Is it me or did the Ravens offense seem like it was moving in slow motion at times last year?
There were times I found myself wanting to adjust my TV, just to be sure I wasn’t being deceived as I watched the same play, a two-yard gain, over and over again.
When you take an aging running back with a lot of miles on the odometer, add a hip flexor injury, and combine it with some monotonous play calling, what you get is a perfect storm of frustration.
Another thing that caused me to rub my eyes in a mix of disbelief and confusion was seeing Caldwell continuously running the pistol offense. No matter which reference or source you use to get information about the term “pistol formation”, the consensus is the same: The pistol formation is advantageous if the quarterback is a threat to run the ball.
Don’t get me wrong, Joe Flacco is an incredible athlete, more so then people give him credit for, but he’s no Colin Kaepernick. He’s not a mobile quarterback. He can scramble, he can’t run – there’s a difference. If Flacco starts to juke a linebacker, or two, then I’d offer more support for running the pistol formation.
Enter sanity and Gary Kubiak…
Kubiak’s track record is impressive and proper kudos should go to the front office, AND to John Harbaugh, for being able to reel in such an experienced play-caller to be the new offensive coordinator. And while the decision to hire Gary Kubiak has been much talked about and lauded, it’s important not to overlook a few other key additions.
As the saying goes, you are only as good as the company you keep, and thankfully Kubiak was recently joined by two solid coaches – Thomas Hammock and Bobby Engram.
Hammock, the new running backs coach, has an impressive resume despite only being 31 years old. He held the same position at Wisconsin since 2011. In 2012 Montee Ball rushed for over 1800 yards and a whopping 22 touchdowns. He was selected 58th overall by the Broncos in last year’s draft.
In 2013, Hammock guided James White and Melvin Gordon to a combined 3053 yards and 25 touchdowns. They were the only duo in Division I football to eclipse the 3000 yard mark. If you ask anyone who is familiar with Badgers football, they will tell you how instrumental Hammock was developing players, and Wisconsin’s loss is Baltimore’s gain.
The same can be said for Bobby Engram and Pittsburgh Panthers fans.
Engram, 41, who takes over as receivers coach, is well respected among NFL coaching circles. For the past two seasons he has been an integral part of the Pitt Panthers coaching staff, leading their wide receivers. He has been vital in the development of Tyler Boyd, who led the nation in both touchdowns and receiving yards among freshmen.
With the speed of the game constantly changing and evolving, getting young coaches, with fresh eyes and a lot of energy will be beneficial to an offense that has recently looked stale, lethargic and predictable. Hammond and Engram have a recent history of developing young talent into both current and future NFL players.
The Ravens could have taken a different direction filling these two voids in the coaching staff. The obvious choice could have been looking for a position coach with NFL experience looking for work, or someone trying to make a lateral move to a winning franchise, with hopes of a future coordinator opportunity.
However, reaching into the college ranks, and hiring two young and energetic coaches should pay high dividends in 2014.