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Ravens News 1/26: OC Matchmaker and more

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Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

John Harbaugh is not afraid of change. His search for an offensive coordinator will reveal how the Ravens might evolve. - Jonas Shaffer

Under Marty Mornhinweg, who served as coordinator from Week 6 of the 2016 season through the end of the 2018 season, quarterback Joe Flacco averaged 38.4 pass attempts per game, according to TruMedia, which ranked behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger in that three-season span.

Under Roman, meanwhile, who replaced Mornhinweg ahead of the 2019 season, Jackson averaged 27.5 pass attempts per game, which ranked 23rd among qualifying quarterbacks over the past four seasons. Spread formations and three-wide-receiver looks gradually disappeared from the Ravens’ call sheet, replaced by condensed sets and tight-end-heavy personnel groupings.

The Ravens ranked second in rushing efficiency this past season, their third top-three finish in the past four years. But even as the team’s running game evolved over the years, succeeding with and without Jackson, its play-action success tumbled.

In 2019, Jackson’s NFL Most Valuable Player season, the Ravens averaged a robust 0.25 expected points added per play-action play, according to TruMedia — seventh best in the NFL. In 2020, that rate fell to 0.06 EPA per play (16th). In 2021, they were at 0.07 EPA per play (24th). This past season, the most quarterback-friendly play in football was worth just 0.03 EPA per play (25th).

The Ravens’ rapidly growing list of offensive coordinator candidates - Jeff Zrebiec

Brian Johnson

Age: 35

Current position: Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach

Notable experience: Began his coaching career at the University of Utah after playing for the Utes; offensive coordinator at the college level for Utah, Houston and Florida; hired as the Eagles quarterbacks coach in 2021.

Johnson is one of the hot names on the coaching circuit with Jalen Hurts’ rise into an MVP candidate. He’s reportedly in the mix for a few of the other offensive coordinator openings. There’s been no word if the Ravens have requested permission to interview him, but they couldn’t do that until Monday, a day after the Eagles play in the NFC Championship Game. There are a lot of connections between the Ravens and Eagles organizations, so Harbaugh figures to be well aware of Johnson’s strengths. A young offensive coordinator who played the quarterback position in college and has helped Hurts develop into one of the league’s most dynamic players would probably have Jackson’s attention.

Zac Robinson

Age: 36

Current position: Los Angeles Rams pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach

Notable experience: Played in the NFL for parts of four seasons after a playing career at Oklahoma State; joined Sean McVay’s staff as an assistant quarterbacks coach in 2019 after Zac Taylor was hired to coach the Cincinnati Bengals; promoted to pass game coordinator last year.

Robinson is viewed as a rising star in the coaching ranks and has garnered interest for other offensive coordinator openings, including one with the Chargers. The Ravens interviewed him Tuesday, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. Grabbing a young and promising assistant from the McVay system would certainly be viewed as a coup for Harbaugh and a significant departure from the offensive approach under Roman.

NFL offensive coordinator matchmaker: Assigning the perfect coach for each job opening, including Bucs, Jets - Jared Dubin

Ravens: 49ers pass game coordinator Bobby Slowik

Under former offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the Ravens consistently had one of the most effective running games in the NFL. Being able to build a scheme around Lamar Jackson — arguably the best rushing threat at the quarterback position in the history of the league — will do that for you. Early in Roman’s tenure, the Ravens were able to marry that run game with a strong, downfield passing attack based mostly around play action. But the passing concepts grew increasingly stale in more recent seasons, and Baltimore’s offense took several steps backward. Enter Slowik, who has experience incorporating the pass in run-heavy offenses in San Francisco. He was also at the helm of the passing game under Kyle Shanahan for what was the most efficient season of Jimmy Garoppolo’s career until he got injured, and obviously for these last two months with Brock Purdy under center. That seems like a good foundation for the Ravens to tap into.

Best team fits for the top quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft - Trevor Sikkema


This makes too much sense, right?

Signs seem to point to the Ravens and Lamar Jackson not being on the same page with a long-term contract. If they can’t get a deal done, expect Jackson to get the franchise tag. If he gets the tag, one of two scenarios could play out. Jackson could play under the tag, in which drafting a player like Richardson would be ideal since he could sit for at least a full year behind one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league — a skill set Richardson would love to emulate. Or Jackson could not play on the tag, forcing his way out, in which case Richardson could take over an offense that has been well-equipped to emphasize the rushing ability of a quarterback. Though Richardson finished 2022 with a passing grade of just 69.4, he earned an 85.1 rushing grade.

Greg Roman is out as offensive coordinator, but Baltimore seems like an excellent landing spot for Richardson, regardless of whether he’s starting next season.

2023 NFL mock draft (Version 2.0): Ravens find a replacement for CB Marcus Peters in first round - C.J. Doon

22. Baltimore Ravens: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

If the Ravens can’t find a way to bring back veteran Marcus Peters, cornerback becomes one of the team’s top offseason needs. The 6-foot, 188-pound Smith is an instinctive player who broke up 15 passes and recorded four interceptions on 70 targets over the past two seasons, according to PFF.

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Chiefs, Eagles, Bengals Get Richer with Round 1 Additions - Ian Cummings

22) Baltimore Ravens: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The Ravens don’t just need WR talent. They need proven, reliable WR talent. There are many exciting prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, but none offer a floor higher than Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He’s a 1,000-yard receiver and target funnel right out of the gate.