Ravens interview Turner, Sheppard for OC position

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens' fast-track approach to hiring an offensive coordinator produced two interviews Friday as New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard and former University of Illinois coach Ron Turner met with team officials. <br><br> In the case of Turner, the Ravens face serious competition as he has already been offered the Chicago Bears' offensive coordinator vacancy and has been mentioned as a candidate for the same post with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Turner came to the Ravens' training complex Friday to meet with Ravens coach Brian Billick, a friend since their days working together on the Stanford coaching staff from 1989 to 1991. He brought along his wife, and also met with majority owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome and team president Dick Cass.

Turner faces a dilemma, because of his familiarity with Chicago, having already worked there before as Dave Wannstedt's coordinator. Plus, his son is a starting high school quarterback in Champaign, Ill., and Turner could possibly commute to work for the Bears.

"Ron Turner is as good an offensive coach that I've ever been around," said Billick, who would ideally like to hire a coach by next week. "So, he is going to be coveted."

Meanwhile, Sheppard was the Ravens receivers coach in 1996 under former coach Ted Marchibroda and was granted play-calling duties. He has tutored Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks for the last three seasons. Sheppard was the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator in 2001 when they finished 13th in total offense.

Sheppard and Billick were graduate assistants at Brigham Young in 1978.
Saints head coach Jim Haslett called Sheppard one of the Ravens' leading candidates in a published report that also mentioned Kansas City Chiefs offensive line coach Mike Solari as a possibility for Baltimore's search.

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is another strong candidate, but can't be interviewed yet because of league tampering rules prohibiting contact with coaches who are in this weekend's playoff games.

The Ravens' first interview went to former University of Washington coach Rick Neuheisel, who visited Thursday.

The Ravens slumped to a franchise-worst 31st in total offense in going 9-7, and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh resigned under heavy pressure the day after the season ended.

Ravens offensive line coach Jim Colletto is interested in the Bears' vacancy, and contacted coach Lovie Smith. Colletto said Friday that there's been no movement from Chicago's standpoint. Colletto is a former head coach at Purdue who worked with Bears offensive line coach Pete Hoener at the Big Ten school in 1991.

University of Washington coach Ty Willingham, another of Billick's friends in the coaching profession, called him to inquire about running backs coach Matt Simon as a candidate for the Huskies' offensive coordinator job. Simon coached at Washington from 1982 to 1991 and is a member of the school's Hall of Fame.

"Matt Simon has been at the University of Washington and is familiar with Ty Willingham, and I think he would make a great offensive coordinator for the University of Washington," Billick said.

As of Friday afternoon before Billick took the train to New York to do studio work for ABC for the playoffs, no one had contacted the Ravens to ask for permission to speak to defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, including new Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage.

Savage was in Foxboro, Mass., to interview New England Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel for the Browns' head coaching job.


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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