Born: February 28, 1954, Fairborne, OH
3rd Year w/Ravens
23rd Year Coaching
10th Year NFL
Brigham Young University
Spend enough time with Brian Billick and you’re going to hear those two words. They are cornerstones to his foundation of coaching and leadership. These are ingredients some players and staff lacked when he took over as head coach of the Ravens in 1999. Not any more. You want passion? Watch the Ravens play games or practice. You want accountability? How about the 34-7 Super Bowl victory over the New York Giants last January? How about a World Championship in only his second season as a head coach?
“You have to have passion for the work you do to succeed. If a player doesn’t like to study, practice or train, doesn’t like the physicality of the game, he’s going to have a very difficult time succeeding. Passion is a lubricant for success,” Billick explained. “Accountability is obvious. You have to perform. Accountability is also a sign of respect for your team. It is a reflection of a team’s integrity when individuals take responsibility for their actions.”
In his second year at any level of being a head coach, Billick directed his team to the ultimate prize with the Super Bowl victory. The Ravens finished with a 16-4 record (12-4 in the regular season), blowing by opponents in the playoffs: 21-3 over Denver, 24-10 at Tennessee, 16-3 at Oakland in the AFC Championship and the crushing victory over the Giants in the title contest.
Billick has now coached a Viking offense that set the NFL record for the most points scored in a season - 556 in 1998; and a 2000 Ravens’ defense that smashed the fewest points allowed standard (for a 16-game season) by giving up 165 points, 22 less than the 187 permitted by the 1985 Chicago Bears.
Billick directed the best team in the Ravens’ five-year history last season when the team beat Jacksonville for the first time ever (and did it twice), became the first visiting team to win at Tennessee’s Adelphia Coliseum (and did that twice), and finished the year with 11 consecutive victories, including the playoffs.
The Super Bowl champion Ravens finished first in five important league-wide defensive categories, including shutouts (4), points allowed per game (10.3), rushing yards allowed per game (60.6), rushing yards allowed per attempt (2.7), takeaways (49) and fumble recoveries (26). The team’s turnover ratio of +23 was also the NFL’s best. Baltimore, with rookie RB Jamal Lewis gaining 1,364 yards, was the league’s fifth-best rushing team and was second in time of possession. K Matt Stover led the NFL with 35 field goals; Jermaine Lewis was first in punt returns (16.1-yard average) and P Kyle Richardson was first in the NFL with 35 punts inside the 20.
Billick’s leadership shined in the playoffs when the Ravens outscored their four opponents 95 to 23. The Ravens became the fourth Wild Card team to win the Super Bowl, following the ’97 Broncos, the ’80 Raiders and the ’69 Chiefs. Brian’s ability to keep the team unified and focused last October when the Ravens did not score a touchdown and suffered a three-game losing streak is notable.
There were clear signs in Brian’s first year (1999) as the Ravens’ head coach that he had special leadership abilities. The 8-8 Ravens produced the most victories in the franchise’s four years, won the most consecutive games (4), the most road games (4), including the first victory at Pittsburgh, won four of the season’s final five games, and finished with the best-ever Ravens’ defense (2nd in the NFL).
That season, the Ravens earned the .500 mark in the tough AFC Central, plus a new-found respect around the league, thanks to the strong defense (in the top two in the NFL in five key categories) and an improving offense. The offense evolved into an efficient unit, averaging 25.4 points and 322 yards per game over the final nine games (record 6-3), up from 13.5 points and 268.4 yards per game in the first seven contests (record 2-5). The Ravens outscored their final nine opponents, 229-142, including a 41-14 victory over AFC Champion Tennessee on 12/5/99. QB Tony Banks, who became the Ravens’ starter in game seven, threw a career-high 17 TD passes and a career-low eight INTs in his 10 starts.
“The old saying that states ‘you win championships with defense’ doesn’t work anymore, despite what we did last year. We have to be better balanced now. We can’t rely on the defense as much. We have to be able to score more. We need more big plays as part of our arsenal. We’ll add more ‘explosives’ to our attack this season with the addition of Elvis Grbac, second seasons for Jamal and Travis Taylor, and the maturation that came from our playoff run,” Billick said.
