Now that Marc Trestman is done as Ravens offensive coordinator, the heat turns up on the players and coaches to fix what is wrong with the offense.
The Ravens (3-2) insist they have the quarterback and the weapons to have a potent attack. But that hasn’t materialized in the first five games. If the switch to Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator leads to more points, more offensive consistency, and more wins, then firing Trestman will be remembered as a turning point in the season. But if the switch to Mornhinweg doesn’t produce tangible improvement, then Trestman is just a fall guy for deeper issues.
Here are three problems on Mornhinweg’s plate that need to be addressed, regardless of his game plan or his play-calling:
1. The offensive line needs to protect quarterback Joe Flacco better.
Whether left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) returns soon or not, Flacco can’t play his best football getting hit on a regular basis.
“We didn’t protect the quarterback very well,” coach John Harbaugh said Sunday after losing to the Redskins. “He got hit way too much. That has to stop.”
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The Ravens don’t have a lot of options on the offensive line they haven’t tried. Alex Lewis moved from left guard to left tackle on Sunday, while John Urschel took over at left guard. Right tackle Rick Wagner left Sunday’s game with a thigh injury that will be further evaluated. The sooner Stanley returns, the better for the Ravens’ line. But if Flacco is under duress all season, the passing game may never become consistent.
2. Flacco needs to play better.
Flacco has missed on some throws he should have completed. There are times when he doesn’t set his feet, or rushes his throws, or fails to step into throws when he can. It’s tougher to hang in the pocket when getting pressured on a regular basis. But if the Ravens are going to take their offense to another level, Flacco needs to throw more consistently.
3. More playmakers need to step to the forefront.
Especially if Steve Smith Sr. (ankle injury) is going to be hampered, or miss time, other skill position players need to step up, particularly Breshad Perriman, Mike Wallace, and Dennis Pitta. Mornhinweg also needs to take a close look at why wide receiver Kamar Aiken has disappeared from the game plan, after catching 75 passes last year. Especially if the Ravens are not going to get consistency from Perriman and others, they should figure out how to get more from Aiken.
Was Trestman the main problem, or did he take the fall for a team that has deep offensive shortcomings? The next 11 games will answer that question. Because if things don’t improve offensively from this point, frustrated fans won’t be able to blame Trestman anymore.