Dec 14

Billick and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh firmly installed Banks as the starter in the 2000 offseason. Then, they signed Sharpe, who wanted out of Denver after 10 years, seven Pro Bowls and two Super Bowl victories, to improve upon the 34 catches the Ravens squeezed out of the tight end position last season. “I told Shannon that we were going to install a system that puts oxygen in the room,” Billick says with a grin.

billickThen, they used first-round draft picks on running back Jamal Lewis of Tennessee and wide receiver Travis Taylor of Florida. All of a sudden, you could see the blueprint and the brainstorms, and Billick was spending hours on his computer drafting plays around a better short passing game that widened the field.

Then when Coates, a free-agent, five-time Pro Bowler who wasn’t re-signed by New England, was brought in, you could see Billick rubbing his hands like some madman in a lab coat.

Billick, who retooled the Vikings’ offense three times in the six years he was their coordinator, is an offensive guru who can produce a solid game plan from almost any variation of personnel. But gurus are only as good as the people playing for them, and when Billick and Cavanaugh broke down the Ravens’ offense, they saw three immediate areas of concern: instability at quarterback, an average running game and the lack of a short passing attack.

“Brian has said so many times since he got here that he’s not a guru who, all of a sudden, is going to have this magic formula in which we can do it this way or that way and win every time,” wide receiver Qadry