Linehan the Cure for What Ails Ravens Offense?


Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reported that the Ravens have interviewed former Lions offensive coodinator Scott Linehan for their vacant offensive coordinator position.

For the past five seasons, Linehan has been the offensive coordinator in Detroit. Under his guidance, the Lions finished in the top-ten in the NFL in three out of those five seasons.

The former coordinator was let go in Detroit when Jim Caldwell was hired as their head coach earlier this month.

While it is a common practice whenever a new head coach takes over to hire a new staff, something stuck out when Caldwell announced what he was looking for in his new offensive coordinator.

“I think that innovation is key,” Caldwell said. “One of the things about this league, and particularly in the division, when you play teams multiple times that you have to have a bit of variety. You have to make certain you can keep them off balance. That’s going to be key.”

The Ravens offense was anything but unpredictable in 2013 and the team cannot afford to have another season of vanilla play calls. If Linehan was not retained because of what Caldwell saw as a “lack of variety,” can he right the ship on offense here in Baltimore?

Baltimore is without something else that Linehan enjoyed in Detroit – a true number one wide receiver (Calvin Johnson, of course, is more than even that; he’s one of the best of his generation). Throw in a questionable blocking scheme which John Harbaugh cemented as here to stay when he named Juan Castillo the offensive line coach for 2014, and Linehan would have his work cut out for him – as will any offensive coordinator the team chooses to hire.

“One of the things we’re trying to just make certain (is) that we have a guy that has a real good sense of system and just in terms of offensive football, application, installation of it,” Caldwell said, speaking of his own OC search. “[We want] a good communicator. That’s extremely important. And that he’s a real good just in terms of teaching fundamentals. I think that’s the basic rudiments of quality play on offensive football. So those things are important.”

The words Caldwell uses to describe what he is looking for in Detroit can be taken one of two ways. It is either a knock on what the Ravens failed to do last year, or it was he thought Linehan failed to bring to Detroit.

The Ravens announced via their website on Tuesday they have already interviewed current Wide Receivers Coach Jim Hostler, former Redskins Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Harbaugh also has an interview scheduled later this week with Pittsburgh Steelers Running Backs Coach Kirby Wilson.

The search continues…


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About Brian Bower

Brian Bower
Brian Bower is avid football fan who was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Brian has covered the Baltimore Ravens and NFL player positives in the community for the past two years for His work has been featured on and ESPN blogs. He is also a regular guest...more

31 Raves on “Linehan the Cure for What Ails Ravens Offense?

  1. joe d on said:

    Can’t say I am overly impressed with any of these candidates. I was hoping to get McAdoo or Joe Lombardi but the Ravens were beaten to the punch for both. As for Kirby Wilson, if he was such a strong candidate, why didn’t Tomlin name him OC instead of Todd Haley after Bruce Ariens left?

  2. Mark on said:

    Tony, Do you think that, after the dust settles, we will know who Harbaugh interviewed for the OC job?
    I’ll be disappointed if Lombardi didn’t make the list.
    Is Chudzinski on the list? I hope David Cutcliffe was at least worth a phone call if young coaches without prior OC experience are not under serious consideration. Who do you hear are the college coaches being considered?

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      When the dust settles I’ll inquire. Not sure if I’ll get the full story but I will ask…particularly if they promote Hostler.

  3. Tim on said:

    Tony… Not sure I follow your argument. If the team doesn’t succeed and he gets fired, what are the chances they will keep a guy he brings in who was part of that failure, regardless of how promising the guy looks now? It’s not like the team hasn’t had assistants that were prime guys to be HC’s some day (Rex, Chuck, Caldwell) or guys with HC experience (Cam, Caldwell, Spags).

    It seems to me that it’s more a matter of he just doesn’t want anyone with new, innovative ideas. He wants an early 2000′s style team, even if the game is rapidly moving beyond that.

    We fear what we don’t understand.

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:


      Look at who his coordinators have been — older guys who really didn’t threaten his job. I think most would agree that the Colts hiring of Pagano was a bit of a shocker and the team hoped, probably even helped, get Caldwell the job in Detroit. Other than that it’s been Cameron, Mattison and Pees, coordinators that as you say, fall in line with old school football and things that Harbaugh seems more comfortable with.

      If a new aspiring coordinator comes along and the Ravens get the offense in gear BUT Pees fails and the team is out of the playoffs again next season, might the new OC be a threat to Harbaugh. I’d say yes because of performance and upside along with youthful energy. McAdoo and Lombardi were both QB coaches for high octane offenses. That could have gone a long way.

      Linehan, Turner, Chudzinski and Kubiak if hired, would not pose the same kind of threat in my opinion.

      • Sdot on said:

        Tony, so true! All of our coaches are guys who were never highly regarded in terms of what they did for the positions they coached. I just hope that Harbaugh realizes that by having highly promising and successful assistant coaches, it won’t jeopardize him…we would make the playoffs and they would eventually be snatched for HC positions. Look at Belicheck, McCarthy, Payton etc. they breed HCs and their positions are not endangered.

