Ravens Could Be Parting with a Few Stars in the Offseason
Brown, Scott, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The firing of Brian Billick by Baltimore came as a surprise even though the Ravens, who were the favorites to win the AFC North this season, lost nine-straight games before ending the 2007 campaign with a 27-21 win over the Steelers.
Billick still had three years and $15 million left on his contract with Baltimore, and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti had decided to give Billick a chance to turn things around before changing his mind.
Whoever succeeds Billick, who had been one of only four coaches in the AFC to win a Super Bowl, will not have an easy job.
Ray Lewis, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, just completed his 12th season, and it was one he could not finish because of a bad back.
While Lewis may be slowing down, the franchise's other cornerstone, left tackle Jonathan Ogden, is leaning heavily toward retirement.
When asked what the Las Vegas oddsmakers would put on his calling it a career, the 11-time Pro Bowler and future Pro Football Hall of Famer said, "Oh yeah, they'd bet against me. Probably strongly against me but that's why we have odds. There's still a chance."
Even if Ogden returns next season, the Ravens still have to find a quarterback to lead them.
Steve McNair's best days are behind him, and he probably won't be with the Ravens in 2008. Kyle Boller, meanwhile, is running out of time (and opportunities) to prove he isn't a first-round flop.
Rookie Troy Smith played well against the Steelers last Sunday, but it is way too early to anoint him the long-term answer at quarterback that Billick never could seem to find during his nine seasons in Baltimore.
The Ravens could use their first-round pick in April's draft on a quarterback.
Another coveted Dungy assistant
A handful of former Tony Dungy assistants are NFL head coaches, including Mike Tomlin. One of his current assistants, Jim Caldwell, is a candidate for head coaching vacancies in Atlanta and Baltimore.
Caldwell, a onetime Penn State assistant, was scheduled to meet with officials from the Falcons and Ravens last week.
Caldwell, an assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach, has interviewed for past head-coaching jobs in Arizona and Minnesota. Something that will be no small consideration to the organizations that are considering him for their head-coaching jobs is the endorsement he'll get from Dungy. …