Ravens add Fassel as OC, Neuheisel as QB coach

OWINGS MILLS -- Jim Fassel will do much more than consult for the Baltimore Ravens next season. He'll be involved in a major way, playing a central role in overhauling a stagnant offense.

The former New York Giants coach will be the Ravens' new offensive coordinator, according to published reports, after missing out on head-coaching jobs during the NFL hiring season. Meanwhile, former University of Washington coach Rick Neuheisel will be the quarterbacks coach, according to those reports.

The Ravens didn't confirm or deny those staff additions, but are expected to make those announcements official Tuesday.

Fassel, 55, acted as a senior consultant last season, overseeing the mechanics and fundamentals of quarterback Kyle Boller in a part-time role. In a telling indicator of his new status, Fassel participated in personnel meetings at the training complex Monday even though his consulting contract expired Dec. 31.

Now, Fassel will be tasked with upgrading an offense that finished a franchise-worst 31st in total offense. Fassel will assume a vacancy created when offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh resigned under pressure the day after a 9-7 season where Baltimore missed the playoffs.

Fassel and Neuheisel didn't return telephone calls. Ravens coach Brian Billick, who has expressed frustration and sadness at the team's lack of offensive production and Cavanaugh's departure, wasn't available for comment.

With New York from 1997 to 2003, Fassel led the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV, where they lost to the Ravens.

He has built a reputation for revitalizing the careers of quarterbacks, including John Elway, Kerry Collins and Phil Simms, and his play-calling capabilities.

When Fassel wrested play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Sean Payton in 2002, the Giants went on a 7-2 run where they scored 26 touchdowns.

In his final five seasons, the Giants ranked in the top half of the NFL in total offense three times. They finished 11th or higher in passing in all but one season.

Last season, Fassel frequently offered suggestions for game plans but didn't draw up plays.

Under Fassel, Boller improved in major statistical categories during his second season, including completion percentage, passing yards per game, touchdowns per contest, interception percentage and quarterback rating.

Fassel had eschewed potential jobs with Notre Dame and Stanford in hopes of becoming an NFL head coach again. However, the Cleveland Browns never interviewed him and the San Francisco 49ers hired Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on Monday.

Besides Neuheisel, who was the only coordinator candidate to interview twice, the Ravens tried to hire Ron Turner, who became the Chicago Bears' offensive coordinator. They also interviewed New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard.

Neuheisel was 66-30 at Colorado and Washington before being fired by the Huskies for lying about participating in a high-stakes NCAA basketball pool that reportedly netted him $11,000. The NCAA absolved him of any wrongdoing, and he has sued the university for wrongful termination in a lawsuit set for Jan. 24.

Neuheisel, 43, has been out of high-level football since the summer of 2003. He has worked as a volunteer coach at a Seattle high school and as a college football analyst.

If Neuheisel takes over as quarterbacks coach, then that would likely reduce the duties of assistant David Shaw, who has coached quarterbacks, to just receivers. Shaw has said he will be retained, as far as he knows.

Running backs coach Matt Simon has been involved in talks with Washington coach Ty Willingham about becoming the Huskies' offensive coordinator. However, Simon may return to Baltimore and reports out of Washington indicate that Washington is also considering several other candidates.

Since the season ended, the Ravens have fired offensive line coach Jim Colletto, hired Chris Foerster to replace him and granted him the title of assistant head coach. Director of player personnel Phil Savage is now the Browns' general manager.

 

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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