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Monday, January 27, 2014
Ravens needed a fresh start on offense

By Jamison Hensley

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There's plenty of reasons to like the Baltimore Ravens' hiring of Gary Kubiak as their offensive coordinator on Monday.

It starts with Kubiak giving the Ravens a fresh start.

The Ravens offense was abysmal last season. They couldn't run the ball. They couldn't protect quarterback Joe Flacco. It was an embarrassment that the Ravens managed to score more than 20 points in just five games. When the season was on the line, the Ravens averaged 14 points in their final three games.

Bringing back Jim Caldwell would've been a mistake, although that apparently was the plan before he was hired as the Detroit Lions head coach. And promoting wide receivers coach Jim Hostler would've been the wrong move.

It was time to overhaul the offensive coaching staff. The only offensive coach guaranteed to return is offensive line coach Juan Castillo.

This massive change ushers in different ideas and different perspectives.

"We'll build on all the things we can, but it is a fresh start," coach John Harbaugh said. "It's new and exciting, and we really can't wait to get going."

The worst thing the Ravens could have done is hold onto the success of their Super Bowl run. Last season showed how far the offense had fallen off.

The Ravens finished 29th in total yards, their worst ranking since 2004. They scored 20 points per game, their fewest since 2007 when they started three quarterbacks that season. Baltimore averaged 3.1 yards per carry, the lowest in the NFL in six years, and Flacco threw 22 interceptions, which is what he had in the past two seasons combined.

It was critical that the Ravens' next offensive coordinator come from outside team headquarters. If the Ravens had went with Kyle Shanahan, it would have been a good hire. Landing Kubiak is a great hire because of his run of success. The Houston Texans ranked in the top 10 in offense in six of his last eight seasons.

"[I've] never stepped in a game or in a meeting or on a practice field in all my years in this league without expecting to be successful," Kubiak said, "and I definitely expect to be that way here."

From 2009 to 2012, the Texans ranked No. 7 in points scored (23.2). Over that same period, the Texans were one of three teams to rank in the top 10 in rushing and passing (the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles were the others).

The versatility of Kubiak's offenses is the most impressive part of his resume. In 2009, the Texans led the NFL in passing with an average-at-best quarterback in Matt Schaub. The next season, undrafted running back Arian Foster led the league in rushing.

"Through my conversations with John, the thing that stood out to me from the very beginning is that John talks about being physical -- that’s what we want to do," Kubiak said. "Offensively, that’s where everything starts for us. We’ve got to be able to run the football to make the rest of it go. So, yes. Watching John’s group throughout the course of the years, what they’ve done offensively and how they want to move forward, I think it’s a very good fit."

But, in order to turn around this offense, it's not about the status quo. It's about making the much-needed changes.