Three years in a row the Ravens have put up big rushing numbers, and three years in a row they’ve crashed out of the playoffs. But from the sound of John Harbaugh, I don’t know that we’re going to see a dramatically different passing game.
Early in the week, both Willie Snead and Marquise Brown suggested in separate interviews that it’s time for the Ravens to make more of an effort to juice up their passing game. “Whenever you’re the No. 1 rushing [offense] and the 30-something passing [team], that’s not right,” Brown said in an ESPN article.
Listening to Harbaugh, however, I don’t know that things are going to change much. He’s talking about wanting to add a bigger receiver. “If we can bring an Anquan Boldin in here, let’s do it,” he says at the team’s website.
But the Ravens need far more than just upgrading one of their pass catchers to meaningfully change the offense. They need to significantly alter their entire system, with more innovative and dynamic play designs. Pulling that off without spoiling the effectiveness of the team’s kick-ass running game will be difficult.
And Harbaugh on Wednesday indicated he’s not interested in moving dramatically away from the run-dominated approach.
“The reason why I’m strong on this is because it goes back to the same criticism we’ve heard the last three years about not being the type of an offense or the type of a quarterback that some people want to see,” Harbaugh said (in another article written by Jamison Hensley for ESPN).. “They’re just going to have to live with it, because Lamar Jackson has won a lot of football games here and our offense has won us a lot of football games here and we’re not apologizing for … the best run offense in the history of football the last two years.”
Greg Roman remains the offensive coordinator, and he’s been a run guy all along – in San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick, and in Buffalo with Tyrod Taylor. Roman has been in charge of eight NFL offenses; they’ve all ranked in the bottom 10 in rushing, and the last seven have all ranked in the top 4 in rushing. He’ll draw up a good running game, but he’s shown little ability to put together a passing attack that challenges defenses.
It’s early, and we’ll see how the offseason unfolds. But right now, I would guess the Ravens in 2021 will again rank in the bottom 5 in passing (and right near the top in rushing, as long as they can keep Lamar Jackson healthy).
In Roman’s two years as the team’s offensive coordinator, the Ravens have averaged 199 rushing yards per game, but just 196 yards per game passing. I made the mistake in August of assuming they’d move up to about 230 yards in 2020, and I don’t intend to go down that path again.
|GREG ROMAN OFFENSES|