Tag Archive | "John Harbaugh"

Truth — Bisciotti wouldn’t have minded a college coordinator for O.C.

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Truth — Bisciotti wouldn’t have minded a college coordinator for O.C.

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.

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Harbaugh not ready to anoint Rice ‘the guy’ in 2014

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Harbaugh not ready to anoint Rice ‘the guy’ in 2014

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.

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Harbaugh honored to win Salute to Service Award

Posted on 02 February 2014 by WNST Staff

Head Coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

Salute To Service Award, Presented by USAA

 

(on winning the award) “It’s great to see everybody. This is a pretty great deal. Alec Baldwin is pretty funny. What do you think? He’s hilarious. I haven’t been the butt of any jokes yet so far, so that’s good. It’s a great honor to be associated with the award. USAA does a great job along with the NFL of supporting and encouraging military families that do so much and make so many sacrifices for all of us. I just love what the military is doing. I love what the NFL is doing to support the military. I think it’s a great cause, and I’m just proud to be a part of it. So, what do you got?”

 

(on if the Cleveland Browns will ever make it to a Super Bowl) “Hopefully not in my tenure in Baltimore. That will be the plan to keep them out of there as much as we can. But Mike Pettine is a great coach. It’s going to be a big challenge. They’ll be buckling their chinstraps up, and so will we when the time comes.”

 

(on his brother wearing eight-dollar khakis) “Actually, they’re 24 dollars, I heard. He got some kind of sale deal. I don’t know what that was. I never saw him wear khakis. I don’t think we had khakis when we were growing up. What do you say about that? What do you guys think about that? No, no comment on that? I see a couple eight-dollar khakis out there in the audience right now as a matter of fact.”

 

(on what the Ravens take from their involvement with the military) “That’s a great question. What do we take from it as a team? I tell you, we take tremendous encouragement. These guys who come out to our practice, whether they’ve served multiple tours – and women, too – or they’ve been wounded … The wounded warriors, what they’ve been through, the unbelievable positive attitude that they bring out there is just beyond belief. And you know, we can feel sorry for ourselves or think things should be going better for us. Maybe we should have won a game or got a call from an official or something like that. You get a chance to talk to these guys and what they have in mind for their future and what their plans are for themselves and their families, just overcoming incredible adversity – that’s the greatest testament for our guys that you could possibly have. It’s a better motivational speaker than you could ever bring in bringing these guys in. Great, thanks.”

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Harbaugh fires back at detractors over coodinator search

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Harbaugh fires back at detractors over coodinator search

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.

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Former Ravens offensive line coach Moeller reportedly on way to Cleveland

Posted on 01 February 2014 by Luke Jones

After Ravens head coach John Harbaugh appointed Juan Castillo to the title of offensive line coach after the 2013 season, it appeared very likely that Andy Moeller would be moving on from the organization.

According to The Sun, Moeller will become the new offensive line coach of the Cleveland Browns after spending six years with the Ravens — the last three as offensive line coach. Castillo served as the Ravens’ run-game coordinator last year, essentially resulting in a demotion for Moeller as the offensive line dealt with injuries and performed poorly in an 8-8 season.

New Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine worked on the same staff as Moeller in Baltimore during Harbaugh’s first season as the Ravens head coach. Pettine served as a defensive assistant for seven years in Baltimore under Brian Billick and Harbaugh.

Assistant offensive line coach Todd Washington appears likely to remain on the Baltimore staff after turning down the offensive line coach position at USC earlier this winter.

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Harbaugh insulted by false reports about Bisciotti involvement in OC search

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Harbaugh insulted by false reports about Bisciotti involvement in OC search

Posted on 31 January 2014 by WNST Audio

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Ravens appoint Spagnuolo as new secondary coach

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Ravens appoint Spagnuolo as new secondary coach

Posted on 29 January 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Baltimore Ravens have appointed Steve Spagnuolo to be their secondary coach and have hired Brian Pariani as tight ends coach, head coach John Harbaugh announced Wednesday afternoon. It was also announced by Harbaugh that Spagnuolo has been named the team’s assistant head coach.

