Rookie mistake

ON THE RAVENS

Not taking job shows that assistant has much to learn

On Jason Garrett

January 16, 2008|By MIKE PRESTON

If Jason Garrett becomes the Ravens' head coach, let's hope he won't show as much inexperience during the season as he showed yesterday.

Garrett spent most of the day interviewing with top Ravens officials about their vacant head coaching position and walked away from their offer, one of the most coveted jobs in professional sports.

The Ravens and Garrett are still negotiating, and Garrett said all the right things as he met briefly with the media. But he didn't answer a lot of questions. Maybe it was best he didn't because he had a lot on his mind.

Or maybe Garrett really doesn't want to become a head coach. If he was really passionate about becoming a head coach, Garrett would have taken the job.

But Garrett is just 41 and is in only his third season as an NFL assistant. He is just three years removed from being a player.

There was some panic in his eyes yesterday and apparently some concern about the Ravens' job. But if Garrett had done his homework, he would be the new Ravens coach.

Yesterday should have been a formality instead of more screening. Garrett should have known the Ravens have one of the best front offices in the NFL, and an owner in Steve Bisciotti who is passionate about winning.

The Ravens have problems, but they care enough about winning to try to cover them up. But he doesn't know general manager Ozzie Newsome or Bisciotti well, or how badly they want to win.

He certainly knows Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones well. Jones has been in a similar position with the Ravens before. In 1997, the Ravens had agreed in principle to a contract with Cowboys linebacker Broderick Thomas. While Thomas was sleeping at his hotel room in Baltimore, Jones called him, got him to agree to a new deal with the Cowboys, then sent out his private plane to bring the linebacker back to Dallas.

Jones loves Garrett, hand-picking him to become the Cowboys' offensive coordinator this season with hopes of him one day becoming Dallas' head coach.

I can imagine Jones calling Garrett several times yesterday, increasing his pay by perhaps $1 million to $2 million a year. I can see him doing everything imaginable to keep Garrett in Dallas.

Garrett was expected to be in Atlanta today to interview for the Falcons' head coaching job. He'll probably be given another contract offer.

This all has to make Garrett nervous. He has never been through anything like this. I'm sure he wants to play these teams against each other, but I'm not sure he has been around the league enough to pull it off.

No one really wants the Atlanta job. The Falcons' franchise quarterback is in prison. Their starting running back is old. Their former head coach left them before the regular season was completed.

Dallas is very attractive. The Cowboys are in their peak years. They have a good defense, a franchise-caliber quarterback, two good running backs and a go-to receiver.

But the one thing that the Cowboys can't give Garrett right now is a head coaching position.

The Ravens can, but they do have problems. They have older players on defense, no long-term solution at quarterback and a grumpy set of veterans with big egos. Their best player, linebacker Terrell Suggs, is unsigned.

The stiff-arm by Garrett put the Ravens in a bad position. They would like to lure Indianapolis assistant coach Jim Caldwell from the Colts, but he probably won't leave until Tony Dungy decides early next week whether he wants to retire as the team's head coach.

But don't count the Ravens out as far as Garrett. Bisciotti is rich, and the organization doesn't like to be told no. Bisciotti will remain in contact with Garrett, and he'll be in a bidding war with the Cowboys and the Falcons.

But after yesterday, the kid from Princeton didn't seem to have a real clue about what was going on.

I'll chalk it up to inexperience because a veteran coach would have completed the deal here. Either that, or maybe he is in coaching for the money. And the Ravens don't need that anymore.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.