Ravens Improving Their ‘iPhone’ L.A. Chargers/Mike Nowak

Street Talk Ravens Improving Their ‘iPhone’

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Ravens coach John Harbaugh compared the team’s offense to the Apple iPhone.

Each year, Apple unveils a new version of the phone, but with many of the same characteristics. 

That’s sort of how the Ravens are building their offense around quarterback Lamar Jackson

“To me, you should be doing that every year,” Harbaugh said about changes. “It doesn’t mean that you actually re-build everything. They don’t change the iPhone, but they add another number on it, and they fix something. 

“We probably did that, from the offense, ground-up. We’re probably doing iPhone 1 now. We have a whole new idea. It’s not that there is anything new in there, concept-wise, that has never been done in football before. But, the way we put it together, to me, is unique and different.”

The Ravens are tailoring the offense to fit Jackson’s skillset and are focused on improving their run-pass option schemes.  Offensive coordinator Greg Roman is tweaking the strategy that the team had already installed over the final 10 weeks of last season when Jackson took over the starting job for Joe Flacco

The biggest difference is the terminology and making sure Jackson and the backups understand some of the new language with all of the concepts and cadences. Jackson will be able to call plays more quickly and ideally pick up big yards by hitting his quick receivers in stride with crossing routes and throwing over the top when defenses stock the box. 

The addition of new assistant head coach/pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach David Culley should help the Ravens become more creative with their game-planning. 

“We felt like we needed to revamp the terminology,” Harbaugh said. “We weren’t going to use old terminology or old parts to put this new thing together. We decided to put the new parts in place. That’s how you communicate. Say it how you want to teach the techniques and all that and how it all fits together. Now, we’re seeing how we want to blend it. 

“That will probably be a process over years, even, certainly over weeks, seeing how we blend it together and what aspects of it we use. We have a big playbook right now. That’s good, but we also have to be good at what we do. That’s the most important part.”

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti quipped earlier this spring that opposing defenses were solely focused on stopping Jackson when he began winning games as the starter. The Chargers perhaps provided a blueprint for shutting him down in their 23-17 victory in first round of the AFC playoffs.

San Diego stacked the box and forced Jackson to try and win the game through the air. The Chargers also used seven defensive backs, instead of four or five, to provide more quickness getting to the ball.

The result?

Jackson fumbled three times, had an interception and was sacked seven times. 

The goal this season is to give opponents more reason to fear the offense. General manager Eric DeCosta added added three-players with game-breaking ability — wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Miles Boykin, along with running back Justice Hill — in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Ravens now have the ability to spread teams out. 

“I think it just makes it hard to focus on one guy,” DeCosta said about the additions. “We played a lot of teams, really good offenses, this year. I had a chance to sit up in the press box and watch some of these offenses, and one of the main common denominators is speed. It makes it tough as a defense.

“As good as our defense has been, it’s a challenge for a team to face speed when you have multiple guys on the field at the same time who can run and make explosive plays. We got a chance to see what Lamar can do this past year, and I think our vision, collective vision, for the offense is to add more guys like that to make it really challenging on the defense.”


Buy Todd’s new book, No Limits, on Mark Amatucci’s storied coaching career at Calvert Hall and Loyola College, at Amazon.

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich

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