While Offensive Coordinators Perish
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that Joe Flacco is a more efficient quarterback when complemented by a productive running attack. It might even be argued that he needs a plus run game, and through the 2012 season he had exactly that to go with a defense that was regularly among the league’s top 10.
As a result, playoff appearances were quite common – 6 of Joe’s first 7 seasons as a matter of fact, the sole exception being the 2013 season.
In 2013 John Harbaugh added Juan Castillo to his coaching staff and gave him the title, “Run Game Coordinator.” But for all intents and purposes, he was the offensive line coach by Harbaugh’s own admission during the State of the Ravens presser in January of 2014 (see video below).
That season the Ravens running game was abysmal. Under the guidance of their Run Game Coordinator, the Ravens fell from the 12th ranked rushing offense in 2012 to the 32nd in 2013. For those keeping score, there are only 32 teams in the NFL.
Enter Gary Kubiak in 2014…
Kubiak had cache. He had a resume and when he took control of the Ravens offense they jumped from the 32nd-ranked rushing attack to 8th with a 45% spike in yards-per-carry (“YPC”). Flacco’s passer rating jumped from a career worst 73.1 to 91.0, a 24.5% climb.
As we all know, Kubes left the building at One Winning Drive following the 2014 season and since then, the running game has stumbled and tumbled. In 2015 YPC dropped by 13.3% and so far in 2016 it has dropped another 10.3%.
The common denominator is Castillo.
Since Super Bowl 47, when not accompanied by Gary Kubiak and an effective running game, Joe Flacco’s passer rating is 77.5 including 42 TD passes against 43 interceptions. Without Kubiak AND under the guidance of Castillo, the Ravens YPC has ranked ON AVERAGE, 27th in the league. It doesn’t matter if the offensive coordinator was named Caldwell or Trestman or Mornhinweg the results are pretty much the same.
Yet Castillo hangs around.
I get the argument served up by some for consistency and stability in the coaching ranks, but the only thing that resembles consistency is the Ravens consistently stinking up the joint when they run the football.
Aren’t those 41 games since Super Bowl 47 without Kubiak, the two playoff-less seasons, enough evidence to try a fresh approach?
If your highest paid player by far, performs at a much more desirable level when accompanied by a ground game, wouldn’t you want that in the mix to gain a decent return on the hefty investment in Flacco?
Of course that’s a rhetorical question yet it’s something that either doesn’t register with John Harbaugh or he’s just blinded by his loyalty and the 14 seasons of working together with Castillo.
The Ravens defense has bounced back and they may be just an elite pass rusher away from returning to dominance. If they can realize a similar bounce-back in the running game, maybe they can once again become a staple in postseason play.
But that will require Harbaugh to put the team ahead of his personal loyalties.
Unless of course his boss does it for him.