Eight days ago, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco publicly lobbied for the offense to take its foot off the brake, arguing, “We need to go after it.” Before Thursday afternoon’s practice, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg backed that sentiment to a certain degree.
“We always want to be aggressive,” he said. “Look, there’s been a few times when we’ve tried to be aggressive, and it’s blown up on us. And there’s been other times when we’ve tried to be aggressive and then we’re up by two or three scores. So we need to be more consistently aggressive and be aggressive in a real smart way.”
Through nine games, the unit ranks last in the NFL in yards per play at 4.4 and is near the bottom in several other important categories. The offense could welcome back running backs Terrance West (left calf) and Danny Woodhead (left hamstring) after an extended absence for Sunday’s road game against the Green Bay Packers, but would their presence be enough to light a spark?
Discussion of the offense’s shortcomings intensified after former tight end Dennis Pitta questioned the unit’s conservative philosophy, which might stem from Mornhinweg.
“Right now, Joe has one read and then he’s got to check it down if it’s not there," Pitta told WBAL Radio on Nov. 8. “That’s really the offense they have set up for him. It’s difficult to play quarterback under those circumstances.”
Shortly after coach John Harbaugh disputed any notion that the Ravens are playing it safe on Wednesday, Pitta spoke to the team’s website to clarify his comments.
“Never at any point was I implying or trying to say that this offense is so simple that it’s one read or check-down,” Pitta said. “It was taken as literal as can be to say this is a dumbed-down offense or whatever it may be. That’s not the reality at all.”
Mornhinweg did not seem upset by Pitta’s initial perspective.
“Dennis is one of my favorites, he really is,” he said. “He called and everything. I think he was trying to explain something and used a couple too many words, I guess.”
Mornhinweg said the offensive coaches spent the bye week reviewing the areas in which the unit has been deficient.
“Well, there’s a lot of things that we need to improve on,” he said. “I don’t want to get too in-depth here, but yards per attempt is a big correlator here – both in the run and pass – to winning. There’s several things: turnovers, yards per attempt. So we need to get better there. So how do you do that? First of all, schemes. Second of all, getting some big fellows in some space. Third, breaking tackles or making the big play down the field. So we’ve emphasized that.”