Those hoping Greg Roman would spurn head coaching opportunities to remain the Ravens' offensive coordinator might be disappointed.
As Roman's name pops up in conversations about NFL head coaching openings this week, the offensive coordinator said it is, not surprisingly, a goal of his.
"All of us would probably say that we want to be a head coach. That's what you work towards," Roman said Tuesday.
Roman has been an NFL assistant coach for 22 years. He was an offensive coordinator in San Francisco (2011-2014), Buffalo (2015-2016) and now Baltimore (2019). He had a lot of success in his previous stops, but he's put it all together in Baltimore.
The offense designed by Roman and his staff, and led by MVP front-runner Lamar Jackson, broke multiple NFL records this year, most notably the all-time team rushing record. Roman ushered in the offensive "revolution" many scoffed at this offseason.
That has led the Cleveland Browns to officially file a request to interview Roman for their head coach opening, which has been granted. Roman also reportedly has some fans in Dallas, where Jason Garrett could be fired.
While Roman is undoubtedly flattered, he's focused on winning in Baltimore first. He said the coaching searches are "something that is in its own box on the shelf."
"I think everything has its place," Roman said. "You've got to be able to compartmentalize. … When that opportunity comes, it will be addressed. Right now, we have three opponents to get ready for. My focus is certainly on our guys and our team and our offense."
Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale also confirmed Tuesday that the New York Giants have submitted a request to interview him. But like Roman, Martindale is focused on the task at hand.
"I think it needs to be an opportunity of a lifetime," Martindale said, echoing what he said a week ago. "We love it here. We love this city. We love the culture here in this building. … In fairness to every other team, we are playing in a one-week playoff with these guys."
Why Wink Martindale's Blitzes Have Work So Well
Nobody has blitzed more than the Ravens this year.
According to Pro Football Reference, they've brought extra rushers more than 50 percent of the time (54.9 percent). No other team is over 50 percent and only one team (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) are over 40 percent.
Sunday against the Steelers, cornerback Brandon Carr, a player who had one career sack in 11 previous seasons, recorded his second sack of 2019 and was also credited with a safety. Earl Thomas III, who hadn't notched a sack in his previous nine years in Seattle, has two sacks this year in Baltimore, all coming over his past four games.
"I think they're having a lot of fun with it," Martindale said of his defensive backs. "B. Carr looked like he was 22 years old running around out there.
"Our goal as a defense is to try to put as much stress on protection rules that teams have. The end-all goal is to have a free runner to the quarterback, but what you're seeing is that anybody that comes off the bus can blitz for us and they know that."
The Ravens spent a lot of time this offseason coaching their defensive backs on how to blitz effectively. They were doing pass rush drills. It's not only that the defensive backs are getting sacks, but they're also helping Baltimore's defensive pressure overall.
Asked why he's been able to blitz so much this season, Martindale pointed to his defensive backs. To send so many blitzers puts the cornerbacks and safeties more on an island, but they've held up.
"Because our secondary is really good," Martindale said. "We don't just send the front five. We're dropping other guys out. You were asking before about the DBs pressuring; that frees them up and that's how you can mess with their protections."
Chuck Clark Sets Teammates Up Like Eric Weddle, But Still Leads in Tackles
The Ravens' defensive resurgence this season has a large credit screen. One of the main characters has been Chuck Clark, who stepped in as the starter in Week 6. The Ravens have the league's top-ranked defense since then.
"As far as the communicator, as far as the checks, as far as the football smarts, he has become that [Eric] Weddle, that Magic Johnson of the defense, getting people lined up and setting them up to make plays as well," Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said.
"He's had a tremendous year and I'm really happy for him."
Not only did Clark do it from a communication perspective, but he also handled his own business. Clark finished the regular season as the Ravens' leader in tackles (73). Inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor and cornerback Marlon Humphrey were tied for second with 65 stops.
When Steelers tight end Vance McDonald tried to run over Clark during Sunday's regular-season finale, like McDonald has famously done to other defenders, Clark wrestled him to the ground and said, "It ain't gonna happen!"
The usually soft-spoken Clark got a talking to from the referee, who said he knows Clark "manhandled" McDonald but he didn't need to chirp at him afterward.
"When I'm on the field, it's a different Chuck out there," he said. "Off the field, I'm more laid back. But on the field, you've got to come with it."
Lamar Jackson Not at Practice Due to Flu
Quarterback Lamar Jackson was not at practice for the portion open to the media Tuesday, as he's likely still dealing with the flu.
On Monday, Head Coach John Harbaugh revealed that Jackson was dealing with the flu, but said he expected the MVP favorite to be at practice Tuesday.
The team will practice Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week before taking the weekend off and returning to a normal schedule on Monday.
Harbaugh said the team does "quarantine" players who are sick with the flu, or they're sent home a lot of times. Jackson did sit on the sideline during the Ravens' rain-soaked Week 17 win over the Steelers.
"I don't think he felt great, but he was down there," Harbaugh said. "And I made a point to give him an elbow bump. (laughter)There were no handshakes."
Other Ravens starters not at Tuesday's practice were running back Mark Ingram II (calf), tight end Mark Andrews (ankle), Carr, and defensive end Chris Wormley.