Billick became the second head coach in Baltimore Ravens history when he accepted a six-year contract from owner Art Modell on January 19, 1999. Billick, the highly successful offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings from 1994-98, directed a Vikings’ attack that set a variety of NFL and team records in a 15-1 1998 campaign.
“When we began our search, we couldn’t talk with Brian because his team was in the playoffs,” Modell said. “Instead, we talked with 28 people who had some direct association with Brian.”
“Everything we heard about Coach Billick told us to wait for him,” explained David Modell, the Ravens’ president. The younger Modell and Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens’ vice president of personnel, helped Art during the head-coaching search. “We talked with everybody from the person who introduced Brian to his wife, Kim, to Dennis Green, to Tony Dungy, to Bill Walsh. All of these people painted a picture of a person and a coach ready to take the next step up in the NFL. And, Brian fit the profile of a coach with a set of skills and characteristics we wanted, and he’s proven our assessment was correct.”
“I was very fortunate,” Billick said. “Usually there is one ‘hot’ coordinator and one job available. I had other opportunities, but I picked Baltimore.”
Billick, 47, was the architect of a Minnesota offense that in 1998 shattered the NFL record for most points scored in a season (556), breaking the old mark (541) set by the 1983 Washington Redskins. The ’98 Vikings scored 53 of 56 times they were inside the 20. Minnesota tied for the NFL lead with 41 touchdown passes, shattering a team mark, and scored over 100 points in each quarter for the first time in team history. Minnesota ranked second in the NFL (behind San Francisco) with a team-record 6,262 total net yards and first in the league with 4,328 yards passing. Current Raven QB Randall Cunningham, who replaced the injured Brad Johnson early in the season, led the NFL with a 106 QB rating and set a Vikings’ record with 34 TD passes. Cunningham’s favorite target was rookie WR Randy Moss, who burst onto the NFL scene with 17 TD receptions.
Over his five full seasons as coordinator, Billick guided the Vikings into the top five in the NFL in yards per game, passing yards per game, completions and third down conversions. Under Billick’s guidance, the Vikings recorded their top three offensive seasons (1998, 1995 and 1994), and five of the top 10 offensive campaigns in team history. Most importantly, the Vikings advanced to the playoffs all but one season (1995) during Billick’s tenure. Minnesota played postseason games in 1993-94 and 1996-98.
Billick joined the Vikings in 1992 as tight ends coach. “When he came here, Brian was the only guy with a computer, and now all the coaches use them,” said Vikings’ head coach Dennis Green. Brian was named offensive coordinator three games into the 1993 season, and Minnesota’s production increased dramatically: The Vikings went from 264.8 yards per game over the first six weeks of the season to a 323.3-yard average over the final 10 games. During a three-game winning streak that propelled the Vikings into the playoffs, the offense averaged over 21 points and 351 yards per game. In Billick’s first full season as offensive coordinator in 1994, the Vikings finished second in the NFL in passing yards (4,324) – now the third-most in team annals. Minnesota won the NFC Central Division title, but lost to the Bears in the first round of the playoffs.
In 1995, the Vikings failed to qualify for the postseason, but the offense scored a then-team record 412 points and gained 5,938 yards. WR Cris Carter set a Vikings’ record with 17 TD receptions (tied by Moss). QB Warren Moon set a then-team mark with 33 TD passes (topped by Cunningham’s 34 in ‘98). The 1996 Minnesota team qualified for a Wild Card berth with a 9-7 mark, as Carter grabbed 96 passes and Jake Reed placed second in the NFL with 1,320 receiving yards. Brad Johnson established himself as one of the game’s top quarterbacks, finishing third in the NFL with an 89.4 QB rating. Johnson threw 17 TD passes in only eight starts. The Vikings once again made the playoffs in 1997, qualifying as a Wild Card with a 9-7 record. The Vikings lost starting quarterback Brad Johnson and center Jeff Christy in the middle of the season. Johnson finished fourth in the NFC with an 84.5 QB rating and threw 20 TD passes despite missing three games. RB Robert Smith set team records for rushing yards in a season (1,266), 100-yard games (six) and finished third on the team with 37 receptions. Minnesota’s rushing attack finished second in the NFC with 2,041 rushing yards. They defeated the Giants, 23-22, in the Wild Card round, before dropping a 38-22 game at San Francisco in the Divisional Playoffs.