A 16-year NFL coaching veteran, Spagnuolo was hired as the Ravens’ senior defensive assistant in 2013. Prior to his Baltimore arrival, Spagnuolo was defensive coordinator for the Saints (2012) and head coach of the St. Louis Rams (2009-11). Also spending two seasons (2007-08) as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator, Spagnuolo was the defensive architect of their Super Bowl XLII Championship team (2007), guiding a unit that ranked in the NFL’s Top 10 in eight single-season statistical categories, including a league-high 53 sacks.

“How fortunate are we to have a former NFL head coach, former defensive coordinator and secondary coach become the Ravens’ coach for our defensive backs?” Harbaugh said. “Steve is one of the outstanding teachers in the NFL, and he already worked with our defensive staff and players last season as a senior assistant. Our players respect him, and a number of our veteran defensive backs recently said to me that they wanted Steve to coach them.”

Spagnuolo has coached for teams that have clinched eight playoff berths, won six division titles, made five conference championship game appearances, won two conference titles and won Super Bowl XLII. He also spent eight seasons (1999-2006) on the Philadelphia Eagles’ coaching staff with Harbaugh, specifically coaching the secondary for three seasons (2001-03). In his first campaign as defensive backs coach, Philadelphia ranked second in pass defense (179.0 ypg), second in points allowed (13.0 ppg) and seventh in total defense (293.8 ypg). Under Spagnuolo’s tutelage, CB Troy Vincent (2001-03) and S Brian Dawkins (2001-02) earned multiple Pro Bowl honors.

Pariani, who enters his 24th season of NFL coaching, spent the past eight years (2006-13) as the Houston Texans’ tight ends coach while serving under Gary Kubiak. Kubiak, Houston’s head coach of eight seasons (2006-13), was hired as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator on Jan. 27. Additionally, Rick Dennison, who spent the past four years (2010-13) on Kubiak’s staff as offensive coordinator and worked closely with Pariani, joined the Ravens as quarterbacks coach on Monday.

“Brian has earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s top tight ends coaches, and we’re excited that he was available and willing to join us,” Harbaugh stated. “Another factor that immediately makes him valuable to us is his familiarity with the offense we want to run. We are making changes on offense, and Brian will be able to help teach and implement them.”

Pariani served as Syracuse’s offensive coordinator for one season (2005) following 10 years (1995-04) coaching the Denver Broncos’ tight ends. From 1991-94, he was an offensive coaching assistant in San Francisco after originally beginning his pro coaching career in 1990 as a scouting assistant with the 49ers.

Under Pariani’s guidance the past several seasons, Texans TE Owen Daniels emerged as one of the NFL’s top offensive players. Earning two Pro Bowl appearances (2008 and 2012), Daniels posted 385 catches for 4,617 yards and 29 touchdowns in eight seasons with Pariani, including career highs in receptions (70) and receiving yards (862) during the ’08 campaign.

While with the Broncos, Pariani coached TE Shannon Sharpe, a 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. Sharpe led the NFL in receptions by a tight end from 1996-98, averaging 72 catches over the three-year span. He produced 425 receptions for 5,373 yards and 38 touchdowns with Pariani.

Sharpe retired in 2004, finishing his career as the NFL’s all-time record-holder among tight ends with 815 receptions, 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns (all marks since broken by TE Tony Gonzalez).

After earning his bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA in 1989, Pariani began his career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater under Terry Donahue. Pariani was born in San Francisco and was a three-sport athlete at Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.) High School. Brian and his wife, Stephanie, have two daughters, Jessica and Gianna.

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Kubiak is a terrific hire.  Now…get him some terrific players.

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Kubiak is a terrific hire. Now…get him some terrific players.

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.

Not quite.

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.

