OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan finished second in the San Diego Chargersâ€™ head coaching derby, a development that ensures that the architect of the NFLâ€™s top-ranked defense will remain here for at least one more season.
The Chargers hired San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner on Monday to replace fired coach Marty Schottenheimer. Ryan was regarded as the frontrunner candidate in league circles over the weekend, but Turner overtook him Sunday night when the Chargers began negotiating exclusively with his representative.
â€œIâ€™m really glad that Rex is going to be back, and Iâ€™m sure heâ€™s going to be a great NFL head coach in the future,â€ Ravens linebacker Bart Scott said. â€œHeâ€™s a huge part of what we do here, and itâ€™s a lot of fun playing for him. Of course, we welcome him back.â€
Ryan, 44, made a strong impression on Chargers general manager A.J. Smith and team president Dean Spanos, but ultimately they decided to go with Turner, a retread who has a 55-82-1 career record during coaching stints with the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders. Turner went 9-23 with the Raiders before getting fired again.
â€œIt was great to sit down and talk football with Rex,â€ Smith said. â€œWe exchanged philosophical views, and a lot of it leaned on defense because of my philosophy that defense wins championships.
â€œThatâ€™s Rexâ€™s expertise. He was born and raised in a football family with a great defensive-minded coach. We talked about his upbringing in football, and I found that very interesting.â€
Ryan led the Ravens to the No. 1 overall defensive ranking for the first time in franchise history, finishing first in fewest yards allowed (264.1) and points allowed per contest (12.6). All four linebackers earned Pro Bowl recognition last season.
In two seasons under Ryan, Baltimore has finished fifth and first in total defense.
Now that the son of former NFL head coach Buddy Ryan has gotten close to joining the head coaching ranks, heâ€™s likely to be a prime candidate for any openings next year. Ryan, whoâ€™s under contract with Baltimore, might also be in line for a pay raise.
â€œIt was quite an experience,â€ Ryan told San Diego reporters after interviewing last Thursday. â€œOnce you go through this process, you realize how much you really do want to be in this position. I know Iâ€™m ready.
â€œI would bring a great passion. I was born to be a football coach. Itâ€™s all I know how to do. I love this game.â€
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland