Coordinator had little success with offense this year
Posted: Tuesday October 17, 2006 11:02AM; Updated: Wednesday October 18, 2006 12:42AM
Jim Fassel (right) has had little success in getting the passing game going with quarterback Steve McNair.
With his first-place team's sluggish offensive performance once again surfacing as its glaring weakness, Ravens head coach Brian Billick on Tuesday parted ways with offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, his longtime friend and onetime fellow Super Bowl coach.
Billick will assume the play-calling and coordinator duties for the remainder of the season, starting with the Ravens' Week 8 trip to New Orleans. Baltimore, 4-2 and a half-game ahead of Cincinnati (3-2) in the AFC North, has a bye this week.
Billick will not term the move a firing, but Fassel did not resign and has characterized the decision as a mutual parting.
Despite the much-heralded acquisition of veteran quarterback Steve McNair this offseason and the Ravens' 4-0 start this year, Baltimore has again slid to the bottom of the league rankings offensively. The Ravens are 28th overall with 271.7 yards per game, and 30th in first downs, with 15.7 per game. Baltimore has averaged 18.3 points per game -- ranking 18th -- but after scoring 27 and 28 points in their first two games, the Ravens have produced only 55 points in their last four (13.8 per game).
Sources close to the situation say Billick and Fassel -- who coached against one another when the Ravens beat Fassel's Giants in Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001 -- never developed "good chemistry'' in their working relationship, as the two men struggled to find a way to both leave their stamp on Baltimore's offense. Billick was the Vikings' offensive coordinator from 1994 to '98 before taking the Ravens' head coaching job in early '99.
"Working together, the two of them never jelled,'' said one Ravens source. "It got to a point where this thing just never flowed well. Did Brian stay involved with the offense? Sure he did. But that's this league. You have to fight through it as a coordinator. Very few people in this league have a job like [Bears offensive coordinator] Ron Turner's in Chicago, where the head coach lets you coordinate and stays out of it. Most of the time there's going to be involvement from the head coach. The jobs where a head coach isn't involved is the exception, not the rule.''