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Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Billick takes over Ravens' play-calling after firing Fassel

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BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick has fired offensive coordinator Jim Fassel and will take over the play-calling for the Ravens offense.

Offensive Content
How the Ravens' offense compares to the rest of the NFL:

• Points per game: 18th (18.3)
• Yards per game: 28th (271.7)
• Yards per play: T29th (4.4)
• Third-down efficiency: 22nd (33 of 90)
Billick said it was difficult for him to let Fassel go, saying he has been "a valuable and loyal coach to me." However, he added, "clearly, in order for us to expand on our 4-2 start we have to have more offensive productivity."

"There was no single incident, no single episode, nothing specific that brought about this change," Billick said of the decision to dismiss Fassel, a close friend. "Something dramatic needed to be done."

But he would not go into what finally sparked the decision.

Clayton's take
Despite the friendship between Ravens coach Brian Billick and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, something had to give with Fassel feeling like he did not have enough freedom in play-calling. Billick announced the Fassel Decision as a firing, but to see a friend fire a friend just two weeks after a 4-0 start just seems strange.

To read more of John Clayton's Quick Hits, click here. Insider

"It serves no purpose to go back and revisit any particular reason why this has been brought about so I'm not gonna do it," Billick said.

Fassel told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the change had been brewing for some time. He said the question of who was running the offense -- Fassel or Billick, himself a former offensive coordinator -- contributed to its lack of success.

"Everywhere I've been, I've gotten the offense up and running pretty fast," Fassel told Mortensen. "It didn't happen here and the reason I believe is that I wasn't in full control."

"This has been building for quite a while and finally I went to Brian last week and said, 'Look Brian, you've always run a good offense and I've always run a good offense, but the bottom line is somebody has to be in charge. Somebody has to pull the trigger and it can't be two guys,'" Fassel told Mortensen.

"Brian was very good about this. He told me, 'You're right. My job's on the line and the only way I can deal with it is if I take control of the offense.'"

When asked whether the Ravens were running his offense, Fassel told Mortensen, "There's a big dfference between being a play-caller and running your offense. Calling plays doesn't matter, it's who's structuring that thing."

Fassel was in his second year as the Ravens' offensive coordinator after serving a season with the team as a senior consultant to the offense.

He previously served as head coach of the New York Giants from 1997 to 2003, guiding the Giants to two NFC East titles, a conference championship, an appearance in the Super Bowl and a wild-card playoff berth.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen and The Associated Press contributed to this story.