OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Brian Billick never came close to duplicating the success he enjoyed early in his career as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, and it finally cost him his job.
Billick was fired yesterday, less than 24 hours after his team concluded a season of high expectations with a disappointing 5-11 record. His entire staff, including defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, also was dismissed.
"I believed that it was time for a change. I believed that we have the nucleus of a team that can get back to the Super Bowl, and we felt that in the next five years we had a better chance with a new coach than leaving Brian in that position," said owner Steve Bisciotti, who made the decision after consulting with team president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome.
Billick won the 2001 Super Bowl in his second season with the Ravens, but since Bisciotti took over full ownership in 2004, Baltimore was 33-33. That included two losing seasons and only one playoff appearance, a one-and-out performance in 2006.
"It's a gut feeling. I have one job here, and that's to have a leader that I think gives us the best chance," Bisciotti said. "We have been losing more than winning lately."
Billick led the Ravens to a franchise-best 13-3 record in 2006. But Baltimore lost a team-record nine consecutive games this season before ending the skid Sunday with a 27-21 win over Pittsburgh.
Bisciotti said he made the decision to fire Billick hours before kickoff and carried out the move yesterday morning in a meeting at the team's practice facility.
"He had to make a hard decision, and he did what he believes is best for the Ravens," Billick said in a statement. "We are friends and will remain friends."
Billick had three years left on a contract that pays $5 million per season. Bisciotti determined a few weeks ago that he would give Billick a chance to right things in 2008, but he changed his mind after talking with Cass, Newsome, and other NFL owners.
"We believe that we will be better with fresh blood or we wouldn't have made this decision," Bisciotti said. "We obviously wouldn't fire Brian if we thought we were where we needed to be."
Billick took the Ravens to the playoffs in 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2006 and finished with an 80-64 record.
"Sometimes the message can get repetitive after a while," 12-year offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said.
Billick was the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings before coming to Baltimore. He was deemed to be an offensive genius when he got to the Ravens, but the team became known for its staunch defense and never had an attack that was remotely as productive as that of the Vikings in the late 1990s.
DAVIE, Fla. - Bill Parcells' shakeup of the Miami Dolphins began yesterday with the firing of general manager Randy Mueller.
Assistant director of player personnel Mike Baugh and college scouting coordinator Rick Thompson also departed.
Also at risk of being fired was coach Cam Cameron, who said he would discuss his future with Parcells this week. On Sunday, the Dolphins became only the eighth team to finish 1-15.
Parcells began work Thursday as executive vice president of football operations.
Mueller was the Dolphins' general manager for three seasons but was in charge of personnel decisions only since coach Nick Saban left a year ago.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Marv Levy stepped down as the Buffalo Bills general manager yesterday, confident he has the team headed in the right direction despite a second consecutive 7-9 finish.
"It has been an experience that I have enjoyed immensely," Levy said in a statement released by the Bills. "Despite an unprecedented number of season-ending injuries, Dick Jauron, his coaching staff, and an admirable core of high-character players are heading in the right direction."
"If my contributions to their efforts have been meaningful, I then take my leave from One Bills Drive, thankful and gratified," said Levy, who had a two-year contract.
The announcement came hours after the 82-year-old Hall of Fame coach opened Buffalo's final team meeting by informing the players of his decision to move on.