How will Todd Monken make all of these stars happy with one football?

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With Lamar Jackson in Owings Mills and the team working for one more week before a summer break, Luke Jones and Nestor take a deep dive on the new offense of Todd Monken and how the Ravens plan to distribute the football in the fall.


offensive line, ravens, lamar, greg, play, otas, roman, coordinator, year, point, football, lamar jackson, coach, talk, baltimore, todd, week, game, ball, players


Luke Jones, Nestor Aparicio

Nestor Aparicio  00:01

W n s t Jasper Baltimore Baltimore positive we hope you are setting a place on your radio dial if you’re podcasting and video casting out of a and 1570 somewhere on your radio then it sells me over coons they’re they’re gonna keep am radios and cars which I am bullish about after 25 years will be our 25th anniversary on August the third, we are planning a huge celebration in conjunction with our friends at the Maryland lottery and the Maryland crab cake tour. We’re bringing it over to Costas on our 25th anniversary on August the third, as well as we’re going to be a drug city on the fourth of August. That’s a little later on lots crabcakes tour stops between now and then. We’re coming to Pappas, we’re coming to faith Lee’s we’re coming to spirits West, we’re coming to Shannon’s over in NA l forms all of that up at Baltimore positive and on our social media. I know it’s been baseball season and we spent the weekend watching the Orioles. And the Ravens had been sort of out of sight out of mind during a time where they play meaningful baseball six days a week and I don’t know what my wife’s gonna do what a Monday night when there’s no game, how can there not be a game on? How dare they give the Orioles days off? And when they do we send Luke Jones out to Owings Mills, which actually allows him in to watch practice sometimes and bring everybody up to speed on like, what’s it like to be a reporter this time of the year? I don’t really know what that’s like anymore? What what do when are you allowed in? When do they throw? What are these OTAs that we only care about when guys don’t show up?

Luke Jones  01:26

Well, either when they don’t show up or someone gets hurt, right. I mean, that’s that’s kind of the when OTAs make the big headline. But it’s and this is an NFL wide policy, they have three weeks of OTAs they’re required to make one out of every three days open to the media. So the way that works out is roughly once per week, you know, and some teams will do it slightly differently. But what we’ve had is two weeks of OTAs to this degree as they’re now embarking on their final week of OTAs, before next week, with mandatory minicamp and it was one day, two weeks ago. And then it was last Thursday, where we had another chance to see the ravens and look at one thing that I always joke about with other reporters when you’ve been doing this long enough, this time of year spring and training camp, also to a lesser degree and training camp. But it still holds true is anyone who’s done it long enough. We’ve all learned our lessons in terms of not getting to putting too much stock into someone that looks really good, or in some cases, doesn’t look so good. This time of year where they’re running around in helmets, shells and shorts, and it’s not real football from the standpoint of there is no threat whatsoever of contact. And that really impacts things a lot when you’re talking about being on the practice field. So my point is everything you see this time of year, it’s fun observations, hey, I do those with my 12 ravens thoughts at Baltimore., based off of every OTA we’re allowed to watch. But it’s a reminder that there are a lot of guys that look good in May and June, and even early on in training camp. And then you never hear from them again. And I don’t mean, I don’t say that to be dismissive. It’s understanding where they are at this point in the season, where they are in this point in their offseason, with these practices, which, hey, the young guys are battling and competing, and you have guys that are trying to make a name for themselves. And then you have the veterans, whether they’re there or not, if they’re there, they’re putting in their work. But ultimately the message and you hear the coaches say this all the time, take care of each other, keep each other off the ground, you hear that message over and over because it is a reminder that it’s not a fully 100% all out effort all out competition, you’re trying to get your work in, you’re working on your technique, in the case of the offense or learning Todd Monken system. So there’s a lot a lot of learning going on, which is good. That’s what you should do in May in June. But it’s just a reminder to not put too much stock into what we’re seeing this time of year. But we are at the point. And this is where it goes so quickly. You know, you have the draft, you have rookie camp, you have OTAs and OTAs, run three weeks, you have three day mandatory minicamp next week, and then the Ravens go away until late July. So it is a reminder of the spring spring program. You know, we don’t get a whole lot of access to it. But once we do, it does tend to go very quickly. And before you know it, you’re kind of back in that hurry up and wait phase where you’re waiting for training camp. But, you know, for the ravens, you know, it’s with Lamar Jackson being there and other vets were in there for the second week. It’s been kind of business as usual or back to usual in the case of Lamar Jackson and really just trying to learn Todd Monken system and everyone trying to read the tea leaves in terms of how it’s going to look different than what we saw for years under Greg Roman.

