Hey, Jamison

January 16, 2009|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Each week, Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley will answer questions about the Ravens. To submit a question, e-mail sports@baltsun.com. Give your name and phone number so we can verify the e-mail address.

HEY, JAMISON: : It's hard to imagine the Ravens' success this year without additions like Jim Leonhard, Willie Anderson, Fabian Washington and Frank Walker. Who deserves the most credit for these signings? Will the Ravens have much cap room next year for free-agent signings?

Will Cappa, Lisbon, Md.

HEY, WILL: : The Ravens' pro personnel staff doesn't get the credit it deserves. Pro personnel director George Kokinis (who could be the next Cleveland Browns general manager) and assistant director Vince Newsome know the NFL better than anyone.

But the one constant over the seasons has been general manager Ozzie Newsome. When other teams are spending in March, Newsome shows more patience than anyone else. Next season, the Ravens will have a decent amount of salary cap room. The team could have more flexibility if it cuts cornerback Chris McAlister. The offseason priority is to bring in a veteran wide receiver and then retain key parts of this team (linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs and center Jason Brown).

HEY, JAMISON: : How did the Ravens have the wind advantage for the fourth quarter when Tennessee won the coin flip at the start of the game? Didn't Tennessee have the option of defending either goal line, instead of merely kicking off or receiving? Can you explain what the options were?

James Adam, White Marsh

HEY, JAMES: : The Titans won the coin toss before the game and chose to defend the north goal (they started with the wind at their backs). That allowed the Ravens the option to either take the ball to start the second half or choose to defend one end of the field.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh chose at the start of the third quarter to defend the south goal, which meant the Ravens would have the wind advantage in the fourth quarter. That decision was crucial, because Matt Stover might not have been able to hit the game-winning 43-yard field goal into the wind.

Now, looking back, the Titans should have deferred when they won the opening toss. By doing so, Tennessee could have chosen to defend the south goal at halftime and forced the Ravens to go into the wind in the fourth quarter. :

HEY, JAMISON: : Who will replace Rex Ryan if he becomes a head coach? I think the obvious choice would be Clarence Brooks, the defensive line coach.

C.J. Diem, Delta, Pa.

HEY, JAMISON: : With Rex Ryan emerging as the front-runner for the New York Jets job, I think the best person to replace him is Keith Butler. He's the Pittsburgh Steelers' linebackers coach.

Robert Brown, Odenton

HEY, C.J. & ROBERT: : It's almost certain Ryan is going to be a head coach next season. I think he'll have his choice of becoming the coach of the Jets or the St. Louis Rams. My prediction is that Ryan will be the new coach of the Jets.

If Ryan goes, the best candidate to replace him is outside linebackers coach Mike Pettine. The problem is Ryan will probably take him to be his defensive coordinator. Harbaugh didn't want to discuss Ryan's successor publicly, and few in the organization know what he is planning to do.

It seems logical he would promote from within. Special assistant Vic Fangio, a defensive coordinator for three NFL teams, might draw some consideration. My guess is linebackers coach Greg Mattison. Mattison's ties date to Western Michigan in the 1980s, when he served under Harbaugh's father, Jack, and coached alongside John.

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