The Ravens coaching staff was carefully put together in the 2007-2008 offseason after a disappointing 5-11 season in 2007. General manager Ozzie Newsome was looking for a coach that had the opposite personality of the player-friendly Brian Billick. Newsome and company interviewed several candidates and then settled on hard-nosed John Harbaugh.
Harbaugh is the son of Jack Harbaugh and brother of former Ravens quarterback Jim Harbaugh. John Harbaugh began his coaching career in 1984 as a coach at Western Michigan University.
He stayed in the college ranks until 1998 when the Philadelphia Eagles hired him to be their Special Teams coordinator in 1998. Starting in 1999, Harbaugh began to learn how to be a head coach under the tutelage of Andy Reid.
Obviously, all of Harbaugh’s decisions affect the Ravens on and off the field. Harbaugh is always concerned with putting the best 22 men on the field to start and win the game. Aside from which players play on game day, Harbaugh has input on drafting certain types of players.
As a first-year head coach in 2008, Harbaugh surrounded himself with experienced assistants.
One critical assistant that Harbaugh hired was offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Cameron is a veteran offensive coach known for his creativity. He has been a long-tenured NFL and college coach that has had offensive success wherever he’s been.
Although Cameron had a failed stint as a head coach for the Miami Dolphins, his willingness to try new offensive formations and plays were a success in Baltimore during the 2008 season. The input that Cameron has for future seasons may be expanding, but in the 2008 season it was limited.
The recent signing of John Beck is evidence of Cameron’s widening influence. Beck was drafted by Cameron when Cameron was Miami’s head coach in 2007 so the offensive coordinator is comfortable with the quarterback’s skill set.
His influence was felt when the team drafted Marcus Smith in 2008 and with the signing of receiver Kelley Washington. Both receivers are big and physical which is the type of receiver Cameron has liked since he was a coordinator with the San Diego Chargers.
Offense has never really been the Ravens strong suit, but in Cameron’s first season Baltimore’s offense unveiled wrinkles that kept opposing defenses honest. However, the Baltimore Ravens are known for their defense.
The 2009 season will bring a new look to Baltimore’s defense. Last season’s coordinator, Rex Ryan, is now the head coach of the New York Jets and took linebackers Coach Mike Pettine with him.
Harbaugh’s choice for defensive coordinator of the 2009 Ravens became Greg Mattison. Mattison is a longtime college coach that rose through the ranks after 36 seasons. As linebackers coach last season, Mattison formed a bond with key defensive cog Ray Lewis.
Mattison has been around football longer than all of the starters are old. His 38 years of experience and the personnel he has to work with should help keep Baltimorein the top rung of the NFL defenses. Mattison plans to be aggressive like his predecessors, Ryan, Mike Nolan and Marvin Lewis.
The defensive coordinator will have a say on who will replace departed linebacker Bart Scott and what kinds of exotic blitzes will be used against the Ravens’ opponents this season. How Mattison decides to use the linebackers will help determine the success the Baltimore Ravens will have in the 2009 season.