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Chiefs Should Look to Ravens Staff for Next Defensive Coordinator

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Current Jets coach and former Ravens DC Rex Ryan was a defensive assistant for a Ravens defense that went 50 straight games without allowing a 100 yard rusher from 1999 to 2001, which happens to be the exact opposite of the Chiefs 2008 defense.

Clark Hunt has reiterated the need for "great football minds" and followed that mantra when he hired Scott Pioli. From there Pioli hired a head coach who had just been involved in a successful season.

Hunt also cites the Steelers as the model organization. They're consistently competitive and don't have multiple rebuilding years like so many organizations inevitably do.

That said, with Todd Haley stating his number one priority is hiring a coaching staff, he should look to the Baltimore Ravens as an example of getting it right. The NFL is a copycat league so the Chiefs should do whatever they can to replicate the success in Baltimore.

The Ravens lost defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to the New York Jets last month. Former linebackers coach Greg Mattison was promoted from within to fill the coordinator void.

Obviously, Mattison isn't available for the Chiefs so let's take a closer look at the four remaining position coaches for the Ravens and see what they've done to be successful.

Clarence Brooks

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Defensive Line Coach

Age: 57

Coaching Experience: 33 years (16 in the NFL)

Years with Ravens: 4

Names like Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs dominate the coverage of the Ravens defensive line. But it's Clarence Brooks has done an excellent job coaching up lesser talent like 4th and 5th round picks Jarret Johnson and Justin Bannan.

He's been the defensive line coach since Rex Ryan arrived in 2005. The Ravens rushing defense is always one of the best and 2008 was no different as they posted numbers good enough for 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and 1st in rushing touchdowns allowed.

Brooks has been successful with high talent (Ngata, Suggs) and with mid-round talent (Johnson, Bannan). Whatever he's doing, he's doing it right.

And it's not just a system thing. The Ravens have been solid on defense for a decade so many folks will point to the system. Some credit may be due there, but Brooks has had success elsewhere. From 2002-2003, Brooks shaped the Miami defensive line into a squad that was ranked in the top 5 in NFL in rushing defense.

Vic Fangio

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Linebackers Coach

Age: 50

Coaching Experience: 30 years (23 in the NFL)

Years with Ravens: 3

Vic Fangio was a coordinator for 11 years before joining the Ravens in 2006 as a special assistant to the head coach/defense. He has defensive coordinator experience with the Panthers, Colts and Texans.

Past success includes building defensive units that were in the top 7 in takeaways on 3 occasions as well as teams that ranked in the top 3 in the NFL in points allowed, 3rd down defense and 1st downs allowed.

Fangio joined the Ravens in 2006 as a consultant. He focused on the defensive side of the ball breaking down opponents tendencies and scouting plays among other responsibilities.

He was promoted to linebackers coach to replace promoted defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Three seasons in and Fangio has been part of two playoff teams and an AFC Championship game appearance. The defense was instrumental in their success in both of those seasons.

After former coach Brian Billick took over the play calling, he heavily relied on Fangio to pick up the slack with the defense.

"Vic became my eyes and ears in the coaching booth."

By the way, the Ravens finished as the top ranked defense that season.

*Fangio was also given the title of assistant head coach which means a move to the Chiefs wouldn't technically be a promotion. Thus, Fangio wouldn't available to us.

Mark Carrier

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Defensive Backs Coach

Age: 40

Coaching Experience: 7 years

Years with Ravens: 3

Relative to the rest of the Ravens staff, Mark Carrier is fairly green. He retired from the league in 2000 after an 11 year NFL playing career. He played free safety for 3 teams including the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins.

Carrier's unit was ranked 2nd in pass yards allowed and 1st in interceptions in 2008. In 2007, the defensive backs were 6th in pass defense and again1st in interceptions.

Some might argue that the Ravens were already talented and Carrier's influence didn't propel them into elite status. And that's a valid argument. We don't know the extent of Carrier's influence.

But we do know that he didn't screw up an already talented group. The Chiefs, like the Ravens, appear to have promising talent at defensive back so it could be argued that Carrier, like he did with the Ravens, could maintain an already talented group of players.

He's young, only 9 years removed from his last game as a player. That would help him relate to the Chiefs' defense that is very young.

From what I gather, Carrier is too green right now for a coordinator position but the fact that he's successfully maintained one of the strengths of the Ravens defense and is young enough to relate to the players makes him an interesting coach to keep an eye on.

Chuck Pagano

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Secondary Coach

Age: 48

Coaching Experience: 25 years (7 in the NFL)

Years with Ravens: 1

So you think Ed Reed is pretty good? Meet his college position coach. Other than his six year stint as a defensive backs coach for Miami, Chuck Pagano spent 18 years in the college ranks coaching defensive backs and linebackers including one stint as a defensive coordinator with UNLV in 1991.

After being hired on nearly one year ago to the day, he teamed with Mark Carrier to create one of the most turnover happy defensive secondaries in the NFL.

He broke into the NFL as a secondary coach with the Cleveland Browns. By his third season with the Browns, Pagano's secondary set a franchise record for fewest passing touchdowns allowed (13...in comparison the Chiefs had 21 last season).

Then, for some reason, he took a job with the Oakland Raiders where he actually had some success (Success...in Oakland. Let that sink in for a minute). The 2006 Raiders posted the league's top pass defense in 2006, Pagano's second year with the squad.

Pagano, like Brooks and Fangio, has a ton of experience in football. Though most of his that is in the college ranks, he's demonstrated an ability to create success with what he was given.

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Baltimore Defensive Coaching Staff is a Factory of Success

The Ravens new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has 37 years of coaching experience. However, coaching the linebackers in Baltimore last season was his first in the NFL.

Rookie head coach John Harbaugh hired him away from the coordinator position with the Florida Gators. He's served in an array of college programs ranging from the University of Michigan to Western Michigan University.

It's important to note Mattison here when the recent Ravens defensive coordinators are taken into account. Baltimore management has done something right in hiring defensive coordinators because the last three have become head coaches.

  • Rex Ryan (2005-2008)
  • Mike Nolan (2002-2004)
  • Marvin Lewis (1996-2001)

The Chiefs will likely be looking all over the NFL for anyone from someone with no coordinator experience to a coordinator retread. The search should focus heavily on a successful program like the Baltimore Ravens.