Palmer comes, goes 8 hours with Ravens bring no offer

`another situation' beckons him

January 13, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Jacksonville offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, who interviewed for the Ravens' head coaching job yesterday, could be headed to Cleveland for an interview later this week.

"There are some things that are happening that could develop very quickly," Palmer said yesterday. "[The Ravens] know there is another situation coming to a head that I have to make a decision on," said Palmer, who refused to elaborate. "I just have to come up with some answers."

Although Palmer said the Ravens did not tender him an offer, he appears to be a hot property as the available head coaching jobs dwindle around the league. Besides Baltimore, openings remain in Cleveland, Kansas City and Chicago.

Along with Minnesota offensive coordinator Brian Billick, Palmer is a likely candidate to replace Ted March- ibroda in Baltimore. The Ravens interviewed Palmer for nearly eight hours at their Owings Mills complex, and Ravens executive vice president David Modell called him "a compelling candidate."

Palmer, 49, has spent 27 years as a football coach. He has worked with quarterbacks, receivers and offensive linemen. He has toiled in the CFL and the USFL and has led programs in the Division I ranks of the NCAA.

At the NFL level, he has worked successfully with the likes of wide receivers Ernest Givins and Terry Glenn and quarterbacks Warren Moon and Drew Bledsoe. As the offensive coordinator in Jacksonville the past two seasons, he has guided one of the league's more prolific offenses.

"I've done the things that are the logical steps to becoming a head coach. I think I'm at that stage right now," Palmer said. "I've demonstrated [ability] as a coordinator. I've called plays. I've been a head coach.

"There's a lot of qualified coaches [available], and [the Ravens] have done their research on me. They talked to players I coached in 1983. They had some questions and reservations that maybe I put to bed."

He certainly has the endorsement of his current players.

"Just look at his track record and you can stop right there," Jacksonville wide receiver Jimmy Smith said of Palmer. "He's very sound. He doesn't leave any stones unturned. He's a very detailed coach. I would say you'd be heading in the right direction hiring the guy as a head coach."

Palmer, who played quarterback for Southern Connecticut State from 1968 to 1971, got into coaching right after his playing days ended. He spent the next 11 years at Connecticut, Lehigh and Colgate, where he was offensive coordinator from 1976 to 1982.

After coaching the offensive line for the Montreal Concordes in the CFL (1983) and receivers for the New Jersey Generals in the USFL, Palmer was head coach at New Haven (1986-87) and Boston University (1988-89). At New Haven, he posted consecutive 8-2 seasons, then installed the highly successful run-and-shoot offense at Boston.

Palmer took his run-and-shoot expertise back to the NFL in Houston, where he worked from 1990 to 1992. He then joined New England as a receivers coach in 1993. He remained in that post for three years, before taking over as Drew Bledsoe's quarterback coach in 1996.

Following the departure of Bill Parcells for the New York Jets after that season, Bledsoe campaigned for Palmer's promotion to head coach. He didn't get the job and moved on to Jacksonville, where the Jaguars finished with the 10th-ranked offense in the NFL in 1998.

"[Palmer] has done his schooling around the league," said Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell. "Anybody deserves to be a head coach if you've done the things he's done in our offense."

Palmer said his familiarity with the AFC Central strengthens his position as a Ravens candidate. He also likes the look of the Baltimore roster. The Ravens, despite going 6-10 with one of the NFL's more anemic offenses last year, produced five Pro Bowl players.

"It's a team that defensively is very solid. Their defense is probably better than some of the teams in the playoffs," Palmer said. "They need a little help on the offensive side of the ball. It's a team that's on the come."

Pub Date: 1/13/99

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