OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the Baltimore Ravens are expected to spread out defenses, throw the ball more and execute at a faster pace.
But, as offseason practices began, the biggest difference in the Ravens’ offense wasn’t necessarily visible. It was more audible.
Monken has stood out with a fiery demeanor, calling out drills, shouting out praise and making it loudly clear when something goes wrong. In just four months in Baltimore, Monken has already become the most vocal offensive coordinator in team history, which might become part of this new identity for quarterback Lamar Jackson and his supporting cast.
“I like the energy. I really like the energy,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We usually have energy, but I think Todd has got a style that kind of lends itself to an up-tempo-type of an offense. He’s got an up-tempo personality — you may have noticed.”
The Ravens have been the opposite of up-tempo in the past four seasons with Greg Roman as their offensive coordinator. Baltimore wanted to get “medieval” — as Roman put it — on defenses, running over teams and winning time of possession.
But the Ravens looked out of rhythm at times last season, struggling to get the ball snapped before the play clock expired. In 2022, Baltimore racked up the third-most delay-of-game penalties (eight) and averaged a play every 41.8 seconds of real time, which was the fourth-slowest rate in the league.
There was nothing sluggish about the Ravens’ offense at OTAs, where Monken was running all over the field. If players were slow to huddle up, Monken was sprinting out and moving players to the right spot in the huddle.
“He’s super enthusiastic about what he’s teaching,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said. “He really believes in his stuff, and it makes us believe in it, too.”
Monken, though, indicated it’s too early to gauge the increased pace on offense this year.
“We’re just in the infant stages of doing some of that,” Monken said. “In terms of the installs, game dictates tempo, players dictate tempo. So, as we move forward, we’ll have a better idea in terms of where that presents itself for us.”
During the first week of organized team activities, Monken stopped plays and drills when he wasn’t happy with the attention to detail.
There was a point early in practice last week when Monken was critical with how the wide receivers were running deep routes. He wanted them to make their breaks at 18 yards, and they drew some expletive-filled comments when the depth of their routes was a yard or two short.
“I actually love it,” Jackson said after his first practice with Monken. “And hearing Coach just call out the play and then stop practice when something wasn’t looking right, and how he just bursts out [with] fire, was pretty funny to me. I’m enjoying it so far.”
Monken’s enthusiasm isn’t limited to the practice field.
“Even in the meeting rooms, Coach is very active,” Jackson said. “He’s talkative and you’re enjoying it — the learning process of what he’s saying [when he’s] teaching us the new offense.”
Jackson believes Monken wants the offense to run at a quicker pace, saying, “There’s a little college in it — like a little college system — but [it’s] definitely faster.”
Monken, 57, helped the Georgia Bulldogs win back-to-back national championships as the offensive coordinator. His offense averaged 501.1 yards and 40.7 points per game last season.
“I actually vividly remember watching plenty of games over the fall, obviously watching the Dawgs — even though they made it look easy a lot of the times — just how he utilizes everyone in their position — a lot of eye candy and things like that,” said Ravens middle linebacker Roquan Smith, who starred at Georgia and remains a huge fan of the football program. “I’m like, ‘Man, if some of this stuff was brought to the league [NFL], it’s going to create some problems,’ because I know it made me think a little bit.”
The addition of Monken was the first of many changes to the Baltimore offense this offseason. The Ravens signed wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor and drafted wide receiver Zay Flowers in the first round.
There are heightened expectations for a Ravens offense that finished 19th in scoring last season (20.6 points), its lowest ranking since 2016.
“You’re paid to move the football and score, and that’s a lot easier with talented players,” Monken said. “As I always say, ‘Cookies taste better with sugar than they do with vinegar.’ So, you surround yourself with sugar.”