With Sean McVay headed west to Los Angeles, the Redskins are widely expected to look internally for his replacement as the offensive coordinator. Current quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is a potential candidate for that job; let’s take a look at his resume.
Before becoming an NFL coordinator: After a record-setting career as Pitt’s quarterback, Cavanaugh was a second-round pick of the Patriots in 1978. He was a career backup, starting just 19 games in 13 seasons. But he paid attention while he was holding the clipboard and in 1994 the Cardinals made him their quarterbacks coach. After two years there and one in the same position with the 49ers, the Bears hired him as their offensive coordinator.
For players, * designates Pro Bowl selection, + designates first-team All-Pro
1997 Bears (4-12)
Rankings: Yards 4,990 (17th), points 263 (28th), turnovers 41 (27th), 3rd down 36.0% (21st), DVOA -13.6% (25th)
Notable players: QB Erik Kramer, RB Raymont Harris
Harris rushed for over 1,000 yards and he was the most productive player on offense. Kramer had seen his best days in Detroit. Ricky Proehl was the leading receiver with 58 receptions for 753 yards. As you can see, there’s not much to get excited about here.
1998 Bears (4-12)
Rankings: Yards 4,766 (21st), points 276 (25th), turnovers 34 (24th), 3rd down 34.9% (18th), DVOA -4.6% (17th)
Notable players: QB Kramer, RB Edgar Bennett
The Bears spun their wheels in most respects, including the record and the offense. Kramer was injured and started only eight games, forcing Cavanaugh to call on Steve Stenstrom (7 games) and Moses Moreno (1). Their DVOA did improve significantly, likely due to facing tougher defenses.
After the 1998 season, the Bears fired head coach Dave Wannstedt as well as Cavanaugh. He landed on his feet when Brian Billick was hired as the Ravens’ new head coach and he brought in Cavanaugh his offensive coordinator. A note that Billick’s focus is on offense and it’s difficult to sort out the credit or blame for what happened on that side of the ball. The numbers are presented as they are but keep that in mind as you evaluate them.
1999 Ravens (8-8)
Rankings: Yards 4,778 (24th), points 324 (14th), turnovers 31 (13th), 3rd down 28.4% (31st), -13.8% (27th)
Notable players: WR Qadry Ismail, LT Jonathan Ogden*
With our Pro Bowl performers on defense the offense just had to not lose games and they were moderately successful there. They couldn’t do much more with the trio of Tony Banks (10 starts), Stoney Case (4), and Scott Mitchell (2), splitting time at quarterback. They had Priest Holmes at running back and he was effective when he could play (5.7 yards/attempt) but injuries limited him to four starts and 89 carries.
2000 Ravens (12-4)
Rankings: Yards 5,014 (16th), points 333 (14th), turnovers 26 (7th), 3rd down 40% (13th), DVOA -8.1% (22nd)
Notable players: RB Jamal Lewis, TE Shannon Sharpe, LT Ogden*+
The offense went five straight games without scoring a touchdown. Thanks to the legendary Ravens defense, Baltimore managed to go 2-3 in that span. They started to do better when Trent Dilfer replaced Banks at quarterback. First-round draft pick Jamal Lewis gained 1,364 yards in his rookie season and Holmes rebounded, chipping in 588 yards. The Ravens won their last 11 games including a 34-7 win over the Giants in the Super Bowl.
2001 Ravens (10-6)
Rankings: Yards 5,124 (14th), points 303 (18th), turnovers 36 (25th), 3rd down 35.6% (19th), DVOA 7.0% (24TH)
Notable players: TE Sharpe*, LT Ogden*
They decided to dump Dilfer and hand the keys to Elvis Grbac. He struggled and nobody was disappointed when he left the building after one year. On top of that, Lewis was lost for the season when he suffered a torn ACL in training camp. Given those two factors, ending up in the middle of the pack offensively was a nice achievement.
2002 Ravens (7-9)
Rankings: Yards 4,639 (26th), points 316 (23rd), turnovers 32 (22nd), 3rd down 37.7% (24th), DVOA -6.1% (23rd)
Notable players: RB Lewis, TE Todd Heap*, LT Ogden*+
Lewis was back and he had a solid season with 1,327 yards. Again, quarterback was an issue as Jeff Blake and Chris Redman both started games.
2003 Ravens (10-6)
Rankings: Yards 4,929 (21st), points 391 (8th), turnovers 38 (30th), 3rd down 31.9% (27th), DVOA -12.7% (27th)
Notable players: RB Lewis*+, TE Heap*, LT Ogden*+
Lewis had his big season, rushing for 2,066 yards. That helped compensate for the struggles of rookie QB Kyle Boller, who started nine games, and of Anthony Wright, who started seven.
2004 Ravens (9-7)
Rankings: Yards 4,375 (31st), points 317 (20th), turnovers 23 (9th), 3rd down 31.9% (27th), DVOA -2.1% (16th)
Notable players: RB Lewis, LT Ogden*
Boller played the whole season but he still struggled. Lewis’ output fell by half but he still was over 1,000 yards. At the end of the season, just four years removed from the Super Bowl win, Billick was fired and Cavanaugh was let go along with him.
After leaving Baltimore, Cavanaugh spent four years at Pitt as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2009 he returned to the NFL as the quarterbacks coach for the Jets, Bears, and, starting in 2015, the Redskins.