Ravens interview Rex Ryan

OWINGS MILLS -- Rex Ryan interviewed Sunday for the Baltimore Ravens' head-coaching vacancy, making his bid during meetings with team owner Steve Bisciotti and other team officials that lasted several hours at the team's headquarters. Now, the Schottenheimer family is garnering consideration.

New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is expected to meet with the Ravens' search committee as soon as today. And his father, former San Diego Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer, has also been contacted by the Ravens.

However, Marty Schottenheimer prefers not to be interviewed until the later phases of the AFC North team's search to find a replacement for fired coach Brian Billick.

If Marty Schottenheimer was to become the Ravens' third head coach in their 12-year history, he's expected to possibly name Cam Cameron as his offensive coordinator and hire offensive line coach Mike Solari.

Schottenheimer coached Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome during the Hall of Fame tight end's career with the Cleveland Browns. When Schottenheimer was named the Chargers' head coach five years ago, Newsome gave him a strong endorsement.

"Marty's a winner whose convictions on how to win in the NFL give him a focus and determination that is the equal of any coach or player in this league," Newsome said in a statement.

A popular defensive coordinator who was fired along with the entire staff when Billick was dismissed by team owner Steve Bisciotti a week ago, Ryan became the fourth candidate to meet with the Ravens as he followed Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano. Ryan is the lone in-house candidate for the position.

Ironically, Ryan's red pickup truck was parked in the head coach's parking space at the team's training complex. Ryan worked late, staying at his office after Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass, Newsome and other executives left the building. Ryan is preparing for interviews with the Atlanta Falcons today and the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday.

The son of former NFL head coach Buddy Ryan, Ryan, 45, has coached the Ravens' defense to rankings of fifth, first and sixth over the past three seasons.

"I think Rex would be a very good choice," Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "I've had experience with a former defensive coordinator coming in and being a head coach, with Jeff Fisher. Rex, he's in the mold of Jeff Fisher, and I think he can do a great job."

Under two years of Brian Schottenheimer's direction, the Jets finished 26th last season and 25th in 2006 in total offense.

He interviewed for the Dolphins' job that went to Cameron a year ago, but eventually withdrew his name from consideration.

Schottenheimer, 34, was a college quarterback at Kansas and Florida and has prior NFL assistant coaching stints with the St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and Chargers after briefly coaching at Syracuse and USC.

The Ravens are also expected to meet with Browns offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski this week.

"Obviously with the turnaround we've had, and with the way the offense played, Rob is going to be sought after by a lot of teams either this year or in years to come," Browns general manager Phil Savage told Cleveland reporters. " When you have success, you have to anticipate losing your good people."

Another name that has been surfaced as a potential candidate in the Ravens' search is Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom. Croom is a former University of Alabama star who was a teammate of Newsome's as an All-American center who excelled under the late Bear Bryant.

"In my career, I've been around a lot of great leaders and he led that huddle, trust me," Newsome is quoted in Croom's university biography. "He was impressive at a lot of things, but mostly as a leader."

Mason acknowledged that the uncertainty of not having a coach in place creates a strain for the players.

"Yeah, you don't know what's going on, who's coming in, what type of mentality or attitude they're going to have." Mason said. "Are they going to change the whole team entirely or keep it together? Are you going to be one of those guys they decide to let go? Do you want to go through another year with a new head coach? Sometimes, it wears on a player."

NOTE: Although it was speculated that the Ravens had broken NFL rules by flying coaches into Baltimore while their respective teams are in the playoffs, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that it wasn't a violation because the coaches' teams approved the visits.

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

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