Nestor Aparicio  04:50

Well, I guess overall concerns for June concerns were any bad September football games health is is primary, but everywhere I go Oh, and I think this is inaccurate from the fans like I think fans put too much on the on the coordinators to say we’re changing the coordinator. We’re going to have success because this guy’s Did you remember Billick was a genius when he came in right? He was the offensive G like through all of this. We’ve had all of these offensive geniuses here whether it’s Jim Caldwell cam Cameron, Greg, they’re all geniuses when they get here and then they come in and somehow they don’t win a Super Bowl though Caldwell did and Matt Cabanel. Nobody calls him a genius but they want to Super Bowl right. The coordinator part of this. I don’t want to say it’s a small thing. It’s not a small thing. They’re well compensated. I know all of these guy Jim Schwartz is trying to turn a defense around and Cleveland making more money than he ever made coaching the lions, the head coach, because these coordinators, John’s not telling Monken what to install in the offense. I don’t think John’s sophistication level on offensive coordinator ship would allow that or the terms of when an offensive coordinator comes in. But I think there’s such a expectation. And there’s so much made when things don’t go well to villainize Matt Kavanaugh. 20 years later, when he’s holding his ring up, or villainize cam Cameron, who did a pretty good job until I mean, he didn’t drop the Lee Evans past, you know what I mean? So I would just say the coordinator thing and Todd Monken there’s this feeling like that amongst fans. He’s the Savior and I’m like, I know enough to know enough that that he draws up plays now whether Lamar is going to throw the ball 38 yards down the field out and hit a wide open Odell Beckham because he happens to be open or a flower speed across the middle creates, but this is about execution of players. You control them up. You bring any coordinator you want in if guys drop balls, guys don’t get open. But Todd Monken is the I spent the afternoon with David Katz. It’s all everywhere around me people when they come up and talk football with me. They all want to talk. Maybe it’s a funny name. Maybe they all watch Georgia play. But this has been the closest thing we’ve had to Billick on Billboard’s is mungkin. We just gave the quarterback $52 million. He better be good too.

Luke Jones  07:15

No question at all. Let’s be clear. All of that works in concert right? Coaching matters. But at the same time, if you don’t have any talent, that’s not gonna get you that far. You might everybody

Nestor Aparicio  07:25

loves g rho g rho g rho until Lamar is not able to play in November, December. Greg Roman got fired because Laura couldn’t play in November, December. That’s mine. I don’t think Greg Roman is an idiot. I think they brought him in to do what they did. They were incredibly successful at it. And they didn’t have any players. He didn’t have any players. And then he didn’t have a quarterback last two years. So this thing where Greg Roman is vilified. We’ll see if they want a Super Bowl the next three years and then go back and beat Greg Roman up, but I think Greg Romo got a, I was I think he got kind of a raw deal here to be made into the idiot at the end when he didn’t have his quarterback for half of the last few seasons.

