With new Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken meeting with the media in Owings Mills on Tuesday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Winning the introductory presser is overrated, but Monken made a strong first impression and showed off the personality and communication skills that have made him popular with players as an offensive teacher. Winning offense isn’t as easy as he describes it to be, but it isn’t rocket science either.
2. John Harbaugh didn’t know Monken prior to the search, but a call from sister Joani, and brother-in-law — and former Georgia basketball coach — Tom Crean put him on the radar after they got to know Monken and his wife in Athens. Right or wrong, networking remains huge in the profession.
3. Monken said all the right things, but he didn’t go out of his way to discuss Lamar Jackson unless specifically asked about him. Given the uncertainty of the star quarterback’s status, landing Monken was probably as well as Baltimore could hope to do, which looks promising on paper.
4. I never expected Jackson to be a meaningful part of the coordinator search, but Monken having not yet communicated with him was telling about his lack of involvement. That’s hardly a deal-breaker, but it is unusual for a new offensive coordinator to have not talked with his quarterback by now.
5. While Harbaugh didn’t answer questions, Monken said the offensive coaching staff is “still a work in progress,” which leads one to believe there will be additional changes. That’s pretty typical, and given Monken’s past experiences coaching wide receivers and quarterbacks, outside additions or changes at those spots wouldn’t be surprising.
6. Improving the passing attack is obviously a major point of emphasis, but Monken repeatedly coming back to the importance of the running game had to be music to Harbaugh’s ears during the interview process. Considering what Monken’s offenses looked like at Georgia, Baltimore’s offensive identity doesn’t figure to change dramatically.
7. It wasn’t a coincidence that both Harbaugh and Monken talked about wanting to play with more tempo and use more no-huddle offense. Of course, the slow pace was a major criticism of Greg Roman’s approach that focused so heavily on time of possession.
8. Credit Monken for complimenting what worked in the Ravens offense under Roman, singling out 2019 in particular. As I wrote the day Roman’s departure was announced, the next coordinator could prove to be an excellent hire and never match the overall production and efficiency of that season.
9. While Roman frequently talked about making opponents defend every blade of grass, Monken viewing offensive balance as more about forcing defenses to cover all five of your skill players rather than run-pass ratio was refreshing. The Ravens need more “space” players stretching both the width and length of the field.
10. Asked about Mark Andrews, Monken recalled going on a recruiting trip to watch the three-time Pro Bowl tight end catch passes as a high school sophomore in 2011. Monken left Oklahoma State a year later and Andrews went to Oklahoma anyway, but the two will finally get to work together.
11. Though Monken’s praise for Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t mean a reunion between the two is happening, I do hope it signals an end to wide receivers being so unhappy playing in this Baltimore offense. Now, it’s on Eric DeCosta to add more talent at the position.
12. Until there’s some semblance of a resolution with Jackson for at least the upcoming season, determining what Monken’s arrival means remains difficult. Is he trying to take the former MVP to new heights, making the best of a lengthy summer holdout, or potentially even starting over with a new quarterback?