One of the takeaways from this weekend’s Divisional Round is that the Ravens aren’t that far off – that they can compete for a conference championship and more with a few tweaks, particularly on offense.
Led by defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, the Ravens defense had answers for the Bengals weaponized offense in 2022. With a little more offensive firepower, better ball security and a player not going rogue on a designed play, the Ravens would have taken on the Kansas City Chiefs this past Saturday and then, who knows what happens. It’s all about the opportunity, the chance to compete, and with an improved offense in 2023, maybe the Ravens take that necessary next step.
The first challenge is to find a replacement for recently departed offensive coordinator Greg Roman. John Harbaugh promised that the team would cast a wide net to find the guy to give their offense that needed lift. We’ve been told that the Ravens will consider candidates both inside and outside of the organization. But let’s be honest. If the ideal candidate existed internally, the move would have already been made.
Considering internal candidates like James Urban, Tee Martin and George Godsey is nothing more than a courtesy. If any of those coaches are handed the keys to the Ravens offense, it will do nothing to inspire a fan base that collectively is disenchanted with Harbaugh’s leadership. It will be interpreted as more lip service from a skipper who has sounded more like a politician in recent months than the leader of a franchise.
Outside candidates are said to include the following coaches, a list that is expected to swell:
• Cleveland Browns pass game coordinator and wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea
• Denver Broncos pass game coordinator Klint Kubiak
• Los Angeles Rams pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson
• Minnesota Vikings pass game coordinator Brian Angelichio
• Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson
• San Francisco 49ers pass game coordinator Bobby Slowik
• Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Dave Canales
Harbaugh is seeking the right fit for his offense – a candidate willing to accept, even embrace the team’s offensive foundation.
“We’ve established an identity for our offense. I think everybody knows that who plays against us and watches us play. That’s important, that’s a good identity. That’s an identity that we’re going to carry forward.” ~ John Harbaugh
Everyone does know that identity John. EVERYONE! No worries there.
But I digress…
The Harbaugh Family likes to do things a certain way. The roots of this offensive identity stem from John’s father Jack. Jack’s parental influences on the Harbaugh brand of football are obvious. You see the similarities in the way both John and brother Jim Harbaugh guide their teams. And both seem to struggle to adapt to the modern era of football. Their teams compete, but they fall short when it matters most. Thankfully they faced off in Super Bowl 47, so one of them had to win. Fortunately that fell John’s way.
Since their Super Bowl run in 2012, the Ravens have played in 7 postseason games, winning only two. During the Lamar Jackson era, the Ravens have averaged just 13.8 PPG during the playoffs. Yes, the Ravens offense under Harbaugh certainly has an identity – that of a one-dimensional attack that can be neutralized and one that can’t come close to putting up the prerequisite number of points during the postseason dance – a dance during which the Ravens seemingly have had two left feet in recent years.
Here’s a daunting thought. The Ravens have had more offensive coordinators than playoff wins since Super Bowl 47! Harbaugh’s next hire to guide his offense will be his 6th since the start of the 2013 season.
You got to give the Bengals coaching staff credit. They were conservative offensively against the Ravens knowing the Ravens had had trouble scoring but opened it up against the Bills. Smart move.
— Mike Preston (@MikePrestonSun) January 23, 2023
I found this Tweet from The Sun’s Mike Preston to be rather amusing. First, Mike is dead wrong and I think he knows it. Mike has been trolling Ravens fans before it became a thing. He’s built a career on trolling and it has worked and continues to work. He knows exactly what he’s doing and knowing Mike, he’s probably chuckling over the responses. This Tweet is just one of his many trolling line casts into the purple sea and he never fails to snag a few suckers. He almost got me with this one too!
When the Ravens made the trade to land Steve McNair back in 2006, I recall standing beside Mike while watching McNair’s first practice during team OTA’s. The former Titan, who cost the Ravens a fourth-round draft pick, threw wounded duck after wounded duck while Kyle Boller zipped passes to his intended targets. Mike turned to me and asked, “So who’s going to write about this quarterback controversy? You or me?”
Preston is a good guy who does his job well, although now that I’ve exposed his trade secrets, perhaps he’ll be more challenged to be as effective. But given the angst amongst the Ravens Flock, I think he’ll continue to do just fine.
