On Thursday afternoon the Baltimore Ravens scheduled an introductory press conference for both Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram on Friday morning. Before we heard from the two newest Ravens, John Harbaugh and special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Jerry Rosburg took the podium to announce Rosburg’s retirement after 11 years on Baltimore’s coaching staff.
Rosburg, 63, spent the last 18 years of his life coaching in the NFL. Before arriving in Baltimore in 2008, Rosburg held special teams coordinator positions with the Atlanta Falcons (2007) and Cleveland Browns (2001-2006).
The Ravens special teams units consistently ranked towards the top of the NFL throughout Rosburg’s tenure. According to NFL senior writer Rick Gosselin, the Ravens special teams have ranked among the top five units in the past seven seasons.
Coaching Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, and even Matt Stover, Rosburg clearly had an edge. He turned Billy Cundiff into a Pro Bowl kicker in 2010. Jacoby Jones was nominated to his only Pro Bowl in 2012 as a returner. Anthony Levine, Albert McClellan, and Chris Moore are all names that come to mind thinking about players who excelled on special teams under Rosburg.
Assuming the Ravens special teams coordinator role is Chris Horton, who spent the last three seasons with Baltimore as an assistant special teams coach. Formally a seventh-round pick by the Redskins in the 2008 draft out of UCLA, Horton brings three years of NFL experience to his coaching repertoire.
In addition to Horton’s promotion, Randy Brown joins the coaching staff full-time after working part-time for the Ravens as a kicking consultant and part-time special teams coach.
Rosburg cited personal reasons for stepping down. At 63 years of age, it’s reasonable for him to want to be present for family gatherings and sporting events. Harbaugh said that after the Wild Card loss he had a hunch that Rosburg would retire, but his decision wasn’t made until recently.
After Rosburg gave his monologue, he exited the Ravens press conference without taking any questions. This action could be made as abnormal, but Rosburg marches to the beat of his own drum. Perhaps he simply wanted to save time and let the newly-acquired free agents start their press conference as soon as possible.
Coaching in the NFL is not an easy job. There’s no days off during the season and even at certain points of the offseason. Coaches stay at team facilities well past the time players leave. They are always up late scheming, formulating game-plans, and coming up with new plays. Under these circumstances, there’s a lot of time spent away from home.
It’s sad to see coaches go, especially one like Rosburg who’s been with the Ravens for over a decade. At the same time, it’s good to know that Rosburg can now enjoy life after football and watch his grandkids grow up. Ravens fans certainly remember Dean Pees announcing his retirement last year and becoming the Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator a short while later. A return to coaching for Rosburg is certainly possible, but instances like the one with Pees don’t happen often.
The Ravens special teams units will miss Rosburg’s presence as an “encyclopedia” as Horton called him during Friday’s press conference. There will be an adjustment period, but having an in-house replacement will help in terms of consistency. Keep in mind that Harbaugh’s two decades coaching special teams can only benefit the Ravens and Horton.
Rosburg’s retirement continues an offseason full of turnover for the Ravens. With Greg Roman replacing Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator, Wink Martindale will be the only coordinator on-staff during the 2018 season returning for 2019. Then there’s DeCosta beginning his first season as Baltimore’s General Manager, and a number of veterans – Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, CJ Mosley, Eric Weddle – are no longer on the team.
Going into the offseason, the Ravens knew that by trading Flacco and firing Mornhinweg, there would be turnover. Considering the timing of Rosburg’s retirement and Harbaugh’s reaction to Suggs signing with Arizona, there might be more turnover than the Ravens expected. This process began last offseason when DeCosta replacing Ozzie Newsome was announced and when the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson. A year later the turnover is in full force, and the key becomes how the Ravens adapt.
Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens