The Ravens offense under Marty Mornhinweg has yet to play a game. It’s only been in existence for three days and two practices.
But there’s already a definite change in attitude and energy surrounding the group.
Based on early indications, Head Coach John Harbaugh’s decision to switch coordinators to spark the offense has had its desired effect.
“I think, as far as offensive players, I think we’re all excited about Marty taking over,” tight end Dennis Pitta said Wednesday.
“Marc Trestman is a great guy, a great coach. It was difficult to see him go, but I think it was something that this offense needed. We were in kind of a bad place. It didn’t seem like we were getting out of it. Hopefully, this will spark us.”
On Wednesday, quarterback Joe Flacco said there’s always an element of surprise whenever a coach is fired, “but there was definitely a little bit of feeling going around.”
After Sunday’s 16-10 loss to the Washington Redskins, Flacco had said the Ravens’ “patient” formula was not a good one. It was clear that a conservative approach wasn’t going over well in the locker room.
The Ravens know they have the weapons to be dangerous, and they just haven’t been getting the most out* *of them and scoring enough points (22nd in the NFL with 18.8 per game).
Baltimore isn’t blowing up its offense, but Mornhinweg has a different take on the Ravens’ preexisting scheme.
“His version of it, I think, is something to be excited about,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh laughed about how Mornhinweg was stressing over changing a few parts of the language.
Flacco said the Ravens will try to stretch the field more. Pitta talked about having more balance in the rushing and passing attack. Wide receiver Kamar Aiken talked about having more freedom with routes as a receiver.
“It’s not just running lines on a paper,” Aiken said.
But what seems to have the offensive players most excited right now is the shift in energy – both from the meeting rooms to the practice field.
“I think [Mornhinweg] brings an energy to our offense that was lacking,” Pitta said.
“Marty is an exciting guy,” Flacco added. “He brings a lot of confidence to the room. He is very sure in what he is doing and what we are doing. I think he gets everybody going and gives everybody a good outlook on the game plan.”
“He’s enthusiastic, ready to go, fired up. It kind of gets us going as well,” Aiken said. “Marty’s more upbeat, out there, trying to get your attention. Trestman is more cool, collected, calm.”
A reporter asked Harbaugh if Mornhinweg is a person that projects confidence like players say.
“Have you talked to him?” Harbaugh said. “I think when you talk to him you’ll feel the same way. He does. He has a lot of energy. He’s been doing this a long time and he’s had a lot of success.”
Mornhinweg has plenty of experience over his 22 years in the NFL. He served as offensive coordinator in San Francisco (1997-2000) under Steve Mariucci, Philadelphia (2004-2012) under Andy Reid, and, most recently, with the New York Jets (2013-2014) under Rex Ryan.
Over that time, he coached quarterbacks including Hall of Famers Steve Young and Brett Favre, as well as Pro Bowlers Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Jeff Garcia.
“I think if you know Marty and you know his football background, you can see why he has good relationships with those guys,” Flacco said. “It is just the type of person he is and the type of football coach he is.”
Fans will be able to tell an immediate difference between Mornhinweg and Trestman as soon as Mornhinweg speaks to the media for the first time since the move (tune in live tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.).
To be clear, it’s not a knock on Trestman. Flacco said it doesn’t matter what an offensive coordinator’s personality is like because “everybody does it their own way, everybody has success their own way.”
Flacco should know. For years, he has been criticized for his cool, calm demeanor, but he hears less of that now that he has a pile of wins and Super Bowl MVP on his resume.
“Obviously if I was in front of the room, it wouldn’t be the same as if Marty was in front of the room,” Flacco said.
That said, Flacco and Mornhinweg get along quite well. They’ve been working side-by-side for nearly two years as quarterback and quarterbacks coach. Mornhinweg will continue to also be Flacco’s direct quarterbacks coach.
“That’s a major point,” Harbaugh said. “Joe and him have been tied at the hip now for two years really. I think the communication part of it is a real positive.”
The proof will be in the pudding. Mornhinweg’s offense will debut Sunday against the New York Giants in MetLife Stadium, and Flacco said it’s fair to expect immediate success despite the big change.
When the Ravens changed offensive coordinators midseason in 2012, they went from outgoing, self-assured Cam Cameron to more soft-spoken, philosophical Jim Caldwell. They still got the spark and rode that to Super Bowl XLVII victory.
This year, the change in offensive coordinator personalities is the opposite, but the Ravens are hoping for the same result.
“I think we just kind of hit a plateau offensively with Cam Cameron for whatever reason,” Pitta said. “It was not necessarily Cam’s fault, but sometimes that happens in this business. Making the change just kind of sparked whatever it was that got us going.
“Hopefully this will do the same thing. Hopefully we have a similar result and we can go all the way to the Super Bowl. That would be nice.”
A 22-year NFL coaching veteran, Mornhinweg is a former head coach of the Lions (2001-02). He has also served as offensive coordinator for the Jets (2013-14), Eagles (2004-12) and 49ers (1997-2000).