubiak appeared in 119 career games, completing 173 of 298 passes for 1,920 yards and 14 touchdowns. While at Texas A&M, he earned All-Southwest Conference honors as a senior in 1982. Kubiak also set the SWC single-game passing touchdown record (six) against Rice his junior year. After earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education from A&M, Kubiak was selected by Denver in the eighth round (197th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft.
Born in Houston, Gary and his wife, Rhonda, have three sons and two daughters-in-law. Kubiak prepped at St. Pius (Houston) HS, where he was an All-State selection. He was inducted into the Texas High School Hall of Fame in 1999.
GARY KUBIAK COACHING BACKGROUND
Years College/Pro Team Position
1992-93 Texas A&M
1994 San Francisco 49ers Quarterbacks
1995-2002 Denver Broncos Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
2003-05 Denver Broncos Offensive Coordinator
2006-13 Houston Texans Head Coach
2014 Baltimore Ravens Offensive Coordinator
Dennison, 55, is a 20-year NFL coaching veteran who served the past four seasons (2010-13) on Gary Kubiak’s staff as the Texans’ offensive coordinator. Prior to joining Houston in 2010, Dennison spent his entire NFL career with the Denver Broncos – as a player from 1982-90 and as a coach from 1995-2009.
Dennison helped create a prolific offense with the Texans, which during his four-season tenure, ranked eighth in total net yards (369.5 ypg), sixth in rushing (130.6 ypg) and 13th in passing (239.0 ypg). Houston produced an NFL-best 29 individual 100-yard rushing performances, ranked fifth in the NFL with 64 rushing touchdowns and registered three of the best rushing seasons in franchise history during Dennison’s tenure.
In 2012, the Texans’ offense set a franchise record by scoring 26.0 points per game and ranked seventh in the NFL in total net yards (372.1 ypg). Seven offensive players earned Pro Bowl honors, including WR Andre Johnson, who led the AFC with 1,598 receiving yards. RB Arian Foster led the NFL in touchdowns (17) for the second time in three seasons and ranked second in the AFC with 1,424 rushing yards. For the third time in his career, and second under Dennison, QB Matt Schaub eclipsed the 4,000-yard passing mark.
In 2011, Dennison’s offense set franchise marks with 2,448 rushing yards (153.0 ypg), ranking second in the NFL. The Texans also led the NFL in time of possession (32:41) and set a franchise mark for fewest interceptions thrown in a season (nine). Late in the season, rookie QB T.J. Yates was called upon to lead the unit, which suffered season-ending losses to Schaub and QB Matt Leinart. Two different Texans rushed for more than 900 yards for the first time in club history (Foster – 1,224 and Ben Tate – 942).
In his first year with Houston in 2010, the Texans’ offense ranked third in total yards (386.6 ypg) and seventh in rushing (127.6), including a league-high 20 rushing touchdowns. Houston also had the NFL’s fourth-ranked passing attack (259.0 ypg). The total yards and rushing yards were franchise marks, as were points scored (390). Foster became the Texans’ first NFL rushing and scoring leader with a club record 1,616 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.
Dennison’s first stint as an NFL offensive coordinator came with the Denver Broncos (2006-08) after his predecessor, Kubiak, left for the head-coaching job with the Texans. His offenses averaged 350.5 net yards per game and rushed for 124.4 yards per contest and 4.6 yards per carry. In 2008, Denver was second in the NFL with 6,333 total yards and allowed a franchise-record-low 12 sacks.
Dennison coached the Broncos’ offensive line from 2001-05 and again in 2009. He led Denver’s special teams unit from 1997-2000 and helped the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1997-98. Dennison began his NFL coaching career as an offensive assistant with the Broncos from 1995-96. He broke into coaching at the high school level, spending three seasons (1992-94) with Suffield (Conn.) Academy.
From 1982-90, Dennison played linebacker for the Broncos, appearing in 128 games (52 starts) and three Super Bowls (XXI in 1986, XXII in 1987 and XXIV in 1989). He received the Ed Block Courage Award in 1989.
Dennison joined the Broncos in 1982 as an undrafted free agent from Colorado State, where he earned three varsity letters and was a second-team Academic All-American as a senior. In 1979, he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, followed by a master’s degree in the same field in 1982 from CSU.
Born June 22, 1958 in Kalispell, Mont., Dennison attended Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins, CO) HS, where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball. His father, George, was president of the University of Montana before retiring in July 2010. Rick and his wife, Shannon, have five children: sons Joseph, Steven, and Trey, and twin daughters, Abrynn and Allie.
RICK DENNISON COACHING BACKGROUND
Years College/Pro Team Position
1992-94 Suffield (Conn.) Academy Assistant
1995-96 Denver Broncos Offensive Assistant
1997-2000 Denver Broncos Special Teams
2001-05 Denver Broncos Offensive Line
2006-08 Denver Broncos Offensive Coordinator
2009 Denver Broncos Offensive Line
2010-13 Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator
2014 Baltimore Ravens Quarterbacks