The Ravens hired seven new assistant coaches this offseason, representing the most turnover in Head Coach John Harbaugh's tenure.
While all of the new coaches bring big-time credentials, the hires of Pass Game Specialist Keith Williams and Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin have brought an extra level of intrigue.
Part of the interest is they bring unique resumes. Martin is a former NFL quarterback who has come through the college ranks as a wide receivers coach. Williams was a longtime wide receivers coach who most recently became a private coach helping some of the NFL's most dangerous wideouts.
For a team such as Baltimore that is looking to take the next step in its passing attack, and has a cluster of developing young wide receivers, Martin and Williams will be in key positions to make that happen.
"These guys are really good people and they're excellent coaches that fit where we're at in this time," Harbaugh said.
So how do a wide receivers coach and pass game specialist differ?
Martin, who coached wide receivers at Tennessee, USC and Kentucky, will have more of a traditional role. Harbaugh noted that he knows a lot of current NFL wide receivers because he's been recruiting them. Martin's son, Amari Rodgers (Clemson), is also one of the top wide receiver prospects in this year's draft. Martin impressed Harbaugh with a "tremendous" Zoom interview.
"It was just a good fit. We loved a lot of his ideas, his style and the way he coaches," Harbaugh said. "Tee is in charge of the wide receivers – everything they do. He's completely responsible for those guys."
Williams' role is a little more unique. Williams has specifically trained wide receivers on their route-running for 15 years. Lately, he's worked with Pro Bowlers Davante Adams of Green Bay and Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins of Kansas City. A former wide receivers coach at Nebraska, Williams carved out a niche with route-running.
That's what the Ravens are bringing him to Baltimore to specialize in, not only with wide receivers, but also with tight ends and running backs.
"He's been coaching the best wide receivers in the league. In the offseason, they go to him. They go to Omaha [Nebraska] of all places to find him to work on route running – OK? That should tell you something," Harbaugh said. "I understood why when we had the chance to talk to him and really dive into the way he teaches the routes."
Last offseason, Watkins sung Williams' praises after five days of working with him, saying Williams taught the veteran receiver how to put on the brakes.
"He can connect with us," Watkins said. "He teaches differently than coach. We've got great coaches here, but he can kind of talk to you and break everything down and walk through stuff. Out here, it's more competing and grinding, but with him, it's more teaching and talking."
Williams will bring that teacher-like approach to all of the Ravens' weapons, helping them get open and make better targets for quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"The best way to describe Keith's role would be he definitely has a lane, and that lane is going to be precision and fundamentals that he's going to be focusing on, in terms of the way we run routes, get off the ball, beat press," Harbaugh said. "Keith's role is different; it's unique. It's not a role that's easy to compare. I don't know of any other staff in the league that's got that kind of a specific type of a role, because I think Keith is a very unique coach."
Of course, Martin will also be working with the wide receivers on those aspects of the game, so there will be crossover. But Harbaugh feels it was the best way to fit together the two coaches' unique skillsets.
"It's a little creative. It's definitely a different way of doing it. I don't know if too many people have tried this before," Harbaugh said. "But to me, it fit the coaches that were available. I really wanted to bring both of these guys in for their specific abilities as coaches and be as strong as we could be."
Overall, Harbaugh said the large-scale coaching turnover this offseason is not a challenge, but rather an opportunity to infuse some new ideas into the Ravens' process.
The Ravens' other new hires are Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver, Inside Linebackers Coach Rob Ryan, Defensive Backs Coach D'Anton Lynn, Assistant Defensive Line Coach Jason Brooks and Assistant Linebackers Coach Jay Peterson. Craig Ver Steeg was promoted to running backs coach. Harbaugh said the coaches have been working every day to craft their schemes and get on the same page.
"It's a pretty high-level discussion," Harbaugh said. "The opportunity with the new coaches to add ideas and kind of perspectives on things, that's a great vehicle for growth and to expand and fine-tune our football. That's what we work really hard to do on the coaching side."