Ravens to fire Cavanaugh after the season

OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens offensive coor-dinator Matt Cavanaugh will be fired after the season, a highly placed team source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Wednesday night.

The Ravens rank 31st in the 32-team NFL in total offense, and Cavanaugh has become a target for criticism on talk radio, Internet message boards and newspaper columns.

The team source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cited the team's offensive struggles since Cavanaugh became the coordinator in 1999 as the primary reason behind the decision. Under Cavanaugh, the Ravens have never ranked higher than 14th in total offense.

The source also cited the intense public pressure Cavanaugh has fallen under as a contributing factor.

Ravens coach Brian Billick would have to sign off on Cavanaugh's departure be-cause Billick's contract grants him the power to hire and fire his assistant coaches. Billick wouldn't be fired if he declined to fire Cavanaugh, according to the source.

The poor performance of the offense and Cavanaugh's play-calling have been causes for concern within the organization for the last few years, the source said.

Baltimore's CBS affiliate WJZ-13 was the first of several broadcast outlets to report the news, citing anonymous sources. WJZ also reported that other members of the offensive coaching staff would be fired after the season because of poor game planning and production.

Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne declined to confirm or deny the reports.

"Our focus is on getting ready to play Miami," Byrne said of the Ravens' regular-season finale Sunday against the Dolphins.

When asked if anything had changed immediately about Cavanaugh's status, Byrne said: "Matt is at the office right now, in fact."
The Ravens have scored 22 offensive touchdowns, rank-ing ahead of only the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears. Baltimore is averaging 144.7 passing yards per contest, and has the 31st ranked passing game.

Cavanaugh was a finalist for the University of Pittsburgh head coaching job that went to former Miami Dolphins coach and fellow Pitt alum Dave Wannstedt.

The Ravens are headed to their worst offensive ranking in franchise history. They have scored only eight offensive touchdowns in their last four losses after beginning the season 7-3.

Cavanaugh said he was aware of the reaction to the Ravens' faltering offense in an interview with the Carroll County Times on Tuesday.

"There was a lot of credit going around when we won the Super Bowl," Cavanaugh said. "When things aren't going well, there's a lot of blame to go around. Typically, your quarterback, coordinator and head coaches take a lot of heat.

"I appreciate people's opinions. I don't always agree with them. I don't think they ex-pect me to agree with them, but I let them voice their opinion and I do my job."
 


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