Luke Jones  08:03

Yeah, I mean, I agree with you to a point. I mean, let’s be clear. It was far from only Greg Romans fault. And I think what we have when this happens, and I don’t think this is unique to Ravens fans or to Orioles fans, I don’t think this is a Baltimore thing. I think this is an everywhere sports market thing. Fans do not buy coach’s jerseys, right. fans don’t buy the coach’s polo shirt, that golf shirt that he’s wearing on the sidelines. I did have a pillar cashto like so it’s so often and again, this is not I’m not picking on Ravens fans there, I think this is what you see most places is when things are going really well. The coach will get some credit. But most of the time, it’s about the players. When things are not going well. The players will get some blame, but it usually goes to the coach. And that’s how this works. And look. Lamar Jackson’s absence for Greg Roman was a massive part of that. However, there had been a pattern. And this happened to Greg Roman and buffalo. This happened to Greg Roman in San Francisco, the knock on him was always that he has phenomenal running games. And the play action pass works well for a time. But then inevitably, teams start to figure it out. And Romans passing schemes and his system as it pertains to the passing game, which is obviously very important. gets you to a certain point, but then you reach a ceiling. And it’s how it played out in San Francisco, so played out in Buffalo. It’s all played out here. Again, was that exacerbated by the fact that Lamar Jackson wasn’t on the field. Of course, of course, that was a massive part of this. And as I said, even before they hired Todd Monken and I’ll continue to say this, Todd Monken could prove to be a home run of a higher home run of a higher and I doubt the Ravens will reach a level of production in terms of points and efficiency that they did in 2019. I mean that was a historic see Isn’t that they had in 2019 offensively so that that aside, you are obviously looking at a change in identity here, they are going to throw the ball more than they did in the past. I think the other factors that I’m even more excited about than that aspect of it is, I think they want to play with more tempo, I think you’re gonna see a little more no huddle. One thing about Greg Roman offense is that I will not give him a past one. Because this was even an issue when Lamar Jackson was on the field was not playing with enough tempo, constantly being up against the play clock. And look, the players own part of that. I’m not saying it’s solely a Greg Roman thing. But that was something that we saw them have issues with. So I think you’re gonna see them play with better tempo, or at least attempt to do that. And I think the other thing that you’re going to see is more three wide receiver sets, I think you’re gonna see them try to spread defenses out a lot more. So I think it’s going to be fascinating to see how that plays out. But to go back to your original point, of course, so much of this is going to go back to the players on the field. And I won’t even use Todd Monken as my example, we had a chance on Thursday to talk to the new wide receivers coach Greg Lewis, longtime former Philadelphia Eagle coach, played under horrible in Philadelphia years ago, coached under Andy Reid. And I look at him. And I see the group that he has at the wide receiver position right now. And that’s not to say that the Ravens have the best group in the NFL or anything close to it. But it’s certainly on paper, a dramatic improvement from where that position was in recent years. And I was just thinking, Oh, great, Louis. He has a pretty nice, pretty nice hand that was dealt to him compared to what T Martin had, who’s now the quarterbacks coach, but he was the wide receivers coach prior to that, or what Bobby Ingram had for years. Prior to that.

Nestor Aparicio  11:49

We’re going to linebacker room and there’s ro Quan Smith and Patrick lean, that’s a different room than we had last year.

Luke Jones  11:54

Yeah, makes it makes things way easier for Zach or our old friend as the as the linebackers coach. So it always happens in concert, right? I mean, coaching matters, I want to be clear about this. And I’m not suggesting that you were saying that doesn’t it matters a heck of a lot. However, that also has to coincide with having enough good players, when you have both. That’s when you have a chance to do something special. If you only have one or the other. Yeah, that’s going to limit what you can do. So we’ll see how this plays out. And one thing I’ll continue to remind everyone of as much as we focus so much on Lamar and passing and throwing the ball more in the bar, making his comment in jest during his press conference about throwing for 6000 yards, which, by the way, he walked back a little bit a week or two ago, I think it’s fair to point that out as well. But we’ve we’ve focused on that. But go look at what Todd Monken did that was so wildly successful at Georgia, running game, use of tight ends. Well, that sounds a little bit like Greg Roman there. So let’s not, let’s not just assume that everything is going to change. And this is going to look completely different. There are going to be changes, there’s no doubt, but there are still some things that this team does well, and that’s where, you know, could bleed us into talking about JK Dobbins, for example, or Patrick,

