A hire calling

ON THE RAVENS

Ryan deserves to get job as Falcons head coach

Looking ahead

January 23, 2008|By MIKE PRESTON

No offense, but here's hoping Rex Ryan becomes the next head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

Ryan deserves a shot at being a head coach, and he has only one chance remaining this offseason, with the Falcons.

Ryan is one of several candidates along with New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Falcons have interviewed Ryan twice but can't interview Spagnuolo until after the Super Bowl.

That will create more tension for Ryan, but he certainly has better credentials than Spagnuolo, who is in his first year as a coordinator.

Ryan has been the Ravens' coordinator for the past three seasons, and all three years the Ravens have had one of the league's top defenses.

Ryan was turned down for the San Diego Chargers' head coaching job last year, and he interviewed in Miami and Baltimore before both made other choices.

There is speculation that Ryan could return as the Ravens' defensive coordinator, but both sides might need a clean break. I believe one of the reasons the Ravens didn't hire Ryan was because they felt he was too close to the players and not tough enough.

Also, with Ryan around, it would make it tougher for new coach John Harbaugh to establish his own presence, even though Harbaugh and Ryan are friends.

Wait a couple of years

When the Ravens hired Harbaugh, they were basically saying it might take an additional two years for this team to get back on track.

Despite impressive credentials as an assistant coach, Harbaugh has no head coaching experience. So he is going to have to learn, and he is going to make mistakes, especially in the first year.

The club should hope he hires two good coordinators to hasten his learning curve. Also, look for general manager Ozzie Newsome to be more hands-on in Harbaugh's first year as compared with his recent relationship with former head coach Brian Billick.

What's draft priority?

Once the Ravens decide on their coordinators, it will be interesting to find out their No. 1 draft priority.

I can see the defensive coaches lobbying for a cornerback and the offensive coaches wanting a big wide receiver as a threat on the outside, or maybe Harbaugh wants to get a franchise-caliber quarterback.

The Ravens could try to trade up and get Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan. Because the team is in a gambling mood and gambled on Harbaugh, why not go for it all with Ryan?

The Ravens thought they would have a legitimate shot at Ryan if Bobby Petrino were still Atlanta's head coach. The Falcons are the one team expected to take a quarterback ahead of the Ravens, who have the No. 8 overall selection. Petrino was expected to take Brian Brohm from Louisville, where Petrino - now at Arkansas - coached before he joined the Falcons.

Make moves on line

During the offseason, the Ravens should seriously consider shuffling their offensive line, especially if they choose not to re-sign veteran starting center Mike Flynn or if Flynn retires.

They should move Jason Brown from left guard to center, right guard Ben Grubbs to left guard and right tackle Marshal Yanda to right guard.

Brown played center in college, and it would give the Ravens an anchor in the middle. Grubbs made the adjustment playing on the right side but is more comfortable on the left, where he played in college. Yanda is built better to play guard than tackle, especially with those short arms. If you put those three in the middle, that's a pretty impressive start.

Lesson learned

Rick Neuheisel apparently learned his lesson while he was the offensive coordinator with the Ravens - the head coach shouldn't run the offense.

Over the weekend, Neuheisel, now the head coach at UCLA, hired Norm Chow as the Bruins' offensive coordinator. Chow was the offensive coordinator at archrival Southern California from 2001 through 2004.

Neuheisel made the move despite having one of the most creative offensive minds in the college game.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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