It’s been a while since the Baltimore Ravens have had much of an offense to write home about, probably since before Ray Rice punched his way out of the NFL. But inklings of potential bubbled to the surface in the second half of last season as a rushing identity with Lamar Jackson under center.
The rookie quarterback out of Louisiana set a new NFL record for the most rushing attempts in a single season by a quarterback in spite of the fact that he only started seven games. His impact on defenses as a rushing threat really opened up the running game as the team would go on to average over 200 yards on the ground per game over the course of his starts en route to a 6-1 record.
Which is one of the reasons that Baltimore elected to promote running game coordinator Greg Roman to offensive coordinator this offseason, replacing Marty Mornhinweg, who was given the opportunity to remain with the organization in another role but declined.
“That’s the direction we need to go, from the way our offense is going to be built from the ground up. We need to start with the running game”, Head Coach John Harbaugh said of that decision. “Then build in the play-action pass. Then the drop-back pass. Kind of build around our quarterback and what he brings to the table going forward; that’s Lamar Jackson”.
Jackson only had a handful more pass attempts than rushing attempts this year, which is pretty astounding to consider given the fact that, you know, he’s supposed to be a quarterback. Teams were not prepared to face the Ravens’ running game with Jackson under center, however, and it showed until they had to face one team twice. Opponents will know in 2019.
“It’s a little overrated, who is in charge”, Harbaugh suggested, noting that the coaches work together during the week to create a gameplan. “Who calls the plays is important, no doubt about it. But those guy work together”. It would continue to be a collective effort, but centered around the running game, “and that’s Greg’s role”.
Roman was first with the Ravens in 2006 and 2007 just before Harbaugh got there as an assistant offensive line coach. He returned in 2017 as a senior offensive assistant and tight ends coach, but was moved to assistant head coach and run game coordinator in 2018.
Now he returns as offensive coordinator, a position that he held under Harbaugh’s brother with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011-2014 and again for two seasons after that with the Buffalo Bills. It’s hard to deny the success of the Ravens’ running game in the second half of last season, so he has another shot at coordinating.