Success is never guaranteed in the NFL. Coaches can scheme and scheme but unless the players are put into a position to produce, have a proper understanding of those schemes, and have the skill to execute perfectly, it’s all for naught.
Transitioning an offense is never an easy task. The Ravens have dabbled in developing into more of a zone-blocking system over the past few years, yet lacked the proper player personnel and coaching staff to do so.
2014 should be different. In fact it has to be different. The organization has committed valuable resources to bringing in a coaching staff (Gary Kubiak, Rick Dennison, Juan Castillo and Brian Pariani) that have a long history of running/teaching the principles of a zone-blocking system.
“Offensively, that’s where everything starts for us,” Kubiak stated at his welcome to Baltimore presser.
“We’ve got to be able to run the football to make the rest of it go. So, yes. Watching John’s group throughout the course of the years, what they’ve done offensively and how they want to move forward, I think it’s a very good fit. It’s up to us as coaches to put it all together.”
With the coaching staff in place, the Ravens have gone out and found players in free agency that will seemingly fit into their plans. Jeremy Zuttah, Steve Smith, Owen Daniels, and Justin Forsett bring knowledge, experience and physicality for Kubiak’s scheme.
“We ran more inside than outside in Tampa but there was a good amount of outside zone blocking though,” Zuttah stated in an interview last month. “I watched a lot of Houston Texans film over the years so I’m familiar with how they do it.”
“There is a lot of overlap,” he explained. “A lot of the stuff is similar it’s just called something else. It’s just getting used to the new terms and other than that it won’t take much time.”
The signings of Daniels and Forsett will also give the coaching staff two players that can help teach players currently on the roster.
“I kind of embraced that [teaching role] when I was in Houston with the younger guys that were around,” Daniels said. “I wasn’t a vet that held back information.”
“I like to help my teammates and help the team, and I’m looking forward to it now. I’d hope that I have a pretty good grasp of this offense after eight years and that I can communicate to the guys in a way they can understand and just take it and run with it. I know we have smart players here, and they won’t have a problem learning it, but it doesn’t hurt to have someone who has been in it for a while.”
Forsett echoed pretty much the same sentiments that Daniels expressed about helping players understand the concept of Kubiak’s west coast style system.
“Definitely. Being able to come here and help the other guys out, bring people along with the system that we run with the concepts, terminology, things like that – I’m here for that, as well as being able to compete on the field.”
There have been many rumblings from fans as to whether the Ravens are turning into the “Baltimore Texans” which is a fair question looking from the outside in. However, if it provides even more of a smooth transition to the new offense then so be it.
The Ravens still have to shore up the right tackle position and will no doubt do that either through the NFL draft or the free agent wire following other team’s roster cuts.
The organization knows what it has to do and they have fought tooth and nail to get it done thus far this offseason. While success is never guaranteed, the Ravens are doing everything they can to put themselves in every position possible to achieve success.
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