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For some reason, I had a hell of a time getting the pge to load. In case anybody else has trouble, here's the text:<br /><br />For the Defense<br />Lewis Brings Expertise From Ravens to Redskins<br /><br /> By Liz Clarke<br /> Washington Post Staff Writer<br /> Sunday, March 24, 2002; Page D01 <br /><br />Few were surprised when Marvin Lewis finally left the Baltimore Ravens. Given his success as the team's defensive coordinator, Baltimore's fans and front office had braced for his departure.<br /><br />But few were prepared for Lewis's choice: Making essentially a lateral move by taking the same job with the rival Washington Redskins.<br /><br />The move was as inelegant as it was unexpected. From the outset, it was fraught with indecision, with Lewis agreeing to interview with the Redskins, then reneging and pledging to stay with the Ravens, only to reverse himself again and sign a three-year deal with Washington in a 72-hour span.<br /><br />And ultimately, it was loaded with implications Lewis never considered: that he had chosen Washington over Baltimore, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder over Ravens owner Art Modell, college coaching wizard Steve Spurrier over Super Bowl champion Brian Billick and money over loyalty.<br /><br />Six weeks later, no one at the Ravens has a bad word to say about him publicly. Even Modell, who calls him "one of my all-time favorite coaches in the NFL," vows to continue lobbying fellow owners to hire Lewis for the next head coaching vacancy as vigorously as ever. But ill feeling lingers in some quarters of Baltimore, articulated by Sun columnist Mike Preston, who skewered Lewis for the decision to "run down I-95 to Washington with his loyalty left behind."<br /><br />Said Lewis, 43, who makes his Redskins coaching debut when the team holds its first spring minicamp this week: "It was going to become a circus no matter what. The 'yes' to stay [in Baltimore] would have been a circus; the 'no' would have been a circus."<br /><br />The histrionics that accompanied Lewis's move from the Ravens to the Redskins -- for a three-year deal that will pay him between $2.7 million and $3.6 million and makes him the highest-paid coordinator in the game -- is the latest flare-up in a longstanding skirmish between the rival cities and rival NFL teams.<br /><br />And it is a window on the lengths to which Lewis apparently must go to become an NFL head coach. Despite masterminding what many consider the best defense in NFL history en route to Baltimore's Super Bowl title two seasons ago, Lewis has been passed over for top jobs in Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Carolina and Tampa Bay. His résumé begs the question: Would a white coach with comparable credentials have to prove himself once more before ascending to the NFL's head coaching ranks, which count only two African Americans among 32 teams?<br /><br />As Redskins fans prepare for their first season under Spurrier, nearly all of the speculation has revolved around the former Florida coach's high-octane offense. Can Spurrier find a quarterback capable of throwing for 400 yards a game? Can he get enough speedy receivers? How will Pro Bowl running back Stephen Davis figure in the mix?<br /><br />But Lewis's defense may have far more to say about whether the Redskins make the playoffs in 2002. With Super Bowl most valuable player Ray Lewis as its anchor, Baltimore's defense carried the Ravens through their last three seasons, its stingy play compensating for a sputtering offense.<br /><br />The key question now is whether Marvin Lewis can replicate that success by finding ways to exploit the talents of players such as linebacker LaVar Arrington, cornerback Champ Bailey and defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson.<br /><br />Moreover, if he can, as so many of his former players and fellow coaches predict, will Lewis bring stability to a Redskins defense that has had four coordinators in as many years or use that success as a springboard to the head coaching job that he has been denied?<br /><br />Says Lewis: "I don't think it's a good thing in coaching to worry about your next job opportunity. It will come when the time is right."<br /><br />Total Control<br /><br />Under the Ravens' offense-minded coaches, Billick and Ted Marchibroda before him, Lewis proved he could run his own defense with little input or supervision. He also had shown an eye for talent, instrumental in the college drafts that landed linebackers Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware and Jamie Sharper, as well as cornerbacks Duane Starks and Chris McAlister.<br /><br />"You can tell when a coach knows what he's talking about and when he doesn't," said linebacker Kevin Greene, who played under Marvin Lewis for three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. "And I respect his knowledge of the game and his passion. He has an overwhelming amount of both."<br /><br />"He's an outstanding coach," said Billick. "Not just in X's and O's, but his ability to relate to players. He's very energetic and a very focused individual."<br /><br />Lewis is an engaging conversationalist: soft-spoken, yet crystal clear; blunt and direct without being impolite; as eager to listen as talk.<br /><br />His office is as neat and detail-oriented as the coach himself, with NFL game footage catalogued on the shelves and color-coded plays drawn up on a board six months before the season opener.<br /><br />He speaks humbly about the privilege of coaching athletes such as Greg Lloyd and Ray Lewis and points with pride to the chair where Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith sat when he recently met with the future Hall of Famer.<br /><br />While Marvin Lewis has filled one of the Redskins' more pressing needs, it is less clear what he has to gain from the move -- other than money.<br /><br />Still, most of his closest advisers supported the move.<br /><br />"I don't think anybody faults him for what he did," said Pittsburgh Coach Bill Cowher, who has known Lewis since high school. "It's a chance to prove himself all over again -- to show he can do it with another group of guys."<br /><br />That is largely how Lewis views it.<br /><br />"It gives me a chance to prove that I can coach a group of guys to a high level again -- push, prod, whatever it takes to get guys to play as well as they physically can play," Lewis said.