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Ravens hire former Texans coach Kubiak as new offensive coordinator

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Ravens hire former Texans coach Kubiak as new offensive coordinator

Posted on 27 January 2014 by Luke Jones

After leading many to believe they had narrowed their choice to two other finalists for the vacated offensive coordinator job, the Ravens threw a major surprise into the equation to replace Jim Caldwell.

Former Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak was awarded the job by head coach John Harbaugh, ending a search that lasted nearly two weeks. Kubiak spent the last eight years in Houston but served as the offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos for 11 years prior to that and is regarded as one of the better offensive minds in the NFL.

“We left no stone unturned in this search,” Harbaugh said. “We are excited about the result and cannot wait to get to work. After studying many different candidates, we believe our research and our evaluation process have been as thorough as we could make them.”

Former Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will become Baltimore’s new quarterbacks coach while former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will not be joining the Ravens’ coaching staff after receiving serious consideration for the coordinator job. Dennison served as Kubiak’s right-hand man in Houston for the last four years, and the pair worked together in Denver prior to that.

Despite 20 years of NFL coaching experience, Dennison has never served as a quarterbacks coach, which will make his working relationship with quarterback Joe Flacco an interesting one to follow.

Both Kubiak and Dennison had long playing careers in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, which carried over to their years coaching together in the same organization.

The Ravens also have openings at running backs coach and secondary coach and could also need a new tight ends coach as longtime assistant Wade Harman is not expected to return, according to The Sun. Harman has been with the Ravens since 1999 and was the only assistant on staff for both of the franchise’s Super Bowl championships.

Former Texans tight ends coach Brian Pariani is expected to take Harman’s place while former Texans running backs coach Chick Harris or former Washington Redskins running backs coach Bobby Turner is expected to be the running backs coach, according to Jason Cole of National Football Post.

With the 52-year-old Kubiak now joining the Ravens, it remains unclear where that would leave wide receivers Jim Hostler, who was considered a finalist for the job prior to Monday’s news.

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Ravens narrow search to two for offensive coordinator job

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Ravens narrow search to two for offensive coordinator job

Posted on 25 January 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens appear to be on the verge of hiring their next offensive coordinator after narrowing the search to two finalists on Saturday.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson was informed Saturday that he would not receive the job vacated by Jim Caldwell, who accepted the head coaching position with the Detroit Lions on Jan. 14. This leaves Ravens wide receivers coach Jim Hostler and former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as the remaining finalists for the job.

It was later reported that Wilson would not be returning to Pittsburgh’s staff and will instead join the Minnesota Vikings under new head coach Mike Zimmer.

Shanahan and Hostler were each interviewed for a second time on Thursday while Wilson met with Ravens officials for a second interview on Friday. Former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was confirmed as a candidate earlier in the week by head coach John Harbaugh but did not receive a second interview for the coordinator job.

The 34-year-old Shanahan carries more experience as an offensive coordinator after serving in that capacity for six seasons split between the Houston Texans and Washington. The son of two-time Super Bowl champion head coach Kyle Shanahan was considered to be on a fast track to his own head coaching job prior to the Redskins suffering a 3-13 season last year that resulted in both Shanahans losing their jobs.

Meanwhile, the 47-year-old Hostler served as the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers in 2007, a season in which they finished last in the NFL in both yards and points scored. After being fired by the 49ers, Hostler was hired by Harbaugh and has coached the Baltimore wide receivers for the last six seasons.

Following the firing of Cam Cameron and the promotion of Caldwell to offensive coordinator on Dec. 10, 2012, Hostler saw an increased role in helping to develop the offensive game plan as the Ravens marched to their second Super Bowl championship less than two months later. He was also responsible for relaying calls to quarterback Joe Flacco from the sideline as Caldwell worked from the upstairs booth during games.

In addition to their offensive coordinator open, the Ravens must fill vacancies at quarterbacks coach, running backs coach, and secondary coach.

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