Greg Roman said he and his staff have the flour, dough and rolling pin out as they make the Ravens’ 2019 offense from scratch.
While he’s concocting his ideal offense, Roman is taking some ingredients from the college game.
“How can we make it as learnable, as understandable, as streamlined, as efficient as we can?” Roman said on The Lounge podcast.
“You can really dovetail into a discussion about players you’re getting nowadays from college and what their experiences are like from college. How do they call plays? How do they communicate? How do they understand, how do they learn? Our offense will be a very concept-driven offense.”
In his first year on the job, quarterback Lamar Jackson said calling plays was his toughest hurdle. It was vastly different, both in commanding the huddle and in the complexity of language, from what he did in college at Louisville.
Jackson would practice calling plays by doing it while looking in the mirror. Of course, he eventually got the hang of it, but it took time and a lot of practice.
“Our perspective on offense is that we want to make it easy on us and hard on them,” Roman said. “Our challenge is, how can I take this complicated idea and present it and teach it in a way so that it’s easily understood. How can I Barney it down, so to speak?”
Roman laughed that some of his younger players may not even know who Barney, the friendly purple dinosaur, is anymore. Baltimore’s offense is full of youth. Jackson, running back Gus Edwards, tight end Mark Andrews and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. were all key starters as rookies last season.
Roman is known for weaving complex ideas into his offense, particularly in the rushing attack. But the tight ends that he coached last year raved about how easy he made it for them to learn.
“We want to be the hardest team to prepare for in the National Football League, and we will be,” Roman said. “But we want to do it in a fashion that’s really, really learnable and likable. We want to be efficient and streamlined. I go back to a lot of teams in college, [they say], ‘Huddle? What’s a huddle?’”
College offenses have trended toward being more up-tempo, no huddle and spread out.
“Ultimately, I think that’s where the future is going to be,” Roman said.
“Also, from a coaching standpoint, players aren’t taught the same way they used to be in a pro-style system. Everything is a lot quicker, more bullet point. We can have the discussion about attention span now. If you can present what we’re doing in such a fashion [that they’re used to], it’s an easier transition for them and better for us.”
The Ravens don’t necessarily want to be an up-tempo offense moving forward. Their run-heavy approach worked well in controlling the clock, keeping some high-powered offenses on the other side off the field and making Baltimore’s defense fresher. It was a formula that worked.
Still, Roman said Baltimore wants to be able to employ many different tempos.
“We want to make it as user-friendly as possible so guys coming in that are new from a college system … shoot, they might be a pro system, [though that’s] doubtful because there’s not a lot of them left,” Roman said.
“They might be from a spread offense. What’s going to make the most sense to them so they can learn what we’re doing as efficiently as possible? Not only will it be geared toward guys that we’re bringing in, but it will make our whole operation more efficient.”