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Rex Ryan Named Assistant Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator


Ravens head coach John Harbaugh opening statement: "I just want to thank everybody for coming out. I see you guys chose this over the Super Bowl coverage for the announcement of coach [Rex] Ryan as our defensive coordinator. I just want to say I couldn't be more proud, more excited, more fired up than to have Rex Ryan, my good friend, as our defensive coordinator. This is a great football coach and even a better person. We've been friends for a long time. I know he's already built something here. He's built something here that is one of the best in the National Football League, and that's the foundation for us to stand on. Not just as a defensive coordinator, he's going to be our assistant head coach, and that's something that means a lot to me because I feel like we're going to approach this thing shoulder-to-shoulder, side-by-side. We've known each other for awhile; we have a good feel for what we both believe in. We're both coaches' kids. And, I think [with] all the things that come up as the head football coach, I'm going to be able to lean on Rex in a big way. So, welcome and thanks and glad to have you here, man."

Ravens assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Rex Ryan: "The only thing I'm going to say is, man, it's great to be a Raven. Really, that head coaching stuff, I was just kidding about that. I took that approach, I think, two years in a row and it got me nothing. So, I really don't even want to be a head coach [LAUGHING]. Quite honestly, though, when it was clear that I wasn't going to become a head coach, I wanted to stay here in Baltimore. The entire organization here is – you always talk about it's a first-class organization. But, everybody we have in the building – the [information technology] staff, the equipment staff, the training staff, all our media people – everybody here is outstanding. Quite honestly, I was hoping to get some interest from other teams, but I wanted to stay here. I'm just so happy to be here and be part of what I think is going to be a terrific season and a terrific future, obviously."

Are there any lingering hard feelings over not getting something you've wanted for so long? (RYAN) "No, not really. It's just the process. There might have been some disappointment, but I'm not discouraged at all. I think I've grown from the process. It was long, [but] quite honestly I can't wait to get back to coaching football. It's actually a lot more grueling a process than maybe you would think, but I know it's all part of it. The opportunity here to be with John – I don't know if anybody knows this or not – but I went to Ozzie and said, 'Ozzie, if I'm not going to be the head coach, I see the other guys you have on the list, and I want to coach with John Harbaugh. Of all these guys, this would be the guy that I would want to coach with the most.' It's because I know John, I've respected John for a number of years, we coached together at the University of Cincinnati, and I know what kind of coach he's going to be. He's exactly what our football team needs as a head football coach. So, I'm proud to be along side of him and the fact that [the Ravens] have added the title of assistant head coach – it's not just a thing that is just a title and all that, to make you feel good – but John's going to allow me to work with him, and I'm really excited about that."

Was there any reservation on your part to take this job because of how popular Rex is with this team? (HARBAUGH) "Not for one second. To me, that's why I wanted to do it more than anything. With some guys, maybe you would think that way. There are guys out there that you would have concerns [about], but not with Rex Ryan. We go too far back. I love the guy, always have, and I don't know too many people out there that know you, Rex, that don't feel the same way about you. To me, it's a great day for the Baltimore Ravens, and it's a great day for a head football coach to be with Rex in this deal."

What did you learn from this process? (RYAN) "The first thing I learned is that I don't do it very well. No, really, I think I did have a lot of positive interviews, and I don't think I fell on my face too bad; it's just in the end I wasn't the right guy for the jobs. I think here, I knew how John would fit in here. I knew that he is the right guy for the job here in Baltimore. With Atlanta, quite honestly, I thought I was going to get that job. But, hey, I think eventually I will become a head coach -- whether that's three, five, six, whatever years down the road, next year – and that's fine, and that'll be the right time. I think every coach has the goal of becoming a head coach if you truly believe in yourself and your abilities, but again, I'm doing what I love to do – I'm coaching. The fact I'm making the money I'm making is kind of embarrassing, but it's kind of good, too. My dad's probably the happiest guy because, I've got to admit, I'm going to give him a truck, the only one I've had for 10 years. I told him, 'If I have it for 10 years, I'll give you this truck, dad.' So, I'm going to [let him] have it, and I'll buy my wife a new car and drive hers. Either way, that's the only thing that's going to change with me."

