The Ravens kicked off their interviews for a new head coach, as three days of intense information gathering came to a head Friday.
After Baltimore relieved former coach Brian Billick of his coaching duties Monday, an eight-member panel holed up in the main boardroom at team headquarters in Owings Mills, Md. to compile a list of candidates to replace Billick.
What started out as a 30-name tally was whittled down to a manageable total, one that includes former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, a three-year leader of Baltimore's defense.
The Ravens interviewed one candidate Friday, although that won't be Ryan. Ryan, who was let go along with the rest of Baltimore's coaching team, was informed that his close relationship with the decision makers would make him better suited to interview later in the process.
"We discussed Rex in the room, and thought that maybe it wasn't wise to have him go first because we all know him so well," said senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne. "[Owner] Steve [Bisciotti] talked to Rex about that. He won't be the first guy interviewed, but he'll be in the mix."
And what a process it has been. A group that was led by general manager Ozzie Newsome also included Bisciotti, president Dick Cass, Byrne, director of college scouting Eric DeCosta, director of pro personnel George Kokinis, vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty and assistant director of pro personnel Vince Newsome.
After meeting for the majority of time during the day, when each member wasn't in the room, they were working their rolodexes. With Bisciotti, who has fully owned the Ravens for four years, the other seven members have years of NFL playing and front office experience between them, and many tapped on their extensive list of contacts to construct personality profiles on the candidates.
"It really paints a portrait of what a guy is like, and there is real consistency in those reports," Byrne explained. "Sometimes, there is a real juxtaposition in what is said, where one contact will say, 'This guy is very smart,' and another will say, 'He might not be the brightest, but is a hard worker' about the same person. That's rare. Usually, you'll get a very good understanding of what type of person these coaches are."
It is the same protocol the Ravens used in 1999 when Billick was originally hired under then-owner Art Modell. Baltimore's personnel team also takes a similar approach in deciding who to draft each April.
Per NFL rules, the Ravens have until Sunday at 6 p.m. to meet with assistants on playoff teams.
Ryan was fired Monday along with Billick so he could pursue other coaching opportunities in the league. Currently, the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons have openings at their top spot, and Ryan's name has been mentioned in the running for each job.
"Some organizations will keep their assistants under contract until the new coach is hired to protect them, but that means that in the meantime, they will miss out on openings elsewhere," said Byrne. "Steve and Ozzie thought that was unfair. That's why Rex was fired along with the other assistants - so they could speak to other teams."