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OTL: Search for a New OC Gets Underway

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By: Nikhil Mehta

The search for the Ravens’ next offensive coordinator is underway, and reports that emerged this weekend reveal an interesting combo of big-name veteran coaches, potential internal hires and young assistants from trendy offensive schemes.

Let’s start with the vets: Eric Bienemy, Frank Reich, and Byron Leftwich.

These names should be more familiar to Ravens fans, especially Bienemy, one of the architects of the Chiefs’ juggernaut offense. He’s spent a decade under Andy Reid, including four seasons as OC of Kansas City’s near-unstoppable passing attack, but has yet to receive any serious head coaching consideration.

That’s why the job in Baltimore might interest him; proving that he can succeed without Reid or Patrick Mahomes is probably his quickest path to a top job. Given the Ravens’ minimal tolerance for character issues, it’s worth noting that Bienemy has some legal issues in his past, but none in the last 20 years, so it shouldn’t keep him from getting the job.

Reich is best known for his two-year stint as the Eagles’ OC, which included their dream run to Super Bowl LII with Nick Foles. After that, he took the head coaching job in Indianapolis, where he was poised to make several playoff runs before Andrew Luck’s early retirement left him with a carousel of mediocre quarterback play. He’s a well-liked leader by players and coaches alike, but his inability to finish first in the notoriously weak AFC South troubles me.

Leftwich is the recently fired OC of the Buccaneers who had the inside track on the Jaguars’ HC gig before trying to replace Jacksonville’s GM with his own choice. He had success with both Jameis Winston and Tom Brady under center, but that’s with a passing attack designed to target Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. He won’t be working with the same kind of receiving talent in Baltimore, though, so he’ll need to have answers on how he’ll elevate Baltimore’s current wideout room.

Tee Martin and James Urban are current Ravens offensive assistants – coaching wide receivers and quarterbacks, respectively – who will both get interviews, but I’m doubtful they’ll get the job due to inexperience. Martin only has a three-year run as USC’s OC under his belt, and his only time in the NFL is with the Ravens. Urban spent plenty of time under Reid in Philadelphia, helping Michael Vick get acclimated to the offense, as well as a seven-year stretch as the Bengals’ WR coach. Neither have significant NFL play calling experience, and after the former Ravens OC-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, play calling stability will be key in Baltimore’s search.

Now, let’s get into some other names that are less well-known, including Zac Robinson, assistant QB coach under Sean McVay in Los Angeles. The 36-year-old ex-quarterback is known as a bright, budding mind around the league, but his youth and inexperience – just four seasons coaching – are serious question marks. There’s no doubt he knows the X’s and O’s of modern offensive football, but will he have the leadership qualities the Ravens are looking for?

Next up is Seahawks assistant Dave Canales, who’s been the WR coach, passing game coordinator and QB coach for the Seahawks since 2010. A strong running game to set up schemed-up deep shots has been a hallmark of Seattle’s offense and wouldn’t be out of place in Baltimore. His work with both Russell Wilson and Geno Smith should be welcome to Lamar Jackson, especially if he wants to show off his deep ball more. At 41, Canales is still on the younger side, but has more than enough experience for an OC job.

Perhaps the most unexpected interview so far is Chad O’Shea, the Browns WR coach. He has experience with five different NFL teams as a wide receivers coach and offensive assistant since 2003, as well as a year as the Dolphins’ OC in 2019. He’s also been an assistant special teams coach, which should curry a little favor with John Harbaugh. He has more than enough experience, including nine years under Bill Belichick in New England, but it’s not clear what his offensive philosophy would be as OC. That might be in his favor; his varied experience could give him the opportunity to install the kind of offense that the Ravens are looking for.

And finally, there’s Vikings pass-game coordinator and TEs coach Brian Angelicho. You know, the guy that helps Kirk Cousins look like a top-5 quarterback at 1:00pm on Sundays during the regular season. Angelicho is a much more Ravens-y pick for this job, given his lengthy experience as a tight ends coach. I’m sure part of his interview will be highlighting the things he can do with Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar, but that would be somewhat concerning to me. This offense needs to return to spreading the formations out to force mismatches and opening up more running space, instead of lining up in heavy sets and running directly into eight defenders. Just my two cents.

Noticing a pattern here, with the types of coaches the Ravens are looking for? They know it’s time to upgrade the passing attack, whether or not they keep Lamar.

I’m sure there are plenty more candidates to come – Bobby Slowik? Brian Johnson? – but for now, it’s a good start.

The post OTL: Search for a New OC Gets Underway appeared first on Russell Street Report.

Originally posted on Russell Street Report