The Baltimore Ravens can add one more thing to their offseason to-do list: find a new offensive coordinator. It was only a matter of time, since Jim Caldwell had been making the rounds on his interview tour, but he settled on taking the reins of a very talented Detroit Lions squad. Some Ravens fans won’t be too disappointed with the loss considering the disastrous offensive performance in 2013, but can a new coordinator right the ship?
There are plenty of intriguing names on the market, and here are three candidates that will likely be explored by the front office.
Norv Turner is generally criticized for his performance as the head coach of the San Diego Chargers from 2007-2012, but nobody disputes his offensive brilliance and creativity.
For evidence of that offensive mind, look no further than last season.
In his first year with the Cleveland Browns, he turned the offense into a fairly productive unit despite the lack of an effective running back and a trio of quarterbacks that barely added up to one above-average NFL signal-caller.
Despite those shortcomings, some players emerged as dynamic playmakers. Jordan Cameron earned his ticket to the Pro Bowl by finishing second among tight ends in receiving yards behind only Jimmy “I’m really a wide receiver” Graham.
Additionally, Josh Gordon was the league’s leading receiver despite missing two games. Gordon also led the league in catches of 20 yards or longer, so you know that Turner likes to utilize the deep ball.
The Browns offense was average, ranked 18th in the league, but that’s quite an achievement for Turner considering who was under center.
Imagine what he could do with Joe Flacco.
Turner’s philosophy fits what the Ravens want to do. He likes to establish the run and utilize play-action passing to spring receivers down the field.
He also likes to feature tight ends (like Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron) which could be devastating in Baltimore with the chemistry between Flacco and Dennis Pitta.
But the Joe Flacco aspect of the hiring is what makes Turner such an appealing candidate. After investing $120 million in Flacco last offseason, the Ravens can’t afford for him to not take the next step in his development. Turner can help with that.
Quarterbacks have flourished under him, with the likes of Troy Aikman and Philip Rivers having some of their best seasons with Turner in their ear.
Turner is the No. 1 choice to replace Caldwell, but his availability is in question. He is still under contract as the Browns offensive coordinator, but he could very well be on his way out with a new head coach on the way.
Turner has been given permission to interview with the Minnesota Vikings for their offensive coordinator position, but it’s unlikely that the Cleveland management will do their division rivals a favor and allow Baltimore to interview him until he’s let go.
The Ravens may not be able to wait that long, and neither will Turner. He may already be off the market by the time the Ravens have the chance to speak with him.
Gary Kubiak was fired before the season even ended. That’s how bad it got for the Houston Texans, who entered the year as a Super Bowl contender but lost their last 14 games of the year.
Kubiak’s mettle as a head coach may come under fire, but he is a very creative offensive play-caller and would fit in nicely with the Baltimore personnel.
He, too, loves to run the football, a characteristic that is sure to be sought after by the Baltimore front office. Moreover, he’s achieved great success with the zone-blocking scheme, and that type of scheme currently fits the Ravens personnel with their undersized but athletic linemen.
Furthermore, the play-action bootleg was one of the most effective weapons in the league during his tenure with the Texans. Flacco is a terrific play-action quarterback since he doesn’t have to go through a ton of progressions and make a quick read before letting it fly.
Kubiak doesn’t receive the same kind of respect around the league as Turner, but he’s a similar caliber of play-caller.
He's also very innovative when it comes to using motion and alignments to exploit defenses and take advantage of mismatches.
He just has such a great feel for what a defense is doing and how we can counteract it. It’s one thing to recognize it. But to be able to attack it the next play or the next series, not wait. We do so much with formations and motions from week to week, that is a great help for attacking defenses and he has a great feel for how to do that but still keep our concepts the same.
Kubiak is an underrated offensive coordinator, and the Ravens would be lucky to add him to their coaching staff.
Jim Hostler is currently the wide receivers coach for the Ravens. He’s not necessarily a candidate that should get the job, but he will receive a lot of consideration for the position, so that’s why he’s on this list.
Hostler is the only Ravens coach with experience calling plays, and head coach John Harbaugh has shown a tendency to promote from within. Greg Mattison, Chuck Pagano, Dean Pees and Jim Caldwell were all assistant coaches with the team before they were promoted to their coordinator gigs.
As such, Hostler is sure to get a look for the job, and he has an inside track on the other candidates. He knows the personnel very well and is familiar with the plays and philosophy that has been used in the past.
In addition, he’s sure to have a better feel for what Harbaugh wants from his offense.
Despite those characteristics, his last experience as an OC didn’t go so well—his San Francisco 49ers finished last in the league in total points and yards.
Continuity is Hostler’s biggest selling point, but that might not be enough to land him the promotion.
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