The hardest part of Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick’s decision to fire offensive coordinator Jim Fassel was the uncomfortableness of telling a friend that he simply wasn’t working very hard.
The word coming out of Baltimore these days is that Fassel spent much more of his time over the past year angling for a new job rather than focusing on his current one. Time and again, other members of the offensive staff would walk to Fassel’s office with a question or comment, only to be turned away as Fassel spent time on the phone networking rather than focusing on the game plan. Or as one person in the building said this week: “I’ve never seen an offensive coordinator who watched less tape than Jim did this year.”
That’s harsh, but it comes laced with great anguish. Many of Fassel’s former cohorts on the Ravens’ staff are friends from years gone by. Over the past year, those friends had hoped that Fassel would break out of the funk that has afflicted him since he was fired as head coach of the New York Giants in 2003. Since then, Fassel has felt a sense of entitlement, thinking he deserved another chance to be a head coach.
“Jim kept telling everybody all the things he had done as head coach of the Giants and asking, ‘How can Nick Saban [Dolphins] get a job before me? How can Scott Linehan [Rams] get a job before me?’” a source said. “Instead of that, he should have been concentrating on doing a good job.”
It’s got to be a hell of an ego letdown going from being an NFL head coach, let alone one who has taken a team to the Super Bowl, to a mere assistant. Many seem to manage the transition, though, and excel while they wait for another offer. Fassel apparently couldn’t.
There’s no small irony, either, that the offensive coordinator he fired while with the Giants, Sean Payton, got the head coaching job with the New Orleans Saints this year and is on his way to Coach of the Year honors.
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