Fassel unlikely to pursue Dolphins' job

BALTIMORE -- Jim Fassel is concentrating his job pursuit on becoming an NFL head coach again, not on the Miami Dolphins' offensive coordinator vacancy.<br><br> Although his consulting contract expired last week, his lasting friendship with Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick is likely to play a major factor in his decision-making process.

If the former New York Giants head coach is ultimately shut out of the hiring season and he's forced to consider secondary options, he's more apt to work for the Ravens again rather than submit his resume for other NFL teams' coordinator openings.

If the Ravens do fire offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh after the season, as multiple Baltimore media outlets reported this week while citing anonymous team sources, Fassel would probably be more inclined to work for Billick, his close friend, in that capacity. Fassel, 55, has also been named as a candidate for the Cleveland Browns' head-coaching job.

"My intention is to return to the NFL as a head coach next season," Fassel said when he removed his name from consideration for the Stanford and Notre Dame jobs. "My passion is to help a franchise go to and win the Super Bowl."

Incoming Dolphins coach Nick Saban is a noted defensive guru who's in need of a strong offensive coordinator so he can delegate that portion of the team. The Dolphins have three coaches with coordinator experience currently on the staff: Chris Foerster, Joel Collier and Marc Trestman.

It's unlikely that Saban, who has been granted considerable clout and salary by Miami owner Wayne Huizenga, would confine his search to the current staff.

Fassel acted as a senior consultant for Baltimore this season, advising second-year quarterback Kyle Boller on overhauling suspect mechanics and fundamentals. Boller was the second-worst rated quarterback in the NFL last year as a rookie, but climbed to a 70.2 rating this season.

By design, Fassel's contract expired Dec. 31 so he would be available for interviews as soon as the season ended. Fassel attended the Ravens' 30-23 win over the Dolphins on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, but didn't act in any formal role.

"He had legitimate concerns that he would be shut out from the interview process, and it gets heated up pretty quick," Billick said. "He's out from under the auspices of the organization and is free to interview."

Fassel is well-versed in the details of the West Coast offense and excelled as a play-caller with the Giants and Denver Broncos.

Fassel was the Giants' coach until last year when New York lost its final eight games and finished 4-12. He coached the Giants to a Super Bowl in 2000, when they lost 34-7 to the Ravens.

Fassel is credited with recruiting quarterback John Elway to Stanford, where he met Billick at a cocktail party 25 years ago when the future Ravens coach was working for the San Francisco 49ers' public relations department.

With Fassel as his offensive coordinator in 1993, Elway earned MVP and AFC Player of the Year honors as he led the NFL in all major passing.

Under Fassel, Boller has improved subtly, going 9-7 as a starter in his second season after going 5-4 as a rookie.

"I learned a lot from coach Fassel," Boller said. "The guy really knows his stuff."
Boller completed 55.6 percent of his passes for 2,559 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

"Coach Fassel is a great guy who knows the game, he really understands offense," wide receiver Travis Taylor said. "He brings a different dimension. He's been great for Kyle's development. If anybody has a coaching job open, they should call him up."

Fassel compiled a thick manual based on his philosophy on running a football team, including detailed practice and training schedules. He plans to bring this textbook with him to interviews this winter.

"This manual is going to have everything from soup to nuts, about drafting, learning from Ozzie Newsome and Phil Savage, about salary-cap management, about hiring coaches," Fassel said. "I'm looking at redefining all of my philosophies about everything in an organization."


As well as a being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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