2019 NFL coaching changes: Baltimore Ravens

2019 NFL coaching changes: Baltimore Ravens

Coaching Change

2019 NFL coaching changes: Baltimore Ravens

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(Mark Konezny, USA TODAY Sports)

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will have a playcaller suited for his game in 2019 after Greg Roman was promoted to offensive coordinator. Last year’s playcaller, Marty Mornhinweg, had been given the option to stay onboard as an advisor to the passing game. Head coach John Harbaugh said Friday, Jan. 11, Mornhinweg has decided to leave the franchise.

Roman, the 2018 assistant head coach and tight ends coach, ascends to his third offensive coordinator gig. He coached in this capacity with the San Francisco 49ers, under Jim Harbaugh, from 2010-13 and in Buffalo from 2015-16. The 2016 season was cut to just two games for Roman after Rex Ryan fired him following a 23-offensive-point, 393-yard loss in which the defense gave up 37 on the scoreboard. Scapegoat much?

The prior season, Roman led Buffalo’s offense to finishing first in rushing yards and ground scores on the second-most carries. The passing game wasn’t nearly as impressive, however, with a 31st-place finish in attempts, a No. 28 ranking in yardage, and a 20th-place showing in touchdowns. Tyrod Taylor would go on to toss 20 touchdowns vs. six interceptions. The bright spot on offense was LeSean McCoy being paired with Karlos Williams in the backfield. The duo ran for 1,463 yards and 10 touchdowns, chipping in 388 yards and four more scores through the air. Taylor would add 568 yards and four TDs of his own.

Rewinding a little further in time, Roman’s run with the 49ers was inconsistent but looked quite familiar to his time in Buffalo: run-centric, pass when needed.

Table: Greg Roman’s offensive rankings (2011-15)

Offense
Rushing
Passing
Year
Tm
Role
Yds
Pts
TOs
Att
Yds
TD
Y/A
FL
Att
Yds
TD
Int
NY/A
2011
SF
OC
26
11
1
3
8
12
19
1
31
29
24
1
20
2012
SF
OC
11
11
2
7
4
6
3
9
31
23
16
1
8
2013
SF
OC
24
11
2
3
3
4
11
16
32
30
23
1
10
2014
SF
OC
20
25
11
9
4
21
4
24
29
30
22
5
28
2015
BUF
OC
13
12
8
2
1
1
1
18
31
28
20
5
12
Average
19
14
5
5
4
9
8
14
31
28
21
3
16

Clearly, it is a system predicated on pounding the rock, and having running quarterbacks at every stop has only helped the cause. Colin Kaepernick’s best seasons came under Roman, and he was able to help make Taylor a starting quarterback. Run-pass options (RPOs), read options, wildcats … no one will say Roman is incapable of getting the most out of his quarterbacks’ athleticism, which obviously will be a major factor in Jackson’s game. Roman’s offenses have averaged placements in the top five for rushing attempts and bottom five for passing yards (second-fewest attempts). He had been criticized by some pundits for stifling the advancement of Kaepernick as a passer, though.

The Ravens have a couple of decent running backs in the stable but none with game-changing skills or bell-cow traits. Improving the passing game is a must, and it starts with efficiency. When a system doesn’t throw with volume, the quarterback must be not only be accurate but make efficient decisions. How did the rookie version of Jackson fare in these areas? Not as poorly as one would expect for accuracy, but his decision-making could have used some work. Per PlayerProfiler.com, Jackson was given a composite ranking of 2.8 out of 4 in terms of accuracy, which is clearly better than average. He completed 62.7 percent of his throws when drops and pressured throwaways were removed. Decision-making rankings of note include his 32nd ranking for dangerous throws (13) and a No. 37 rating for “interceptable” passes (7).

Efficiency rankings: Adjusted yards per attempt (6.4), air yards per attempt (4.1), and pressured completion percentage (40.5) leave something to be desired. For comparison, Drew Brees completed 51.6 percent of his throws (2nd best), averaged 8.7 adjusted yards per attempt (2nd), and finished seventh in average air yards (4.6). Jackson has a long way to go on the pressured percentage and adjusted yards per attempt, but he isn’t terribly far off the mark for average air yards. The most egregious of his efficiency stats came in the red zone. He completed only 37.5 percent of his passes, which ranked 54th. Fifty-fourth. Fifffffffttttteeee-fourth. Yipes.

Personnel changes could come from wide receiver John Brown being a free agent in March. The 29-year-old receiver and Jackson weren’t on the same page during Jackson’s run as a starter, and Brown could find options on the market that pique his interest. Consider his return a toss-up at this point.

Returning to the backfield, Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon are the only two RBs under contract after March. Ty Montgomery, Javorius Allen and Alex Collins are unrestricted free agents in March. The Ravens could opt to address the position in the draft or look to a number of pedestrian veterans in free agency, if they feel the Edwards-Dixon duo won’t cut the mustard.

Michael Crabtree and Jackson’s favorite target, Willie Snead, are under contract for 2019. Jordan Lasley was a fifth-round pick in 2018, and Jaleel Scott was a fourth-rounder. Tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews were added in the first and third rounds of the 2018 draft, respectively. This passing game could use someone to stretch the field, which still may be Brown, but most of the attempts from this aerial game will be chain-movers and not “wow” throws.

Fantasy football outlook

The natural maturation of entering Year 2 and a full offseason of learning the system while working with the “ones” will go a long way in helping Jackson. Roman will put his second-year quarterback in good situations to make plays through play-action passing, quick-release designs, and low-risk situations. All of those aspects are favorable for the Ravens finding success in ’19 but do little to make fantasy owners confident in Jackson as an option. His legs will keep him in the matchup-play conversation some weeks, but the Louisville star is no better than a QB2 in any traditional setup.

The backfield remains in flux. If Edwards and Dixon end up being the one-two punch, neither back is exciting in fantasy. Edwards is better in standard scoring and could max out as a weak RB2, while Dixon has flex worth in deep PPR leagues. Expect someone to be added for competition, at a minimum.

Crabtree is a low-end No. 3 in PPR but is best drafted as a flex/WR4 option. He could have a respectable role in the red zone, provided Roman can get Jackson’s accuracy woes in this area of the field to substantially improve. Snead is a possession guy whose role in the intermediate passing game is as a safety valve for Jackson. He is no better than a roster-filler in cavernous PPR contests.

The tight ends will be interesting to watch in the offseason. Hurst should be the better option, although injuries are a concern, and Andrews is more than capable of carving a significant role for himself. Given the volatility in the position in 2018, plus his pedigree, Hurst should be a sleeper in next season’s drafts. Tight ends have enjoyed mild-to-moderate success in Roman’s offenses (Vernon Davis, Charles Clay).

This offensive system works in the NFL when combined with a stout defense. Unfortunately, it rarely produces much in the way of consistent fantasy success.

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