New CB in B’more
The Ravens put in a waiver claim on Trayvon Mullen, a 2019 second-round pick out of Clemson by the then Oakland Raiders. Mullen left the Raiders in 2021 and has since had a couple of short stays in Arizona and Dallas. The Ravens can finalize their claim once the 2022 season concludes following Super Bowl 57. Here’s the scouting report of Mullen coming out of college as presented by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein:
“Long press-corner who can clog up the release but is more reactive than instinctive in coverage. Mullen can be a little inconsistent in anticipating route breaks, which can open small throwing windows, but his loose hips and response burst helps him latch back onto tight coverage. If Mullen can improve pattern recognition and reading the quarterback, the ball production should follow. He has Day 2 draft talent as an outside corner and could compete for a CB2 spot within a couple of years.”
For Ravens fans, perhaps the most curious aspect of the claim is that Mullen is the cousin of none other than Lamar Jackson.
The Ravens didn’t make the claim to throw a bone Lamar’s way. This is all about Ozzie Newsome’s mantra, “you can never have enough good corners”. Mullen is long and physical and those are qualities that have always attracted the Ravens. I guess we’ll find out soon enough if he can cover in the Ravens defensive scheme.
Ravens reportedly claim cornerback Trayvon Mullen off of waivers, from @FieldYates
1. Former 2019 2nd round pick
2. Cousin of Lamar Jackson
— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) January 23, 2023
Orlovsky on Burrow
This is an interesting take from ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky on the league’s best QB. He claims that the distinction belongs to Joe Burrow, yet he claims that Patrick Mahomes is, “the best player…the most talented player in the NFL – the most dynamic weapon.”
Last time I checked, Mahomes plays quarterback.
I like Dan, but this makes no sense. Now if he said that Burrows is the most fundamentally sound quarterback in the NFL, that might make more sense.
— WINCINNATI (@WINCINNATI_) January 23, 2023
I’m not a Mahomes fan. I’m not a Chiefs fan. But count me among you who hope that Kansas City skull drags the Bengals across the 589 miles that separate the cities via I-70.
The Bengals and their fans are smug, cocky, whiny and collectively possess a sense of entitlement that is uncommon for a franchise that hasn’t won a single title. They are 0 for 3 in Super Bowl action and here’s hoping it stays that way. Here’s hoping that they don’t even earn the opportunity to make it 0 for 4.
I love that they did this. pic.twitter.com/SpXC7hCKFO
— Chiefs Outsider – Chris (@chiefs_outsider) January 24, 2023
That said, I unfortunately think that the Bengals will advance to their second consecutive Super Bowl. God help us all.
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Put it in Neutral
As you are probably aware, if the Bills had beaten the Bengals this past Sunday, the AFC Championship Game would have been played in Atlanta, a neutral site selected to address any unfair collateral damage stemming from the cancellation of the Bengals at Bills on Monday Night, January 2, 2023. Apparently the neutral site concept has piqued the attention of the league’s owners.
The idea has been floated that neutral sites for playoff games represents an opportunity for the NFL to make more money via the fleecing fans method.
Fans pay a lot of money for season tickets, PSL’s, parking and concessions throughout the regular season with the hopes that their team succeeds – the hope that maybe their team will host a playoff game or two. The fans of every single NFL city aspire to experience a home conference championship game – the gateway to the Super Bowl.
Assigning a championship game to a neutral site will not only add significant costs for fans who want to see their team in the championship game (airfare, hotel, local transportation) but it will also inflate the price of tickets because the interest in a neutral site game will suddenly have broader appeal and even capture the fake fan attention of the rich and famous. You know, the elitists we always see at the Super Bowl where seat prices easily reach mid-four figures, hotel expenses skyrocket and Ubers climb to their zenith.
Somewhere, Roger Greedell is salivating.
Permanently moving to neutral-site conference title games would give the NFL a chance to evaluate potential Super Bowl sites and reward teams with Super Bowl–quality stadiums. @AlbertBreer has details on why the league likes the plan ()https://t.co/ufGWdn4KAD
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) January 23, 2023
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