Nestor Aparicio  13:08

or you know what roles these guys are going to have in this different game, right? Because there’s still one football Dobbins thinks he’s getting the ball 30 times and he’s crying on the internet about money. And meanwhile, we don’t even talk about Mark Andrews, he just gets up says Oh, they’ll throw me the ball. I still bet he’ll be the most targeted guy on the field. And I don’t know what that means for Beckham and flowers and Lord knows we have another first round draft pick we haven’t heard about around here that will actually be making his way back out on the field as well. So if not Paramon so you know, to your point there’s one football in the offseason we all looked up the funniest part for me now the chat steals throw me out of my seats and I don’t have to pay them the three grand this year. The funniest thing was sitting in seats and having people in 513 Yell at the coordinator when Lamar would sail the ball higher when Flacco with dirty ball or when they would got they ran on third and one and didn’t make it it’s a core damn coordinators fault. Like I that’s the part for me that I sort of miss being a games like that, but I don’t miss the stupidity of that or the phone calls that come with it. But sitting at the game amongst drunks having them How about things that like, I’m thinking to myself, if the coordinators listening to this, he’s laughing because you know, somebody got beaten physically on the play, or, or just a failure of execution, right. Like in general a failure of execution that fans have no clue about, but the coordinator becomes to your point, the bad guy, and Lamar is not going to be the bad guy they’re paying Lamar Lamar is here the next three, four years making 50 million a year whether the ball sales high or low, whether he starts the interception at the end of the Giants game, all of these things that happen. It’s convenient to make Greg Roman the bad guy for two years. Monkey won’t be the bad guy in the beginning. If anything goes wrong here, I think he gets a hall pass for a little while, because Roman was so vilify.

Luke Jones  15:08

Yeah, and look, I don’t even think it’s stupidity. I think it’s new, it’s a lack of nuance. And to be clear, even as media, even if you’re an informed football fan watching it, there is still going to be context. And there are going to be clues and details that go into every single play, whether it succeeds or whether it doesn’t, that we’re still going to be in the dark on, because

Nestor Aparicio  15:28

we use a baseball every night with relief pitching, and who’s it and to your point, they have computer algorithms, and they sit around and play and, and, and scrimmage all of these situations in San Francisco in the middle of the night to seventh and eighth inning as to who’s gonna do what, and if this, then that football, you know, you get 30 seconds, you know, and you install the play, and you scrimmage it all week, and you just and you hope in the fourth quarter, your offensive line is going to hold up to be able to pass protect, right? Like it really is more of an attrition thing in the fourth quarter of a football game. So look at it and say, How are we feeling about? We can’t score so we better put our defense on the feet, like all of these decisions that happen that are more gut feel on John hardball where it’s fourth and three, we’re going to go for it because we have Lamar, there’s a little bit more of that in football than I think even in baseball now. Because of the amount of time you have between plays, to think it through scrimmage through all day. Football is more like live bullets at the end, I think. And much bigger. They certainly can football with the football in regard to turning the football over or one mistake breaking your back?

