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Twelve Ravens thoughts following Super Bowl LIV

Posted on 03 February 2020 by Luke Jones

With Super Bowl LIV now in the books after Kansas City topped San Francisco, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. After faltering as the top seed last year, the Chiefs lost their star quarterback for nearly three full games, held a 6-4 mark in November, and needed Week 17 help just to get a bye. That’s good inspiration for Baltimore, who will be hard-pressed to match its record-setting 14-2 campaign.

2. In case it weren’t obvious after the playoff loss to Tennessee, the Ravens offense’s need to be able to play off schedule more effectively was reinforced by Kansas City erasing double-digit deficits in each of its three postseason games. That’s not how you draw it up, but it’s remarkable nonetheless.

3. A year after winning NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes became the youngest Super Bowl MVP quarterback and youngest to claim both honors. Lamar Jackson would be the youngest if he can repeat a Mahomes feat for a second straight season. These two facing off for years is going to be fun.

4. Terrell Suggs had two tackles and a quarterback hit as he won a second Super Bowl in his decorated 17-year career. In a SportsCenter interview, Suggs said he’ll take some time to ponder his future, but he’ll turn 38 in October. He’s unlikely to have a better ending than that.

5. Andy Reid could have hired a new special teams coordinator upon arriving in Philadelphia in 1999, but he chose to retain John Harbaugh, who had just completed his first year as an NFL assistant. The Ravens head coach had to feel good for his mentor finally winning that elusive ring.

6. The Baltimore defense will continue to lean on its superb secondary and plenty of blitzing, but watching the 49ers front four make Mahomes look so mortal for 3 1/2 quarters reiterated the work Eric DeCosta has to do in that department this offseason. Nick Bosa was a game-wrecker.

7. Former Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk scored San Francisco’s first touchdown and was one yard shy of a second in the third quarter. The 49ers paid a steep price for him in free agency three years ago, but he just finished his fourth straight Pro Bowl campaign. Not bad.

8. Steve Hutchinson being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was good for Marshal Yanda. The 12-year guard had seven Pro Bowls, five first-team All-Pro selections, and two second-team selections. Yanda has eight Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro selections, five second-team nods, and a Super Bowl ring.

9. I was surprised the vote for NFL Coach of the Year wasn’t a little closer between Harbaugh and Kyle Shanahan. Harbaugh was my choice, but the 49ers going from 4-12 a year ago to 13-3 is the kind of turnaround that often sways voters.

10. Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Colts legends Lenny Moore and Raymond Berry being part of the on-field ceremony honoring the NFL 100 all-time team reminded how tremendous Baltimore’s football history is. Johnny Unitas, John Mackey, Jim Parker, and Gino Marchetti were also selected.

11. After watching those introductions for both the 49ers and Chiefs, I vote for The Rock to be the hype man for every major sporting event. He’s the most electrifying man in all of entertainment after all.

12. According to Caesars Sportsbook, Kansas City opens as the Super Bowl favorite (6-1) for 2020 with Baltimore right behind at 7-1. Super Bowl LV will take place in Tampa, the same city the Ravens won their first NFL championship 20 years earlier. Sounds like a good story to me.

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Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, right, talks with San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, left, on the field before the start of the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Baltimore, Md. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

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Week 17 win reinforces Harbaugh as right choice for NFL Coach of the Year

Posted on 30 December 2019 by Luke Jones

The Ravens didn’t need to win Sunday’s game, evident by the decision to sit MVP favorite Lamar Jackson and five other Pro Bowl selections after clinching the AFC’s No. 1 seed the previous week.

Sure, finishing a franchise-best 14-2 regular season, extending their team-record winning streak to 12 games, setting a few more records, and knocking AFC North rival Pittsburgh out of playoff contention were attractive carrots before the first-round bye, but none of those feats improved their chances of winning the Super Bowl, the ultimate goal for the best team in football. Sunday could have amounted to nothing more than three hours of holding your breath hoping Baltimore wouldn’t sustain any injuries that would harm a playoff run, and such a mindset would have been perfectly understandable.

But the 45 players who took part in Sunday’s game didn’t see it that way, perhaps the best testament yet to the culture overseen by head coach John Harbaugh — one that began being shaped years ago.

