Fassel in Ravens' plans

OWINGS MILLS -- Former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel is one of Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick's best friends in the coaching profession.

Now, Fassel might be joining Billick in some capacity with the Ravens to bolster an offense that excelled in the running game behind NFL rushing leader Jamal Lewis but ranked last in the NFL in passing this season.

A team official said this week that Fassel has held discussions with the Ravens about either becoming an assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach, or acting as a consultant to the offense.

Fassel was fired by the Giants and replaced by Tom Coughlin. The Giants dropped to 4-12 and finished last in the NFC East this season.

Fassel is set to make $2.7 million this year as part of his Giants' contract. However, a portion of that salary would be subtracted from what New York owner Wellington Mara owes Fassel if he reaches a deal with Baltimore or another NFL franchise.

The Ravens finished 10-6 and won the AFC North title, but lost 20-17 to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC wild-card game. Their offense has remained a sticking point for several years, though, with 10 different quarterbacks starting games since Billick took over for Ted Marchibroda. Plus, the cast of receivers have dropped multiple passes and the entire offense has committed a lot of penalties.

Billick said his search for an offensive coach remains a "fluid situation" and he will only augment his current staff if he can find "the right guy."

Under the Fassel scenario, quarterbacks and receivers coach David Shaw could concentrate on just one of those positions while Fassel assists Shaw and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh with overseeing an offense that lacks experience at quarterback with Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright.

Wright is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Boller was drafted in the first round by Baltimore last spring after a trade with the New England Patriots.

The Ravens already attempted to hire former Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Jerry Sullivan, but he spurned their overtures to take the Miami Dolphins' receivers coach position.

Fassel's agent, Steve Rosner, didn't return a telephone call seeking comment.

If Fassel doesn't join the Ravens, he may have opportunities in television broadcasting or with other teams.

Rosner has been talking with the networks about a role for Fassel after the former Giants coach wasn't able to obtain a head-coaching position in a hiring season that has left the Oakland Raiders as the only opening left on the market.

Even if Fassel joins the Ravens in some capacity, he would be a leading candidate for head-coaching vacancies that arise next season.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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