The Ravens’ defense is the unit that lost significant pieces this offseason while upgrading the offense was a big priority, particularly via the draft.
Yet, as the team is set to wrap up Organized Team Activities this week, it’s the defense that has “won” more reps so far this summer.
But before Ravens fans let their blood pressure spike, let Head Coach John Harbaugh explain why that’s totally OK.
“The offense is always going to be behind the defense this time of year, especially when the defense has had the system in place for a year,” Harbaugh explained.
Last year, then first-year Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale gave his unit a total makeover – concepts, language, structure, rules, format. As Harbaugh said this week, “we changed everything.”
With new Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman taking over this season, the same process has taken place this offseason for the offense, and that’s going to take some time to catch up on.
“We spent 10 weeks on the offense, and Greg Roman coordinated that, and the offensive coaches built it from the ground up,” Harbaugh said.
“Every word has been organized in a way, every concept has been organized in a way, that we want to build for the long haul. We want to make it as modern and as applicable as we can, so it can be executed – all the things we want to do – can be executed well in games. So, you have to think through that stuff.”
The sharpest learning curve, naturally, is for quarterback Lamar Jackson – who has to operate the entire system. Jackson threw a lot of passes on his own before Ravens OTAs started up, but once he was back in the building and in the meeting room with coaches, the next step in his maturation this offseason began.
“When I got here, coach was like, ‘We have a totally new system. We’re going to have to go through this and that.’ It’s been getting to me a little bit,” Jackson said.
“We have plays here and there that are totally different. We have new reads we have to go through different drops, but it’s been pretty unique. It’s different, and we’re doing alright for now.”
The Ravens don’t play a regular-season game until Sept. 8. That leaves plenty of time for Jackson and the offense to run smoothly.
Last year, the defense had a learning curve in OTAs and finished ranked No. 1 overall. That’s not to say the same thing will happen with the offense, but the Ravens are banking on their retooled unit to make improvements over the summer and especially when it really counts.
“I think it’s been going really well,” wide receiver Willie Snead IV said. “I think the offense is starting to mesh together, and it’s starting to make sense to a lot of guys. Right now, it’s just more about getting the reps, getting out here, getting the plays going, and then just getting the concepts down at the end of the day.”