Morn­hin­weg comes with usual con­fi­dence

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needed,” tight end Dennis Pitta said.

Ravens coach John Har­baugh hoped to jolt an of­fense that sim­ply has not worked the first five weeks of the sea­son, and to do so, he turned to a man he knew well from their days to­gether on Andy Reid’s Ea­gles staff.

“I think his style is ob­vi­ous. It’s en­thu­si­as­tic,” Har­baugh said. “He’s very di­rect. He’s very straight­for­ward. … The things I’ve al­ways ad­mired about him [are that] he’s a very de­scrip­tive teacher. He paints a re­ally good pic­ture for the guys. That’s a gift.”

Speak­ing to re­porters Thurs­day for the first time as Ravens of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Morn­hin­weg, who has been the quar­ter­backs coach since the be­gin­ning of last sea­son, of­fered a sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion for why he coaches with such ur­gency.

“I’ll give you one lit­tle thought process that I’ve gone by since I’ve been play­ing or coach­ing,” he said. “This is day to day, man. You’ve got to prove your­self ev­ery day.”

Morn­hin­weg, who of­fi­cially took over the Ravens of­fense Mon­day, has ac­tu­ally done this be­fore. He be­gan his first NFL of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor job with the 49ers in 1997, re­plac­ing his fired pre­de­ces­sor … Marc Trest­man.

Morn­hin­weg and Har­baugh are the same age, 54, but they took very dif­fer­ent routes to the up­per ranks of NFL coach­ing.

Where Har­baugh served a long ap­pren­tice­ship out­side the lime­light gen­er­ally re­served for of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors, Morn­hin­weg was a prodigy — one of the priests of Bill Walsh’s West Coast of­fense.

He had worked with Hall of Fame quar­ter­backs Brett Favre and Steve Young be­fore he turned 35 and was named head coach of the Lions when he was 38.

That great leap proved a mixed bless­ing. Morn­hin­weg took over the Lions at the start of Matt Millen’s doomed ten­ure as team pres­i­dent.

With jour­ney­man Char­lie Batch and even­tual first-round bust Joey Har­ring­ton as his quar­ter­backs, Morn­hin­weg could never get his of­fense click­ing. Detroit plum­meted from 9-7 to 2-14 in Morn­hin­weg’s first sea­son, then went 3-13 in his sec­ond.

And just like that, he was out, with a .156 ca­reer win­ning per­cent­age at­tached to his name. If ca­sual fans re­mem­ber his ten­ure with the Lions at all, it’s prob­a­bly for the time he won a coin toss to start over­time against the Chicago Bears and chose to kick the ball away. In a cruel mi­cro­cosm of Morn­hin­weg’s time in Detroit, the Bears kicked a win­ning field goal be­fore the Lions had the ball again.

Nonethe­less, he’s al­ways de­fended the de­ci­sion, ar­gu­ing that it made sense to avoid play­ing into the stiff wind that af­ter­noon in Chicago.

Morn­hin­weg’s em­brace of risk traces all the way back to his days as a star quar­ter­back for Oak Grove High in San Jose, Calif.

There, he had the good for­tune to cross paths with a young coach on the rise named Mike Holm­gren.

“I re­mem­ber Marty as a lit­tle Pop Warner guy, prac­tic­ing at our high school,” Holm­gren said. “His dad was the coach.”

Morn­hin­weg was one of four sib­lings. He was born in Ed­mond, Okla., but his fam­ily moved to Hous­ton and then Bos­ton be­fore set­tling in San Jose when he was 12 and about to make a name for him­self as a

Marty Morn­hin­weg file

Age: 54 Ex­pe­ri­ence: 22 years in the NFL Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor jobs: San Fran­cisco 49ers, Philadel­phia Ea­gles, New York Jets Style: West Coast of­fense NFL in­flu­ences: Mike Holm­gren, Steve Mar­i­ucci, Andy Reid Joined Ravens: 2015 prep gun­slinger.

Oak Grove had an heir ap­par­ent at quar­ter­back whose mother hap­pened to be the sec­re­tary in the school’s front of­fice. But Morn­hin­weg was so good, even in his first year, that Holm­gren and head coach Phil Stearns felt they had to start him.

“The other kid’s mom, oh boy, she didn’t talk to me for a long time,” Holm­gren re­mem­bered with a chuckle. “Marty was an out­stand­ing player. He was never very big, but he came in with tremen­dous skill.”

Holm­gren said he was very de­mand­ing and sharp-tongued, even work­ing with high school play­ers, but Morn­hin­weg ac­cepted it all be­cause he was so ea­ger to learn ev­ery­thing he could about foot­ball.

Morn­hin­weg led his teams to vic­tory af­ter vic­tory, once emerg­ing from the locker room on an in­jured an­kle to rally the Ea­gles in a win-or-go-home play­off game.

Holm­gren tried to get coaches at Di­vi­sion I pro­grams to re­cruit his star, but they couldn’t look past his 5-foot-10 (to be gen­er­ous) frame. “They just wouldn’t do it,” he said. So Morn­hin­weg went to Mon­tana, then Di­vi­sion I-AA, now Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Sub­di­vi­sion, where he started four years, made all-con­fer­ence and broke scads of school records.

To make a lit­tle money on the side, he cleaned up in poker games at a cow­boythemed bar and then mopped the floors on overnight shifts at another Mis­soula night spot.

