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Eisenberg: Ravens Are Putting a Lot of Attention on Offense


Any way you measure it, the Ravens have pretty much always been a defensive-oriented franchise.

They've drafted better on defense. They've spent more on their defense, even taking Joe Flacco's mega-contract into account. They've certainly performed better on defense.

Certain teams develop certain personalities, and bottom line, no question, the Ravens have been known more for denying others points than for putting up points of their own.

The blueprint has worked well, as evidenced by their two Super Bowl triumphs and overall record of 11 playoff appearances in 23 seasons. The narrative is still relevant, too, as the Ravens fielded the NFL's top-ranked defense and won a division title in 2018.

The Ravens' offense has also experienced its share of high moments through the years, none better than the 2012 playoff run, when Flacco and his unit carried the load more than the defense.

Big picture, though, the offense has consistently taken a back seat, making it into, well, let's call it a chronic source of consternation.

Are the Ravens trying to do something about that? Undergo a personality change? I'm starting to get that vibe as I watch them navigate the current offseason. The offense is getting a lot of attention. Like, a whole lot.

The Ravens didn't exactly suffer on that side of the ball in 2018, finishing No. 9 in the league in yardage and No. 13 in points. That's solid. But with Lamar Jackson, 22, taking over for Flacco, the Ravens seem intent on becoming something more on offense.

They've made a change at the top, installing Greg Roman as the offensive coordinator. They've made other changes, too. When Roman met with the media Tuesday and started detailing what's different in 2019, the scope of the franchise's engineering efforts become clear.

Aside from the new OC -- which means a new play-caller -- there are new position coaches for the running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. There's an entirely new offense, actually, as Roman and his staff are rebuilding the unit's architecture.

"We're pretty much re-imagining our offense," Roman said. "New language. New formations."

The goal is to take advantage of Jackson's unique talents, which involve making plays with his legs as much as with his arm. The Ravens gained more yardage on the ground than in the air once Jackson became the starter last season, and Roman made it clear Tuesday that the ground game will continue to rule going forward.

Yes, the passing game badly needs to become more threatening under Jackson, and yes, the ultimate goal is a 50-50 balance, but when your quarterback is a bona fide threat to break a play every time he touches the ball, the offense is going to reflect that.

Given the prevalence of passing-based offenses in the NFL, the Ravens' approach almost feels old school in nature. That may be, but as more dual-threat quarterbacks hit the NFL from the high-scoring college game, old-school may become new-wave, too.

Regardless, the Ravens aren't going through all of this re-imagining and engineering just to tread water on offense. They're looking to field a unit that pops and sizzles, puts up more than enough points to win.

They're looking to field an offense that, believe it or not, could eventually become the franchise's defining unit.

They have a long way to go, of course, and a thousand important decisions loom, starting with which linemen, backs and receivers to add to help Jackson in 2019.

"We've got a lot of big decisions to make," Roman said.

The franchise isn't just going to abandon the defense, either. Please. The Ravens are willing to sign linebacker C.J. Mosley to a costly long-term contract and want to do whatever else they can to keep the defense ranked among the league's best.

But it's the age of offense in the NFL, and to some degree, at least, they're trying to bring their personality in line with what's going on around them.

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