Todd Monken taking over as offensive coordinator will lead to one big scheme change for the Baltimore Ravens. ESPN NFL Matchup analyst Greg Cosell expects Monken to make “spread” and three-wide receiver sets a feature of his playbook.
Cosell told the Ross Tucker Football Podcast why the Ravens will look so different from the offense called by Monken’s predecessor Greg Roman:
“You’re going to see a lot more three wide receiver personnel groupings. Last year, I mean, this is unbelievable in today’s NFL, Ross, but last year they played out of 11 personnel — which for fans is one back, one tight end and three wide receivers — they played out of that personnel package on 12% of their offensive snaps. Far and away the lowest number in the league, far and away.”
The Ravens have the talent to make good on Cosell’s prediction. Recruiting Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor in free agency, along with selecting Zay Flowers 22nd overall in the 2023 NFL draft, turned wide receiver from a weakness into a team strength.
Those new targets, combined with tight ends Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely, give quarterback Lamar Jackson all he needs to transform a run-first system into one of the more dynamic air attacks in the league.
Monken’s challenge will be putting as many of the new weapons on the field as possible. Using 11 personnel is the best way to solve the problem.
Ravens Tipped for Complete Makeover on Offense
Roman’s ground-based schemes often demanded having two backs on the field. Preferably, a running back and Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard.
Sometimes that meant only deploying two wideouts. Other times it meant having only one receiver when the Ravens stacked two tight ends on the line in 22 personnel.
If the Ravens follow the blueprint Cosell outlined to Tucker, they will undergo a complete makeover on offense. Fortunately, Monken’s experience directing other pro offenses gives the Ravens a leg up in making this a quick transition.
Todd Monken’s History Gives Ravens an Advantage
It’s been a while since Monken called an offense in the NFL, but his experience includes three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2016-18. Those years were followed by spending the 2019 season as OC for the Cleveland Browns.
Monken’s tenures in Tampa and Cleveland provide encouragement for the Ravens using more 11 personnel, according to Gordon McGuiness of Pro Football Focus: “Monken’s Buccaneers offense deployed 11 personnel on 64.6% of plays, which ranked 12th in the NFL, and ranked 23rd in the league at 56.8% in 2019 with the Browns. Both are a world of difference from the offense we saw in Baltimore under Roman.”
The trend continued based on how Monken had the Ravens line up during preseason, per Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis, who noted how Baltimore aligned in 11 personnel for 64 percent of the snaps during the first half of exhibition games.
Sharp also outlined how the Ravens “passed 75% of the time” during the first two weeks of preseason.
Monken is setting a pattern for getting Baltimore’s playmakers in the passing game involved early and often. Beckham will benefit from the schematic shift, as well as from his time playing for Monken in 2019.
OBJ recorded his last 1,000-yard season on Monken’s watch, turning 74 catches into 1,035 yards. Beckham was more of a vertical threat in that Browns’ offense, covering 11.9 yards before catch per reception, according to Pro Football Reference.
The 30-year-old may be more of an intermediate target four seasons later and coming off tearing his ACL for the second time in his career. Yet, the Ravens won’t be short of big-play targets on the perimeter, not when Flowers can take the top off of defenses, while Agholor averaged 18.7 yards per catch for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020.
Putting Flowers, Agholor and Beckham on the field together is how the Ravens redefine their identity this season. It’s also how Jackson takes the strides he needs to as a passer.