OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Soon after bidding farewell to top scout Phil Savage, the Baltimore Ravens launched their search for a new offensive coordinator
Thursday by interviewing former Washington Huskies coach Rick Neuheisel.
The Ravens are seeking a successor for Matt Cavanaugh, who ran the offense for six years before leaving Monday in what coach Brian Billick termed "a
mutual decision." Baltimore (9-7) missed the playoffs this season, in part because of an attack that ranked 31st among 32 NFL teams.
If the Ravens are to fortify their offense through the draft, they'll have to do so without Savage, who was in Cleveland on Thursday working out the
final details on a contact that made him the general manager of the Cleveland Browns.
"It's been well documented, the value that Phil has been for this organization in our ability to acquire talent," said Ravens general manager Ozzie
Newsome. "Cleveland is better today because of Phil Savage."
Newsome intends to fill the void by increasing the responsibilities of George Kokinis, the Ravens director of pro personnel, and Eric DeCosta,
director of college scouting.
"At this point I don't see myself bringing someone else in," Newsome said. "I feel very confident in both of those guys. George has already proven
what he can do, and Eric just can't wait for his opportunity to stack the (draft) board."
Neuheisel was 66-30 over eight seasons at Colorado and Washington before being fired by the Huskies in June 2003 for participating in a big-money
college basketball pool. The NCAA investigated both Neuheisel and the Washington football program and ultimately cleared the coach of any
But Neuheisel has had trouble getting interviews for work, and said he appreciated the Ravens' interest.
"I'm thankful for Coach Billick providing me the opportunity to have a conversation, especially after what's happened to me over the past couple of
years. Opportunities have been few and far between," he said. "I long to get back into the game, so it's a thrill to be here."
The Ravens will interview New Orleans Saints quarterback coach Mike Sheppard on Friday, and also intend to speak to Minnesota Vikings offensive
coordinator Scott Linehan and former University of Illinois coach Ron Turner.
"I plan on moving along quickly," said Billick, adding that the process could be completed as soon as next week.
That all but eliminates former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel, who served as an offensive consultant with the Ravens this season and remains hopeful
of again becoming a head coach.
"Because of Jim's focus and primary intent right now, Jim as the offensive coordinator is probably a difficult proposition because of the time frame
involved," Billick said.