The Ravens hired coach Steve Spagnuolo to their staff as a full-time senior defensive assistant, Head Coach John Harbaugh announced Friday afternoon.
The move adds more experience to the Ravens’ defensive coaching room and a coach and friend that Harbaugh is very familiar with.
“Steve had a number of opportunities in the league right now, and we’re excited he picked the Ravens,” Harbaugh said. “He comes to a staff that we believe is very strong, and he makes us even better.”
Harbaugh and Spagnuolo coached together with the Philadelphia Eagles for eight years and have stayed in touch since.
“The obvious attraction was John and our relationship,” Spagnuolo said. “The one thing you learn in this business is you want to, whenever you can, be associated with character organizations.”
Spagnuolo has coached eight playoff teams, six division title winners, five conference championship games and won Super Bowl XLII as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants.
He became one of the hottest coaches in the league after the 2007 season when he led the Giants’ Super-Bowl winning defense.
Spagnuolo is a big proponent of getting pressure on the quarterback. His 4-3 defense in New York took down Tom Brady and the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, sacking him five times.
Two years later, Spagnuolo was named the St. Louis Rams’ head coach, and held that position for three years (2009-2011). He compiled a 10-38 record during that time. Spagnuolo, 53, is the second former head coach currently on Harbaugh’s staff, joining Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell.
Spagnuolo was the New Orleans Saints’ defensive coordinator last year, but was fired on Jan 24 when Head Coach Sean Payton returned from suspension.
The Saints defense ranked last in the NFL last year (440.1 yards per game), and allowed the most yards in single-season NFL history (4,681). But Payton’s suspension and the suspension of other key defensive players from the bounty scandal contributed to the unit’s struggles.
“Last season was tough. You kind of put that behind you,” Spagnuolo said. “There was no chapter in any book to be written for what happened to us last year. Completely different. So it worked out the way it did. The way I look at this is it’s a big-time blessing to be associated with an organization like this.”
Spagnuolo will help the Ravens defense, which has undergone a youth movement this offseason. He said his role has not yet been thoroughly defined by Harbaugh and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees, but he’s happy to help in any way he can while learning himself.
“His wealth of NFL coaching experience speaks for itself, and he’ll help us across the board," Harbaugh said. "We think he can help with every position on the defense, and we’ll take full advantage of his knowledge and excellent teaching abilities. The Ravens got better today with the addition of an outstanding coach and person like Steve.”
During their time in Philadelphia together, Harbaugh spent time as the special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach. Spagnuolo was a defensive assistant, defensive backs coach and linebackers coach. The two became close friends.
“I love being back working with John; it’s been a long time,” Spagnuolo said. “In the eight years we were together, we had a lot of talks – a lot of good talks – about everything. That’s what I love and respect about him. I know how he sees things.”
Harbaugh also hired another former Eagles coach, Juan Castillo, to his staff late last season. Castillo is the Ravens’ run game coordinator and will help tutor the team’s offensive linemen.
“The staff you have here, whew, it’s pretty blue chip,” Spagnuolo said. “You start looking at the coaches and what they’ve done, it’s a big-time bonus to be associated with that.”.