The Ravens moved into the final stages of their search for an offensive coordinator Thursday, conducting second interviews with two of their top candidates and planning to meet again with a third.
Ravens wide receivers coach Jim Hostler and former Houston Texans and Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan met with team officials Thursday for the second time to discuss the vacancy, according to sources.
Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson, who interviewed with Harbaugh at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills on Wednesday, is due back Friday for his second interview, sources said.
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There appears to be three finalists for the job, which opened when former Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell was officially hired as the head coach of the Detroit Lions on Jan. 14. Harbaugh identified Hostler, Shanahan, Wilson and former Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan as four of the top candidates earlier in the week.
However, as of Thursday afternoon, a second interview with Linehan had not been scheduled, meaning it is unlikely that he is still under consideration. The Ravens have given no definitive timetable for hiring their third offensive coordinator in the past 13 months, though Harbaugh told the team’s official website that he did not want the process to go on much longer.
Harbaugh has been leading the search for Caldwell’s replacement, but he is expected to get input from members of the Ravens’ front office before making the final decision. Several of the team’s top executives, including general manager Ozzie Newsome and assistant general manager Eric DeCosta, have been at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this week while Harbaugh remained at the team facility.
While Hostler has been on Harbaugh’s staff since 2008 and is a known commodity, the second interviews could be a way for Harbaugh and other team officials to better familiarize themselves with Shanahan and Wilson, both of whom made strong impressions during their initial interviews.
Shanahan, 34, who was recommended to Ravens officials by at least one NFL head coach, was the Texans’ offensive coordinator for two seasons (2008-2009) and the Redskins’ for four (2010-2013) under his father, Mike, a two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach. In those six seasons, Kyle Shanahan’s offenses finished in the top 10 in the NFL in yards per game four times.
However, Shanahan’s reputation took a major hit this past season as the Redskins finished 3-13 and the coaching staff reportedly clashed with quarterback Robert Griffin III. Both Mike and Kyle Shanahan were fired late last month, along with several other Redskins other assistants.
Wilson, 52, has coached the Steelers’ running backs for the past seven seasons. He also has 16 years of NFL coaching experience, though none as an offensive coordinator. He’s known for a vocal and energetic teaching style that has long made him a favorite of players.
“Kirby feels very good about it and would do an excellent job for the Ravens,” said John Wootenchairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance. “Kirby knows the Ravens very well and he has a ton of great ideas. He knows the division. He has a lot of energy and is an excellent football coach who's very deserving of an opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Hostler, 47, has earned raved reviews for his work with the Ravens’ young receivers, such as Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown. He also has a good relationship with quarterback Joe Flacco and other Ravens offensive standouts.
Hostler has one season of offensive coordinator experience, with the San Francisco 49ers in 2007, but his offense struggled, finishing last in the league in total yards and points per game.