Coaching staff changes have always been common in Baltimore. The seemingly perpetual carousel of offensive coordinators is well documented, and the Ravens have recently become a destination for mercenary type coaches such as Gary Kubiak and Leslie Frazier.
The failure to attain consistency on the staff by developing a pipeline of up-and-coming coaches is a reasonable critique of head coach John Harbaugh. Nevertheless, the staff shakeup this offseason could bode well for the team if the Ravens decide to implement a ball control offense that would complement an attacking defense and their elite special teams.
Greg Roman was an important hire, he returns to the Ravens with the title of Senior Offensive Assistant and Tight Ends coach. Roman has an impressive history of producing robust rushing attacks. As their offensive coordinator in 2016, he led the Bills to the league’s best rushing yard average, with a 164 yards per game. Roman fielded capable rushing offenses at both Stanford and with the 49ers under offensive guru Jim Harbaugh from 2009-2014.
The other notable change on offense was the hire of Joe D’Allesandris to replace offensive line coach Juan Castillo. Castillo had a rocky four seasons with the Ravens, his zone blocking scheme contributed to the Ravens 20th best 4.0 yards per carry average last season. After serving as the Bills offensive line coach from 2010-2012, D’Allesandris joins the Ravens following a three year stint in San Diego that ended with disappointing results in 2015.
The aforementioned Frazier left his post as secondary coach in January to become Buffalo’s defensive coordinator. Defensive assistant Chris Hewitt was promoted to take on Frazier’s role. Mike Macdonald, a former inside linebacker assistant, will also now focus on the defensive backs. The Ravens currently do not have a coach specifically for cornerbacks.
Longtime linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale will return for his sixth season in Baltimore, he has a large sideline presence and experience coordinating the Broncos defense. Energetic defensive line coach Joe Cullen will attempt to build on the development of the young lineman in his second year with the Ravens. And Jerry Rosburg maintains his position as a top Special Teams Coordinator and Associate Head Coach.
Considerable pressure will be placed on coordinators Marty Mornhinweg and Dean Pees. Mornhinweg was retained to spearhead the offense after taking over for Marc Trestman in the middle of last season, and reportedly has a good relationship with franchise quarterback Joe Flacco. He should have the latitude to scrap the remnants of the previous coordinator’s uninspiring playbooks to recreate the success he fostered with shifty runner LeSean McCoy in 2011 and power back Chris Ivory in 2013.
Pees helped the Ravens lead the NFL with 18 interceptions last year and post the second best third down efficiency at 35%. The front office has provided his defense with an arsenal of playmakers this offseason - including Tony Jefferson, Marlon Humphrey, Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams. The onus is now squarely on Pees to facilitate a unit that continues generating consistent turnovers, strengthens the Ravens middle of the pack red zone defense and improves the pass rush production from 31 sacks last season closer to the 49 sack mark of 2014.
Surviving the regular season gauntlet to earn a postseason bid in a highly competitive and evenly matched AFC will be difficult. Superior coaching, game planning and play calling will probably separate the contenders from the pretenders. Ravens fans are hoping John Harbaugh’s staff is up to the challenge.