Former Ravens coach and current Fox NFL analyst Brian Billick joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to discuss the current workings of the NFL, how the general managers dominate the league, and what he sees the Patriots doing during this training camp.
“Right now I think it’s a [general managers] league. I think we’re slowly transitioning more and more to the defining of roles,” Billick explained. “More and more I think we’re almost following the baseball model where before, the head coach was that pitcher or head of the organization. Now, particularly with the transition of the new coaches, you have the GMs who say, “Look, we’ll take care of the [salary] cap, we’ll take care of the personnel, you just cover the Xs and Os.’ ”
Following are highlights of the interview. To hear the full interview visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
If you were coaching today, would you prefer to be the team with a lot of expectations, or the one overlooked by critics?
At the end of the day, it’s always about talent. It’s never bad to have a lot of talent, obviously. But you do have to manage it because with that comes great expectations. You watch a team like the [New York] Jets, and typical of [coach] Rex Ryan, “Bring it on, we’re going to be this team, we’re going to win the Super Bowl, we’re going to be good.” And that can energize you, but you do understand there are pitfalls there, and that your vulnerable to some things. If things don’t go real well early, how’s your team going to respond to it?
On the flip side, yeah, it’s kind of nice to lay in the weeds. You’re sitting there in New York on one end and you have the Jets, on the other side it’s the Giants, and your not quite sure. If I know [Giants coach] Tom Coughlin, I know he likes kind of being underneath the radar. But the flip side of that is if you’re underneath the radar, it’s probably because you deserve to be. It’s probably because you have some questions about your teams. At the end of the day I’d always lean toward, “Give me the talent, I’ll deal with the expectations.”
Is it easier for coaches like Rex Ryan to motivate his team compared to Sean Payton in New Orleans?
Well, the thing you have to do when your coming off a Super Bowl [victory] is everybody wants to do well. I remember after [the 2000 Ravens] Super Bowl, I just talked to Sean Payton a couple of weeks ago, from the minute you put your hands on the Lombardi trophy, I mean the minute, all you hear is, “Can you do it again?” You get beat up with it, as do the players, the entire offseason. That can wear you out as well. And our point was, and I think Sean will take the same approach, “OK, we are the reigning Super Bowl champions. But that means nothing for this year, and we’re not even going to talk about it anymore, because this is a whole new ball game.”
I know that up in New England, I was reading where they were taking down some of the pictures of the old guys and references [to the three championships]. There’s no denying that your a three-time winning Super Bowl organization. But that means nothing for this year. So, even though that may be a little bit of coach speak, the message is very clear of what it takes to be successful this year. That’s focus on one game at a time, and what your doing now, not what you were.