Confident Ryan: I'd be `good fit based on facts'

Ravens coaching search

January 03, 2008|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

Rex Ryan sits in his office at the Ravens' headquarters in Owings Mills uncertain about his future, but certain about his ability to be a head coach in the NFL.

"[The Ravens] know I would be a good fit based on the facts," the team's former defensive coordinator said yesterday. "And the facts are that my guys have played hard for me, no matter if it was veterans or young guys. They enjoy coming to work every day, and they enjoy playing."

Let go as defensive coordinator along with the rest of the Ravens' staff when coach Brian Billick was fired Monday, Ryan is allowed to work out of his office at team headquarters, where he is in career limbo.

Ryan expects to meet with Atlanta Falcons officials about their head coach opening at some point. Ryan said he didn't know when an interview would occur, but there's a strong chance it could happen next week. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said this week that Ryan is on the Ravens' list of candidates.

"I have no idea for sure about the future," Ryan said. "There's speculation that I could get a couple of head coaching interviews. Obviously, I'm looking forward to those. If not, we'll see what happens from there."

It has been a strange time for Ryan, who has gone from the NFL's Assistant Coach of the Year last season to unemployed.

But because of his track record, Ryan likely won't be out of a job long.

In 2005, his first season as defensive coordinator, the Ravens finished fifth in defense despite missing linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed for a total of 16 games.

In 2006, the Ravens' defense finished No. 1 for the first time in team history and led the NFL in fewest points allowed.

This past season, the Ravens still had the sixth-best defense while missing their top two cornerbacks (Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle) and their sacks leader from the previous year (defensive tackle Trevor Pryce) for much of the season.

Based on a poll at baltimoresun.com (more than 11,000 votes), Ryan would be well-received by the fans. Last night, former Steelers coach Bill Cowher had 30 percent of the votes while Ryan had 29 percent.

On the day Billick was fired, many players said they wanted Ryan to be head coach.

But being a players' coach doesn't mean Ryan would have a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to conduct on the field, he said.

"When you look at it as a disciplined standpoint, in the three years I was coordinator, we were the third-least-penalized defense and the second-least in yardage," Ryan said.

There is a chance Ryan could return as defensive coordinator if he doesn't become a head coach.

That decision would ultimately be made by the Ravens' new coach, but Ryan doesn't want to work "for just anybody."

"If it's the right kind of person, maybe I would listen, because this has been a special place for me," Ryan said. "But I'm definitely not going to sell myself short."

Although Ryan was fired, he technically has a year remaining on his contract. The Ravens might be able to block him from taking another defensive coordinator job under league rules. The Cincinnati Bengals yesterday fired their defensive coordinator, Chuck Bresnahan, and Ryan could be a candidate to replace him.

But the Ravens couldn't stop him from becoming a head coach, because it's a promotion.

And if the Falcons would offer the top job to Ryan, he'd be gone. In that scenario, he said it would be unprofessional to go back to the Ravens and give them a chance to keep him.

"I don't think you can do that," Ryan said. "If a team is gracious enough to give you that kind of position, obviously I'm going to take it full speed ahead."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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