It would have been easy to coast in a game of no tangible consequence. Established veterans who did play could have taken exception to not being anointed as someone valuable enough to hold out. Young players could have lacked focus seeing Jackson and other veteran leaders in street clothes.

The Ravens not only won, but they flattened a Steelers team that had everything to play for. To perform in such a way without several of their best players should serve as an emphatic period for Harbaugh winning the NFL Coach of the Year award for the first time — in case you needed more convincing.

However, a look at recent award winners suggests Harbaugh probably isn’t the slam-dunk choice he should be with voters. The award is often bestowed on the coach who oversaw the most improvement in the win-loss department from the previous season — usually a difficult one — or who endured a degree of adversity that shapes a compelling narrative. How else do you explain Bill Belichick winning only three times in his two decades in New England?

On the surface, the Ravens’ four-game improvement in the win department from last year pales in comparison to Kyle Shanahan and San Francisco going from a 4-12 record in 2018 to a 13-3 mark and the top seed in the NFC. Baltimore lost several key veterans in the offseason, dealt with its share of injuries early on, and looked quite mortal after back-to-back losses in September to fall to 2-2, but Sean Payton navigating Drew Brees’ six-game absence and other injuries to a 13-3 record for New Orleans makes for a more compelling story.

Shanahan and Payton are two of several candidates worthy of consideration, but anyone trying to shortchange Harbaugh’s case on the grounds that he has the best team in the league, the overwhelming MVP favorite, 12 Pro Bowl selections, two coveted coordinators, and a highly respected front office is to ignore the process that brought Baltimore to this point as one of the best regular-season teams we’ve seen over the last three decades.

Even if you want to chalk up Jackson’s transcendent play to other teams simply being blind to his upside and impressive drive to be great, Harbaugh and the Ravens embraced his unique skills, promoted Greg Roman to offensive coordinator, and rebuilt their offensive system from the ground up this offseason to cater to his strengths even after a surprising 6-1 finish and trip to the playoffs last year. After Harbaugh spoke of an offensive revolution that drew plenty of skepticism this offseason, Baltimore rewrote the franchise record book, set a new NFL single-season rushing mark, and became the first team in league history to average more than 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards per game. The Ravens used play fakes and pre-snap movement better than anyone in the league to put additional pressure on a defense already trying to account for what could be the greatest rushing quarterback in NFL history who also showed substantial improvement with his accuracy this season.

“John is the one who really orchestrated the vision for this offense and kind of set us on our way to do it and painted the perimeters and painted a picture of what he wanted it to look like and let us do our job,” said Roman, who’s now drawing interesting as a potential head coach elsewhere. “That speaks highly of a leader. But really, the three years I’ve been here, it’s all about football. It’s all about getting better, and that serves us all. We don’t waste time.”

Harbaugh also doesn’t waste in-game opportunity, which is why the football analytics community continues to praise the Ravens coach for his grasp of win probability and leverage on fourth downs in an age when so many coaches are still more concerned with merely prolonging the game or keeping the score respectable with conservative decisions rather than giving their teams the best chance to win.

It isn’t just about redefining offense in the NFL or going for it on fourth-and-short in their own territory, however. For years, Harbaugh has consulted with a leadership council of veterans to monitor potential issues in the locker room or to simply gauge when it might be time to take the foot off the gas for a given practice. Sometimes it’s a gesture as simple as allowing players to play music in the pre-game locker room to ease anxiety or to invite the families of coaches and players to spend time at the training facility.

This all goes into the culture that’s been shaped for years and has gone to new heights with the transcendent Jackson leading the way on the field. You don’t absorb as many newcomers on defense as seamlessly as the Ravens did in the middle of the season without talented coaches and a healthy locker room to make it work and to reap the rewards for a defense that’s become a very worthy partner to a record-setting offense.

Such an environment helps explain why the Ravens played with such tenacity in a game that didn’t mean much for their ultimate goal. Many within the organization have had important roles in creating that atmosphere over the years, but Harbaugh’s day-to-day vision has put the Ravens in position to do something special in 2019 with more to come in the new year.