Luke Jones  16:39

Oh, no doubt. I mean, you’re on offense, you throw a pick six. I mean, you know, you don’t quite have that dynamic when you’re talking about baseball, where if it’s your turn at the plate, the other team isn’t going to score, right. I can’t score 10 runs on one pitch. Exactly, exactly. So but but again, it goes back to there’s a lot of nuance involved here. And look, I want to be clear, you know, and while I agree with your general point, there are times where the coordinator is the problem. And that can be an issue. But again, you have to look at it from a universal standpoint, you gotta you got to look at it globally and say, Okay, what’s going on with the coaching? And what’s going on during the week? Meetings, prep time? How healthy are your players? How good are your players, I mean, we talked about this a lot two years ago, with just where the state of the offensive line was, and how that impacted pass protection and Lamar Jackson’s ability to throw the football and their lack of talent at wide receiver or so you always go through all the different variables, and you have to acknowledge it. And that’s where I try to be as fair as I can be in looking at all the different factors at work here. And that’s why that’s why I mentioned some of the some of the shortcomings that Greg Roman had had in the past elsewhere. And that’s when those things start to show up here. Again, that’s where you’re seeing a repeated pattern, right? And I mean, they were at the point they had to make a change. And look, you’re not going to fire everyone else. You can’t fire everyone. You can’t fire all the players. So a lot of times, it’s not even a case where you think Greg Roman, you know that necessarily John Harbaugh and the Ravens sock, Greg Roman was a moron or anything, they didn’t think that. But you do get to a certain point in time and we saw this with wink Martindale the year before, where you say you know what, sometimes it’s just good to have a fresh set of eyes come in a new mind, some new ideas, freshen things up? You know, things can get stale or stagnant. And you want to change that. Right. So that’s, that happens with even some of the greatest head coaches in NFL history. Sometimes it’s just time to make a change. So yeah, so that’s really what it comes down to. But ultimately, it’s still going to be about the players on the field. And, and Monken has said that Greg Roman said that. Yeah, I think back to Gary Kubiak saying that or cam Cameron saying that. I mean, it’s still at the end of the day, it is about the players on the field. Coaching is very important. Don’t get me wrong. But at the same time, I think if the ravens, if they’re going to take off this year, offensively throwing the ball at a higher level than they have here over the last couple years, it’s going to be so much more about Lamar Jackson. And I think it’s going to be so much more about the new past catchers in the mix here. And that’s not to say I agree with you and Mark Andrews, by the way, I feel it’s almost comical that he’s almost the Forgotten guy, but he’s one of the two or three best tight ends in football. But I’ll also come back to what I just mentioned a couple minutes ago, offensive line pass protection. That group was so much better last year than it had been a couple years before that with Ronnie Stanley’s health being a big reason why you want that to continue. So if all those factors work together, and mesh, well, then I think you’ll have an offense that is markedly better, however, still go back to Yeah. Todd Monken. Great. I think it was a good hire. I think the early reviews are positive. But yeah, to your point, Greg Roman was wasn’t that long ago people were talking about Greg Roman being a genius here. And you do see how that changes in a matter of a couple of years sometimes. So, monkey don’t have a honeymoon. There’s no doubt about that. But yeah, the first time the Ravens don’t go, you know, they don’t get it on third down, or they don’t get it on fourth down, or they, you know, they they fizzle in the red zone. Yeah, you’ll start to hear that some of the frustration and look, I get it fan is short for fanatic, right. I mean, that’s, that’s how this works. And as long as we all understand that, then there’s no problem. At the end of the day, well, I’m

Nestor Aparicio  20:29

just not expecting miracles out of this. And I do think the miracle has to be the quarterback right. And the miracle has to be the quarterback standing up a January ready to play and the rest of the team around him. I mean, the offensive line to me feels a little older this year. It feels like the Ronnie Stanley thing I don’t want to say on borrowed time, but I don’t think he’s in is I always think he’s sort of a might be and even though he came out last year and played well, I realized another year of that. So I mean, my concerns for the offense aren’t about ze flowers, or about guys coming back from injury. My concern is where are they in December with veteran guys on this, because the one thing that would would completely shoot this thing if two of the offensive lineman get injured. Boy, I mean, it’s not like Lamar being injured. But that’s the next thing that happens. After you have offensive lineman, I think we’re not going to talk enough about the offensive line. Remember this in season, it’s June 5. Remember when we get to October, November, and the right guard can’t go the left tackles out for a week, when those type of things start happening. I’m concerned more about the protection of Lamar and the running this all of it, we’re not going to talk enough about the O line around here as much as we should. Because the O line is going to be the key to all of this. I believe in all of the rest of it. I really do. I believe Beckham is going to come back, I believe he’s going to be a leader and a loud mouth. You know, I believe Lamar wants to win and prove everybody wrong now that he’s got his bag. So I believe in all of that. But I think the offensive line, like you always want to talk about secondary. That’s always and that’s that’s great thing to talk about. Because when that goes down, you can’t beat Joe burrow. And Alan, the best players like losing a quarterback. But I think the offensive line is just something I’m going to want to give a lot of oxygen to here over the next couple of months. And it’s wasted oxygen, because no one will. It’s not exciting. It isn’t any of that. But I think it’s more about that than it is about Todd Monken. Or Greg Roman for me.

