For weeks, we have all been wondering who the Ravens will add to their coaching team for the upcoming 2017 season. A vacancy was available at quarterbacks coach after Marty Mornhinweg was retained and will just be focusing on his offensive coordinator duties. Another job that was available was the secondary coach since Leslie Frazier left for Buffalo to become the defensive coordinator.
Former offensive line coach Juan Castillo left to coach the offensive line of the Buffalo Bills and joined Frazier, the Ravens replaced him with long time football coach Joe D'Alessandris. Before the departures of Frazier and Castillo, Greg Roman was hired by Baltimore to become the team’s senior offensive assistant and tight ends coach. On Thursday evening, the Ravens filled their remaining coaching vacancies.
According to the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zriebec, the Ravens have promoted defensive backs coach Chris Hewitt as the new secondary coach to replace the departed Leslie Frazier. Hewitt was the team’s defensive backs coach for the last two seasons. He joined the Ravens coaching staff in 2012 as an assistant special teams coach and played for the New Orleans Saints from 1997-1999.
The Ravens also promoted Craig Ver Steeg as the new quarterbacks coach after he was the team's senior offensive assistant before Greg Roman took his place. Ver Steeg has worked with the Ravens since the 2008 season. Ver Steeg has 33 years of coaching experience and previously coached for Rutgers as the schools running backs coach with Ray Rice. The Ravens also promoted Drew Wilkins to assistant defensive line coach and defensive assistant coach Mike Macdonald will assist Hewitt with the secondary.
The primary topic of course, is the internal promotions of Hewitt and Ver Steeg. I'm sure some might have mixed feelings about these decisions by the Ravens brass. Especially promoting Ver Steeg as the new quarterbacks coach. With options like Norv Turner, Mike McCoy and the former Ravens coach Rick Dennison out on the open market, the Ravens were not able to get any of of them. Even though Turner is still available. Trying to lure Gary Kubiak back out of retirement was another popular choice among fans.
In the end, the Ravens made probably the most unpopular choice to stay within the organization. In other words, the "status quo," I'm sure many will say. There is a good reason to these decisions. Hewitt already knows the players in the secondary like Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb, and maybe the most important player impacted by this, Tavon Young. Young will enter year two of his career and it might not have been wise to bring in an outsider to help develop Young in only his second season. Hewitt is familiar with Young and the rest of the secondary.
With Craig Ver Steeg, he has worked with Joe Flacco for all of the quarterbacks career. He probably knows Flacco's strengths and weaknesses better than any coach outside of John Harbaugh. Sure, hiring someone like Mike McCoy would've been the sexy pick, but the Ravens might have figured sticking with someone that already knows Flacco was the better option moving forward. Hall of Fame wide receiver and current Fox Sports 1 analyst Cris Carter said something interesting on the show "Speak for Yourself" a few weeks ago with Jason Whitlock, Colin Cowherd and the now retired Steve Smith Sr. When talking about the amount of offensive coordinators Flacco has had over the last five seasons, Carter said:
"His mind is fried."
He does have a point, which is why outside of a Dennison return, a coach already on the inside might have been best for Flacco to help carry his good 2016 second half performance into 2017.
Whether these decisions on Thursday are popular or unpopular, the bottom-line is this: the Ravens coaches are now in place for the 2017 season. Now it's time for the Ravens to make their decisions on the most important on the field aspect of football, the players. It should be very interesting to see the decisions the team makes with some of their veterans still under contract like Webb, Elvis Dumervil, Dennis Pitta, Kyle Arrington, Kendrick Lewis, Ben Watson, Mike Wallace, Shareece Wright, and Jeremy Zuttah as we approach the free agency period.