You can see the pattern in Billick’s coaching history. Quarterbacks have their most productive seasons with his guidance. Moon, Johnson, Cunningham, Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer all transcended in Billick’s system. “Brian finds out what you do best, and he makes that a major part of what the offense will do. He holds you accountable, and he’s a very good teacher,” Cunningham said.
Before his appointment with the Vikings, Brian was a Stanford assistant from 1989-91 under Coach Green. He helped in the development of wide receivers Ed McCaffrey, Chris Walsh and tight ends Ryan Wetnight and Jim Price. All four went on to NFL careers. Prior to Stanford, Billick spent three seasons as offensive coordinator at Utah State (1986-88). Brian helped develop QB Brent Snyder, who set school passing marks with 2,887 yards in 1987 and 3,218 yards in 1988. When he arrived at Utah State, the team was ranked 107th out of 108 NCAA Division 1-A teams offensively. In his final two seasons as coordinator, the Aggies ranked in the top 10 in total offense.
Brian coached receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks at San Diego State from 1981-85 and held the added responsibility as recruiting coordinator. Aztec QB Todd Santos set all-time NCAA passing records during Billick’s tenure. Brian also coached WR Webster Slaughter and TE Rob Awalt (the NFL’s rookie of the year in 1987). “San Diego State gave me a great chance to learn from a good offensive mind like Doug Scovil, to learn what it meant to coach, to be a professional,” Billick said. “Doug wasn’t particularly interested in doing a lot of administrative things, so I absorbed a lot of those and continued to learn what an organization needs to do to function.”
Brian began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of the Redlands in 1977, while helping coach a local high school team at the same time. He spent the following year (1978) as a graduate assistant at Brigham Young University. At BYU, he worked with tight ends and the offensive line. Following that season, Brian was assistant director of public relations for the San Francisco 49ers in 1979-80. Two years earlier (1977), Billick had been drafted by the 49ers in the 11th round, was released and had a brief stint with the Dallas Cowboys. Brian earned All-Western Athletic Conference honors and honorable mention All-America in 1976 as a tight end at Brigham Young University. In 1976, he caught 20 passes for 338 yards and a touchdown. Brian played linebacker at Air Force as a freshman before transferring to BYU.
Since coming to Baltimore in January of 1999, Billick has enthusiastically helped improve the community. Billick gives extra time to the Central Maryland United Way and to the Living Classroom Foundation, where he serves on the board of directors. Brian has hosted significant fundraisers for the Living Classroom, and has had a number of Raven players volunteer at this important educational facility. Billick was picked as the Maryland Chapter of Multiple Sclerosis 2001 “Champion of the Year”. Brian’s wife, Kim, joins him in many of these community works, plus she has helped Baltimore’s Red Cross with a number of important projects.
Billick has co-authored two books. He completed “Competitive Leadership: Twelve Principles for Success” (with Dr. James A. Peterson) this offseason. He previously co-wrote “Finding the Winning Edge” with NFL Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh and Dr. Peterson. This book is a blueprint for developing an NFL team, covering everything from practice schedules to front office structure.
Billick was born in Fairborne, OH on Feb. 28, 1954, but grew up in Redlands, CA. He is the fourth of five children. Billick earned three letters in both football and basketball at Redlands High School. At Redlands, Billick played quarterback and safety. He still holds the California prep record for career interceptions with 21. Redlands retired his jersey number 17 in March, 2001. He was a Helms Scholar-Athlete as a senior. Brian earned a B.A. in communications from BYU, where he also pursued a master’s in communication. Billick endows a scholarship at the communications’ college at BYU. He and Kim (who used to work as an assistant to Tex Schramm of the Dallas Cowboys) have two daughters: Aubree (3/5/84) and Keegan (6/26/89).
1978 (Brigham Young); 1979 (Redlands); 1981-85 (San Diego State); 1986-88 (Utah State); 1989-91 (Stanford); 1992-98 (Minnesota Vikings); 1999-2001 (Baltimore Ravens, head coach).
|MOST CONSECUTIVE PLAYOFF WINS BY COACH AT START OF CAREER, SINCE 1980|
|Brian Billick||4 (active)|
Last updated on 8/22/01.