Baltimore Ravens

Ravens offense already looking ‘a lot’ different

OWINGS MILLS — For new Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, this is the time when mistakes are expected.

The Ravens hired Kubiak in January, and organized team activities the last three weeks have provided Kubiak with his first opportunity to work with his new offense and teach the offense he is going to run.

But Kubiak seems encouraged with how players are acclimating to the offense.

"I think it's been really good," Kubiak said. "I think that's my challenge right now as a coach — to watch. I'm throwing the kitchen sink at them, and then I have to kind of watch and see what sticks and what they do best. …

"I'm just taking it a day at a time, but I think we're building something."

Other members of the organization like what they are seeing from the offense, too.

Baltimore finished last year ranked fourth-worst in the NFL in total offense under former offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. But defensive coordinator Dean Pees was asked after an OTA practice Tuesday how much different the offense looks under Kubiak.

He paused for a moment, then smiled and said, "A lot. A lot."

"It's got a lot of dag-gone weapons, and he knows how to use them," Pees said. "He's given us a lot of headaches and a lot of things for us to talk about as a defensive staff, which is good."

Kubiak has a history of producing successful offenses.

Prior to taking over with the Ravens, Kubiak spent eight years as the head coach of the Houston Texans. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos from 1995 until leaving for Houston in 2006.

The Broncos led the NFL in yards per game and points per game during their 11 seasons under Kubiak, and the Texans' offense was ranked among the top-7 in the league during four of Kubiak's final six seasons as coach.

The Ravens are optimistic Kubiak can work similar magic with them, especially with the progress being made during OTAs.

"I love it," wide receiver Torrey Smith said of Kubiak's offense. "Football is football, and there are a lot of concepts that we've had before that we understand, but it's kind of his way of going about it.

"Even something as simple as the route running, he likes to break down a little bit more rather than speed cutting a lot, which is what we did last year. It's been working well. Guys have been working hard. We're getting it down, and that's really all we can ask for at this point."

In particular, Kubiak seems pleased with how quarterback Joe Flacco is coming along with the offense.

Under league rules, coaches were not allowed to have contact with players until the start of the offseason workout program April 21. But Flacco was sent a copy of Kubiak's playbook as well as video of Kubiak's offenses in Houston to help him get up to speed as quickly as possible leading into OTAs.

"I think he worked his tail off when he was away from me," Kubiak said. "With the way the rules are set up, we tried to get Joe as much information as we could so he could study … and it was obvious when he came in how hard he hard worked at what he was doing. …

"The important thing is that he be ahead of everybody, and he's done that."

Smith said something similar.

"He understands [the offense]," Smith said of Flacco. "He's helping to put us in the right place. When you ask him questions, he always knows the answer, and that's a credit to him working hard to get it done."

Kubiak also feels like Flacco should fit into the offense well from a physical standpoint.

"I knew he had a big arm, but I had no idea how good of an athlete he is, a very good athlete," Kubiak said. "The things we like to do, [moving] around, the zone-pass schemes that we like to run, I think fit to a lot of his strengths. We just need to continue to get better at them.

"But his progress and where he's at right now, I couldn't be happier."

Kubiak was also complimentary of the offensive line, especially left guard Kelechi Osemele and new center Jeremy Zuttah.

Successful running games have been a staple of Kubiak's offenses dating back to his time in Denver, and he said, "Up front, they've responded to what we do."

The teaching will continue well into training camp and the preseason. So will the process of Kubiak figuring out how to best utilize the pieces he has on offense. But Kubiak feels like the offense is coming along well.

"I did think it was very important that we challenge them mentally as well as physically, especially throughout the course of OTAs," Kubiak said. "I told them that. I said, 'Guys, I'm going to throw a lot at you. We need to make some mistakes, but let's go make them hard. We'll figure it out and make sure on opening day we're doing what we do best.'"