What the Baltimore Ravens have done this season has been inspiring. As winners of eight consecutive games, the Ravens are taking the league by storm after utilizing their quarterback Lamar Jackson in creative and efficient ways. This, in turn, is opening up the offense to be nearly unstoppable — just ask Bill Belichick — when both running and passing.
So how did they do it? What is their secret?
Well, if we go back to this past offseason, how they got here isn't mind-blowing. In fact, it's more common sense than anything else.
What the Ravens are doing isn't brand new or something that didn't exist before. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman is looking at what his players do best and implementing a system that is most conducive to it.
“I think we have run an offense here that has been kind of morphed over the years, and we really want to start fresh, start new, and from everything — from our language, our formations, how we do everything — [we want to] rebuild the thing from the ground up,” Roman said.
“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 skillset, 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.”
But this isn't Roman's first time creating an offensive system around a "unique" QB. Roman was the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers when Colin Kaepernick took the league by storm with his dual-threat ability too.
Roman credited that to his brain never being able to shut off, always searching for better ways to do something. He mentioned his days in San Francisco helped him formulate ideas and a support system to bring to life what we're seeing in Baltimore on Sundays.
“San Francisco was an NFL laboratory for me,” Roman said. “Stanford was a real laboratory for me as well. That’s great, but now let’s take that to the NFL. It was a little different. It was a big opportunity for me to test my theories at the NFL level. I was very fortunate to build a lot of friendships and relationships there.”
But it’s not just with Lamar Jackson. Roman's open mind to buying into his guys' skillsets is having positive effective throughout the various position groups.
“The weapons that he has here at his disposal, the way he’s orchestrating the offense, he’s keeping defenses off track,” Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead said. “That’s all that goes into it, is just him scheming up teams and seeing their weaknesses and then exposing it. The Rams didn’t have a lot of weaknesses, but we just knew our mentality was to be physical. And he set that tone on Friday, like, ‘These are going to be the three plays. We’re going to run these plays. Whether it’s third-and-12, we’re going to run these plays.’ And that’s just the mentality of him having, ‘We’re going to beat the [crap] out of them because that’s how hard we work.’ And that’s the mentality we have.”
This offseason the big question around NFL coaching circles was who was the next Sean McVay? We saw teams do their best to try to hire coaches and coordinators they believed would give them something like what we saw with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018. But while other teams were searching to replicate, Roman was searching for how to be different.
The way Roman approaches building his offense completely around his players' strengths, no matter what they are, is paying off both in the morale of the team in the locker room and in the record books on the standings. Of course, good teams need talented players, and Jackson is certainly spearheading a very talented group. But it's still up to coaches to put their talent in the right position — or at least not hold them back.
So to answer the question of what's the Ravens secret? The answer is: listening.
Listen to your players and what they do best. You'll never regret it.