Billick: 'I'm always confident'

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick didn't look or sound like a man worried about his job despite regularly being described as embattled locally and nationally. Speaking to a small group of reporters this week, Billick seemed assured of his return based on his track record and his relationship with team owner Steve Bisciotti.

When asked if he thought he would be back next season despite the Ravens' disappointing 4-6 season that has included a four-game losing streak heading into today's game against the San Diego Chargers, Billick replied: "I'm always confident."

Bisciotti granted Billick a contract extension through 2010 after last year's franchise record 13-3 campaign, one that pays him in excess of $5 million per year.

Memorably, the Anne Arundel County businessman, who's on the Forbes' list of richest Americans, took Billick to the woodshed publicly two years ago and demanded that Billick transform his management style and become less confrontational with the media.

"It couldn't be better," Billick said when asked about his relationship with Bisciotti. "What was forged two years ago set a foundation for us. That was his purpose that sustains us through this tough time.

"He's made it very clear. He's about continuity. He doesn't want to be one of these organizations that experiences those ups and downs. And continuity is the key to that and he's wholly committed to it, and I'm appreciative of it."

Bisciotti rarely speaks to reporters, typically limiting his remarks to once per year following the season or at the NFL owners' meetings. He has been silent on Billick's status so far this year, but that isn't necessarily a good or bad sign.

Bisciotti was on the sidelines shaking hands with players during the Ravens' 33-30 overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns.

In his ninth year, Billick has an all-time record of 84-62 and won a Super Bowl following the 2000 season. However, the Ravens haven't won a playoff game since 2001.

Billick said he hasn't addressed his job security with the players.

"No, don't need to," said Billick, who's tied with Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid and Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren for the third-longest coaching tenure with one team in the NFL. "We've been down this road before. They understand the process whether it's mine, the coaches or theirs. We're all about the task at hand. Certainly, you have an eye to the future organizationally.

"We address that to a degree, Ozzie Newsome, myself, Steve Bisciotti, Dick Cass and the whole organization. But our focus is very short-term with regard to the game, mindful of all the things we have to do in the offseason as far as evaluation."

Although he has a reputation for religiously monitoring the newspapers and airwaves, Billick said he's immune to rumors about him supposedly being on the hot seat.

"I don't hear them, I really don't," Billick said. "So, it's great. Get on the Internet if you choose to. Turn on the radio if you want to. "Pick a city, anybody that's under .500, it's the same rumor, same people. There's no upside in getting drawn into that. If there was, I would pay to attention to it, but I don't."

Billick said he's mindful of growing fan unrest, a development that has resulted in loud booing and harsh words directed at himself and the players at M&T Bank Stadium.

"I get paid for that," he said. "When we give them something to hang their hat on, the fans respond. The same ones that boo and call into that show or this show will be out there in that stadium cheering us when we give them something to cheer about. That's where the focus needs to be." For more information about becoming a VIP subscriber, please go to https://secure.scout.com/a.z?s=118&p=12

Aaron Wilso

n covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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