At the end of last season, after the teams playoff hopes were destroyed against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Christmas night, many in Baltimore believed if the Ravens were going to go anywhere in 2017, they had to make the changes at both offensive and defensive coordinator. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees had held the position for five years at that point and it was pretty clear that his scheming and constant tendency for blown leads late in games was becoming tiresome.
On offense, Marty Mornhinweg took over after Marc Trestman was fired five games into the season. Despite having two capable running backs, Mornhinweg's refusal to run the football hurt the offense and a lack of balance was maybe the biggest reason why the team missed the playoffs.
Both were greatly on the hot seat after 2016, but the Ravens front office and head coach John Harbaugh decided to stick with these two coordinators. Rather than firing anybody, they helped build the team by hiring Greg Roman to help with the running game.
Pees and Mornhinweg have one more shot to prove their worth, and, so far, through the first two weeks of the 2017 season, they called perfect games.
While a lot of the credit will go to general manager Ozzie Newsome for building this defense via free agency and the draft, Pees deserves credit as well. The defense so far has been as advertised and more, and Pees has taken advantage of it with different blitzes and coverages, as the unit has forced ten turnovers. The fact that an NFL defense forced five turnovers in two consecutive games, let alone to start the season, is beyond amazing. Against the Cleveland Browns, the ugly head of a Dean Pees defense did show at times by giving up big plays, but they didn't break and maintained pressure on Kevin Hogan and DeShone Kizer.
On the other side of the ball, as the defense gets the majority of the credit, the offense has quietly done well. A lot of it has to do with Marty Mornhinweg's play calling that has a commitment to running the football. Most of all, it's something the Ravens have struggled with over the last two years. Baltimore has been way too pass happy as of late, and that is not the Ravens identity; it isn't who they are as a football team on offense.
Mornhinweg, with the help of the aforementioned Greg Roman, has gone back to those ways against the Cincinnati Bengals and Browns. As a result, everyone on offense has benefited, from Terrance West to Joe Flacco. Things will unfortunately get tougher for Mornhinweg after the season-ending injury to Marshal Yanda. Baltimore's offensive coordinator will have to build a plan to continue the offenses progression without maybe the best offensive lineman in football. The key is to continue the balance on offense and maintain their identity they have helped rebuild for themselves over these first two games.
There is still a long way to go, and Roman's presence still looms large for Mornhinweg's job security. However, both Mornhinweg and Pees have been a vital part in the Ravens 2-0 start to the 2017 season. On the field, the players are the highlights of a game win or lose, but the coaches are the most important piece. Last year, the coaching overall for the Ravens was dreadful. Two weeks into the 2017 campaign, the coaching has been very good thanks in part to Mornhinweg and Pees. They must keep it up, because they are still are under a giant microscope.