Happy Ravens get new rival in Lewis

Billick, Modell pleased

Ravens' Henderson could leave to join Bengals' staff

Pro Football

January 15, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The architect of the Ravens' record-setting defense will attempt to rebuild a division rival.

Marvin Lewis, the coordinator whose defense established the NFL mark for fewest points allowed in 2000 and spearheaded the Ravens' Super Bowl run, was named the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals last night.

The Ravens had long campaigned for Lewis to become a head coach, even making videos to help him land a job. Now, the Ravens will see in person how well Lewis can direct a team since they play the Bengals twice a year in the AFC North.

"The competitiveness of it is going to be great," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I'm excited for Marvin. I'm excited for Cincinnati. And I'm excited for the league."

In trying to resurrect the Bengals from a franchise-worst 2-14 record, Lewis might be taking one of the Ravens' assistant coaches with him. Lewis, who served as the Washington Redskins' defensive coordinator this season after six seasons with the Ravens, was scheduled to have lunch with Ravens secondary coach Donnie Henderson yesterday at the Senior Bowl workouts in Mobile, Ala.

Under league rules, Henderson could only leave for a promotion, which means he would have to be made defensive coordinator.

Lewis said at his news conference that he wants most of his staff assembled by the beginning of next week. Henderson did not return phone calls last night.

Billick, who also is in Mobile, said he did not anticipate any movement on his staff.

"Everybody is under contract," Billick said. "No one is going anywhere unless they talk to me first. And nobody has talked to me yet."

Lewis, a Finksburg resident, understands what it takes to rebuild. With the Ravens, he molded a defense that was ranked last in the league in 1996 into the No. 2 unit overall from 1999 to 2001.

When the Ravens won the Super Bowl two seasons ago, Lewis' defense shattered the record for fewest points surrendered in a 16-game season (165).

But Lewis' relationship with the Ravens ended on a sour note last February. A day after agreeing to stay with the Ravens, he decided to bolt for a more lucrative deal with the Redskins a day later.

The Ravens, though, said there are no hard feelings.

"He gave us a good run," Ravens owner Art Modell said. "I'm happy for him and his family."

Said Billick: "I think it's a good hire. In this league, it doesn't take long to turn things around. He is the right man for that job."

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