OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Jim Fassel found the ideal job to keep
him busy until he can get another head coaching job: senior
consultant to the Baltimore Ravens.
Fassel, fired by the New York Giants after the 2003 season, was
hired Wednesday by the Ravens, who want him to work with
second-year quarterback Kyle Boller to improve a passing attack
that ranked last in the NFL.
Fassel said he expects the job will keep him occupied for a
season -- or until he receives a better offer.
"My goal is to return next year as a head coach, but in the
meantime I would love to have my hand in the game of football. I
don't want to drop out and not be involved," Fassel said. "This
organization wants to win, and if I can help be a part of that,
it's a perfect situation for me."
Fassel's six-year run with the Giants ended after New York lost
its final eight games to finish 4-12. He interviewed in January for
head coaching jobs at Arizona, Buffalo and the Washington Redskins.
By adding Fassel, the Ravens have united both head coaches in
the 2001 Super Bowl, when Brian Billick and the Ravens beat Fassel
and the Giants 34-7.
Sitting side-by-side at a news conference to announce the
hiring, Fassel turned to Billick and said "it wasn't that many
years ago we went head-to-head in the Super Bowl, and you waxed us
good. So I kind of figured if you can't beat him, you'd better join
Fassel and Billick have been friends for years, and Billick
loved the idea of using the former head coach to correct the team's
most glaring weakness in 2003.
"We know clearly that we have to upgrade what we do in the
passing game,'' Billick said. "To be able to have someone of Jim
Fassel's credentials join our staff is a big thing for the
Fassel said the friendship between the two coaches will ensure
that there will be no power struggle.
"This is unique in football. It doesn't work in a lot of
situations," he said. "But Brian and I are close friends and
respect each other."
Billick announced Wednesday that Boller will enter training camp
atop the depth chart and will almost certainly start at quarterback
in the 2004 season opener. The Ravens are still trying to re-sign
Anthony Wright as his backup.
Both quarterbacks have very little experience, which is where
Fassel comes in.
"I can't think of a better person to help in that development
than Jim Fassel," Billick said.
Fassel was adamant in stressing that he would not usurp any
responsibility from Billick, offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh
or quarterbacks coach David Shaw.
"I'm not coming here to do anybody's job," Fassel said. "What
I'm here to do is assist, give experience, look at some things and
make suggestions. I've been a decision-maker a lot of my life, and
right now I'm a suggestion-maker ... This allows me to step back
and do what I love doing, which is coaching and teaching.''
Fassel is generally credited in helping develop John Elway and
Kerry Collins into quality quarterbacks. The Ravens hope he can
have the same sort of influence on Boller and Wright.
"Outside of Bill Walsh, I think Jim Fassel is the best
quarterback teacher I know," Billick said.
Fassel is still under contract with the Giants, so New York will
pay the balance of the $2.7 million remaining for his final year --
minus what he will receive from the Ravens. Terms of the one-year
deal were not disclosed.