Ryan to interview for Chargers' job

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan has been targeted by the San Diego Chargers as a candidate for head coach in the wake of firing Marty Schottenheimer. No date for a meeting has been confirmed, but the Chargers have received permission to interview Ryan.

"Yes, Rex has been granted permission to interview," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said Tuesday night.

Along with Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and several others, Ryan is expected to interview for the Chargers' job.

Rivera is expected to receive the first interview.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, a former Ravens offensive line coach, and USC coach Pete Carroll are expected to draw consideration along with former Ravens linebackers coach Mike Singletary, the San Francisco 49ers assistant head coach.

Ryan, the son of fiery former NFL head coach Buddy Ryan, is the architect of the league's top-ranked defense. The Chargers run a 3-4 scheme that features Pro Bowl outside linebacker Shawne Merriman as the centerpiece of an aggressive front seven.

Ryan has significant experience working with 3-4 athletes in Baltimore. Under Ryan, the Ravens' trademark has been unpredictability, lining up athletic defenders at multiple positions, especially Pro Bowl outside linebacker Adalius Thomas, to create confusion.

"I think he's as ready to be a head coach as any coach I've been around," Ravens coach Brian Billick said last month regarding Ryan.

When he was the defensive coordinator at the University of Oklahoma in 1998, Ryan co-authored a book on his father's 46 defense that rose to fame with the 1985 Chicago Bears.

The Ravens allowed a league-low 264.1 yards per contest last season, leading the NFL with 28 interceptions with five touchdowns while finishing second behind the Chargers with a franchise-record 60 sacks. All four linebackers -- Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Thomas and Terrell Suggs -- earned Pro Bowl recognition last season and safety Ed Reed and cornerback Chris McAlister also made the AFC squad.

Ryan didn't return telephone messages seeking comment.

If Ryan gets the job, he would become the fourth former Baltimore defensive assistant to ascend to the head coaching ranks, joining 49ers coach Mike Nolan, Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio and Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.

"When you're a Ryan, you're born with a blitz package in your DNA," Scott said during the season. "Rex is the mad scientist, that's what we call him. He always has new schemes for us. "He keeps us happy, gives us all a chance to make a big play. He takes advantage of the athletes that we have and, in the end, keeps quarterbacks guessing with all we do."

NOTES The agent for running back Jamal Lewis said he hasn't heard from the Ravens recently. Lewis is due a $5 million bonus on March 3. Free agency begins March 2. ... Former Ravens assistant Matt Simon was hired by San Diego after the season to coach running backs.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times for Westminster, Maryland.

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