“I wasn’t afraid to talk about this in March or April or May or June or July or August or September, and we got laughed at quite a bit, you know?” Harbaugh said. “But that’s OK. If they aren’t laughing at you, your dreams aren’t big enough. We’ve got big dreams, big goals, big ambitions, big faith, ‘big truss,’ alright? That was not planned either.

“We’re not afraid to step out there and speak from the heart on those kinds of things.”

That mindset and the success that’s followed make Harbaugh the right choice for NFL Coach of the Year, whether voters ultimately see it that way or not.

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Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) is surrounded by teammates after kicking the winning field goal against the San Francisco 49ers in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Baltimore, Md. Ravens won 20-17. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following Week 13 win over San Francisco

Posted on 03 December 2019 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens winning their eighth in a row in a 20-17 final over San Francisco, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. I’ll gladly take a rematch of this one for Super Bowl LIV in Miami. The 49ers held the Baltimore offense to 4.6 yards per play, its second-lowest mark of 2019. Weather was a factor, but the San Francisco defense proved its might in its first look against this unique offense.

2. Despite covering only 34 yards, the final scoring drive lasted 12 plays and took the final 6:28 off the clock. The Ravens certainly didn’t want to be in a fourth-and-1 situation at their own 44, but their ability to monopolize the clock has to be so deflating to the opposition.

3. San Francisco’s preference to crash inside and invite Lamar Jackson to run was interesting. Coincidence or not, Jackson’s four 100-yard rushing games have come in Baltimore’s four lowest offensive scoring outputs this season. Is your best hope to take away everything else, keep hitting him, and go for a strip?

4. I’ve repeatedly mentioned his improved ball security, but Jackson not losing his first fumble of 2019 until early December is a testament to how far he’s come from his rookie season when he fumbled at least once in every start. San Francisco safety Marcell Harris simply made a great play.

5. The run defense entering Week 13 ranked third in yards per game is why we shouldn’t rely on volume stats while it ranked 19th in yards per carry allowed. It matters little when owning sizable leads, but the run defense hasn’t been particularly good this year, especially on the edges.

6. You had to remember Raheem Mostert actually being a Raven in order to call this a revenge game, but he’s carved out a nice place in San Francisco and was averaging just under 5.4 yards per carry even before his 146-yard outburst. That’s a talented running game the 49ers have.

7. A week after erasing Aaron Donald, the offensive line held likely Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa to a single tackle. The talented Jackson makes everyone’s job easier, but this group continues to get better and is playing outstanding football.

8. I wonder if John Harbaugh grows tired of questions about going for it on fourth down so frequently. Then again, he and a few others will lose that edge once other coaches decide to stop drowning in the shallow waters of risk aversion and such thinking becomes more commonplace.

9. Kyle Shanahan was smart to be aggressive against Baltimore, but his clock management at the end of the first half was poor and the fourth-and-1 pass play from the shotgun on his team’s final drive was questionable at best. He’s still done a heck of a job with the 49ers.

10. Speaking of that fourth-down play, Chris Wormley batted down the Jimmy Garoppolo pass and had a strong day as the Ravens played more 3-4 base defense than they had all season due to San Francisco’s use of heavier personnel. Wormley also registered four tackles and a half-sack.

11. Baltimore hasn’t needed to rely on special teams very often this year, but Marlon Humphrey’s blocked field goal, Sam Koch’s punt downed at the 1 by Chris Moore, and Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal were reminders of how important that phase can still be, especially as January approaches.

12. There’s a long way to go, but the thought of the Ravens now controlling their path to securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs less than 13 months after handing the reins to Jackson is something else. Baltimore last hosted an AFC Championship at Memorial Stadium on Jan. 3, 1971.

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Kubiak agrees to become Broncos head coach

Posted on 18 January 2015 by Luke Jones

All that awaits is the official announcement as Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak has agreed to become the head coach of the Denver Broncos.

A week after stating his commitment to remaining with Baltimore for the 2015 season, the 53-year-old now returns to the organization where he spent 20 years as a player and coach. Kubiak appeared content with the Ravens until Broncos general manager John Elway parted ways with head coach John Fox on Monday, which led to a change of heart from where he stood less than 24 hours earlier.

