- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you're asking me who the Baltimore Ravens' next offensive coordinator will be, I would say their wide receivers coach Jim Hostler. If you're asking me who the Ravens should hire as their next offensive coordinator, that's an easy answer -- Norv Turner.
If you don't agree with that, look at the magic Turner performed in one season with the Cleveland Browns. He turned wide receiver Josh Gordon into the NFL's leading receiver and tight end Jordan Cameron into a Pro Bowl player. And Turner did this with three mediocre quarterbacks.
The Browns finished 18th in the NFL in offense, 11 spots higher than the Ravens. And, again, Turner did this with Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer at quarterback, and past-his-prime Willis McGahee at running back. Imagine the improvement the likes of wide receiver Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta could make.
The biggest reason to bring Turner to Baltimore is his potential impact on quarterback Joe Flacco. Look at Turner's history with quarterbacks: Troy Aikman, Alex Smith and Philip Rivers. Everything the Ravens do this offseason should be focused on helping Flacco rebound. And, in terms of a play-caller and mentor, the Ravens couldn't do any better than finding a way to get Turner to Baltimore.
Turner would be the best offensive coordinator available. That is, if he was actually available. The problem is Turner is still under contract with the Browns even though they fired head coach Rob Chudzinski. The Browns said they would be liberal in granting permission for assistant coaches to interview with other teams, but I'm guessing Cleveland won't be doing Baltimore any favors. Turner's situation might not be resolved until after the Super Bowl, because the Browns are reportedly waiting to talk to Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase for their head coaching job.
The Ravens have plenty of options, and Turner wouldn't be the only solid hire. Baltimore could look at the young hot candidate, Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo. The Ravens can go with a more experienced play-caller in Gary Kubiak, the former Houston Texans head coach.
Or the Ravens can simply promote Hostler to offensive coordinator. The Ravens and coach John Harbaugh have a history of staying in-house. When there were openings at defensive coordinator, the Ravens promoted linebackers coach Greg Mattison (2009), secondary coach Chuck Pagano (2011) and linebackers coach Dean Pees (2012). And when the Ravens fired Cam Cameron, they moved quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell to offensive coordinator.
Hostler is the only coach who has experience as an NFL offensive coordinator, and he's well-respected by the front office. What works in Hostler's favor is he already knows the personnel as well as the coaching staff. There would be a seamless transition.
But Hoster didn't have much success in his one year as an offensive coordinator. Under Hostler in 2007, the San Francisco 49ers ranked last in total yards, passing yards and points scored (13.7). Now, six seasons later, Hoster might be given a chance to redeem himself in that role.
The Ravens are getting a fresh start with Caldwell being hired by the Detroit Lions on Tuesday. The best hire for the Ravens and Flacco would be Turner. But, based on the Ravens' track record, I wouldn't be surprised to see Hostler take over as offensive coordinator.