Fresh Statistics Show Where Todd Monken, Ravens Went Wrong in AFC Title Game

Gus Edwards

Getty New statistics show why Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator Todd Monken's gameplan failed against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

John Harbaugh didn’t have a good answer for why the Baltimore Ravens didn’t run the ball more against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. The head coach should ask offensive coordinator Todd Monken for more clarity after new statistics emerged that showed why the Ravens’ game-plan failed in a 17-10 defeat.

The numbers come from ESPN’s Seth Walder. He noted how “when the Chiefs had 6 or fewer defenders in the box the Ravens ran: “33 dropbacks (including 3 scrambles), 1 QB designed run, 1 RB carry.”

Opting not to run against light boxes in a game ultimately decided by a single touchdown makes a mockery of Harbaugh’s initial explanation for the lack of rushing attempts. The 61-year-old tried to deflect the issues by saying simply, “it was that type of game,” but these numbers suggest otherwise.

That discrepancy should lead to some soul-searching for Harbaugh, Monken and quarterback Lamar Jackson this offseason.

Todd Monken Ignored Chiefs’ Biggest Weakness

The Chiefs entered the game off the back of being gashed for 182 yards and two touchdowns on the ground by the Buffalo Bills. Those struggles in the Divisional Round were nothing new for a KC defense that surrendered 4.5 yards per carry during the regular season.

Numbers like those should have been all the incentive Monken needed to unleash the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack. Instead, Baltimore’s OC was pass happy all day, including having Jackson throw on 69 percent of “early downs,” per Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis.

Jackson aired it out 37 times, while Ravens’ running backs were given just six carries all game, per Pro Football Reference. The numbers didn’t add up to a coherent strategy.

What’s worse is Harbaugh revealed “he had discussions with Todd Monken about running the ball during the game,” according to Jeff Zrebiec.

Given how little impact those conversations had on the way the Ravens tried to attack the Chiefs, Monked asked too much of Jackson.

Ravens Put Too Much on Lamar Jackson

An MVP-level regular season had people believing the Ravens had completely and successfully transformed their offense. These were no longer the run-first Ravens of Monken’s predecessor Greg Roman.

That was the theory, anyway. Jackson made strides as a passer in 2023, but his offense was still tethered to the ground game. Jackson’s 821 rushing yards, the third-highest tally of his career, also revealed No. 8 was still dependant on his legs for a lot of big plays.

His accuracy as a passer improved, but a lot of the overall improvement was only surface deep. Like the Ravens having a superior cast of wide receivers to support Jackson.

Rookie Zay Flowers was productive, hauling in 77 catches from 108 targets, but Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor made just 35 receptions each. The Ravens still lacked a 1,000-yard wideout.

Those numbers proved the Ravens still lacked an offense expansive enough to win a high-stakes game against an elite team on the strength of Jackson’s arm alone. Yet, that’s exactly what the Ravens appeared determined to do against a Chiefs’ defense built to stop the pass with disguised coverage and creative pressures called by coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

Speaking on “Around the Horn” for ESPN, Kevin Clark felt like the Ravens were putting a desire to win with Jackson above exploiting more favorable matchups: “It was like they were setting it up for a Lamar masterclass, when really they should have just tried to win the game. It was baffling. Todd Monken has a lot to think about over the next nine months.

If the Ravens were trying to make a point, it backfired spectacularly. It’s the main reason the league’s best team during the regular season is going to be watching instead of playing in the Super Bowl.

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