As soon as coach John Harbaugh announced he was retaining offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, the majority of Ravens fans on social media reacted negatively. However, Harbaugh isn’t worried about public perception. He’s worried about getting back to the playoffs.
Here are three factors that played into Harbaugh making the decision.
1. Joe Flacco communicates well with Mornhinweg and likes working with him.
It’s all about getting the most out of the veteran quarterback. With Flacco’s huge contract, he’s not going anywhere, and the Ravens expect him to play better than he has the last two years.
The Ravens need the 2014 version of Flacco when Gary Kubiak was the offensive coordinator. That season, Flacco had a career-high 27 touchdown passes and the second-highest QB rating of his career and led the Ravens to the second round of the playoffs. Flacco believes he can succeed with Mornhinweg if they are given more time working together. If he’s right, keeping Mornhinweg will look like a smart move. If Flacco is wrong, they’ll be plenty of changes after next season.
2. Harbaugh believes a dramatic change offensively could set the Ravens back.
If Kubiak or Kyle Shanahan wanted the job, Harbaugh may have jumped at either. However, neither Kubiak (retired for now) nor Shanahan (Falcons offensive coordinator and hot head coaching candidate) is available.
Three names that people often brought up to replace Mornhinweg were former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, former Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman and former Vikin0g0s coordinator Norv Turner. However, their offensive approaches are different than the West Coast offense the Ravens have run since Kubiak arrived in 2014. Bringing in an offensive coordinator from the college ranks would have been an even more drastic change. The Ravens aren’t interested in having Flacco take the first half of 2017 trying to master an entirely new offense. They want him to hit the ground running from Day 1 of minicamp.
“Marty has been running this offense since the late 80s,” Harbaugh said. “That’s a system I’m familiar with. It’s the basic system they’re running in Kansas City right now, and it’s a good system for us.”
3. Harbaugh has sent a strong message to Mornhinweg to be more committed to the running game.
If the Ravens don’t run more often in 2017, they don’t deserve success. Since the start of 2013, the Ravens are 31-33 during the regular season, but they are 17-6 when Flacco has thrown fewer than 35 times, including 3-0 in 2016. A reluctance to call running plays helped cost Marc Trestman his job as offensive coordinator, but the run-pass ratio didn’t change dramatically after Mornhinweg took over in Week 6.
The formula for success with Flacco has been proven — support him with a running game, keep him clean in the pocket, use play-action passes and take shots downfield to take advantage of his arm strength. Like it or not, Mornhinweg will be given one more chance to help make that formula work.
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