By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens didn’t make the playoffs. The season is over and it ended on a six-game losing streak. It was not an emotionally rewarding season and there are plenty of things to think about. The main conversation for the Ravens Flock is the fate of the coaching staff. Is John Harbaugh getting a pass? Should Greg Roman be canned? Is Don Martindale a head coaching candidate elsewhere? There’s a lot to sift through.
Greg Roman, should he stay or should he go?
Greg Roman has given the Ravens one of the most productive offenses in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens actually had the sixth-most yards per game in the NFL this season. The Ravens finished the season third in rushing yards per game. Even with Lamar Jackson missing the last portion of the season, the Ravens finished 13th in passing yards per game. These are numbers that make a strong case for Roman to come back in a year without Ronnie Stanley, Gus Edwards, and J.K. Dobbins.
That being said statistics could make a compelling argument either way. 22.8 points per game isn’t exactly where you set the bar in the NFL. A 36.4 percent conversion rate on third down isn’t exactly doing the trick either. Nobody wants me to get into the red zone stuff, Baltimore is scarred from their team’s inability to punch the ball in the end zone when it matters. There are numbers for both sides of the argument, but more and more, it feels like Roman deserves an exit.
Many people want to point to the Ravens’ postseason failures as a reason to avoid giving Lamar Jackson his big payday. Roman’s predictability and lack of flexibility have more to do with the Ravens’ missteps in 2019 and 2020. You actually don’t need a complicated answer here. Does it feel like the same old thing over and over again? Does it feel like Roman is hindering progress because you can only get to a certain point with his offense? It does.
Moving on from Roman would allow the Ravens to see if Jackson could do it with another coordinator. The results could go either way for Jackson, but if he shined with another coordinator it answers some questions before a big contract extension. A fresh start for Jackson could be what he needs to get back to playing at the insane video game like display of greatness we got way too used to. Giving Roman some leeway because of injuries is fair. Roman isn’t an awful coordinator.
That doesn’t mean he’s the right coordinator for next season. The Ravens don’t need a complete overhaul. They need to take the next step when their guys are back in action. If you feel deep down that Roman isn’t taking that next step moving on makes a lot of sense. It’s not going to happen but it would be a defendable action by the team.
Don Martindale: An undervalued treasure for the Baltimore Ravens
If you hold Don Martindale’s job on the chopping block because Kevon Seymour and Robert Jackson can’t cover to save their life, that’s a bit unfair. The Ravens’ defense was in a tough spot. The biggest difference-maker was also a rookie (Odafe Oweh) finding his footing in the NFL. Once Marlon Humphrey was hurt the Ravens’ secondary was basically a poorly stacked skid of freight with no shrink-wrap, if the truck hits a speed bump it’s all falling down.
The Ravens defense had some lumps and blown coverage was a big problem all year. But look at what pundits think is the Ravens’ draft needs. The Ravens need a true free safety, they need a better defensive line and as usual more pass rush. Martindale had the toughest assignment he ever had. The Ravens only allowed 23.1 points per game. The run defense was solid and with a little tinkering of responsibilities the Ravens were able to get Patrick Queen back to a very productive place. The defense wasn’t great. It also had no chance to be.
John Harbaugh was given a lot of praise for his resilience. But Wink needs to get some praise for his work. The Ravens were in every single game down the stretch when circumstances gave them very little chance. Look at the scores for the second half of the season. The Browns scored 16 and 22 points against the Ravens. The Steelers scored 20 points in their first battle with Baltimore and 16 in the finale. The Bears scored 13. The Rams only got 20. The Bengals game was an outlier but the point is that the Ravens had done enough defensively (With very little help from the injury front and Covid-19) to win games down the stretch.
The Ravens gave their offense a chance. The offense didn’t deliver too many times. Martindale made the best-case scenario out of a bad spot. He now draws some interest for head coaching jobs with the New York Giants reportedly being his biggest chance at a promotion. That’s great to see because I’ll root for this man till the day he dies. If the Ravens lose Martindale, Ravens fans may miss what they had.
John Harbaugh: Praise him or put him on the hot seat?
If you want to fire John Harbaugh… stop, just stop. He’s been the Ravens coach since 2008. He has a Super Bowl ring and an NFL Coach of the Year award on his resume. The Ravens haven’t had the playoff success you’re looking for, I get it. Mike Tomlin is 8-8 in the playoffs and hasn’t gotten the Steelers close to a Super Bowl in a while, should the Steelers fire him?
Probably not. Andy Reid is just 17-15 in the playoffs. He took the Chiefs job in 2013 and it took him a while to get that Super Bowl ring. Sean Payton has one ring and a bunch of failures on his resume, should the New Orleans Saints fire him? Probably not. The point is great coaches have a hard time chasing the Lombardi Trophy, if you have a guy who’s proven he can do it, sticking with him is usually the right idea.
The Ravens had their chance to part with Harbaugh. 2015-2017 was about as miserable of a time in Ravens history as there ever was. The Ravens were mediocre and the Ravens missed the playoffs three years in a row. We know that Lamar Jackson saved Harbaugh’s job. It’s not a secret. It’s a widely accepted fact. Since his job got saved the Ravens’ records have been 14-2, 11-5, and 8-9. The 8-9 record came when the Ravens had the most injury-plagued year in franchise history. The Ravens were in almost every game down to the wire. Love him or hate him, he proved a lot this year and he isn’t going anywhere.
Does the question become what the bar will become for Harbaugh? What is an acceptable result in the 2022 season? Does it become Super Bowl or you’re out of here? Does it become to make a viable run at it and if you get close you’re fine? Harbaugh deserves praise this season. The franchise has a great culture. Everybody wants to be here, the fight and heart this team showed on a week-to-week basis make a strong case for Harbaugh. The Bottom Line:
At the end of the day, the Baltimore Ravens have a strong argument for bringing all three core coaches back. While it doesn’t make the big talking points, I’d like to mention that Chris Horton has proven to be a strong special teams coordinator.
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I’d like to see the Ravens move on from Roman, and see if they can build off the ideas he started here. Roman has my respect, but it’s time to find out some things we can’t know if he stays on as the offensive coordinator. A little change is needed, a full overhaul of what the Ravens are doing is not.