Ravens' Coaching Staff Staying Intact For Once

Posted on April 12, 2013

By Joe Platania

When he was head coach of the Ravens, Brian Billick said moving trucks were figuratively pulling up to the team's Owings Mills facility and making off with some of his assistant coaches every year.

John Harbaugh has earned the right to gripe about the same thing, for a total of 13 of his underlings left Baltimore for supposedly greener pastures after his first four seasons at the helm.

In fact, the franchise lost four assistants each after the 2010 (Jim Zorn, Al Saunders, John Matsko, Greg Mattison) and 2011 (Roy Anderson, John Dunn, Chuck Pagano, Marwan Maalouf) seasons. Those were defections that affected the team in all three major phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams.

But the Ravens have come up with a foolproof plan to keep their coaches around -- make a deep postseason run.

Dean Pees

This offseason, for the first time since the offseason between 2006 -- the last time the team made an in-season coaching change, both times at offensive coordinator -- and 2007, none of the Ravens' assistants have departed during the offseason. During the 2006 season, the Ravens won a team-record 13 games and earned a first-round bye.

For the most part, the welcomed continuity could be because the team's staff wasn't available to talk with other teams when Baltimore was preparing for playoff games and a Super Bowl throughout January and into early February.

Indeed, there was little contact between the Ravens and other organizations interested in at least inquiring about some of their coaches' availability, even during the allowable inquiry periods before Wild Card Weekend and during the off weeks before the conference title games and the Super Bowl.

It's not as if some of the coaches haven't at least earned the chance to spread their wings and get a high-profile promotion.

In January, the Chicago Bears made a preliminary inquiry concerning Ravens special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Jerry Rosburg, whose 2012 unit rose 21 places in the annual Dallas Morning News special-teams ranking, from 24th to a franchise-record third. But Rosburg will return for his sixth season under Harbaugh in 2013.

John Harbaugh and Jerry Rosburg

In fact, the coaching staff will not only remain intact, it will grow by one to bring the Baltimore total to 20 assistants, 18 of which have at least five years' worth of NFL experience.

During the postseason, Harbaugh tabbed former Philadelphia Eagles offensive line coach and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, a colleague of  Harbaugh's when he was the Eagles' special teams coordinator, as the team's new running-game coordinator.

Castillo, 53, will oversee the synergy between the running backs and the offensive line. He will basically act as a conduit between running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery -- himself a Super Bowl-winning assistant with St. Louis in 1999 -- and offensive line coach Andy Moeller.

The 2013 season will mark Castillo's first full campaign with the team.

"He had lots of opportunities, I can tell you that, on both sides of the ball to be a lot of different things because that's the kind of coach he is," Harbaugh said of Castillo, according to BaltimoreRavens.com. "It ranges from assistant head coach, an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator and those things are all things that to a coach of his caliber, those were opportunities that he had, and he chose to come here.

"It's an opportunity for us to improve our football team, the overall talent pool that we have here. Whether it's player or coach, we try to get better. You either get better, or you get worse. So, we add him into our staff, which I think already is just a great staff, and it makes us better, and that's the whole idea."

Castillo drew criticism in Philadelphia for his work with the defense, partially because he had not coached on that side of the ball since his college coaching days in Texas during the 1980s. But he is returning to familiar territory in his new position.

This sort of move is not without precedent. When the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV after the 2000 season, receivers coach Milt Jackson (now deceased) was the only assistant to leave Billick's staff. His replacement was Mike Nolan, a longtime defensive expert who was willing to coach the pass catchers until the defensive coordinator position opened up, which it did when Marvin Lewis left in early 2002.

Castillo will be one of nine Ravens assistants that will take up a game-day perch in the press-box-level coaching booth. Montgomery and Moeller, the two coaches with which he will be most closely working, will stand on the sidelines.

John Harbaugh and Jim Caldwell

In an arrangement rare among NFL teams, two of the Ravens' three coordinators, Dean Pees (defense) and Jim Caldwell (offense), are also working from upstairs.

Issue 184: April 2013


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