<br /><br />But Ravens defensive line coach Rex Ryan, who counts Lewis among the top defensive coordinators in NFL history (his father, Buddy, being the other), wonders what Lewis has left to prove.<br /><br />"It's really crazy," Ryan said. "I don't know what he has to do to get a head coaching job because he has done everything as a coordinator."<br /><br />Lewis displayed the hallmarks of a future coach from his playing days at Fort Cherry High School in McDonald, Pa., a small suburb of Pittsburgh with an uncommonly rich vein of football talent running through it.<br /><br />Son of a steelworker and a nurse practitioner, he played quarterback and safety and was a fixture in Coach Jim Garry's office, where he would study tape. During class, he would draw up plays in his notebook but still did well enough to earn a partial scholarship to Purdue, where he planned on majoring in engineering. But he enrolled at Idaho State, which offered a full ride, to spare his parents the extra expense.<br /><br />After Marchibroda's staff was fired, Lewis was the only coach Billick re-hired, despite defensive statistics that were not particularly impressive. But Billick had been impressed with the way Lewis coached against Billick's Minnesota offense.<br /><br />In practice and meetings, Lewis constantly stressed speed. He put a premium on defending the run. <br /><br />He sought draft prospects and free agents with speed, athletic ability and aggression. And he dissected offenses with fanatic precision, then schooled his players on how to respond.<br /><br />"You could tell he put his work in, and he was trying to teach you what to look for and prepare you to do your best," Sharper said. "You didn't know for sure if it was going to work or not, but you went out there believing it."<br /><br />Said Ryan: "He's a great teacher. He's a great schemer. He's got the pulse of the team, and he knows which buttons to push for each player."<br /><br />The fact that Lewis has yet to be named a head coach stupefies those who know him best.<br /><br />After the Ravens' defense paved the way to the Super Bowl championship, Ryan said goodbye to Lewis that night -- he was so sure he would land a head coaching job.<br /><br />But both Cleveland and Buffalo passed him by.<br /><br />It was much the same this past season, with NFL teams turning elsewhere to fill jobs.<br /><br />"I just can't tell you why he was passed over," Modell said. "Sometimes there is nothing specific. It's got nothing to do with color. If anybody is a neutral guy, it's Marvin Lewis. I wouldn't know if he was black, white or purple, and I wouldn't care. I will not say anything bad about Marvin Lewis -- nor could I -- because there is nothing bad."<br /><br />Asked if he was surprised that Lewis was still waiting, Billick said: "That's like asking me if I don't think my daughters are beautiful. It's hard for me to understand why he is not a head coach yet. Anybody who sits down to interview him -- I don't know how you don't come away impressed with Marvin Lewis."<br /><br />Bryan and Joel Glazer, whose father owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, apparently were not. They were the latest to pass over Lewis, hiring Jon Gruden from the Oakland Raiders instead.<br /><br />The experience -- after Buccaneers General Manager Rich McKay had told Lewis's agent that the deal "was done" -- left Lewis deeply hurt, according to associates. <br /><br />But weeks later, Lewis insists he is neither bitter nor perplexed after becoming the casualty of an apparent power struggle between Tampa Bay's owners and management.<br /><br />"People that own NFL teams have the right and continually will hire who they want to hire," Lewis said. "And generally that hire comes through association."<br /><br />A Difficult Time<br /><br />For Lewis, the days that followed were tumultuous. Looking back, he faults himself for making major decisions in haste, which he quickly regretted.<br /><br />It was around 11 a.m. on a Friday, Feb. 8, when Lewis learned he was not getting the Tampa Bay job. Less than two hours later, he was speaking to Spurrier about joining the Redskins. The two set up a meeting the next morning.<br /><br />Billick's reaction caught Lewis off guard, telling him that if he went to speak to the Redskins, it would put the Ravens' front office in an awkward situation. The Ravens had offered him a two-year deal with a handsome raise and did not want to get into a bidding war.<br /><br />Lewis then called off the meeting. Later that night, Billick called back and urged Lewis to think about the decision over the weekend.<br /><br />Said Lewis: "He maintained: 'I'm set up to handle this. I'm prepared to move on without you. So don't feel bad about us. Don't feel bad about anything. Do what you feel is best, but let's get this resolved as quick as possible.' "<br /><br />Lewis spent much of that night and the next day conferring by phone with a trusted circle of advisers that included Houston Texans Coach Dom Capers, Ravens vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome, Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy, Cowher and McKay. His position shifted, and he phoned the Redskins to reschedule.<br /><br />"I just decided it was something I needed to pursue and just hear them out," Lewis said.<br /><br />On Sunday, he met with Snyder and Spurrier and found their enthusiasm contagious. The next day, he was introduced as the Redskins' new defensive coordinator.<br /><br />The parent of a son and daughter, Lewis plans to live near Redskins Park during football season while his wife, Peggy, and their children stay at their Finksburg, Md., home so Whitney, 17, can finish her senior year of high school.<br /><br />"It's a blessing [moving to the Redskins] because we had all the talks about, 'If you go to Charlotte . . .' or 'If you go to Tampa . . .' do they stay there and I live by myself?" Lewis said. "Now, at least I can live by myself and not be that far away."<br /><br />He has been busy -- moving into his new office, lobbying to sign free agent Jesse Armstead, flying to Indianapolis to scout college players and setting up meetings with Redskins players.<br /><br />"He has always made good decisions, and sometimes you just have to go on your own feelings and react on your own instincts. I think that's what he did," Capers said. "I know this about Marvin: Once he makes a decision, he won't ever look back. He's going to give it everything he's got."<br /><br /> © 2002 The Washington Post Company

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