Skip to main content

Mailbag: What Kind of Offense Will Todd Monken Bring?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers coach Todd Monken directs an NFL football team practice Saturday, July 30, 2016 in Tampa, Fla.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers coach Todd Monken directs an NFL football team practice Saturday, July 30, 2016 in Tampa, Fla.

Mink: One of the great things about Todd Monken is he's so scheme versatile. I think back to the Gary Kubiak hiring in 2014 and think there could be a similar effect but via a different process. Kubiak brought his trademark stretch-zone and play action system to Baltimore and taught it. Monken brings a body of experience and versatility that is more adaptable to the Ravens' personnel and identity. While it's safe to say it will be a blend of Monken's past offenses, we don't really know exactly what to expect like we did with Kubiak.

Going back to Monken's days at Oklahoma State, he ran an "Air Raid" deep passing attack. He also oversaw a very pass-heavy attack when he was the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, when they led the league in passing yards per game.

At Georgia, however, Monken used more heavy and tight-end centric formations, with a large dose of running (198 rushing yards per game), run-pass options, and play action. The Bulldogs piled up nearly 40 points per game and won back-to-back national championships in the process.

Overall, I think Monken will make the Ravens more balanced and capable of playing different ways. It's no secret that Baltimore has to improve its passing attack, and I think Monken will accomplish that. He helped turn former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett into a Heisman Trophy finalist and he now inherits one of the league's most talented quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson.

I think much of what Monken plans for the Ravens offense will be centered around his personnel and its strengths. Jackson is one-of-one, so it will be interesting to see what Monken cooks up for such a dynamic player. The Ravens have a strong offensive line and dangerous backfield duo with J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. They have the makings of a team, like Georgia, that can beat up opponents on the ground. The Ravens also have a stable of talented tight ends while they're thinner in the wide receiver room. For that reason, I expect to see more similarities to his offenses at Georgia than the outfits he oversaw in Tampa Bay. While the Ravens intend to upgrade their wide receiver room this offseason, it's hard to imagine it measuring up to the unit the Buccaneers trotted out in 2018, for example.

Mink: Age is just a number. Just because a coach is young doesn't mean they're innovative and vice versa. It's a coach's concepts and ideas that matter, not about how old they are.

Monken's Georgia offense was better than many other offenses that were coordinated by younger coaches. That's another part of why I love the Monken hire. He showed that his concepts and ideas measured up well against some of the other new ideologies coming out of college football. He has continued to evolve his offense to stay ahead of the curve. Plus, he has extensive NFL experience, so he knows how the game is a little different at this level.

It's similar to the Mike Macdonald hiring in that way. While Macdonald is the youngest defensive coordinator in the NFL, he had a base in professional football, then went to college to test out his concepts (and get play-calling experience) as Michigan's defensive coordinator. Macdonald brought that experience back to the NFL and it worked. Monken is 22 years older than Macdonald but is similarly coming off great success at the college level.

By the way, when Monken's Georgia offense went against Michigan's defense in the college playoff semifinals last year, the Bulldogs piled up 34 points and 521 yards.

Downing: The Ravens clearly want to upgrade the receiver position, but you're right that it becomes far more challenging if the Ravens place the franchise tag on Jackson (especially if it's the exclusive franchise tag at $45 million). We've received plenty of questions about the Ravens trading for DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, but that possibility basically drops to zero if Jackson ends up playing on the exclusive tag. Signing a free agent like Marvin Jones, DJ Chark or Allen Lazard is even unlikely because the Ravens will be pressed so tight against the cap.

The most likely way for the Ravens to upgrade receiver is through the draft. General Manager Eric DeCosta has invested first-round picks at receiver in two of his four drafts, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him go that route again. Most of the mock drafts out there right now have the Ravens using pick No. 22 on a wideout, although there's no consensus on who that would be. DeCosta has also taken multiple receivers in the draft in 2019, 2020 and 2021, so this is shaping up to be another year where the Ravens take multiple swings at the receiver position. If the Ravens are going to bring an expensive receiver through a trade or free agency, that likely means that the team will have Jackson signed to a long-term contract or that he'll be playing this year under the non-exclusive franchise tag.

Downing: The Ravens are believers in the importance of a strong secondary, both in terms of top-end talent and depth. Injuries at cornerback in past years have underscored the importance of having a deep stable of talent at the position, and the Ravens don't want to find themselves in that spot again. The Ravens have top-flight players in the secondary with safety Marcus Williams and cornerback Marlon Humphrey inked to long-term contracts. Kyle Hamilton also had a strong rookie season, and the Ravens like young players Geno Stone, Brandon Stephens and Pepe Williams. Chuck Clark talked during locker cleanout about how his future is up the air as he's heading into the final year of his contract and carries a $6.3 million cap hit. Moving on from Clark is risky because he proved his value in 2022 by starting all 17 games and playing at a high level, but the Ravens may have to make some tough decisions based on the salary cap front.

Much like other positions, the future of the secondary is largely dependent on what happens with Jackson's contract. If the Ravens sign Jackson long-term, they would likely have the money to keep Clark and bring back free agent Marcus Peters. But if Jackson plays under the franchise tag, the Ravens might have to turn the page to Hamilton as a starting safety instead of the versatile role they found for him last year. That may also mean that Stephens, Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis would step into much bigger roles at cornerback. The Ravens like the potential of the young players in their secondary, but they also want to give themselves some valuable depth if they can afford it under the cap.

Related Content