NFL.com wire reports:
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (Jan. 15, 2007) -- The Baltimore Ravens promoted Rick Neuheisel to offensive coordinator, although coach Brian Billick said he'll continue to call the plays next season.
Billick fired Jim Fassel as offensive coordinator Oct. 17 and manned the position himself, a move that rejuvenated both the head coach and the Ravens' attack.
With Billick directing the offense, Baltimore went 9-1 before being eliminated from the playoffs with a 15-6 loss to Indianapolis on Jan. 13.
The Ravens expect to rebound next season with virtually the same roster, and Billick anticipates an identical coaching staff -- barring the possibility of defensive coordinator Rex Ryan being hired as a head coach elsewhere.
Billick did, however, bestow the title of offensive coordinator on Neuheisel, who will maintain his responsibilities as quarterbacks coach. Neuheisel will help devise the game plan, provide input on personnel decisions and continue his work with quarterbacks Steve McNair and Kyle Boller.
A head coach at Colorado and the University of Washington before coming to the Ravens two years ago, the 45-year-old Neuheisel brings a host of experience to his new job.
"Rick's abilities are well-documented. He's a very established coach," Billick said. "He's got a great rapport with the players, he's very creative, and he's developed a great relationship with Steve and Kyle."
He worked well with Billick, too.
"Rick and I were able to communicate very readily with one another. It's a great working relationship," Billick said. "He deserves that mantle, and I have no doubt it can be a platform for Rick at some point to be a head coach again at some point."
In an effort to maintain the "continuity" from this season to next, Billick said he will continue to call the plays on Sundays.
"The way it has provided me to connect and stay connected to the players, it is not something that I would readily give up," Billick said. "And at the end of the day, quite frankly, I enjoyed it. It's been a long time since I enjoyed myself that much."
But if Billick finds that calling plays proves to be too taxing next season, he won't hesitate to pitch the task to Neuheisel.
"Certainly, he is prepared to call plays, if that were the case," he said.
In the wake of Baltimore's crushing defeat, Billick was criticized in some circles for a game plan that produced only two field goals. Some said he was too conservative, others suggested he should have run more against the 32nd-ranked defense.
Billick acknowledged he was having the same thoughts.
"It will be many a night before I'm not waking up at 2 and 3 in the morning, seeing plays in my head, second-guessing calls. That's just the nature of it," he said.
But Billick has reason to believe Baltimore will again be a contender in 2007.
"We are going onto a time that, at least in the nine years that I've been here, the least amount of possible change is to come up," he said. "We have a very small number of players that are up contractually. I am very confident we will be able to keep the integrity of this team going forward."
Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said Jan. 14 he would consider retirement during the offseason. Linebacker Adalius Thomas is expected to test free agency and it's possible running back Jamal Lewis will be asked to re-negotiate his contract.
But the nucleus of a team that went 13-3 is expected to return for another run at the Super Bowl. If nothing else, the Ravens certainly enter this offseason with more optimism than a year ago.
"We have fewer unanswered questions going forward than any time since I've been here with regard to our personnel, our quarterbacking situation, the direction of the offense, the personnel that will be staffing it," Billick said. "There are a lot of things to optimistic about, and I'm excited about it going forward."
Way to go Billick!! You promote Neuheisel to offensive coordinator but you're still going to call the plays!?!?!? Sounds like "Brain" Billick has his sacrificial scapegoat in place for the '07 season. Neuheisel should tell him to just stick his complimentary promotion.