The Baltimore Ravens found an offensive model that worked for them just enough midseason to allow their defense to carry them with rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the way. It was a very good and very efficient temporary bandaid that was assisted by teams’ unfamiliarity with the quarterback and other personnel being used, but the man responsible for the on-the-fly architecting himself understands that the new season calls for a new approach.
That would be Greg Roman, who was the team’s run game coordinator last season and obviously took on a much more prominent role after Joe Flacco was injured and Jackson was installed, the offense turning heavily to running the ball. They averaged over 200 yards rushing over the final seven weeks.
The Ravens promoted Roman to offensive coordinator this offseason and tasked him with rebuilding the offense around their new quarterback and the stable of running backs behind him, which included surprise performer Gus Edwards, an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers who started the season on the practice squad.
“We’re literally redefining everything we do as a staff, as a group”, Roman told the team’s website recently. “Literally, everything. Every formation, every route, every run, every route concept. How can we make this offense, which up until this point has been good…we’re trying to make it as great as we can be. How can we make it as learnable, as understandable, as streamlined, as efficient” as possible?”.
No matter what Roman does in adjusting the offense, however, it will ultimately live and die with Jackson’s ability to develop into a passer. The fact that he didn’t have many more passing attempts than rushing attempts in 2018 is a pretty stunning realization. He only started seven games but broke the record for rushing attempts by a quarterback in a season.
Roman said that the offense would be “tailored” around Jackson, because, of course, how many offenses are not tailored around the franchise quarterback? It goes with the territory. That tailoring will have “elements” of what we saw in the second half of last season, but it will essentially all be rebuilt from the ground up.
The organization understands that it will have its hands full because it can’t count on opponents being unprepared for Jackson after having an offseason to go over his tape. The first team that they faced more than once last season was able to stop him.
Part of the rebuilding process is going to include the wide receivers. John Brown will be a free agent and Michael Crabtree could be released. Willie Snead would not be an option to start on the outside, geared more toward playing in the slot.