What Changes Will Be Made Under Marty Mornhinweg?


As Head Coach John Harbaugh walked around the empty Under Armour Performance Center practice fields Monday afternoon, he was joined by new Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

The two walked and talked, presumably exchanging ideas on what's going to change with Mornhinweg now at the helm instead of Marc Trestman.

The Ravens offense isn't going to undergo a massive overhaul, but when there is a shake-up at the top, changes will most certainly be made.

"We need to do some things differently," Harbaugh said. "We need to look at defenses differently. Whatever those things are, we need to be different than we have been."

So what can fans expect? First, here's a look at Mornhinweg's past.

Mornhinweg has plenty of experience over his 22 years in the NFL. He served as offensive coordinator in San Francisco (1997-2000) under Steve Mariucci, Philadelphia (2004-2012) under Andy Reid, and, most recently, with the New York Jets (2013-2014) under Rex Ryan.

Over that time, he coached quarterbacks including Hall of Famers Steve Young and Brett Favre, as well as Pro Bowlers Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Jeff Garcia. All four were known, in part, for their mobility.

Mornhinweg's offenses were ranked in the top 10 in seven of the 15 years he served as a coordinator. While with the Eagles, he helped set the single-season franchise records in total net yards (6,386 in 2011), total points (439 in 2010), average per rush (5.4 in 2010), net passing yards (4,119 in 2006) and passer rating (96.7 in 2006). Five of those years were spent coaching alongside Harbaugh.

Most recently with the Jets, the team's rushing attack ranked as the NFL's third best (138.7 yard per game) unit from 2013-2014. The Jets mostly utilized a ground-and-pound attack.

So Mornhinweg has done the job with many different quarterbacks and offenses in many different ways.

"We're in a good position to have a guy with that kind of experience here," Harbaugh said. "It's experience in this system, basically, the West Coast terminology. He fits right in. I know there will be some things that he will tweak, but the basic system is not going to change."

So what facets of the game does Harbaugh want to see change?

On Monday, he talked about three specific areas: running the ball more, pushing the ball downfield and exploiting matchups better.

Running The Ball More

The Ravens struggled to run the ball effectively over the first three weeks. Though Baltimore won all three games, it entered Week 4 with the NFL's 26th-ranked rushing unit (82.3 yards per game).

After making Terrance West the starter in Week 4, things have improved despite an injury-bitten offensive line. West ran for 113 yards against the Raiders and 95 yards against the Redskins. It could have been even better.

The Ravens were facing two weaker rush defenses, but didn't run the ball much until the second half against Oakland, then didn't run it enough after a strong first quarter against Washington.

Baltimore ran the ball 11 times for 74 yards in the first quarter, but rushed just eight times for 44 yards in the next three quarters.

"When you go back and you look at it, I feel like we were running the ball well enough to run the ball a lot more than we did," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh said he was in Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo's office Monday talking about the blocking scheme. Castillo pointed* *out that the Ravens are improving.

"He starts to lean one way in the other direction, because it is working a little bit better," Harbaugh said. "That is the tug-of-war you always have in there. We all have a lot of pride, and we want to find a way to keep improving it within that. Next week is a new week."

The Ravens have climbed up to No. 17 in the NFL in rushing yards per game (99.0). West is tied for 10th in the NFL in average yards per carry (5.0), the same figure as the league's leading rusher, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

"It is getting better," Harbaugh said. "I do like the way Terrance is running, and I like the way the other guys are running too. I expect to see more of those guys, also. More carries for everybody would be good."

Harbaugh said the Ravens are not looking to throw the ball 45 or 50 times a game, as has been the case in three of the five games so far, because it means Baltimore is likely playing catch-up.

Getting The Ball Downfield

When the Ravens do throw the ball, they need to be more aggressive in getting it down the field.

The Ravens have weapons to stretch the field and challenge defenses vertically, specifically with speedsters Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, but they haven't utilized them much since a huge 66-yard touchdown to Wallace in Week 1 against Buffalo.

Sunday against the Redskins, quarterback Joe Flacco completed five passes behind the line of scrimmage for negative-3 yards, per Pro Football Focus (PFF). He attempted 25 passes from 0 to 10 yards, completing 18 for 128 yards. The Ravens threw 10 yards or more 15 times and got just 85 yards from it.

Flacco leads the NFL in passing attempts through five weeks (216), yet he is 11th in passing yards (1,282) and 30th in yards per attempt (5.93).

"We're not putting enough yards on the board for the amount of times we were throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "I think we were 46 passes for 188 net yards passing. That's just not going to cut it, and we all know that."

Harbaugh was asked if pushing the ball down the field more will be stressed under Mornhinweg.

"Yes. I hope so," he said.

Harbaugh said part of the reason for so many check-downs is that defenses are dropping in coverage to give up the underneath pass. But even with that, the Ravens have to take shots and find holes in the defense's coverage. They can't allow the defense to completely dictate their passing game.

"You have to stick those balls in there too," Harbaugh said. "Joe will be the first one to tell you – he will say, 'This is on me; I'm the quarterback. I am the one that has to drive the whole thing.' He is going to have to put his foot in the ground and drive the ball to some guys, and some guys are going to have to make the catches."

Flacco seemingly wants to take more chances. He said he struggled staying patient during Sunday's loss, and has now multiple times said he wants to be more aggressive.

"Right now, we're playing to win on the last drive or have our defense hold on the last drive, and it's not a good formula," Flacco said Sunday.

Mornhinweg has worked closely with Flacco as his quarterbacks coach since the start of last season, and Harbaugh said Flacco "likes Marty, and he is excited to get going with Marty."

Harbaugh also twice brought up play-action passes as part of what may be addressed in the passing game. Flacco leads the league in play-action attempts (52), yet his quarterback rating when doing so is No. 21 (65.4).

"The way we adjust some routes maybe, or the way we organize our protections or some of our play-action passes, that's all of the stuff that Marty has to do the way he believes it should be done," Harbaugh said.

Exploit Matchups And Make The Plays

Half the equation in the passing game is the receivers winning their assignments, especially against favorable matchups, and making the plays.

Some of that may go into the routes, as Harbaugh alluded to, but it's also exploiting matchups. When asked if the Ravens are still figuring out how to best utilize their weapons, Harbaugh said he doesn't think so.

"You use your weapons in conjunction with who is playing across from them. Part of it is you go after the structure of a defense. The other part is you go after who is playing whom in the defense," he said.

"If we have one of our guys against someone we feel they match up really well against, we have to be able to go to that guy. Have we done a great job of that? No."

The Ravens have won battles, but drops have also been a problem. Baltimore is tied for 10th in the league with seven drops so far. Perriman had a deep pass go through his hands that could have been a touchdown, then didn't get his second foot down at the end of the game for what could have been a game-winning score.

"We had a chance to win the game a couple times with some catches," Harbaugh said. "Guys have to come up and make those plays when it counts the most."

A 22-year NFL coaching veteran, Mornhinweg is a former head coach of the Lions (2001-02). He has also served as offensive coordinator for the Jets (2013-14), Eagles (2004-12) and 49ers (1997-2000).

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