Billick: Fassel to return as Ravens OC.

OWINGS MILLS -- Jim Fassel will return as the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator next season unless he becomes an NFL head coach again, Ravens coach Brian Billick said Thursday. One day after Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti announced that Billick would be retained for next season, Billick dismissed rumors that Fassel wasn't going to be back.

"We're going to be very supportive of Jim's looking and hopefully being able to procure a head coaching job, I think Jim would be outstanding," Billick said. "If indeed that doesn't happen, Jim will be back next year. Some of the speculation I've seen is just that because Jim and I have already had discussions about some of the things we need to do."

The former New York Giants head coach is in his first season as offensive coordinator after spending last season in Baltimore as a consultant prior to replacing Matt Cavanaugh.

Although the Ravens (6-9) rank 25th in total offense and the running game has stalled throughout a disappointing season, the passing game has improved markedly in consecutive wins over the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings by a combined margin of 78-26.

"That's awesome," rookie wide receiver Mark Clayton said regarding Fassel. "It's good that we will have him back and that we can keep going with the system that we've learned. He does a great job calling plays."

this hiring season after he didn't interview for any jobs last year.

Fassel, 56, coached the Giants to a Super Bowl after the 2000 season, losing 34-7 to the Ravens. With 58 wins, he's the third winningest coach in Giants history.

Fassel wasn't made available for an interview, indicating through a team spokesman that he prefers to wait until after the season to comment.

"Jim was brought in to make the changes that needed to be made schematically, emotionally, strategically and fundamentally for us to go forward in conjunction with some very good coaches," Billick said. "They collectively and Jim individually deserve all the credit for the improvements we've seen. We have a lot of work ahead."

Billick confirmed that quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel would succeed Fassel as offensive coordinator if Fassel leaves the staff. Neuheisel was a head coach at Washington and Colorado and coached future Dallas Cowboys legend Troy Aikman at UCLA.

"One of the reasons I brought Rick Neuheisel in is if Jim should garner a head coaching position that continuity can be sustained because Rick has been here for a year," Billick said. "We made it very clear Rick will become the coordinator from the day he arrived for that very reason."

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

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