Flacco Reacts For First Time To Ravens Keeping Mornhinweg
When Owner Steve Bisciotti was asked at the season-review press conference last week what he would say to fans who are unhappy about the team's decision to retain Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator, he had a simple reply.
"My quarterback seems happy with it," Bisciotti said.
Indeed, Joe Flacco is happy.
We hadn't heard directly from Flacco since the Ravens announced Mornhinweg would stay, but the Ravens quarterback told the 98 Rock radio crew this morning that he is on board with the decision for two main reasons. First, they work well together. And, second, Mornhinweg will finally be able to showcase his own offense.
"Listen, me and Marty have a great working relationship and I think we'll work together to get a lot of things done," said Flacco, who was on-air to promote the 2017 MSP Polar Bear Plunge, benefitting Special Olympics Maryland.
"I think the other thing you have to realize is that a lot of what we've been doing isn't necessarily his offense. So, I think this offseason will be a big point for him to get a lot of the stuff that he's comfortable running. He and I can work through that stuff together. I think that's the biggest thing."
Mornhinweg is unlikely to make major changes to the offensive system. The Ravens have been running the West Coast offense since Gary Kubiak took over the OC reigns in 2014. Marc Trestman stuck with that that system in 2015, and so did Mornhinweg when he took over mid-season.
Mornhinweg is a disciple of the West Coast offense after learning under former San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Steve Mariucci and former Philadelphia Eagles and current Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid.
That said, each play caller tweaks the system in a way that is most comfortable for him and his players. That will be a key goal this offseason, as Mornhinweg and Flacco look to get the offense back on track after finishing in the bottom half of the NFL in overall offense (17th), rushing offense (28th) and scoring (21st).
Flacco said that while maintaining consistency at offensive coordinator wasn't the primary reason the Ravens retained Mornhinweg – the Ravens have had five OCs in as many years – he said it will be beneficial going forward.
"Working together is such an important part of being successful in this business," Flacco said. "There's no doubt about it, when you have somebody going in and out every year, leaving for other jobs and doing all kinds of things, it's tough to come in, and in one year, have this great relationship.
"Part of it is figuring out what he likes to do, and [OCs are] trying to figure out what I like to do. So, the more time you can spend with somebody, the more it definitely can benefit you in this business."
Will Ed Reed Replace Frazier As Secondary Coach?
The short answer? Probably not.
Now, the longer answer …
Leslie Frazier was hired as the Bills defensive coordinator last week, leaving the secondary coaching post vacant, and just like every other time the job has been open, the question arises of whether one of the greatest safeties of all time could take over.
The notion has merit.
After Baltimore drafted Reed in 2002, he became one of the most-beloved players in franchise history. Nobody replicates his ball-hawking skills, and the potential future Hall of Famer is a big reason the Ravens dominated on defense for a decade.
Reed's also gotten his coaching feet wet after being Rex Ryan's assistant defensive backs coach last season. He didn't lead the entire secondary unit, so if he was added to the Ravens staff, maybe it could be in a similar role to what he had in Buffalo.
That said, some of the same obstacles that have been cited before still remain.
"As a player, a lot of the things he was able to do were things that could not be taught," wrote BaltimoreBeatdown.com's Michael Sedjro. "If every player in the secondary took the gambles Reed did, the defense would turn to shambles. Reed cannot teach his understudies to be Reed, but he might be inclined to, as being Reed is all he knows.
"He has been reported to have a rather rocky relationship with John Harbaugh, as he was part of the infamous mutiny in 2012. Harbaugh has also gone on record to say him and Reed could go days without talking."
Harbaugh has also said that he and Reed ultimately became good friends and that Reed bought into the system Harbaugh installed in Baltimore.
The Ravens may choose to promote from within the internal coaching staff. The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec says there are at least two options: Chris Hewitt and Chris Horton.
"Hewitt has been the defensive backs coach the past two seasons, working last year under Leslie Frazier," he wrote. "Horton was an assistant special teams coach, but he was an NFL safety for four seasons."
Ravens' Carryover Spending Well Below League Average … And That's Not A Bad Thing
NFL teams are allowed to carry over unspent cap dollars from one season into the next, not unlike rollover minutes on a phone plan.
