The Baltimore Ravens aren’t particularly patient. Just five games into his second season as offensive coordinator, John Harbaugh and the Ravens have fired Marc Trestman and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg. The Ravens, of course, did something similar in 2012, when they fired Cam Cameron 13 games into the season and replaced him with Jim Caldwell. They would go on to win the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, both firings came after losses to the Redskins.
In his first year in Baltimore, Trestman helped the Ravens finish 14th in overall offense, even though the team lost six starters to season ending injuries, including quarterback Joe Flacco and top receiver Steve Smith. This year, the Ravens are averaging 4.1 yards per carry on the ground, but they’ve shown significant improvement over the last two weeks thanks to the emergence of third year running back Terrance West (208 yards rushing, 6.5 yards per carry in his last two games).
So why the change at offensive coordinator? “Today we find ourselves one game out of the division and conference lead after experiencing two tough losses at home... Our expectations are high, and we look forward to fulfilling them,” Harbaugh said.
Now remember, this is a team that finished 5-11 last year. The Cincinnati Bengals, meanwhile, finished 12-4 in 2015 and won the AFC North. And it’s Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator who seems to be far more in over his head as the Bengals are 2-3, have allowed 17 sacks and are averaging only 3.4 yards per carry. The Bengals rank 10th in total offense but 25th in rushing offense. Additionally, the Bengals rank 20th in scoring, averaging 18.4 points per game, just behind the Baltimore Ravens.
But would the conservative-minded Bengals management ever consider dismissing first-year offensive coordinator Ken Zampese in the middle of the season? John Sheeran and I discuss that and more in our latest podcast:
Whether Zampese stays or goes, (and it’s more likely than not that he stays) the Bengals are in need of a jolt, a big win that will prove to themselves and the fans that they are who they thought they were before the season began. To see the perfect example of a team that achieved such a victory, they need look no further than their next opponent.
In 2014, the New England Patriots were 2-2 and coming off a 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs when Bill Belichick famously repeatedly replied to reporters’ questions with: “We’re on to Cincinnati.”
His resilient attitude and preparation propelled the team to a 43-17 victory over the Bengals, a win that started a run that ended with Belichick and his team hoisting the Lombardi trophy.
The Bengals are 2-3, and they just suffered a similarly embarrassing loss against the Dallas Cowboys. It’s time to return the favor in New England. So the Bengals will have to remain calm and confident, and remind themselves that they’ve been one of the most consistent organizations in the NFL since 2011.
However, there are still a lot of lessons to be learned from the game in Dallas. The team needs to make some major adjustments if they want to have a chance against Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and that Belichick defense. One possibility would be replacing Cedric Ogbuehi with Jake Fisher. But, Zampese must get more creative with his play calling. On defense, Paul Guenther must find a way to shore up the run defense before facing LeGarrette Blount. We will likely see some tweaks, but nothing drastic. The Bengals are hoping that and their work in practice this week will be enough to get back on track.