Greg Roman Installs Ravens Offense. Expect Emphasis on Passing Game.
Ravens Organized Team Activities (OTAs) got underway on Monday. Today the media attended The Castle for the first time this year. Expect wild speculation and overreactions related to who showed up, who didn’t, and who made or missed plays in gym shorts.
OTAs are important for the teams, but harder for us to understand. Just don’t get hurt is all we ask. Much of OTAs are about installing your playbook. Getting new players acclimated to the system. Building the team camaraderie. For Greg Roman, first season as the Ravens Offensive Coordinator, it is about him installing his playbook.
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Last year, when Lamar Jackson took over for Joe Flacco in week 11, Roman, having managed some mobile quarterbacks before, put his spin on Marty Mornhinweg’s playbook. When I went back and watched a handful of those games and you see the pre-snap formations are largely Mornhinweg West Coast offense staples. The pistol formation was added to the fold, which they probably had installed already with mobile QBs in Jackson, and Robert Griffin III on board.
This year we’ll see Greg Roman’s scheme in full. There was emphasis on the run game when Jackson became the starter. But that emphasis will become greater this year when Romans staples, like the diamond pistol formation, or full house backfield, and the wing-T formation, placing two TEs on the end of the O-line meaning the defense has to account for up to eight or nine gaps instead of six. A huge advantage in the running game.
But Greg Roman knows that the Ravens passing game has been inefficient of over the years. One of his goals is going to be bringing balance back to the offense. That doesn’t mean that each game has to see a 50/50 run/pass ratio. But that you’re going to need to take advantage of what defenses give you, and being able to run it when necessary, and move the chains through the air if the defense takes the run away. Like the Chargers defense took away the run the last time we saw the Ravens in action. You can’t be one dimensional and win consistently.
The LA Chargers bounced Baltimore from the playoffs with a modified 6-2 defensive front, and seven defensive backs on the field. 6-2 is a youth football defense where passing is sporadic. In the 6-2 you have enough men in the box to cover all the gap assignments. You funnel running plays back to the middle of the field with backers on, or near the line of scrimmage setting the edges. Eight in the box, controlling gaps, and taking away the outside running lanes is how the Ravens prolific running scheme under Lamar Jackson, stalled for three quarters against LA. It was too little too late when they took to the air and made some big plays over the top of the loaded front.
It was noted that the Ravens didn’t adjust their game plan from the successful one they employed two weeks prior when they beat the Chargers on the road. LA adjusted in the playoff game having been the beaten team. The Ravens did not. This is a copycat league. LA slowed Lamar Jackson and the ground game. You know and I know, and the Ravens have to know that the 13 teams the Ravens play this year are dissecting the tape of that game to come up with their game plan to stop the explosive legs of Lamar Jackson. It’s important the Ravens have answers in the passing game.
How has Roman fared with his offenses in years past? Let’s look at the DVOA numbers from Football Outsiders.
What does that look like in traditional stats? Under Roman highlighted in yellow.
Alex Smith (2011 – 12)
Colin Kaepernick (2012 – 14)
Tyrod Taylor (2015 – 16)
This goes to show you that Roman isn’t just a run game guru. He’s had success calling the shots for the offense in years past. His passing offenses were top five in efficiency in the height of the 49ers’ success. His offenses overall have been top-10 in overall efficiency in four of the six years he was a coordinator.
In traditional stats, expect his quarterbacks to attempt about 440-450 passes. Lamar Jackson extrapolated over 16 games would have attempted about 389 passes last year. Passer ratings over 90, QBR around 65 is attainable under Roman given how Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, and Tyrod Taylor have performed for him. That would be a benchmark I’d look for from Jackson in his sophomore season to come. His passer rating was 84.5 and QBR was 48.7 as a rookie.
Hard to say where Jackson ranks among those other three QBs who operated under Roman given he’s got the one year under his belt. But I think being the best of the group after another year or two is well within reach, and good enough to carry the team to multiple playoff appearances.
To aid in the passing game the Ravens drafted Marquise Brown in round one, and Miles Boykin in round three. The potential talent there, plus Lamar Jackson’s rookie season behind him, combined with Greg Roman’s underrated history of getting some decent passing numbers out of mobile QBs, I’m excited to see what the Ravens offense can do in 2019. The ground work of which is being laid as we speak.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]