Eisenberg: The Offense, Reason for Alarm?  

Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh didn't sound alarmed about his offense in Monday's press conference.

Concerned? Absolutely. Determined to do better? Absolutely.

Referencing a decline in the running game, a rise in penalties and too many drives ending with field goals, he made it clear he wants to be more efficient and productive on that side of the ball.

"We came up short this year in a lot of ways," he said about the offense.

But is he … alarmed? I don't think that's the right description after hearing him also point out what went right offensively in 2021, such as the Ravens gaining more yardage than all but five of the NFL's other 31 teams.

"We've done some pretty darn good things here over the past three years, offensively. I think we have a really good vision and understanding of what we want to build offensively, who we're going to build around and what we need to do," Harbaugh said.

His lack of hair-on-fire alarm won't sit well with the fans ready to put a blowtorch to the offense with a new unit coordinator and/or a different philosophy and/or changes wherever possible.

I don't know how many of those fans there are, but they aren't afraid to share their opinion and certainly represent one extreme. Harbaugh's stay-the-course approach is another extreme.

Harbaugh's opinion is the one that counts, and it doesn't appear massive changes are coming. In explaining his recent switch at defensive coordinator, Harbaugh said, "Sometimes, it's just time." It seems he doesn't feel the same about Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman's unit.

My thinking on the subject is aligned more with Harbaugh's than with those seeking sweeping changes.

Oh, I understand the impatience. The Ravens haven't won a game beyond the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs since 2012. It's fair to scrutinize what they're doing and want changes.

But I question the need to start over with an offense that consistently moves the ball even in a down year. The Ravens ranked second in the league in time of possession as well as sixth in yards, and that was with many key pieces sidelined. The problem was they couldn't turn those advantages into points, finishing 17th in scoring.

To me, that sounds like a unit that needs to be methodically altered rather than entirely blown up.

Go to work on that yards/points disconnect. Keep hammering away at a passing game that rose 19 places in the league rankings in 2021, from No. 32 to No. 13.

"I know we can look at that with the coaching staff that we have, build on the players that we have (and) kind of choose our scheme-direction wisely," Harbaugh said.

Here's my short list of things that need to happen: 1) Invest in fortifying the O-line; 2) Help Lamar Jackson get his groove back; 3) Get (and stay) healthy.

Harbaugh referenced the O-line Monday, saying he recalled his father stressing to him a half-century ago that you "win and lose in the trenches." It's one adage that never goes out of style.

But the Ravens have just been OK up front for a few years, which isn't ideal on a team that wants to run the ball and physically dominate opponents. Bolstering the line with high draft picks and/or free-agent signings makes total sense to me.

That would make life better for Jackson, who needs a reset. It was disturbing to hear him tell reporters after the season that he couldn't really explain why his game fell off before an ankle injury sidelined him. Whatever is happening with that, it needs to be addressed. The Ravens aren't going anywhere without their dynamic quarterback doing his thing.

As for injuries, enough has been said. The job now is to get guys back and work on keeping history from repeating itself.

Change certainly is warranted after the Ravens finished in last place for the first time since 2007. In hindsight, it's easy to see the defense needing a fresh start with a new coordinator after it gave up so many yards and continually blinked in clutch situations.

The offense needs help, too. But with the ball already moving and so many young playmakers already in place, I'll take the fixes listed above as the savviest plan of attack.

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