Luke Jones  22:22

I think that’s fair. And look, I liked this offensive line. They played well last year. But I think you bring up a good point in terms of Morgan Moses, another year older Kevin Zeitler, another year older. Certainly you’re more optimistic about Ronnie Stanley right now than we had been over the last two years, because we saw him stay healthy. But that has to continue. So But you just said it. And we always talk about this a lot. And I’m just I’m just going to use this as an example. The analytics community for years has said what about running backs? They don’t matter. Right? That’s that’s kind of in the mantra of the football analytics community. And to be clear, that’s not true. running backs do matter. However, and I saw it, it may have been Aaron Schatz or friend, friend, a Baltimore positive. Who said this, I think it was him. But he made the comment or whoever it was made the comment of maybe as football geeks as football analytics guys got it wrong and saying that running backs don’t matter. Maybe we should have said okay, running backs do matter. But you know, what matters a heck of a lot more than running backs as it pertains to the running game. The offensive line

Nestor Aparicio  23:26

holds your open for them. Yeah, exactly. Blocker.

Luke Jones  23:30

Right. So what you just said, I mean, it’s it’s the truth. And look, this is going to come from the guy who you know, you and I fought and argued a heck of a lot about Lamar Jackson over the last couple of years and what his value was and what the Ravens should pay him or what other teams should or should not pay him. But what you just mentioned, hey, Lamar needs to be upright in December, their offensive line better be upright in December because ultimately that’s going to be the key to however far this thing’s gonna go and we can talk about working with more tempo offensively and we could talk about throwing the ball more and and T Martin their quarterbacks coach even talked about this at length I encourage everyone to check this out at Baltimore About Lamar working from the line of scrimmage more pre snap and making adjustments and doing things that maybe he wasn’t asked to do in the past and, and how that’s all gonna work out. That’s all well and good. But if you don’t protect if you don’t keep your quarterback upright, if you can open running lanes for JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards in the ground game, then boy, it really limits what you can do in the big picture and you can talk all you want about wide receivers and tight ends and Lamar throwing and but if you don’t protect if you don’t open blocking lanes upfront, you know, if you don’t win at the line of scrimmage, it becomes so much more difficult. And we saw this with the Bengals Hey, to their credit, God bless them they were able to get to a Super Bowl despite the fact they couldn’t protect Joe burrow pretty well, or very well. But we saw what happened when they got there. You know they’re

Nestor Aparicio  24:58

getting interest how Lando Right Right like the Chiefs getting their offensive line and your cost them a second Super third Super Bowl I should say

Luke Jones  25:05

that did and it’s a big reason why they got Orlando brown then a few months later so yeah, I mean, it’s a offensive line is really really important news flash to your point it’s not it’s not flashy, but it’s going to be near that at or near the top of the list of why the Ravens ultimately will thrive, or it’ll be more of a struggle for them this year. And I liked the state of the offensive line, let’s be clear, but keeping them healthy, keeping them effective for a full 17 games when you are counting on a couple players that are a little bit older. It is something just to keep in the back of your mind if you’re imagining and that’s what you’re doing in June. you’re picturing what could go well or what won’t go well. health of the offensive line is certainly something that you’re hoping that the Ravens can be as healthy at least as healthy as they were last year up front.

Nestor Aparicio  25:52

Without that no one looks good. No one’s gonna look good if the offensive lines like look Joe just here he always looks good. He’s gonna be looking at the television all week long. Hopefully Melanie Newman’s not calling again because that was rough dog, Milwaukee and then home this weekend. So look at the ballpark. He also be in Owings Mills whenever they let him in this week to watch practice. They don’t let me in any more but the thing that Lukin so I’ll let you guys add that up. I will be adding it up all summer long. Here we are adding up our Marilee crabcake tour we got a dozen tour stops coming this summer. We’re doing the oyster tour and on August the third we’re kicking off our 25th anniversary of wn S T It’s unbelievable. It’s been 25 years on August the third will be over Costas all day eating crabs eat crab soup, shrimp things Oysters Rockefeller I’m going to be doing it all up August starts our big day for our 25th anniversary with plenty happening all summer long. You follow Luke at Baltimore Luke as well as at Baltimore positive and you can always find me NAS at Baltimore We are wn st am 1570 Towson Baltimore, some Oreos, some ravens, some things it’s Baltimore positive. Stay with us.

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