There were several Ravens in attendance at the Under Armour Performance Center recently during the first of three voluntary OTAs last week.
Veteran players as well as new Ravens and rookies alike were present for the first time this offseason as teammates on the field and in meeting rooms. Players gathered by position and as one, knocking off the football rust from the last five months of the offseason.
Many questions continue to face the organization as the 2017 opener creeps closer and closer.
Will Ozzie and company add a veteran wide receiver to replace Steve Smith Sr.?
Who is going to play right tackle with Rick Wagner departing via free agency?
The list goes on.
Even if the Ravens secure the oft talked-about receiver or manage to score a camp casualty right tackle, will it matter much if they continue with what some deem a stale football philosophy? The fact that Marty Mornhinweg was retained to run the offense again in 2017 only adds to these concerns.
In a league driven by offense, can the Ravens continue their ways of old? That’s the million-dollar question and one that could make or break John Harbaugh’s future in Baltimore.
“I want to be the one responsible for the philosophy,” stated Harbaugh from the podium following Thursday’s open practice. “I am accountable for everything that we do on the football team.
“How we play and those kinds of things – the philosophy has been in place. We have not accomplished that vision too often in the last few years. That is what we are shooting for.
“So yeah, heck yeah, it better look a lot different.”
Newly-hired Senior Offensive Assistant and Tight Ends Coach Greg Roman was brought in to get the Ravens running game back on track. That’s a lot to take on for Roman in his first year, and he’ll be leaning on both Harbaugh and Mornhinweg to assist him.
Are fundamental philosophical changes in store?
Harbaugh seemed to dance around the question in typical fashion, not offering up specifics that opponents could use against them.
“That is what we are shooting for in terms of how we play the game, how our offense, defense and special teams play together,” said Harbaugh, “how we try to beat people and how we are going to try to do it in terms of playing field position football, playing a strong turnover game, making the most of our opportunities with big plays and scoring points in the red zone – all of those things to try to choke the life out of your opponent.
“That is the football we have played here for many years. It is always the vision, but we need to do it better than we have the last couple years. That is what we are building toward. I see Marty [Mornhinweg] and [senior offensive assistant and tight ends coach] Greg [Roman] and all the coaches have done a tremendous job.”
It appears as if Harbaugh is taking the message the front office sent out during their end of the of the year presser – about not being happy with failing to reach the postseason since 2014 – to heart.
“I am in every meeting,” said Harbaugh. “I am putting my two cents in there everywhere I can as well. They hear me, and I think they appreciate it. At least they say they do – you know, when I’m around. But, we have a bunch of guys asking a lot of great questions. Our offensive linemen are smart guys; they ask a lot of good questions – tough questions – because they want to know.
“We want to be on the same page. We want to be aligned. We want to be right. We want to be physical. We want to be tough. We want to be efficient. That is what we are working for.”
While we won’t truly see these new philosophies unfold until training camp, it brings an added story line to an offseason that’s been full of question marks.
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