The promotion of Greg Roman to offensive coordinator locked in the Ravens’ run-first approach to attacking opponents.
Regardless of how you feel about this commitment to running the football in a pass-oriented league, the Ravens have an offensive identity for the first time in years. They’ve talked multiple times this offseason about “building the offense from the ground up.”
“I think you should do this every year, I don’t know that we all do this every year, and I don’t think enough coaches do this every year,” coach John Harbaugh said. “But we built the defense from the ground up last year, we’re going to build special teams and we’re going to build the offense from the ground up this year. That’s what’s kind of exciting, and we’ll see what comes of it.”
Here are a few key things that should be a part of that foundation.
Become more threatening from heavy personnel
The whole league knows the Ravens want to run the football, which creates a great opportunity for Roman and company to create counters and tendency breaking concepts in the pass game.
In order to do that, they’ll need to add more multi-dimensional players to their heavier/base packages. The young tight end duo of Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews offer some intrigue but will need to improve as blockers to truly unlock it.
Mark Ingram has been one of the most efficient pass catching backs in the NFL. While he won’t offer dynamic ability, his reliable hands and pass blocking in tandem with his running ability gives the team versatility they didn’t have last season. He’s essentially Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon and Ty Montgomery (minus the slot ability) all in one.
Per usual, the Ravens need to find wide receivers. Specifically, someone who can stretch the field and create in space. Having that will keep safeties from intruding into the box but also keep defenders on alert for screens, jet sweeps, etc.
Become one of the leagues’ best play action teams
Per PFF, Lamar Jackson was the most play action heavy passer in 2018 (41.9% of his drop backs). Due to a multitude of factors, those snaps weren’t always as successful as they need to be going forward. Play design will be part of it. This team has traditionally struggled to scheme receivers open consistently. Roman now being completely at the controls should allow for a better melding of the run and pass game. The hope is between that and what new pass game coordinator David Culley brings, they’ll be able to construct a feared play action game.
Unlock outside zone/off tackle stuff
This is more about acquiring player types. Going back and looking at Roman’s offense in his Buffalo Bills days, he utilized LeSean McCoy a ton on stretch runs and touches on the perimeter. As good as the Ravens are set up at RB right now, they could still stand to add a player of this ilk. Offense is about creating layers to your attack and this would give the team another.
Lamar Jackson as a runner
I don’t get caught up in the sheer number of carries as much as I do the amount of hits he takes. In year two, there should be less read-option and more run-pass option from this offense. Lamar also has to do a better job of getting out of bounds and sliding. Everyone involved needs to make a concerted effort to keep his hits to a minimum.
Establish a deep passing game
One of the more disappointing aspects of the Ravens offense, sans Joe Flacco, is the lack of a deep passing game. The natural benefit of having a successful running game is the ability to take shots downfield off of it. It’s not something we saw enough of in volume or success in 2018. Being able to challenge the entire field stresses a defense and with Lamar’s arm and improv ability, it should be something that’s continually developed.