January 6, 2005

Saints QB's Coach Sheppard Up For Ravens OC Job

Saints quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard, who works closely with offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy and the quarterbacks on the team, is reportedly in consideration for the offensive coodinator job with the Baltimore Ravens. Matt Cavanaugh, the Ravens' 2004 offensive coordinator, resigned under heavy criticism after his squad finished second to last in total offense and averaged only 144.5 yards/game passing, 31st in the league.

Sheppard arrived in 2002 and has been working with QB Aaron Brooks for three of his 5 1/2 years as a starter in the NFL. Brooks has a 56.5% completion percentage and an 82.8 average passer rating in the past three seasons.

A teacher first and tactician second, Sheppard is a respected offensive mind and talent developer. Prior to his three-year tenure with the Saints, Sheppard was the offensive coordinator for one year in Buffalo in 2001. The 3-13 Bills were 27th in the NFL in points scored, and Sheppard had to rely on the woeful Scott Van Pelt and Rob Johnson. Sheppard came to Buffalo from Seattle, where for 1998-1999 he was the quarterbacks coach for Mike Holmgren in Seattle, working with Jon Kitna. In 1996 and 1997, Sheppard was the offensive coordinator for Kevin Gilbride's terrible pair of years in San Diego. Gilbride would later replace his former assistant Sheppard in Buffalo, only to himself be fired after two seasons.

Before then, Sheppard worked as a receivers coach with the Browns/Ravens from 1993-1996, the offensive coordinator/QB coach for the University of California in 1992, the head coach of the New Mexico Lobos from 1987-1991, and various other collegiate coaching jobs in the 1980s.

Although Sheppard didn't work with Billick in his time with the Ravens in the early 90's, Sheppard is being considered along with former University of Washington coach Rick Neuheisel, former University of Illinois coach Ron Turner and Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. A decision may not be made until Linehan's Vikings are no longer active in the playoffs.

Sheppard could also be in the running for the Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator position, as he worked with Saban for two years with the Cleveland Browns, and also the New England Patriots offensive coordinating position. Sheppard was an assistant under Bill Belichick at Cleveland.

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