      • TheChuck on said:

        Here is what I do not undestand, Tony. NFL teams don’t go, “We want to get rid of the coach, but we can’t because we don’t have any young, promising assitants to replace him with.” I am going to go out on a limb and say that most teams hire their head coaches outside of their organizations. With that in mind, why would Harbaugh feel threatened from within?

        While Linehan, Turner, Chudinski and Kubiak would not be permanent solutions at coach, they could step into an interim role. Look no further than Kubiak getting fired and Wade Phillips getting the interim tag.

        • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

          If you have an assistant coach who is a viable candidate for the head coaching job and you don’t have to replace the rest of the coaching staff, that is potentially an ideal transition. The team can then willingly hang on to the other assistants, some of which may have multi-year deals. Not having that head coach in waiting makes the decision to move on a bit more difficult.

          • Charlie on said:


            I’m not trying to be sarcastic, but I can’t think of one example of an NFL team that has fired (or not re-signed) their head coach and replaced him with one of their assistants on a full-time basis. I can think of some coaches that retired and were replaced internally and some that were fired mid-season and an assistant was hired on an interim basis, but I can’t remember one head coach who was usurped by an assistant.

            Does anybody know of any examples where this kind of ideal transition happened that wasn’t head coach retirement or mid-season interim related?

  4. John Smith on said:

    Much like with players having to prove themselves on special teams before he will play them on Offence or Defence, I think Harbaugh wants someone who is proven at the position rather than an up and comer.

    I think he is also keen to have someone who can remain OC for a few seasons and not more on to become a head coach after 1 season (which may be why Pees is in as DC…)

    McAdoo i think would have been great but you have to be quick sometimes. I wonder if Rhett Lashlee got/is getting much of a look.

    • Sdot on said:

      That would have been Norb Turner who even admits that he would rather remain OC than HC based on his history….Harbaugh really dropped the ball. It almost seems as if Harbaugh is purposely dragging this out so that he will have an excuse for why he promotes Hostler SMH!

    • Sdot on said:

      After watching the Seahawks play this weekend it made me nostalgic about our days of having stud players and coaches that knew how to bring the best out of them

  5. TiffanyR on said:

    Kyle Shanahan would probably be the best fit….hes young, energetic and exciting. …i dont want another old, dull, and boring coordinator. …John please stop hiring your friends and bring in a competent coordinator to run the offense. …

  6. Chad on said:

    Wilson please, please, please. There are numerous resons why Wilson was not named the OC, first was the fire secondly Wilson is a Arians guy through and through. Loves the fast paced, run the ball and chuck it deep. Steelers ownership did not want that type of offense anylong, que the signing of Haley and he WC philosphy. Wilson fits perfect for what Harbs wants to do and they type of person he is not threatened by. A long time position coach that is or will not be ready for a HC job in the near future. If Wilson is not then pick then I go with Shannahan. That guy has game as well. Still very dissappointed we did not go after Lombardi hard and fast, he would have been the perfect OC for us. Detroit got a gem.

  7. MARK on said:

    i’m gonna come at this from a different perspective..the colts for years under payton manning had a luxury that I think is a key to a successful offense/defense/franchise..tom moore was never interested in taking a head coaching job and therefore was the coordinator of one of the best offenses in the game at the time..whether us ravens fans liked it or not..what if harbaugh is looking for something similar in that youg coordinators tend to be on other teams radar and it affects consistency and teams have to keep reshuffling as they get hired,,where as you hire someone a little older or experienced or has been a head coach once or twice..they might not be as quick to be on that radar..I think harbaugh has done an outstanding job with this team since he has been 6 yrs he’s had 5 playoof app..2 div titles..three afc title games 1 afc title (could have been 2 if lee evans catches the ball)..and a super bowl..along the way we have become a thorn in the side of the almighty tom brady..we lost 11 players this past season..i think I as a fan can give the team a break and let them reset..we have the best GM in the game and an owner who signs the check and stays out of the way,,unlike the guy up the beltway or the guy in dallas orr used to be in I really don’t think we have it that bad..we lost two HOF players in the same season..possibly 3 because the one that no one talked about was matt birk..he played that center position very well when he was don’t just replace players like that..i’m not sure why everyone is jumping on the fire harbs bandwagon but I think we need to step back and appreciate the people and the team we are fortunate enough to have here..not everyone can be new England..and believe me when his holiness brady retires..that team will be head up and quit crying..the glass is not half empty

  8. PG County Ravens on said:

    As Harbs it is obvious he’s looking for an OC who will be aggressive with a physical, run 1st, throw it deep style offense utilizing the zone blocking scheme. Who would fit that? K. Shanahan or G. Kubiak for certain. S. Linehan? Don’t know but like the fact his offenses have been consistently Top 10. These would be my Top 3 based on the info that’s floating around for all us to digest.

    • PG County Ravens on said:

      All the discussions about OCs and DCs being a threat to a head coach because they are young is too funny! Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to hire someone if they didn’t have higher aspirations. Coaching, teaching, and leading is a performanced based business and what is needed with the Ravens is a sense of urgency to win and win in the Ravens style of dominance! The Steve said best: no tolerance of repeated failure and give them a year to fail on their own. BLUF: Harbs must get this OC selection right regardless of who it is! Go Ravens!

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