Ravens, Harbaugh prepare for familiar face in Pagano
The NFL coaching carousel started spinning on "Black Monday," as seven head coaches were sent packing the day after the regular season ended.
Given the Ravens' track record of success, the phones around the Castle have usually started buzzing this time every year, when coaches start touching up the ol' resumes. There has been a long, impressive list of former Ravens assistants who have moved on to become NFL head coaches. One of them visits this week, in fact, as Chuck Pagano, the Ravens' defensive coordinator last season, brings his Indianapolis Colts to town for a first-round playoff game.
Marvin Lewis, Jack Del Rio, Rex Ryan and Mike Smith all won the Super Bowl as Ravens coaches and parlayed their body of work with the Ravens to head coaching spots. Lions coach Jim Schwartz also spent time with the Ravens, as have a handful of others who ultimately became NFL head coaches: Eric Mangini, Hue Jackson, Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary.
So are Ravens coaches on the move again? Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, the Colts head coach for three seasons, has made it clear that he'd love to be a head coach again. But he is in his first season with the Ravens and has had just three games as the Ravens' offensive coordinator.
The Ravens' defensive staff room has been a veritable escalator to head coaching jobs, but the Ravens defense this season will not have owners and GMs swooning over the staff as it has in years past. Then again, that's not all on defensive coordinator Dean Pees; with all the injuries to the Ravens defense this year, Pees has essentially shown up at the card table each week missing at least a couple of aces.
But the Ravens' imprint could be felt in other ways: Del Rio, the former Ravens linebacker coach who spent nine seasons as the head coach in Jacksonville, has served as the defensive coordinator this season for the Broncos, the No. 1 seed in the AFC. His name is being tossed around for openings, and Nolan, now the Falcons' defensive coordinator, is seen as a candidate with the Eagles.
Another byproduct of the Ravens success is that special teams coaches are getting a look for head jobs. John Harbaugh had never served as an offensive or defensive coordinator before the Ravens hired him. He had cut his teeth as a special teams coach. But five playoff berths in five years will get people to sit up and take notice.
Dallas special teams coach Joe DeCamillis is reportedly a candidate with the Bears, and Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong has been mentioned for openings in Chicago and Kansas City. That might not have happened had Harbaugh not shown that, to paraphrase Sam Koch's shirt, special teams coaches are people, too.