Going forward

ON THE RAVENS

Off the interview circuit, he talks about lessons learned, the future

On Rex Ryan

First Word

January 26, 2008|By MIKE PRESTON

Rex Ryan was back at his desk yesterday, opening mail and returning calls. He has been on a whirlwind tour recently, but nothing has changed.

"I'm still the defensive coordinator of the Ravens, and technically, I'm the property of Baltimore," Ryan said, smiling.

There has been speculation that Ryan wouldn't return for the 2008 season, but he was turned down for head coaching jobs in Miami and Atlanta. There were rumors that he was going to become the Washington Redskins' defensive coordinator, but that didn't work out, either.

Ryan was glad to be in Baltimore yesterday, and for the first time he talked about his recent job interviews.

He also talked about what he learned from interviews with the Ravens before they hired John Harbaugh, and how excited he is about the addition of Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

But first, the Falcons. Ryan reportedly was a top candidate until Atlanta officials named Mike Smith head coach this week. Ryan was interviewed twice by the Falcons, and he believes the second one hurt him.

"I said something in that interview that cost me, and from what I was told, I was too confident," Ryan said. "But I'm an emotional guy, and if you ask me a question, I'm going to give you an answer. I've always been extremely confident in my abilities as a coach, and we've played defense that way in Baltimore.

"We've always thought we were the best, and each week went out and tried to prove it. We may not have proved it, but you have to think that way. I think that kind of confidence bothered them - at least that's what I've been told."

Ryan isn't going to bite his tongue. Remember, his dad is Buddy. The entire clan is bold and brash. On the day the Ravens interviewed Ryan for the head coaching job, he parked in Brian Billick's vacated parking spot.

"That's my boy, Rexy," Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said when he heard about Ryan's new parking place.

The problem is that Ryan is too old school in a league that has gone corporate. In the old days, owners like Art Modell had only one business: running their teams. They didn't mind hiring old, grouchy, potbellied, tobacco-chewing, in-your-face coaches.

But these days, owners have other companies. They want young, vibrant coaches whose faces they can put on TV and billboards, but at the same time be able to relate and communicate to corporate giants and their sponsors.

"I guess I have to become better at the B.S.," Ryan said. "Right now, I'm just a football coach."

He's a very good one. In his three years as the Ravens' coordinator, the team has had one of the best defenses in the league, finishing No. 1 in 2006.

When Billick was fired at the end of this season, it seemed like a natural progression for Ryan to replace him, especially after the players lobbied for him.

But Ryan didn't get the job in Baltimore, either.

"You figure after nine years, they knew everything about you," Ryan said of the Ravens. "But it was a tough interview, tough questions because they do it differently here. Hey, at least they gave me a chance to go in and blow it."

Ryan said he was upset initially but more disappointed than anything. He said he has no hard feelings toward the organization and is ready to move forward like he did years ago when Billick selected Mike Nolan over him as defensive coordinator.

"I told Mike I was disappointed, but I still was going to be a great defensive line coach for him," Ryan said. "Steve Bisciotti has told me he will help me grow as a coach, maybe to become more corporate in my approach.

"But until that time comes when I become a head coach, I just have to get better. You never stop learning, and I'm excited about what we have here."

Ryan likes Cameron. He expects the Ravens to be tough on offense, creative and always on the attack.

"I thought signing him is bigger than signing me ... well, almost," Ryan said, smiling. "I've always thought we had talent on offense, just as much as we had on defense. But Cameron knows how to make it work. He makes a defense work every single snap. I'm really encouraged by his signing."

And the Ravens want to re-sign Ryan. Technically, he is under contract for another season, but the Ravens plan to give him a raise.

Ryan isn't going anywhere.

"Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Todd Heap, Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware - all great players, and we never allowed them to leave," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Rex is a Raven, and he will remain a Raven."

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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