Fassel's job is to improve passing game

Updated: February 5, 2004, 11:22 AM ET
Associated Press

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 him."

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 Baltimore Ravens." 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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press