The Ravens were preparing for the strong possibility of Kubiak leaving from the point that he accepted an interview with the Broncos on Friday morning. Elway and Broncos president Joe Ellis traveled to Houston to close the deal with Kubiak on Sunday.

“Kubs did a great job with us and gets another shot at a dream job for him,” wide receiver Torrey Smith wrote on his official Twitter account Sunday night. “How can you be mad at a guy who did his job and was rewarded with a dream opportunity that wasn’t available when he said he was staying?”

The Denver Post reported Kubiak was finalizing a four-year contract with Denver on Sunday night.

Under Kubiak, the Ravens set franchise records in points score and total yards and finished 12th in the NFL in total offense and eighth in points scored. A disastrous running game that averaged a league-worst 3.1 yards per carry in 2013 rebounded to finish eighth in yards per game behind a revamped offensive line.

The Ravens will now have their fourth offensive coordinator in the last four seasons after Cam Cameron held the job for nearly five seasons at the start of head coach John Harbaugh’s tenure. Kubiak’s departure is particularly disappointing after quarterback Joe Flacco had arguably the finest regular season of his career, setting single-season highs in passing yards (3,986) and touchdown passes (27).

Quarterback coach Rick Dennison and tight ends coach Brian Pariani will be joining Kubiak on his staff in Denver, according to The Sun. To make matters worse, another potential candidate, Kyle Shanahan, is set to become the new offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, per an ESPN report.

Since Dennison and Shanahan are no longer potential replacements, the Ravens could look at others such as former Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase and former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman. In his last search for a new offensive coordinator, Harbaugh wasn’t afraid to explore the collegiate ranks when he took a look at names such as Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and former Oregon State and current Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf.

With Steve Spagnuolo departing to become the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants last week, Harbaugh will now be faced with the task of replacing his offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, tight ends coach, and secondary coach this offseason. Offensive assistant Jay Harbaugh also left the Ravens last week to become the new tight ends coach at the University of Michigan under his father and new head coach Jim Harbaugh.

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Five thoughts on Kubiak’s departure

Posted on 18 January 2015 by Luke Jones

(Editor’s note: Kubiak was hired by Denver on Sunday night after this was published earlier in the day.)

Waiting on the inevitable.

That’s what it’s come to for the Ravens as all signs point directly to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak becoming the next head coach of the Denver Broncos. According to ESPN, the sides will meet in Houston — where Kubiak lives — Sunday and the 53-year-old will accept the job if it’s offered by general manager John Elway.

A formal announcement reportedly wouldn’t come until Tuesday following the Martin Luther King holiday.

Below are five thoughts on Kubiak’s expected departure:

1. Kubiak didn’t pull a fast one on the Ravens.

Yes, the timing of Kubiak’s statement committing to staying in Baltimore last Sunday night was peculiar amidst the whispers about John Fox being let go in Denver, but labeling him Benedict Arnold is too harsh as he enjoyed being in Baltimore and even bought a home here. After 20 years with the Broncos as a player and assistant coach, Kubiak likely wouldn’t have reconsidered his stance for any other job but this one. The truth is he had committed to the Ravens for less than 24 hours before the Broncos job became available and the timing of his expected departure isn’t much different from when Jim Caldwell accepted the Detroit job on Jan. 14 of last year, so the Ravens aren’t “behind” in the search with their season having ended only last Saturday. If some want to call Kubiak disloyal, they can, but many of them would have also clamored for his dismissal if the offense faltered next year.

2. Even with the uncertainties, the Denver job is still a good one.

Make no mistake, there will be much to figure out for Kubiak and the Broncos with the uncertain future of Peyton Manning and a less-than-enviable salary cap situation, but those trying to suggest the coordinator is taking a “bad” job must forget why most NFL head coaching positions come open in the first place — because those teams are bad. Even if Manning retires or flounders in one final year, the Broncos have proven they’re committed to winning and are considered one of the finer organizations in the NFL. Unlike many situations around the league, Kubiak has a long track record with Elway, who will practice more patience for his close friend and former teammate if things are rocky in the first year or two. You could make the argument that the Denver situation isn’t ideal for a potential offensive coordinator with the Manning factor, but there are only 32 head jobs to be had.