You said John Harbaugh is exactly what this team needs; what does this team need? (RYAN) "I think they need a great leader, a guy that has that passion, that desire, and the same goals that everybody has in this organization, and that's to put this team back on track and be competitive every single week. I think he's definitely going to bring that to us. You guys haven't seen John yet, but he's about as passionate of a guy and as much of a competitor as I have ever been around. He's not afraid to get nose-to-nose with a guy who is about 6'6", something like that -- or try to anyway -- coming off the field if he has to. He is a guy that is all about winning. He's about his team going the same direction and not having individual agendas. Everybody has that team goal in mind and that's really exciting for me."

What has the support you've received from the players over these last few weeks meant to you? (RYAN) "It was great. I love 'em."

How far along are you in the hiring process of the coaching staff? (HARBAUGH) "Well, we're moving briskly with that, and there's one more coordinator to hire, the special teams coordinator, which is the third leg. We're excited about that one too. You know how important that one is, and that's going to happen soon. We want to get an offensive line coach in place, a quarterbacks coach in place. I think hiring Clarence Brooks as the defensive line coach – has that been announced yet? Well, we're announcing it now, I guess. That happened today, and Clarence Brooks is going to be on board, and everyone knows what a great job he's done here. He's a great coach and a great guy. Time tells… we'll stand the test of time, we'll find out what kind of staff this is, but it's coming together to be a really good staff, and I'm fired up about it really, the way it's going."

What sort of support did you receive from your family or anyone else that this was the right decision for you? (RYAN) "Oh, no question. My Dad, I think he realizes the type of organization this is and the kind of players that we have, how passionate they are. It's tough. I think if you take another job, sometimes that's the easy thing to do. You go there, you start new, and everything's fantastic. You're all excited about this new thing, they don't know you, the things you used as motivation 10 years ago. [You think] 'Hey, let's blow the dust off them, we can use them again.' But right here, this is the spot I need to be and this is where I want to be. Our players believe, and that's the beauty of it. We've got the right guys, we've got a temperament around here. Ozzie brings in the right kind of players, and one thing we've always talked about is we don't want to coach effort, and that's the thing – we don't. These guys love to play the game, and those are the guys we've surrounded ourselves with, and that's why you have a chance to be successful."

What are you looking forward to doing with your increased responsibilities as the assistant head coach? (RYAN) "Well first of all, it's just a huge opportunity for me to actually be there when the decisions are being made, when they're being thought about and what direction [the coaches are thinking]. I know John's already let me in on some things and helped with some decisions and things like that, so I'm really excited about that. I've been coaching, I guess, 11 years in the NFL, and I realize I have a lot of learning still to do. It's not just a, 'Hey, I've got all the answers.' I'm the wrong guy, I don't. But this is just going to give me another opportunity to learn and maybe when I do get another opportunity down the road, I think maybe I'll be more prepared for it."

What does offensive coordinator Cam Cameron bring to the Baltimore Ravens? (RYAN) "You've got somebody special, there's no doubt. Everybody who's coached [knows] this guy makes you work. From the tackle-overs, the unbalanced lines, to the multi-personnel groupings, and to really [having] a great understanding of the running game, how to attack defenses, the tight end and how to get him involved, and things like that. It's going to be terrific. I know when we talked about it, I said, 'Wow, you mean we can get Cam Cameron?' I'm like, 'You've got to be kidding me.' I never want to tell Ozzie this, I'd come back for a lot less, so I'm glad I never did. But quite honestly, I think he's exactly what we need, and I'm really excited about getting the opportunity to work against Cam every day. You know, one of his assistant coaches went to another team this year, and you saw the difference he made with Cleveland, and just being a part of it. So, I think the whole league is going to want to try to surround themselves with Cam Cameron type of people, and we've got the originator, so I like our chances."

How much does it mean to surround yourself with an experienced staff? (HARBAUGH) "Well, I mean, it's tremendous. I think you could argue [they are] the two best coordinators in the NFL. That's pretty exciting. But, I'm looking forward to the spring practices here and seeing these two guys square off and watch them go head to head. It's going to be competitive. It's going to be fun to watch."

