Ravens to interview Neuheisel again

OWINGS MILLS -- Overhauling the Baltimore Ravens' offense spelled the firing of offensive line coach Jim Colletto, and an impending second interview for offensive coordinator candidate Rick Neuheisel.<br><br>Colletto was fired Monday, continuing a purge of the offensive staff that began the day after the season ended when offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh resigned under pressure.

The Ravens finished 9-7 and didn't make the playoffs as the offense slumped to a franchise-worst 31st in the NFL.

Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick declined to comment on Colletto, who had coached the offensive line for the past six seasons and had a year remaining on his contract. The Ravens have put in a request to interview Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Chris Foerster to replace Colletto, and are expected to meet with him in the next few days.

Foerster worked with Billick with the Minnesota Vikings and at Stanford.

Part of the changing landscape of the offensive coaching staff included Colletto's departure, and more change could be in the offing depending on who is hired as coordinator. Billick has said that change is likely.
Colletto had been actively seeking another NFL coaching position, contacting Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith about the offensive coordinator job that eventually went to former University of Illinois coach Ron Turner, who was sought after by Baltimore.

"I knew with a new coordinator coming in that he was going to want to bring in his own guys," said Colletto, a former head coach at Purdue and a coordinator at Notre Dame, Ohio State and Arizona State, prior to the announcement. "That's part of the business. I understood that when I got into this profession."

Neuheisel, 43, will be the first coach to receive a second interview with Baltimore after also being the first to interview last week when he made a strong impression on Billick and team officials with his grasp of X's and O's and upbeat personality. Although he has no NFL experience, the former University of Washington and Colorado coach has a strong background with developing quarterbacks. He has worked with Troy Aikman and Kordell Stewart.

Neuheisel was fired by Washington in the summer of 2003 for taking part in an NCAA basketball betting pool that reportedly netted him $11,000. He and the university were eventually cleared in an NCAA investigation, and his wrongful termination suit against the school is set for Jan. 24.

The Ravens have also interviewed New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard, the receivers coach under former Baltimore coach Ted Marchibroda. Sheppard has coached Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks for the last three seasons and was the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator in 2001. Sheppard is also a possible candidate to replace Saints offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy, whose contract expires March 1, if McCarthy leaves.

The Ravens are also interested in Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, but he may not fit into their time table of hiring a coordinator this week. Under NFL rules, they aren't allowed to talk to him as long as the Vikings are in the playoffs.

Linehan's contract expires Jan. 31, and he reportedly made $300,000 this year, well below the $466,000 average for NFL offensive coordinators. Plus, the Vikings would be granted an exclusive window to negotiate with Linehan and his agent before other teams could attempt to hire him.

Billick has pretty much ruled out former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel, who acted as a consultant with Baltimore last season. He's seeking an NFL head coaching position, but there only two openings: the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.

Billick has also acknowledged that because Fassel would be a likely head coaching candidate after next season that hiring him as coordinator might not grant him the continuity he's seeking.

USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow has talked with Billick, but appears unlikely to leave the national champion Trojans. He didn't return a telephone call and a e-mail seeking comment.

A report out of New Orleans stated that Baltimore was interested in interviewing Kansas City Chiefs offensive line coach Mike Solari for the coordinator opening, but nothing has developed.

The Browns have yet to ask permission to interview Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Fassel and Nolan have both been mentioned as possible candidates for the 49ers and Browns. In Fassel's case, no permission is necessary because his contract expired Dec. 31.

With Colletto's firing and Cavanaugh's resignation, that leaves running backs coach Matt Simon quarterbacks and receivers coach David Shaw, tight ends coach Wade Harman and offensive assistant Jedd Fisch as all that's left from last year's offensive coaching staff.

Washington coach Ty Willingham has inquired about Simon, a member of the Huskies' Hall of Fame, for his offensive coordinator post.


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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