The Baltimore Ravens offense has been a maligned unit in 2016, and attempts made to fix it have mostly resulted in failure.
The primary attempt to get the Ravens attack back on track took place after a game against the Washington Redskins. That of course would be the change at offensive coordinator, when incumbent playcaller Marc Trestman was replaced by then quarterbacks coach Marty Morninwheg.
Anyone with a remote semblance of eyesight can tell that the move has not paid off in the way the Ravens coaching staff hoped it would, and with Morninwheg now essentially playing the role of lame duck, it is the perfect time for the Ravens to start thinking about what they want their offense to look like in 2017.
Since the season is still in full swing, it would be difficult to point to any specific names on the market that may be a realistic addition to the Baltimore coaching staff. So instead of trying to predict who the Ravens brass will be bringing in, a more salient question at this point would be what do we want the offense to look like next season?
While the question is somewhat general, the answer for me (as a fan who knows admittedly little by comparison) is that I want to see an offense that is much more conducive to the franchise quarterback’s strengths.
Looking around the league, it's almost impossible to find a quarterback who looks more miscast in their offense than Joe Flacco is right now. That's not an excuse for his poor play, mind you; when the quarterback is far and away the highest player on the team, 17 touchdowns against 12 interceptions simply doesn't cut it.
However, when watching Flacco Monday night against the Patriots (and in just about any other game this season) it is painfully obvious that the Morninwheg/Trestman style offense just doesn't work with him as the trigger man. The East-to-West dink and dunk offenses work fairly well with other quarterbacks such as Alex Smith and even Tom Brady, but it doesn't cater to Flacco’s strengths, both physically and mentally.
From a physical standpoint, Flacco is a classic pocket passer with decent mobility and a cannon for a right arm. That cannon for an arm leads directly into Flacco’s biggest mental strength as well.
That is, his ability to tune out any kind of context or noise which may deter him from taking deep shots at any point in a game. While it can be a weakness, (as Flacco has annoyed many a Ravens fan through his carelessness with the ball) his willingness to go vertical with his passing is what made him a respectable quarterback in this league, and ultimately what won him a Super Bowl ring.
That answers the first part of the question; the vertical North/South passing game needs to make its way back to Russell Street badly next season. This of course leads into finishing the answer, with the most obvious sentiment of the century.
The Ravens have to get back to running the ball next season. It not only leads to success for the aforementioned vertical passing game, but it is the very foundation that Baltimore’s offense is built on going all the way back to the days of Jamal Lewis running people over in the second level.
What has been so maddening about the Ravens offense this season is that they seem to beat themselves more than anything. They have done so by getting away from the run almost exclusively when they have success doing it early in games.
Having the ability to run the ball is critical for offensive success in the NFL, and while the Ravens have shown that ability, they just refuse to commit to it. It’s what got Trestman fired, it is the root of all of the offensive issues, and it is probably why Marty Morninwheg will unfortunately be looking for work this offseason.
The personnel seems to be in place, as the offensive line is an above average unit. Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon have both shown promise this year. However, potential can only take an offense so far, at some point the play calling has to be able to maximize, or at least make good use out of it.
Since it is clear that isn't going to happen in 2016, maximizing the potential of the Ravens offense will begin this offseason in the search for a new offensive coordinator.
Have any thoughts on potential coordinators, or ideas for how to improve the Ravens offense? Let us know in the comments down below.