3. Baltimore knew this would be a possibility from the moment Kubiak was hired last January.

When the organization enticed Kubiak to come to Baltimore rather than take a year off following his dismissal in Houston, it wasn’t a secret that this could be a one-year marriage. Instead of lamenting over his departure, the Ravens will gladly take his fingerprints in moving forward with a 30-year-old quarterback in the prime of his career and an offensive line that showed plenty of stability and ability in a record-setting season for the offense. The Ravens have had plenty of success in the Harbaugh era, and the cost of doing good business is frequently having your assistants plucked away by other teams. With eight years of experience in Houston that included two AFC South titles, Kubiak warranted a second chance as a head coach at some point and Baltimore was aware that his hiring was unlikely to be a long-term fit.

4. The offensive line — not Joe Flacco — should be the first factor considered in finding his replacement.

The Ravens are facing the prospects of having their fourth offensive coordinator in four years, but the focus in hiring their new man should come with a goal of maintaining the success of the offensive line above anything else. The ability to run the football and protect the pocket were the biggest keys in Flacco having the finest regular season of his career. Assuming general manager Ozzie Newsome is able to add some more talent at wide receiver and tight end this offseason, Flacco will be fine in adjusting to a new offensive system, but the Ravens should find someone whose philosophy meshes will with Kubiak’s zone-blocking concepts that were executed so well by the current line. This is why Rick Dennison and Kyle Shanahan are such attractive options to replace Kubiak as very few adjustments would be needed.

5. Contrary to popular opinion, the Ravens will survive without Kubiak.

The Ravens are still just two years removed from a Super Bowl title that had nothing to do with the current offensive coordinator, making some of the fan panic over Kubiak’s departure somewhat amusing. It’s certainly disappointing to lose him, but Harbaugh has a track record of finding replacements who do just fine — and have even moved on to become head coaches themselves. The NFL is much more about having talent on the field than it is about brilliant offensive schemes as there are few secrets in how most offenses operate. With a strong front office and Harbaugh firmly in place, the Ravens will continue to be successful and Kubiak’s departure will register as little more than a speed bump in the big picture. With one of the better quarterbacks and offensive lines in the league, the new offensive coordinator will be walking into a good situation in Baltimore.

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Dennison, Shanahan headline list of potential Kubiak replacements

Posted on 16 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Gary Kubiak remains the offensive coordinator for now, but the Ravens can read the writing on the wall.

With the 53-year-old off to Denver to interview for the Broncos’ vacant head coaching position on Sunday, head coach John Harbaugh has to think Kubiak won’t be able to pass on the opportunity to return to the organization with which he spent 20 years as a player and assistant coach. It was always going to take a unique opportunity to entice Kubiak to leave the Ravens, and that’s exactly what was presented when the Broncos parted ways with head coach John Fox less than 24 hours after Kubiak announced his intentions to stay in Baltimore.

Assuming Kubiak is on the way out in taking his dream job, where will the Ravens turn to find their fourth offensive coordinator in the last four years?

With quarterback Joe Flacco arguably having the finest regular season of his career and the Ravens setting franchise records for points scored and total yards, continuity is ideal and no one would provide more of it than quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison being promoted to offensive coordinator. It won’t be an easy sell as his ties to Kubiak and Denver are strong and many expect him to be the top candidate to serve as the new Broncos offensive coordinator if Kubiak is hired.

But Harbaugh should sell the 56-year-old Dennison on the idea of escaping Kubiak’s shadow to establish himself as a potential head coaching candidate. Instead of going to Denver and facing an uncertain situation with Peyton Manning on his last legs or even having to start over with a new quarterback, Dennison knows he could continue working with Flacco — with whom he shares a good relationship — and an offensive line that’s a perfect fit for the zone-blocking schemes he would continue to employ.

It doesn’t hurt for Harbaugh to remind Dennison that — assuming Kubiak takes the Denver job — the last two Ravens offensive coordinators will have become head coaches after only one full season on the job. It would be a unique opportunity to establish himself as someone other than Kubiak’s right-hand man.

