Search Begins for QBs Coach

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In losing former Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson, who left this week to run the Oakland Raiders' offense as coordinator, a big void was left in the halls of their Owings Mills training facility.

But, there is no time for sulking.

"There's no doubt we're going to miss Hue," Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron said. "Hue did a great job. Joe's going to play well next year and a lot of that is going to be attributed to what Hue did.

"But you don't want your quarterback to be dependent on a quarterbacks coach. I think Hue has done a great job teaching Joe systematically, conceptually, but I think the things we do will last with Joe. I think that's a tribute to Hue. As a coach, you want the guy to continue to play well because he's been taught well."

The Ravens are already moving forward to fill the void. Rumored candidates have included current Ravens offensive consultant Al Saunders and former Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn, a longtime NFL quarterback.

The Ravens would do well to hasten their search, considering Joe Flacco's continued development is critical to the teams' success in the future.

The second-year signal-caller flourished under Jackson's tutelage. They spent countless hours together after Flacco was drafted out of Delaware in 2008.

With Jackson's help, Flacco managed to produce 6,584 passing yards in his first two seasons, the fifth-most by a starting quarterback in NFL history, behind the likes of Peyton Manning (7,874), Dan Marino (7,294), Drew Bledsoe (7,049) and Jeff Garcia (6,822).

"It's all about whether the new quarterbacks coach can get used to Joe's personality, because Joe's the guy at the helm, and he has to run the offense," said Derrick Mason, who declined to comment on his recent retirement consideration. "Not only does he have to get used to the coach, but the coach really needs to get to know his quarterbacks before anything. I think that's critical for whoever they bring in, or if they use Al Saunders.

If Zorn and Saunders are the two main candidates, which the team has not confirmed, they certainly have the credentials.

Zorn was recently fired by the Redskins after two mediocre seasons, but he had a successful 11-year tenure as an NFL quarterback and previously coached quarterbacks with the Detroit Lions (1998-2000) and Seattle Seahawks (2001-2007).

Saunders spent last year as an offensive consultant, working in an office adjacent to Jackson and Cameron's. He has 27 seasons of professional coaching under his belt, mainly on offense. Although he has never been a quarterbacks coach, he built the most-prolific offense in the league from 2002-05 with the Kansas City Chiefs.

According to Mason, Baltimore's top wideout for four of the past five years, the Ravens must move quickly to fill an important spot.

"The good thing about Coach Saunders is that he's been here a year with Joe, so he knows his demeanor," Mason said. "If they bring in somebody else, that person really needs to spend time with Joe. Hopefully, they bring in someone soon."

While Mason understands the concern for Flacco's first year without Jackson, he is not concerned at all.

"Those guys [Flacco and Jackson] were in meetings all the time," Mason continued. "They met like offensive linemen. Their relationship became a very good relationship for both of those guys. Any time someone leaves from that position, it's going to take some time to get that trust and communication back. But, that's why we have the offseason. They'll get it together."

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh declined to comment about the situation while at the Senior Bowl Tuesday, according to the Baltimore Sun.

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