After interview tour, Ryan plays waiting game

Rex Ryan hopes his recent whirlwind interview tour will lead to his ultimate destination - becoming an NFL head coach.

He made his case to remain with the Ravens on Sunday. He sat down with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank on Monday. He talked football with Miami Dolphins executive vice president Bill Parcells on Tuesday.


Now Ryan, with three strong seasons as the Ravens' defensive coordinator, has taken a wait-and-see attitude, although he seems more optimistic than nervous.

"I feel good about getting an opportunity," Ryan said yesterday from his Ellicott City home.


Ryan didn't make any predictions, saying he enjoyed his interviews with each team. But in judging the three situations, it seems the best fit for him is the Falcons.

With all the fallout from Bobby Petrino's abrupt departure, Atlanta probably needs a coach who could win over the locker room. Ryan is known as a players' coach because of his ability to build chemistry.

There has been speculation that the Falcons have shown interest in Southern California coach Pete Carroll, but it's unknown whether he would consider the job.

During Ryan's interview in Atlanta, he met with nine people from the Falcons' search committee, including Blank.

"He's an impressive guy," Ryan said. "The way he feels about his team is amazing."

Ryan has been the popular choice among Ravens players to replace Brian Billick, who was fired Dec. 31. But the Ravens might be inclined to look outside the organization.

The Ravens didn't interview a candidate yesterday for a second straight day.

Besides Ryan, the Ravens have met with Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano, New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach John Harbaugh.


"This [interview] was different because we all knew each other," Ryan said. "But it made it a lot easier because I was so comfortable."

Ryan expressed a similar comfort level with the Dolphins.

But there has been speculation that Miami has its sights on Sparano and will hire him as soon as the Cowboys' season is over.

"Parcells was awesome," Ryan said. "It was like talking to my father [Buddy Ryan] because they're both football guys."

In Ryan's three seasons as coordinator, the Ravens are the only defense to rank in the NFL's top six each year.

But Ryan wanted to show he was more than a defensive-minded coach. To prepare for the interview process over the past two years, he has spoken with Billick, general manager Ozzie Newsome, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan.


He also brought a detailed schedule that broke down a two-day retreat for coaches, all the offseason camps and training camp.

He even showed a public service announcement that he made for the Alzheimer's Association's Greater Maryland chapter in which he encourages residents to become involved with the organization and register for its annual fundraising events. (Ryan's stepmother has Alzheimer's disease.)

"These opportunities don't come around very often," Ryan said. "So, I'm going to give everything I've got."


Team ....................... When visited ...................... Why hire Ryan?


Ravens .......................... Sunday ........................ Has strong support from the players.

Falcons ........................ Monday .................... Could win over team in turmoil.

Dolphins ..................... Tuesday .................... Is a "football guy" like Bill Parcells.