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Ravens Hire TEs Coach Brian Pariani, Promote Steve Spagnuolo To Secondary Coach

Posted Jan 29, 2014

Steve Spagnuolo is also becoming the team’s assistant head coach.


The Ravens have hired Tight Ends Coach Brian Pariani and have appointed Steve Spagnuolo as their new secondary coach. Spagnuolo has also been named the team's assistant head coach.

Pariani replaces the longest-tenured coach on John Harbaugh’s staff, Wade Harman, who was with the team from 1999 to 2013.

“Brian has earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s top tight ends coaches, and we’re excited that he was available and willing to join us,” Harbaugh stated.

“Another factor that immediately makes him valuable to us is his familiarity with the offense we want to run. We are making changes on offense, and Brian will be able to help teach and implement them.”

Tight ends see a lot of action in Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak’s offensive system. In 2012, the Texans used the most two-tight end sets in the NFL.

Now Kubiak will have somebody he’s very familiar joining him in Baltimore to coach the tight ends. Pariani was Gary Kubiak’s tight ends during his entire tenure as head coach in Houston (2006-2013). He was previously a tight ends coach with Kubiak in Denver as well.

Known for being an intense, business-like coach, Pariani has a track record of getting the most out of his tight ends. He has developed strong pass-catching tight ends who are also good at blocking in the Texans’ stretch-zone run scheme.

Owen Daniels was a fourth-round pick who became a two-time Pro Bowler (2008 and 2012). Daniels caught 70 passes for 862 yards and two touchdowns in 2008, and 62 passes for 716 yards and six scores in 2012.

Houston’s Garrett Graham, another fourth-round pick, turned into a solid receiving option last year when Daniels went down. He caught 49 passes for 545 yards and five touchdowns. Rookie sixth-round pick Ryan Griffin also caught 19 passes for 244 yards and one touchdown last year.

The Ravens will be looking for Pariani to do the same with whatever tight ends they have on the roster next year. They currently only have two tight ends on the roster in Matt Furstenburg and Nathan Overbay.

Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are both unrestricted free agents. Pitta said he would “love to stay” and General Manager Ozzie Newsome said “we would like to have Dennis on our football team.”

Pitta is very much in the same mold as Daniels, both as sizeable pass-catching tight ends who can find openings in zones, create mismatches and flex out wide. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk may also work with Pariani and could be more of a pass-catching option in Kubiak’s system.

Spagnuolo, who was a senior defensive assistant last year, will be filling the void left by Teryl Austin’s departure to be Jim Caldwell’s defensive coordinator in Detroit.

Spagnuolo will be returning to being a secondary coach for the first time since he was coaching with Harbaugh in Philadelphia (2001-2003). Although Spagnuolo has been a defensive coordinator (New York Giants, New Orleans Saints) and head coach (St. Louis Rams), his roots are coaching defensive backs.

The Ravens have a talented, young group of defensive backs for Spagnuolo to work with. Cornerback Jimmy Smith emerged last year, and is expected to start opposite Lardarius Webb again in 2014. Rookie Matt Elam started nearly the entire year, and the Ravens could welcome in a new playmaking free safety, according to Newsome’s desires.

Last season, Spagnuolo helped Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees studying opponents and contributed some ideas and insight that were different from what the Ravens had done in the past.

“How fortunate are we to have a former NFL head coach, former defensive coordinator and secondary coach become the Ravens’ coach for our defensive backs?” Harbaugh said.

“Steve is one of the outstanding teachers in the NFL, and he already worked with our defensive staff and players last season as a senior assistant. Our players respect him, and a number of our veteran defensive backs recently said to me that they wanted Steve to coach them.”

Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg was the team’s assistant head coach, and has moved up to associate head coach.

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