Though he played one in­jury-short­ened sea­son for the Den­ver Dy­na­mite in the nascent Arena Foot­ball League, he knew a lengthy pro­fes­sional quar­ter­back­ing ca­reer was not in the cards. So coach­ing seemed an ob­vi­ous place to re­di­rect his driv­ing en­thu­si­asm for the game.

He be­gan, as many coaches do, with an es­ca­lat­ing se­ries of col­lege jobs — grad­u­ate as­sis­tant at Texas El-Paso, run­ning backs coach at North­ern Ari­zona, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at South­east Mis­souri State, tight ends coach at Mis­souri.

But per­haps the smartest thing Morn­hin­weg did was main­tain con­tact with Holm­gren, who helped him get a job as a train­ing camp quar­ter­back with the 49ers at the height of the Walsh-Joe Mon­tana era. Morn­hin­weg scrib­bled Walsh’s plays, sched­ules and say­ings onto le­gal pads and scraps of pa­per he’s kept in a folder ever since.

Holm­gren brought him to the Green Bay Pack­ers as an of­fen­sive as­sis­tant in 1995. He was the quar­ter­backs coach for the 1996 team that beat the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots in Su­per Bowl XXXI.

Holm­gren’s staff was a breed­ing ground for fu­ture head coaches, and Morn­hin­weg forged im­por­tant re­la­tion­ships with sev­eral of them, in­clud­ing Reid and Steve Mar­i­ucci, who brought him to San Fran­cisco as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

The per­for­mance of those high-scor­ing of­fenses, led by vet­eran quar­ter­back Young, set up Morn­hin­weg for his ill-fated head coach­ing shot in Detroit.

“He is a very con­fi­dent guy, and he doesn’t lack in that will­ing­ness to gam­ble. He’ll take shots,” Holm­gren said. “But as a head coach, there are so many things you have to deal with — not the fun things like call­ing plays — that you don’t have to deal with as a co­or­di­na­tor. I think if he had to do it over, he would prob­a­bly do a few things dif­fer­ently.”

Early in his first train­ing camp, Morn­hin­weg slammed his sun­glasses down a half-hour into prac­tice, stalked off the field and rode off on his Har­ley-David­son. He was try­ing to sig­nal the need for a cul­ture change in Detroit, but crit­ics por­trayed the ges­ture as an act of empty machismo.

They used such mo­ments to bury him when the Lions did not per­form on the field.

Not that Morn­hin­weg was ever daunted. He ex­pected to turn Detroit around right un­til the day Millen fired him. “I never saw him get down,” said Kevin Hig­gins, his quar­ter­backs coach with the Lions and now an as­sis­tant coach at Wake For­est. “I re­ally ad­mired that about Marty. He­had this be­lief that he was go­ing to get it done, no mat­ter what.”

Reid threw Morn­hin­weg a life­line, hir­ing him onto his Ea­gles staff in 2003 and pro­mot­ing him to of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in 2006. They stayed to­gether an ad­di­tional seven sea­sons, an un­usu­ally long time in the ever-chang­ing NFL.

Reid, also a Walsh dis­ci­ple, had enough faith in Morn­hin­weg’s acu­men that he ceded play-call­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to his co­or­di­na­tor, a move he did not make lightly.

“If I’m in a rut, I feel very com­fort­able turn­ing to Marty,” Reid said at the time.

Morn­hin­weg then worked as Rex Ryan’s of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor with the New York Jets for two sea­sons be­fore sign­ing on as Har­baugh’s quar­ter­backs coach be­fore last sea­son.

Away from the game, Morn­hin­weg is a fam­ily man who has four kids with his wife of 26 years, Lind­say, whom he met when he was work­ing one of his first coach­ing jobs, at North­ern Ari­zona. One of the cou­ple’s sons, Skyler, is a se­nior quar­ter­back at Columbia; he be­gan his col­lege ca­reer at Florida.

Morn­hin­weg joked that Lind­say is tired of the clut­ter ac­cu­mu­lated from 31 years in coach­ing. And his mo­tor­cy­cle? It didn’t make the trip to Bal­ti­more.

“I like to go fast,” he said. “And it’s not good.”

Morn­hin­weg was a quar­ter­back, he raised a son who’s a quar­ter­back and his most im­por­tant NFL re­la­tion­ship at the mo­ment is with another quar­ter­back, Joe Flacco.

“I kind of like him a lit­tle bit,” he dead­panned Thurs­day, draw­ing laughs from re­porters.

It helps that they’ve al­ready worked to­gether for more than a year. And though Flacco adopted a muted tone this week, not wish­ing to speak ill of Trest­man, he sug­gested the Ravens of­fense might op­er­ate with more swag­ger go­ing for­ward.

“Marty is an ex­cit­ing guy,” Flacco said. “He is con­fi­dent, and he brings a lot of con­fi­dence to the room. He is very sure in what he is do­ing and what we are do­ing.”


Ravens of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Marty Morn­hin­weg, mid­dle, talks with his unit af­ter prac­tice at Un­der Ar­mour Per­for­mance Cen­ter this week. “I think his style is ob­vi­ous. It’s en­thu­si­as­tic,” coach John Har­baugh said. “He’s very di­rect. He’s very straight­for­ward.”

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