In the graphic below, the NFL Players Union released the carryover amount for each team from 2016, which will be added to the organization's total salary cap amount at the start of the 2017 league year.
The Ravens' $2.553 million carryover is well below the NFL average of $9.18 million. That's in part because Baltimore is known for spending up to the cap every year to put as competitive team on the field as possible, leaving very little carryover year-to-year. Also, four low-spending teams drove up the league average.
Having a large amount of carryover doesn't necessarily mean a team is in a good place. You'll notice teams that have a massive amount of carryover – including the Cleveland Browns ($50,123M), Jacksonville Jaguars ($39.315 million) and San Francisco 49ers ($38.708M) – had the three worst records in the NFL last season. The Tennessee Titans were a rare exception, but overall, teams get what they pay for.
The 2017 salary cap has not been established by the league yet, and the Ravens still have many moves to make, so it's unclear how much cap space they'll have when the new league year opens on March 9.
Here's how much carryover the Ravens have had the past few years, per Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland:
2016 ---> 2017: $2.553M
2015 ---> 2016: $1.633M
2014 ---> 2015: $5.792M
2013 ---> 2014: $1.531M
2012 ---> 2013: $1.182M
Reasons To Keep And Release Dumervil
Elvis Dumervil knows his future with the Ravens is up in the air.
"Wherever I play next season, I'll be a beast," Dumervil said at the end of the season.
Many have speculated about whether the pass rusher, who actually turns 33 years old today, will stay. CSNMidAtantic.com's Clifton Brown provides reasoning to both keep and release him.
Reasons to keep him:
He's proven and motivated, says Brown.
Dumervil has 99 career sacks, and wants to prove that he has plenty left in the tank after playing through an Achilles injury the last two seasons. In 2014, when both he and Suggs were fully healthy, he notched a franchise-high 17 sacks.
"If the Ravens release Dumervil, there's a chance he could have a big season playing for someone else," wrote Brown.
Reasons to release him:
Without a guarantee that he'll be healthy and return to form, his $8.3 million cap hit is a big risk. The Ravens could save more than $6 million by releasing Dumervil.
"My gut feeling is that Dumervil and the Ravens will part ways," wrote Brown. "Terrell Suggs is returning, and he led the Ravens with eight sacks in 2016 playing with a torn biceps. Matt Judon had four sacks as a rookie. The biggest disappointment in the pass rushing department was Za'Darius Smith, who had just one sack.
"However, even with Dumervil getting just three sacks in 2015, the Ravens won eight games, and had the league's seventh-ranked defense. I think the Ravens will use the money they would pay Dumervil to address issues like finding another cover corner and an offensive playmaker."
Two Ravens Ranked In Top-Five Under-The-Radar Free Agents
Outside of defensive tackle Brandon Williams, the Ravens don't have any big-named players scheduled to hit the free-agency market in March. Williams could get a big contract in the first couple of days.
The Ravens' other top free agents could wait a little more time to hammer out a new deal – whether in Baltimore or elsewhere – but Pro Football Focus says the Ravens have two of the best free agents that will probably fly under the radar.
That could be a good thing for Baltimore, as it would keep their prices down.
Right tackle Rick Wagner ranked at the top of PFF's list, and fullback Kyle Juszczyk is ranked at No. 5.
"Right tackles continue to be overlooked in the NFL, and will therefore fly under the radar. Ricky Wagner fits this mold, as he's been a solid RT for the Ravens over the past three seasons," wrote PFF's John Kosko. "Seemingly an outlier year in 2015, Wagner graded as a top right tackle in the NFL in 2014 and 2016."
He later continued: "A mostly dead position in the NFL, true fullbacks rarely see the field in today's pro game. Kyle Juszczyk is bucking that trend, as he totaled 465 snaps in 2016, which would have ranked him 27th among all HBs. The former Harvard bruiser brings a dynamic element to the position, as he is the best all-around blocking back, and pairs that with good usage as a receiver and runner. Juszczyk won't be coveted by many teams because of his position, but his ability as a receiver can extend drives and change games."