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ON THE RAVENS

Only M. Schottenheimer would give Ravens respect

On the coaching search

January 18, 2008|By MIKE PRESTON

If the Ravens want to regain respect around the NFL, their only recourse now is to hire Marty Schottenheimer as head coach.

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett turned down the Ravens' offer yesterday, putting the Ravens in the same embarrassing class as the Atlanta Falcons, another team that can't find a head coach.

The offensive coordinators from the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns have declined to interview for the Ravens' job. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher weren't interested. Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell withdrew his name from consideration.

Losing Garrett is just another in a list of embarrassments for the Ravens during the past couple of months, right up there with getting blown out by Pittsburgh and Indianapolis and the mental meltdown against New England, all on national television.

But if the Ravens bring in Schottenheimer, they get instant respect and credibility again. He comes with some baggage (he's a control freak), but every good head coach has his drawbacks.

Schottenheimer would cost the Ravens more than the usual $2.5 million they would pay a first-year coach like Garrett or John Harbaugh, but it's hard to put a price on one of the best head coaches in the history of the league.

Critics will knock Schottenheimer for his age, 64, and say he will last only three years. But that shouldn't stop the Ravens from building for the future.

Here's a great blueprint for Schottenheimer and the Ravens to follow: Hire a young defensive coordinator such as Harbaugh and sign experienced assistants who can communicate with the mostly veteran crew on defense.

On the offensive side, bring in an experienced and successful coordinator such as Cam Cameron. Hire young assistants who can grow with the young players on offense.

When Schottenheimer retires, the Ravens could replace him with Cameron or Harbaugh. Cameron didn't succeed in Miami this season, but that was his first head coach's job. He could improve, just as New England's Bill Belichick did after his first job in Cleveland.

Schottenheimer still has that dominant personality, but he has a general manager he can trust in Ozzie Newsome, a player under Schottenheimer when they were in Cleveland. They have a mutual respect.

Newsome has a great football mind, and I can't see him ever picking Garrett over Schottenheimer.

Garrett has been in the league only three years as an assistant, just one of those as a coordinator. He is more of a myth created by Dallas owner Jerry Jones than a proven substance.

Schottenheimer is a proven winner. In 21 years, he has a regular-season record of 200-126-1. He has had just two losing seasons. Forget the stuff about choking in the playoffs. We're talking about a team that doesn't have a leader.

This team needs Schottenheimer. He'll take control and either get malcontent veterans to join his program in 2008 or roll them out at the end of the season. He'll establish a work ethic for now and for the future when the Ravens make a coaching transition.

In the past few weeks, it seems owner Steve Bisciotti might be listening a little too much to team president Dick Cass. They're into this young, corporate, Ivy League image.

This isn't Wall Street. It's football. We don't want a pretty boy. We want an in-your-face, emotional, butt-kicking tough guy who knows how to win on Sundays.

Schottenheimer gives you that instantly and erases previous weeks of embarrassment for the Ravens.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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