The Baltimore Ravens severely disappointed last night against the Miami Dolphins, putting up just 10 points in a pitiful effort from what is normally one of the NFL’s most exciting offenses.
While head coach John Harbaugh shouldered responsibility for the blame during a postgame press conference, Ravens fans directed their ire at another target: offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who they blamed for Baltimore’s inability to adapt to Miami’s heavy blitzes.
ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques noted that the Dolphins entered the game with the highest blitz percentage in the NFL, and they dialed up pressure against Lamar Jackson all game, holding him to his lowest regular-season point total as a starter in his career.
The Ravens’ only answer only appeared to be screen passes that were frequently snuffed out by Miami’s high-motor defense, and fans were not happy with the ineffective response.
But not all of the screens were Roman’s fault; it appeared that Jackson audibled to screens multiple times when faced with seven or eight Dolphins defenders showing blitz. But Miami cleverly dropped defenders off the line of scrimmage post-snap, allowing them to swarm to the ball on short passes.
But Diante Lee of Pro Football Focus heavily criticized Roman for his lack of preparedness against the Dolphins, who have an established reputation as a blitz-happy team.
“Greg Roman not having ANY answers for that before they got into their 2 minute offense is exactly why he can’t be there for Lamar’s second contract,” he said, arguing that the Ravens should find a different offensive coordinator.
Could the Ravens Fire Roman?
It’s exceedingly unlikely that the Ravens change coordinators midseason, and not more more likely that the Ravens fire Roman before next year.
After all, he is the main architect of one of the NFL’s most dangerous and explosive offenses over the past three seasons. He’s schemed around a lack of weapons and inconsistency along the offensive line to enable Lamar Jackson to run circles around opposing defenses in nearly ever game of the pair’s tenure in Baltimore.
The real test will be if Roman can learn from his mistakes against the Dolphins and better prepare the Ravens to face similar blitzes later this season.
Opposing teams have sought help from any source they can find to slow Jackson down this season, and Thursday night will have defensive coordinators wanting to blitz Jackson more than ever.
Ravens Can Adjust to Blitzes
Despite injuries along the offensive line, the Ravens are well-equipped to handle such aggressive blitzes. First, they have capable backfield blockers in running back Le’Veon Bell and fullback Patrick Ricard, both of whom have demonstrated an ability to pick up free blitzers this season. They also could have tight end Nick Boyle back as soon as their next game.
But to actually punish defenses for blitzing, the Ravens should alter their route concepts to include more quick-hitting routes from Brown and rookie Rashod Bateman. They faced off coverage all night but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Ravens attempted to employ quick outs and slants that more effectively counter blitzes.
If Roman can make the proper adjustments, the Ravens can certainly prevent a repeat performance of Thursday night. If not, Baltimore will have a very visible Achilles heel that will be targeted relentlessly by opposing defenses.