The Loser Papers – 2016 – Edition III

Loser Papers Washington Commanders

This is the third edition of TLP in as many weeks, and even though we only meet the Ravens every four years, many of our readers look forward to this edition as much as any chronicling the defeat of an NFC East opponent. So we want to get right to the finger-pointing and scape-goating going on this morning in the wake of yesterday’s game. From the pages of The Baltimore Sun:

John Harbaugh fires offensive coordinator Marc Trestman

Jeff Zrebiec

Jeff ZrebiecContact Reporter

Marc Trestman’s habit of abandoning the run game factored prominently in his dismissal.

For the second time in five years – and again after a regular-season loss to the Washington Redskins – Ravens coach John Harbaugh has decided to fire his offensive coordinator in an effort to jumpstart a struggling unit.

He can only hope today’s decision works as well as it did in 2012.

The Ravens fired offensive coordinator Marc Trestman Monday, a day after the play caller curiously abandoned a productive running game during a 16-10 loss to the Redskins.

Trestman, who replaced Gary Kubiak after the 2014 season, lasted all of 21 games as the Ravens’ offensive play caller.

 Quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg, a former offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets and head coach of the Detroit Lions, will take over as the play caller. He’ll become quarterback Joe Flacco’s fifth offensive coordinator in as many seasons.

“After very careful consideration, I have decided to make a change to our offensive coaching staff and have replaced Marc Trestman with Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator for the rest of the season,” Harbaugh said in a statement. “My obligations are to the team, the organization and the fans to be the very best team we can be. Today we find ourselves one game out of the division and conference lead after experiencing two tough losses at home. We will work to be better in every aspect of our football team. Our expectations are high, and we look forward to fulfilling them.”

“I appreciate and respect the efforts and contributions Marc has made to the team since his arrival. Marc is a good person and an excellent football coach.”

The turnover at offensive coordinator started with Harbaugh’s decision to fire his longtime play caller Cam Cameron in December 2012 after a 31-28 overtime loss to the Redskins. The Ravens were 9-4 at the time and in first place in the AFC North. Jim Caldwell’s ascension into the offensive coordinator role was ultimately viewed as one of the key moves in the Ravens’ Super Bowl run as Flacco played the best football of his career.

Today’s decision to fire Trestman, the former head coach of the Chicago Bears, was less surprising than the Cameron move. The frustration in the locker room about the offense’s struggles was palpable following Sunday’s loss to the Redskins, which drops the Ravens to 3-2 after a 3-0 start.

Harbaugh did not criticize Trestman on Sunday, but he did say, “I think we have to find our offense. We’ve had that all year, basically. That’s been the story of the season. We can’t find continuity on offense.”

Flacco, meanwhile, seemed to be as frustrated as he’s been in a long time.

“I’m not going to get into all that,” Flacco said, when asked if he felt changes needed to be made. “We’re not playing well enough. We’re not making plays. … We are running off the field way too much.”

Against the Redskins and their 30th-ranked run defense, the Ravens ran the ball 11 times for 74 yards in the first quarter. However, the next three quarters, they had only seven more designed runs. Flacco threw the ball 46 times a week after throwing 52 passes in another close loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Trestman came to Baltimore with a reputation as a pass-first offensive coordinator, and he lived up to that. The primary complaint about his play calling was he abandoned the run too quickly. Last year, the Ravens set a franchise-low with 383 rushing attempts. Their offensive line struggled to run block last year and the Ravens fell behind regularly during a 5-11 season, which often forced Trestman’s hand.

The Ravens’ offense finished last season ranked 14th in total offense, tallied the second most net yards (5,749) in franchise history and set a franchise record by averaging 266.9 passing yards per game. But it was impossible really to evaluate the job Trestman did as the Ravens started four different quarterbacks and had significant injuries to many of their prominent offensive players.

This year began with high hopes as the Ravens boasted of having as much depth at the skilled positions as they’ve had in a long time. However in three of their first five games, the Ravens have managed just one offensive touchdown. Whether it was a struggling running game, a lack of big plays down the field or a flurry of penalties, the offense has been its own worst enemy so far.

And Trestman ultimately paid the price.


Ravens insist offense chugged along even without wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. in loss to Redskins

Edward Lee

Edward LeeContact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Did the Ravens miss wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. on Sunday in loss to Redskins? Depends on who you ask.

The Ravens are not the type of team to acknowledge that the loss of one player can impact what they do on offense, defense or special teams.

The Ravens stuck to that perspective after a game in which wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. left in Sunday’s first quarter and did not return.

Entering the game, Smith had led the offense in catches (24) and yards (281). He caught three passes for 29 yards before injuring his ankle with less than three minutes left in the opening period of Sunday’s 16-10 loss to the Redskins.

Coach John Harbaugh declined to consider whether Smith’s absence had an effect on the team.

“I didn’t really have a gauge or a meter on that,” he said.

The loss of Smith seemed palpable. Without Smith, quarterback Joe Flacco threw for a season-low 210 yards. Although wide receiver Mike Wallace led the offense in targets with 11 and yards with 63, tight ends Dennis Pitta and Crockett Gillmore and fullback Kyle Juszczyk had more targets, receptions and yards than Breshad Perriman, the next highest wide receiver with five targets, two catches, and 11 yards.

If Harbaugh was not willing to admit that the team greatly missed Smith, Washington strong safety Duke Ihenacho was.

“It was easier,” he said. “Obviously, everybody knows what kind of player he is – a Hall of Fame player, veteran guy, fiery guy, emotional guy. I feel like, when he went out, part of their emotion went out with him. I think it definitely had something to do with it.”

Smith refused to talk to reporters after the loss. Wallace followed his coach’s cue and said the Ravens did not have to change much when Smith left the game.

“When you lose a player like that, it is obviously going to take something away from you, but I don’t think anybody was down,” Wallace said. “You just have to finish the game. Breshad made a great play. He just didn’t come down with it. It was just one of those unfortunate days. We have been on the good side, and we have been on the bad side of it. We just have to keep grinding, and I think we will be OK.”

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