Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: Ranking John Harbaugh’s offensive coordinators

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have literally had a handful of offensive coordinators under John Harbaugh’s watch. Today we’re looking at the offensive coordinators. Who was the best? Who was the worst? Let’s dive into it starting at the bottom:

6. Marty Mornhinweg

Mornhinweg was objectively the worst offensive coordinator the Ravens ever had. After beating the Los Angeles Chargers 22-10 in the regular season, Mornhinweg went into the playoff game against the Chargers with the exact same game plan. The Chargers dominated the Ravens because they were ready for everything Mornhinweg was going to show them all over again. This was Mornhinweg in a nutshell.

Mornhinweg didn’t design the make-shift offense that the Ravens used when Lamar Jackson took over. The offense was frustrating and without rhythm when Joe Flacco was the field general. Mornhinweg and the players never meshed. The playcalling was predictable. Was he better with Flacco than he was Jackson? Yes. That’s still not saying a lot. Every time the offense found a groove under Mornhinweg it lost it a game or two later.

5. Marc Trestman

There really was just no rhyme or reason to what Trestman was trying to do. Trestman got fired in the middle of the 2016 season and that gave Mornhinweg his promotion. While Trestman and Mornhinweg are equals, Mornhinweg’s lazy preparation for a playoff game got him the bottom spot.

Trestman had a tough act to follow up. He had to replace Gary Kubiak after he took the head coaching job with the Denver Broncos. Kubiak was beloved. Baltimore was skeptical of Trestman from the start. The former Chicago Bears head coach hadn’t had a tremendous track record. He had been coaching forever and most of his stops were relatively short visits. He went 13-19 with the Bears and his CFL success didn’t equate to anything of note back in the NFL.

Trestman was obsessed with the idea of the quick passing game. It almost made sense because the Ravens had just had Kubiak bring the west coast offense to Baltimore. Flacco was never a quick-strike quarterback about timing and precision with his short passing. When the run game that had been the foundation of the offense started to go, it didn’t work.

To be fair the 2015 season was a waste. Almost everybody got hurt it seemed like. That excuse kept him employed into the 2016 season. It didn’t take long for Baltimore to figure out there was a problem. Trestman and the offense weren’t a fit.

4. Jim Caldwell

Jim Caldwell is the only one here who coached in a Ravens Super Bowl victory. When the Ravens replaced Cam Cameron with Caldwell in the 2012 season it was the right move. The Ravens were running in the same circle with Joe Flacco. Caldwell gave Flacco the keys and Flacco was able to take the shots that won Baltimore a Super Bowl.

Caldwell’s only full season with the Ravens as the offensive coordinator was in 2013. He got a big promotion to be the Detroit Lions head coach. Caldwell was a great quarterbacks coach. He was an underrated head coach in Detroit, and he’s one of my favorite people in football. It was tempting to have him higher on the list.

The 2013 season was a frustrating one in which the Ravens went 8-8. Caldwell struggled with the run game. The Ravens averaged 3.1 yards per rushing attempt. Joe Flacco had one of his most prolific seasons in terms of yards but had 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Caldwell may have been what the Ravens needed for the Super Bowl run, a change that got them into the right momentum, but he didn’t have a great overall run in Baltimore.

3. Cam Cameron

I love to do black and white evaluations but Cam Cameron is a great example of how there is grey in the world. On one hand, Cameron held the Ravens back as a play-caller, and parting with him was crucial in the 2012 season. On the other hand, he did a great job navigating the shortcomings of a young Joe Flacco’s development. Cameron got Flacco going but he couldn’t take him to the next level.

Cameron fit the Ravens like a glove if we’re being honest. He knew that this was a team that needed strong tight end play and the use of a fullback. He understood that the Ravens needed to be a physical football team and that the run game was important. Cameron shaped a lot of the positive elements from one of the best times in Ravens history. The Ravens went to the playoffs five straight years with a  playoff win. The fact that he made a rookie Joe Flacco work for Baltimore and the Ravens got to an AFC title game, that fact is a positive for Cameron.

It’s easy to dog Cameron. He got fired and it was the right decision when it happened. It’s easy to point out all the things that frustrated you with Cameron (that really could be a whole other article). He was clearly better than Trestman and Mornhinweg. His overall body of work is greater than Caldwell’s in Baltimore. He’s number three.

2. Greg Roman

Is Greg Roman a great offensive coordinator? Nope. Is he a horrible coordinator? He surely has his moments but no he is not. Roman is great at what he’s great at. When it comes to innovation in the run game and working with mobile quarterbacks, he’s the guy you want. When it comes to the passing game, well, Keith Williams will be the man you want.

Roman has developed the most unique offense the NFL has seen in a long time. He needs some credit for that. Roman has had the Ravens rush for more yards than any other team in NFL history and then came fairly close to doing it again the following season. He needs some credit for that. The Ravens have an efficient offense that needs to take the next step. Roman has taken the Ravens to heights the Baltimore offense never had. Jackson is the catalyst and the superstar that allows all of this to happen. Roman does need some credit though and that’s why he’s at number two.

The Baltimore Ravens best OC in the Harbaugh era:

1. Gary Kubiak

Gary Kubiak is one of the best play-callers in NFL history. He’s a certified genius who can get just about any NFL running back over the 1,000-yard marker. While Roman gets the run game better than anybody, Kubiak understood how to set up the pass through the run game better than everybody. Kubiak and Flacco were a match made in heaven. Flacco had the arm to take the shots down the field and the play-action skills to feel comfortable in the offense.

In 2014, Flacco had 3,986 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He had a passer rating of 91,0 (the second-highest in his career). You almost have to wonder how Ravens history would have changed if Kubiak stuck around for four or five years. Nobody got more out of Flacco. Nobody had a better-balanced offense. The run game set up the pass. It was a thing of beauty.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: 3 Big Questions at the Running Back Position

Ravens fans were used to complaining about their offensive coordinator. They didn’t know what to do with themselves when Kubiak made them so happy. The Ravens could have won a Super Bowl in 2014 if it weren’t for their secondary. Kubiak was a one-year oasis of good play calls in an optimized Flacco offense.