Ravens set to put focus on top aides Modell history points to elevating coach from NFL coordinator ranks; Don't rule out Seifert yet; Billick, Kubiak among league's top prospects


Disciplinarian or communicator?

Head coach or coordinator?

Offense or defense?

Decisions, decisions.

When Art Modell gets around to choosing the second head coach in Ravens history sometime in late January, his screening committee will have explored a wide range of coaching options.

There are impressive candidates at every level, from Super Bowl coaches Mike Holmgren and George Seifert down to college coaches (with NFL experience) Tyrone Willingham and Nick Saban.

But if his track record and what he said yesterday are any indication, the man Modell ultimately will choose has an NFL background, a list of impressive credentials, and most likely is a coordinator in the league right now.

Consider that five of Modell's last six hires with the Ravens/Browns were coordinators he promoted to their first head coaching jobs (the one exception was outgoing Ted Marchibroda).

And consider that when the Ravens owner was asked about a preference for head coaching experience, he identified several notable assistants -- Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Knox, Chuck Noll and Bud Grant -- who made the quantum jump to enjoy great success.

"That is the raw material we've been able to draw on for years," he said. "Take an assistant coach and make him a head coach."

Expect the Ravens to look hard at Holmgren, who has taken the Green Bay Packers to consecutive Super Bowls and wants autonomous power. Expect Holmgren to leave for San Francisco if he leaves at all, though.

Expect the Ravens to take a run at Seifert, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the 49ers before they forced him out for unproven Steve Mariucci. Expect him to land in one of the West Coast spots, either Seattle or San Diego, although he might be interested in Baltimore.

At least one NFL coach who knows him well said Seifert might be intrigued by the Ravens' defensive talent. "And he has a hidden agenda," the coach said. "George has a lot of things to prove after San Francisco."

If Seifert slips away, the Ravens could look at any of a number of hot coordinators. On the offensive side are Brian Billick of the Minnesota Vikings and Gary Kubiak of the Denver Broncos. From the defensive side are Willie Shaw of the Oakland Raiders and Jim Haslett of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Billick's Vikings set an NFL record with 556 points this season. Kubiak's Broncos are defending Super Bowl champs. No less an authority than Broncos quarterback John Elway said Kubiak will make a great choice.

"At some point in time, he's going to make a great head coach because of his knowledge of the game and the way he studies it," Elway said. "He knows X's and O's, he's a great leader. Now he's got a great situation. For him to leave here, he'd have to be in a situation he really wants."

Another consideration is minority hiring. The NFL is sending out videos promoting some 25 minority coaches (and some non-minorities), and the Ravens said yesterday they would study the video.

Pub Date: 12/29/98

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