Setting up return

Billick says he will be coach in 2008

On the hot seat

December 11, 2007|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN REPORTER

Brian Billick reaffirmed at yesterday's news conference that he thinks he will return as the Ravens' coach next season.

"I'm going to be back," he said when addressing the future of the team. "Now, once the season's over, we'll see what happens with regards to [the players], my staff, myself and all those other things. But right now, you only have the one mind-set."

A team spokesman couldn't confirm whether Billick has been told by owner Steve Bisciotti he will come back next season, but Billick, Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome meet regularly throughout the season.

Bisciotti declined to comment yesterday, keeping to his policy of not talking to the media during the season.

Billick's job status has been a hot topic during the franchise-record seven-game losing streak.

He said two weeks ago that he was "confident" about coming back as coach, pointing out that Bisciotti is committed to keeping continuity. But he made his most definitive statement about staying as coach yesterday.

The Ravens gave a strong vote of confidence to Billick after he guided them to a 13-3 record last season, announcing that they signed him to a new four-year contract that is believed to be worth $5 million a year.

But there have been questions about his job security as the Ravens endure their worst season under Billick. The Ravens (4-9) are last in the AFC North and guaranteed of their second losing season in three years.

When explaining the Ravens' struggles, Billick has pointed to injuries, turnovers and penalties.

He also said the Ravens seem intent on bringing back the core of this team next season. Because of the small number of pending free agents - linebacker Terrell Suggs is the most notable - Billick said there won't be much change in 2008.

"For the most part, a majority of these guys will be back, and that's a positive because there's a sense of `Let's do something now that's going to affect next year,' " Billick said. "So that's something we're going to work on going forward. That's what we have to hold on to."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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