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Greg Roman rebuilding Ravens offense with Lamar Jackson in mind

Greg Roman rebuilding Ravens offense with Lamar Jackson in mind

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Greg Roman is off to a running start in his new role as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, working long hours to construct a unit that can fully utilize the talents of quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The Ravens closed the regular season with a 6-1 run behind Jackson, who keyed an effective ground game with frequent forays out of the pocket and downfield. Baltimore ended a three-year hiatus from the playoffs, winning the AFC North before losing to the Chargers.

The goal this offseason is to make an effective attack even better. Promoted last month from assistant coach/tight ends coach, Roman is rewriting a playbook that was originally devised for a pass-oriented offense led by Joe Flacco.

"We're trying, soup to nuts, from the ground up ... to hit the sweet spot with how we put this offense together," Roman said Tuesday.

The focal point is Jackson, the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 draft. After Flacco injured his right hip in November, Jackson took over and displayed the slick moves and elusiveness that earned him a Heisman Trophy at Louisville.

The rookie finished as the team's second-leading rusher with 719 yards. He spearheaded a ground game that finished second in the NFL with 152.6 yards per game -- including an league-high 1,607 yards rushing over the final seven games.

"You're going to see a lot of elements of that this year," Roman said.

The result, he hopes, is something on a much grander scale.

"We have run an offense here that has kind of morphed over the years, and we really want to start fresh, start new," Roman said. "Everything from our language, our formations, how we do everything. Rebuild the thing. That's one angle.

"The other angle is really, how do we want to move forward with Lamar Jackson? He's a unique player with a unique skill set, so let's build an offense that really accommodates that, as opposed to try to fit him into something that other people had once done."

Roman took over for Marty Mornhinweg in part because of his work as an offensive coordinator in San Francisco and Buffalo, where he helped construct effective attacks with running quarterbacks in Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor.

At the time of Roman's hiring, coach John Harbaugh said, "Increasing Greg's responsibilities will help us get where we're going on offense."

Constructing a new playbook is not an easy process.

"It's a real grind. We're really looking at this as a completely new beginning, as if we were a new staff," Roman said. "I've kind of compared it to putting your kid's furniture together from IKEA or something. If you make one wrong move, you've got to take the whole thing apart and start over again."

For the offense to work, the Ravens must fortify the offensive line, get a rugged receiver capable of blocking downfield and hope Gus Edwards can continue to develop after a rookie season in which he was activated from the practice squad in October before running for a team-high 718 yards.

Most of all, however, they need Jackson to be better. His running prowess and determination are fine, but he had only one 200-yard passing game and fumbled 12 times.

"Moving forward, consistent fundamentals are what's really going to take him to the next level," Roman said, "because he's got all the ability in the world."

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The Ravens didn’t sign Michael Brockers — now what?

The Ravens didn’t sign Michael Brockers — now what?

Earlier this week, the Ravens touted their defensive line as the most improved position group through the first wave of free agency. They even felt comfortable enough to trade rotational piece Chris Wormley to the Steelers. 

Now, the defensive line has more questions than answers. 

The team confirmed early Friday morning, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic originally reported, they were unable to come to a deal with defensive lineman Michael Brockers over concerns because of a physical. More specifically, there were concerns over the status of Brockers’ left ankle.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ravens team doctors were unable to examine Brockers themselves and instead had to rely on the work of independent doctors. 

During a conference call with reporters Thursday, new acquisition Calais Campbell said he had to go to the Mayo Clinic to receive his physical. He called the process tricky. 

Brockers quickly signed a very similar deal to the one he signed with Baltimore to stay in Los Angeles with the Rams just hours after the Ravens deal fell through. His new deal is a three-year deal worth $31.5 million. 

So now, the Ravens are left with the difficult reality that a handful of potential targets are no longer viable options due to the first wave of defensive linemen having signed elsewhere. They also shipped off Wormley and a 2021 seventh-round pick for a 2021 fifth-round pick, further depleting the defensive line. 

Michael Pierce, a talented run-stopping defender, left during free agency to sign with the Vikings, too. 

Baltimore now has Campbell, Brandon Williams, Justin Ellis, Jihad Ward and Daylon Mack on the depth chart at defensive line. Not only do the Ravens need more depth at the position, they also need another starter. 

While the Ravens have the 28th pick in the draft, including seven picks in the first four rounds, the front seven’s needs now have been thrust into the spotlight. Before, an argument could’ve been made that the Ravens should devote resources elsewhere: inside linebacker, interior offensive line, wide receiver, or perhaps an edge rusher. 

Now, the defensive line, and front seven as a whole, is once again the team’s biggest need. While it’s not necessary to address in the first round specifically, the Ravens are now almost guaranteed to make a handful of picks in the front seven for next month’s draft. 

The Ravens could dip their toes into the free agent market once again with their newfound cap space and make a run at a few veterans still left on the market. They could also go after an edge player, or an inside linebacker instead, to help cover up an additional need before the draft. 

The Ravens had a plan entering free agency, and quite simply, it went as well as they expected. 

Now, though, the Ravens are left with a questionable physical and a handful of questions to answer about the future of the defensive line.

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Ravens say they will not sign Michael Brockers after two sides fail to come to an agreement

Ravens say they will not sign Michael Brockers after two sides fail to come to an agreement

The Baltimore Ravens announced Friday that they will not be signing free agent defensive tackle Michael Brockers as previously reported.

The announcement comes two days after it was reported the deal hit a potential snag after Brockers' high ankle sprain from last season was flagged during a physical, so the reported deal between the two sides could not be agreed upon, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Now, Brockers will head back to the Los Angeles Rams, where the two reportedly agreed upon a 3-year, $31.5 million deal, according to Rapoport. 

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