Mike Preston discusses the challenges faced by Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestmanthis season and that if the Ravens do not have a good 2016 season he will not blame Marc Trestman.
Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman could be the fall guy in 2016 if the Ravens don't succeed.
The Ravens haven't been to the playoffs in two of the last three seasons and last year fell to 5-11 after going 10-6 in 2014. The only thing that dropped faster was a franchise-best offense from 2014 that finished No. 26 in rushing and No. 23 in third down efficiency in 2015.
Somebody has to be accountable.
Barring a total collapse, it is unlikely to be coach John Harbaugh, who would appear to have at least a one-year reprieve. It won't be defensive coordinator Dean Pees because his group played well at the end of last season and he now has some outstanding young talent.
That leaves Trestman. It's unfortunate and unfair, but Baltimore fans like to point fingers at offensive coordinators because the Ravens haven't had many who have put together good seasons for consecutive years.
The team has gone through Jim Fassel, Rick Neuheisel, Matt Cavanaugh, Jim Caldwell and even Brian Billick.
Ravens fans got a taste of quality one in 2014 when Gary Kubiak helped the Ravens set single-season franchise records in yards (5,838) and points (409). Kubiak helped guide quarterback Joe Flacco to career highs in passing yards (3,986) and touchdowns (27), but he left to become Denver's head coach and won the Super Bowl last year.
Meanwhile, the Ravens struggled under Trestman with a conversion rate of 37.7 percent on third down and a rushing average of 92.4 yards per game. The Ravens averaged 20.5 points per game.
It wasn't all Trestman's fault, even though he took the brunt of the criticism. The Ravens didn't have many impact players, especially on offense.
Star receiver Steve Smith missed nine games after rupturing his Achilles tendon, and Flacco was out for the final six with knee injuries. Former 49ers coaching great, the late Bill Walsh, wouldn't have scored many points with that offense.
How does it look entering 2016? The Ravens still might not have enough explosive players. Flacco is back, but his best receiver is Smith, 37, who has to show he can still play at a high level.
The team's top vertical threat is Mike Wallace, 30, who has played for three teams in four years. The Ravens appeared deep at tight end, but 35-year-old Benjamin Watson, the most durable one throughout his career, is out for the season after an Achilles injury the preseason.
The best running back might be rookie Kenneth Dixon, who is a year away from prime time, and will have to wait a few weeks before he's healthy enough to play.
The Ravens might have to start two rookies on the left side of their offensive line in tackle Ronnie Stanley and guard Alex Lewis.
His orders are to win with this bunch, but it again won't be easy.
A year ago, Harbaugh frustration's was visible. He preferred a run-oriented team, but the Ravens had no identity.
He stuck with Trestman in the offseason, which was the right call because Trestman actually did a good job last year. The Ravens were competitive without their top players, and they won despite playing with Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen and Ryan Mallett at quarterback.
The Ravens still averaged a franchise record of 266.9 yards passing, and before he left because of injuries, Flacco was on pace to throw for a career-high 4,466 yards.
Trestman deserved another year. His overall coaching record as a coordinator is strong, with impressive stints in Cleveland, Detroit and Oakland, though he has not always performed well in his second year on the job.
But, heck, if he could produce big numbers with Scott Mitchell as the Lions quarterback, he should always get a second chance.
Trestman is an easy target. He is a small, wears glasses and oversized baseball caps, and he could easily get lost in a crowd. He doesn't smile a lot, and his press conferences are always precise and to the point.
It's hard to imagine Trestman delivering a fiery pre-game speech. But after a year, the players have adjusted to him.
"He is more comfortable with the guys, been around for another year," wide receiver Kamar Aiken said. "He understands us, personality-wise, as individuals. His personality is the same, which is good because we know our job, he knows his job and he keeps us on edge."
"I think when you are with somebody – the longer you are with somebody – the more easily that communication is taken in a good way and actually utilized," Flacco said.
Because of the trust and year of experience, Trestman has added more to the playbook. The Ravens emphasized running the ball in training camp, but they'll go more vertical this season with the addition of Wallace, and possibly 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman on the field for the first time.
"You want to work on everything. You want to begin at square one, and we did that by re-evaluating our scheme and working through it," Trestman said of the offseason. "We worked on redeveloping our run game and adjusting our passing game. All of that comes into play, and then it is just working each and every day to teach the fundamentals and techniques that are necessary to get it done."