The Ravens would be promoting a man with plenty of experience as an NFL offensive coordinator as he served in that capacity under Mike Shanahan in Denver from 2006-2008 and with Kubiak in Houston from 2010-2013.

The biggest key for the Ravens maintaining the offensive momentum created in 2014 will be finding a coordinator whose system fits well with the methods the offensive line employed after a disastrous 2013 campaign. Dennison wouldn’t figure to change too much if he does remain in Baltimore and appears to be the only viable in-house candidate as tight ends coach Brian Pariani has just one year of experience as an offensive coordinator at the collegiate level and it came with a 2005 Syracuse team that went 1-10.

If Dennison does head to Denver to become Kubiak’s offensive coordinator, the Ravens could take another long look at Kyle Shanahan, whom they interviewed last offseason when Jim Caldwell left to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions. His ties to Kubiak also make him a candidate to wind up as the Broncos offensive coordinator, but he left a positive impression with the Ravens last year and could jump at the chance to work with Flacco and such a solid offensive line.

His post-2013 dismissal as part of his father’s staff in Washington was difficult and he had to work with mediocre quarterback play in Cleveland as the Browns offensive coordinator this past year, but Shanahan ran successful offenses in Houston as well as in Robert Griffin’s rookie season in 2012. The 35-year-old is perceived by some as having a bigger ego than his résumé justifies, but his offensive philosophies would figure to mesh well with what Kubiak and Dennison started in 2014.

Of course, the Ravens face key personnel decisions with running back Justin Forsett, wide receiver Torrey Smith, and tight end Owen Daniels becoming free agents and the future of tight end Dennis Pitta unclear, but they’d like to avoid blowing up the foundation established in 2014.

If Kubiak does leave, persuading Dennison to stay or bringing in Shanahan appear to be the best ways to continue building in the same direction.

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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 add new candidate to offensive coordinator search?

Posted on 27 January 2014 by Luke Jones

Seemingly on the verge of making a decision on their next offensive coordinator, the Ravens have apparently added another name to the mix.

According to The Sun, head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens spent Sunday interviewing an undisclosed candidate who remains in contention with wide receivers coach Jim Hostler and former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan for the job. Harbaugh has spoken to former Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison in recent days, but it remains uncertain whether the 55-year-old has formally interviewed for the position.

After eliminating Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson from consideration over the weekend, the Ravens appeared to be on the verge of announcing who would succeed Jim Caldwell after the former coordinator took the head coaching job with the Detroit Lions earlier this month. However, Dennison’s appearance on the radar screen could complicate the timetable for a decision.

The Ravens are also looking to hire a quarterbacks coach, a running backs coach, and a secondary coach.

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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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Ravens grant second interviews to Wilson, Shanahan for coordinator job

Posted on 23 January 2014 by Luke Jones

Making a good impression with head coach John Harbaugh upon interviewing for the Ravens’ vacant offensive coordinator job on Wednesday, Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson will meet with team officials for a second interview.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the 52-year-old is scheduled to meet with the Ravens in Owings Mills on Friday, a development that certainly bodes well for his candidacy. With general manager Ozzie Newsome and assistant general manager Eric DeCosta among the team executives in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl this week, the second interview would presumably allow them to meet and help evaluate Wilson as the potential choice to replace Jim Caldwell.

The Ravens are also scheduled to meet with current wide receivers coach Jim Hostler and former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan for second interviews, per a report from The Sun.

It remains unknown whether former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will receive a second interview as he was the other candidate who was confirmed by Harbaugh earlier this week.

Of the four known candidates, Wilson is the only one without NFL experience as an offensive coordinator, but he has spent the last seven years with the Steelers and was considered the favorite to become their coordinator in 2012 before he was seriously injured in a house fire. Wilson carries 16 years of NFL coaching experience on his resume and reportedly handled increased duties late last season as Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley came under fire.

The Ravens haven’t specified a clear timetable for when they’d like to have their new offensive coordinator in place, but Harbaugh told the team’s official website earlier in the week that he’d like to wrap up the process shortly with the search now in the midst of its second week.

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