How much is Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman thinking about how much to tweak last year's record-setting offense?
"That's something I think about every day, at least once a minute – how we're going to put things together, how it's going to look a little different," Roman said.
It's a difficult balance for Roman, the 2019 Assistant Coach of the Year. Last year's Ravens offense set the NFL ablaze with new concepts executed by a one-of-a-kind MVP quarterback. The Ravens promised a "revolutionary" offense and they delivered.
But to stay ahead in the NFL, you've got to constantly be improving because the competition will catch up if you don't. Coaches from around the league, and especially in the AFC North, will now have a full offseason to study the Ravens' concepts and formulate a plan, and shape their rosters, to stop it.
On the other hand, you don't want to fix what ain't broke – especially when there isn't much time to do repairs. The pandemic has eliminated 13 offseason practices that Roman would typically use to try out some new ideas for his offense.
Roman said he and his assistant coaches have "definitely tweaked" the offense. That's a process that they go through every offseason – tossing some plays while adding some in. He said there were plays they practiced last year but never called in a game, so those could be ripe for use in 2020.
But don't expect too many changes because the Ravens just won't have enough time to practice them.
"We haven't had the luxury of OTAs and whatnot to really kind of test run certain things," Roman said. "We have to be really judicious with how we use that time in training camp to experiment. I think experimenting this year is going to be very selective.
"Especially in a season like this, you don't want to get too far off the rails. You've got to stay on the rails and be selective with what you want to do differently."
Roman talked about the added importance of training camp this year after an otherwise virtual offseason. Once they get back on the field together, they'll have to rebuild the muscle memory that's only gained through practice.
They have to try get back to last year's level, execution-wise, before they can try too much else.
"What I've learned over the years is you've got to be really, really good at something. And after you get really, really good at something, you want to get really, really good at a few things, and you keep building on that," Roman said.
"So that's what we aim to do. How our new personnel fits together I think will naturally shift us a little bit. It won't be the same. We're going to keep pushing the envelope."
The Ravens set the NFL record for most team rushing yards in a single season last year. They led the league with 33.2 points per game and were second in the NFL with 407.6 yards per game, only trailing the Dallas Cowboys.
Jackson set the all-time rushing record for a quarterback and was ultra-efficient throwing the ball, tossing a league-leading 36 touchdowns to just six interceptions.
The game has progressively become more offensive driven over the years due to rule changes and other factors. But given the lost practice time this offseason, Roman has doubts about offenses' ability – league-wide – to put up eye-popping numbers. It wouldn't be surprising to see them get off to a slow start.
"This year might be an interesting year as far as stats and records and whatnot. Maybe it's not a stats and record year around the league just because of the nature of how things are right now. We'll see. We just don't know," Roman said.
"The important thing is we keep moving forward playing winning football, developing our overall attack and getting better."