Ravens Keep a Step Ahead by Hiring Spagnuolo


After the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV it was no small secret that the key to the team’s success CLEARLY was found on the defensive side of the football.

During the 2000 season head coach Brian Billick fielded arguably the greatest defense of all time and the maestro of the unit was none other than Marvin Lewis.

Predictably, Lewis was courted by a few organizations to be their new head coach, but it’s often difficult for teams to wait on Super Bowl winners. Many clubs just believe that there’s not enough time to get a new head coach up to speed in an efficient way. Plus the challenges of hiring capable assistants that late can be steep.

Sensing that perhaps he wouldn’t be lucky enough to retain Lewis following the 2001 campaign, Brian Billick developed a back up plan. He hired Mike Nolan to be his wide receivers coach. The move raised an eyebrow or two since never during his 18+ seasons as a coach did Nolan have anything to do with offense.

Yet a wide receivers coach he remained during the 2001 campaign.

When the Ravens were knocked out of the playoffs in the divisional round during the ’01 season, teams called upon Lewis once again. And although he didn’t land a head coaching position he did accept a head coach’s salary as the new defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins.

Perhaps in part the move was driven by money. But more likely, Lewis’ exit was motivated by the club’s salary cap purge. He knew the defense would be torn down and after a few years at the top of the defensive food chain, he more than likely thought a bad year could tarnish his resume and hurt his chances at becoming a head coach.

The following season Lewis became the skipper of the Cincinnati Bengals and his first draft pick was Carson Palmer.

Fast forward to this offseason.

John Harbaugh, on the heels the organization’s second Super Bowl Championship and like his coaching predecessor, decided to add to his coaching staff by hiring former St. Louis Rams head coach and two-time defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. “Spags” coached with Harbs in Philadelphia from ’99-’06.

Now incumbent defensive coordinator Dean Pees isn’t a head-coaching candidate in the NFL. He is however going to be 64 at the start of the 2013 season and it’s certainly within the realm of reason that the Dunkirk, OH native, father of six and grandfather of another six, could be considering retirement.

Once again, the Ravens are forward thinking, and should that somewhat expected retirement announcement come from Pees at the close of the 2013 season, the Ravens will be supremely prepared for the transition.

The attention to detail is in part what keeps the Ravens among the league’s premier franchises.

The move to get Spags is yet another example.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

13 Raves on “Ravens Keep a Step Ahead by Hiring Spagnuolo

  1. Alex on said:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you were always criticisizing Harbs as someone who would NEVER hire someone with prior head coaching experience, because that person might be deemed a threat to his job here in Baltimore. I agree it is a great move.

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:


      You are correct, that is one of several criticisms I had for Harbs. Players grow and change and get better. So do coaches. And when you add a Super Bowl win to your resume, job security is certainly better. Plus once again Harbs brings in another friend and also a guy who will probably never be a threat to usurp his title given a rather shaky debut as a head coach.

      Now if in 2014 Jim Caldwell is hired as a head coach somewhere and Sean Payton for whatever reason is fired, I doubt that Harbs gives him a call to be OC in B’more.

      • jman on said:

        Hasn’t JH been hiring head coaches right from the beginning, though? Zorn, Cameron and Caldwell were all head coaches also…

  2. Sdot on said:

    Too bad we don’t produce quality coaches anymore like we used to…Im not sure I feel all that positive about this move if this is truly our future d coordinator in the waiting. Sure would be nice if we could start grooming fresh blood again.

  3. DeputyDawg on said:

    Are on crack or something ? Why can’t you just be a man about it and say you were “wrong” about him ?
    Harbs hasn’t had to worry since 1st season because all he’s done is win every year, has Sean the Bounty man done that, let me help you, NO….
    I’d bet you would never hire Florio to work for you though, would you ?….ROTFL

  4. DeputyDawg on said:

    My comment has been waiting almost 20 mins for moderation…
    What’s Tony running to the staff for help in answering or just gonna delete the ones that are too hard for him…
    lol….I’m waiting !!!!!

  5. jay on said:

    ridiculous how the ravens not only have quality depth on the field but the coaching staff and front office as well. signings like this are why we never miss a beat when lesser teams raid our coaching staff for coordinators, we even have backup coaches lol

  6. JerryB on said:

    Harbaugh turned a very important corner in his firing of Cameron. Whether or not it was his idea or choice, he “pulled the trigger” and the rest, as they say is history. This looks like a very important move for a team that wasn’t very good defensively last year. Pees certainly did a credible job given the circumstances in which he was forced to work, but someone with Spag’s experience is a big plus and speaks volumes about the management acumen of this team! They seem to epitomized an old adage that says, “Plan your work and work your plan”!

  7. Sam B.S.S. on said:

    This article is a bit incomplete. What position does Spags fill, and what’s his style? I’m fairly new to in-depth NFL talk. Otherwise, good information.

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