(RYAN) "It is going to be fun, no problem though. Haha, I'm just kidding."

How many players have you had the chance to talk to, and what are you trying to accomplish by talking to them? (HARBAUGH) "You know, I don't know the numbers right now, but, in fact, most of the guys who are in town, they stopped by face-to-face. [I] talked to a lot of the other guys on the phone. The guys on the phone are a little harder to get a hold of, for whatever reason. If you're out there listening, guys, pick up your phone. But, we've talked to a lot of them. It's really just a 'get to know you.' I want to learn about their families, learn about them. Some of them I've known from the past, others I haven't. [I want to] get some input, see what they think we need to do to get this thing on track and started. They've had great ideas. I'll tell you one thing about it. I've told Rex; we've talked about this. The thing you see is a bunch of guys who love football, a bunch of guys who can't wait to get started. I think we're going to enjoy working with one another. It seems like a good group of people."

How are you going to utilize Rex in his role as assistant head coach? (HARBAUGH) "He's going to be involved in every decision. He's the assistant head coach. We said before, we're going to be shoulder-to-shoulder. I take that seriously. To me, it's not a title; it's a responsibility. I know he's going to take it seriously. He's going to be excited to be a part of it. Every decision we make, he's going to be involved with. You can't put a price tag on experience, and you can't put a price tag on good judgment. I think Rex has both of those things, and I'm going to lean on him heavily. I think we'll lean on each other."

You'll probably continue to be mentioned anytime a head coaching vacancy comes up. Does that energize you, or are you just worn out with the process? (RYAN) "I think it does energize you a little bit. But I'm not really motivated that much by becoming a head coach. I'm motivated by, 'Let's get back to work. Let's get a great staff together, and let's go get our players and start practicing.' We know that our football team, these guys are going to be so excited to get this opportunity. You're starting new, even though my side is going to be very similar. But I'm also excited about what John is going to bring to our defense. Being around the Philadelphia Eagles – who have a terrific defense in their own right – I want to pick his brain, and I already have some, to add to our defense. So I'm excited about those possibilities and, quite honestly, getting the bad taste out, and let's go at this thing again. We know we're a better football team than the way we played last year, and we've just got to go out and prove it week in and week out."

How much will you miss [former LB coach] Jeff FitzGerald? (RYAN) "I think Jeff FitzGerald is an outstanding coach. But sometimes, it's an opportunity for Jeff to go out and be with a different franchise and things like that. But there's no doubt in my mind that Jeff is going to be a successful coach. I'm sure he'll be a successful coordinator in the near future, as well."

Are you hopeful to keep [OLB coach] Mike Pettine? (HARBAUGH) "Yeah. Rex could comment even more than I could. Everything I've heard about Mike has been positive, and I was very impressed in the interviews with Mike."

Rex Ryan on Mike Pettine: "I really don't like Mike. No, I'm just kidding [LAUGHING]. It's funny because our backgrounds are so similar, all of our backgrounds – Mike's as well. His father is a legendary coach in Pennsylvania football. I also liked his record against Mike. He's like 5-0 against his son. They always say you'll never be able to whip your dad, and, in our case that's true. I know in [John's] case, [it's] the same, obviously. Mike is a rising star in this game, and we're really proud and fortunate to be able to keep Mike."

At the press conference introducing John as head coach, your boss, Steve Bisciotti, offered an unsolicited diatribe on Ray Lewis. It seemed he felt the need to dispel rumors that Ray had undermined some things. Can you address why he would feel the need to do that? (RYAN) "I think you'd have to ask Steve that question. But just knowing Ray, Ray's one of the most passionate – he is the most passionate person I've ever been around. All he wants is what's best for the football team. He tries to lead our defense every week and does a tremendous job of it. He leads younger players, whether they're offense or defense. This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of player, so we're very fortunate to have him."

What has surprised you about the job so far? (HARBAUGH) "I don't know if anything has struck me about the job other than that there are a lot of guys who want to be in Baltimore coaching. That's not a surprise; that was kind of an expectation, but it's certainly been confirmed. This is a great place to coach. They respect the players here, and they respect the organization."

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