The Baltimore Ravens were saved from making an uncomfortable decision three weeks ago when Jim Caldwell was hired by the Detroit Lions as their new head coach. Based on the offense alone, a clear argument could have been made that Caldwell should not have returned to Baltimore as the offensive coordinator. The Ravens ranked 29th in yards per game and 25th in points per game. This type of offensive mediocrity is exactly the reason the ex-Super Bowl champs ended the season a disappointing 8-8.
Last weeks’ hiring of Gary Kubiak shows that the Ravens are ready to go into a new direction. Caldwell, by all accounts, seemed like a good man, but he was certainly not the one to lead Ravens’ offense to success.
Kubiak comes into Baltimore with eight years of experience as Houston’s head coach. He was respected in Houston, but this years’ season of hell and a finish with an 11 game losing streak was just too much for him to keep his position. Although Ravens fans might feel a bit uneasy when they think about the 2-14 Texans, they should find solace in the fact that that train wreck was mostly cause by injuries, terrible QB play and just plain old bad luck. Kubiak has a well-above-the-norm offensive mind and can easily turn things around for the Baltimore Ravens’ offense.
Central to Kubiak’s system is the balance of using the run to set up the pass. It is a system that fits well with the Ravens’ current personnel and it is much better than the pass-heavy season of 2013. Granted, a lot of it came due to struggles in the running game, but rest assured that Kubiak will devote himself to fixing those struggles.
Not counting last season, Kubiak led a highly ranked rushing offense thanks in part to the efforts of all-pro Arian Foster (RB). With Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, there is still a lot of untapped potential that can be used in a run offense. It is unknown yet if either of the two would become an every-down starter, but as a tandem they can still put together a very effective rushing attack. With a rushing attack in place, the passing game will see a lot more play-action and roll-outs for Flacco. This could potentially be very good for Flacco as he had a rating of 90.7 during play-action situations last season.
For the wide receivers, deep plays and crossing patterns will be typical for Kubiak to call on. Torrey Smith’s development will benefit from this scheme as he is striving to become a consistent top level threat. He was very depended upon in 2013 and had some great games, but he should be feeling good about having the run game and Pitta take some pressure off.
Another aspect worth looking into is the amount of former Texans already on the Ravens’ roster. Vonta Leach and Jacoby Jones could potentially be salary cap casualties this offseason, but Kubiak’s connection might just be enough to keep them in Baltimore.
The offense Kubiak brings should be enough to elevate the Ravens to the familiar identity they held in previous years – the identity of being a tough, physical team that punches opponents in the mouth and plays downfield. This offense is exactly the type that the current personnel and Ravens fans should be excited about heading into the 2014 season.