AN AU­DI­BLE

Fir­ing Trest­man was nec­es­sary, but not enough Trest­man fired in hope of jump-start­ing of­fense

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - Mike Pre­ston By Jeff Zre­biec

The fir­ing of Marc Trest­man as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor is noth­ing more than a Band-Aid to cover a lot of prob­lems that will con­tinue to hurt the Ravens.

Coach John Har­baugh had to make the move in the wake of his team’s 16-10 loss to the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins on Sun­day. In that game, the Ravens aban­doned a dom­i­nant run­ning at­tack, caus­ing sev­eral weeks of frus­tra­tion to peak and eras­ing any con­fi­dence the players had had in Trest­man. On Mon­day, Har­baugh had to ei­ther en­dorse Trest­man for the rest of the sea­son or let him go, and he chose the lat­ter. It was a good move that ap­peared in­evitable.

Now, for the next cou­ple of weeks, the Ravens will play bet­ter be­cause the players will want to Trest­man was fired af­ter 21 games with the Ravens.

Ravens coach John Har­baugh has al­ways had a clear vi­sion of what his team’s of­fense should look like. When he left M&TBank Sta­dium late Sun­day af­ter­noon fol­low­ing the Ravens’ 16-10 loss to the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins, he knew that the of­fense he had just watched was noth­ing like that vi­sion.

There was no com­mit­ment to es­tab­lish­ing and main­tain­ing a run game. There weren’t enough plays be­ing made down­field. The ex­e­cu­tion wasn’t as pre­cise as it needed to be to ex­ploit one of the league’s worst-ranked de­fenses.

Har­baugh called team owner Steve Bis­ciotti and gen­eral man­ager Ozzie New­some on Sun­day night and told his bosses of his de­ci­sion. He then met with of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Marc Trest­man early Mon­day morn­ing and in­formed him that he was re­liev­ing him of his du­ties.

Trest­man was re­placed by quar­ter­backs coach Marty Morn­hin­weg, who will call the of­fen­sive

prove that it was not their fault the of­fense has been so dis­mal, but Trest­man’s. It’s an act we’ve all seen be­fore, but it doesn’t hide a lot of the of­fense’s ma­jor prob­lems.

The trou­bles that led to Trest­man’s dis­missal will ul­ti­mately lead to new co­or­di­na­tor Marty Morn­hin­weg’s be­ing let go un­less changes are made.

The players wanted Trest­man out and he needed to go. His of­fense had be­come stale and his play-call­ing poor. The Ravens had a hor­i­zon­tal pass­ing game in­stead of a ver­ti­cal one and it was clear that Trest­man pre­ferred to pass rather than run.

But let’s be hon­est here: Is Morn­hin­weg re­ally go­ing to make that much of a dif­fer­ence?

Har­baugh had to make a change, but he cer­tainly wasn’t go­ing to find a Norv Turner avail­able at this point of the sea­son. Morn­hin­weg has a good re­sume, hav­ing worked with quar­ter­backs Steve Young and Brett Favre, and his of­fenses were ranked in the top 10 in seven of the 15 years he served as a co­or­di­na­tor with the San Fran­cisco 49ers, Philadel­phia Ea­gles and New York Jets.

But un­less the players de­velop sig­nif­i­cantly more than they have in the pre­vi­ous five weeks, the Ravens will have se­vere lim­i­ta­tions. Their go-to re­ceiver, Steve Smith Sr., can still make plays but can’t stay healthy. When he left Sun­day’s game in the first quar­ter with an an­kle in­jury, the Ravens vir­tu­ally had no down­field pass­ing game.

Re­ceivers Mike Wallace, Bre­shad Per­ri­man and Ka­mar Aiken dropped passes for the se­cond straight week. So do they be­come good-hands guys just be­cause Morn­hin­weg is in charge?

Run­ning back Ter­rance West has played well the past two games against teams that had the worst run de­fenses in the NFL, but he is very sim­i­lar in style to back­ups Buck Allen and Ken­neth Dixon. The Ravens don’t have a game-chang­ing run­ner on the ros­ter. The of­fen­sive line is av­er­age at best, but even worse when hit by in­juries be­cause the Ravens lack qual­ity depth.

Af­ter last sea­son, there was strong spec­u­la­tion that Trest­man was go­ing to be re­placed if the Ravens could sign Ken Whisen­hunt, who went to San Diego in Jan­uary. But this isn’t all about a co­or­di­na­tor. This is the per­fect time for re­flec­tion by Har­baugh and the Ravens front of­fice.

Quar­ter­back Joe Flacco is on his Marc Trest­man was fired af­ter Sun­day’s loss to Wash­ing­ton, his 21st game as the Ravens’ of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor. Marty Morn­hin­weg is tak­ing his place. fifth co­or­di­na­tor and has strug­gled build­ing re­la­tion­ships with two of them, Cam Cameron and Trest­man. The only time there has been sig­nif­i­cant growth in Flacco’s game was in 2014 when Gary Ku­biak ran the of­fense and preached fun­da­men­tals to Flacco. The for­mer Delaware star couldn’t ar­gue with Ku­biak be­cause of Ku­biak’s im­pec­ca­ble re­sume.

But de­spite be­ing a vet­eran, Flacco still has many me­chan­i­cal short­com­ings. He of­ten doesn’t plant his back foot when throw­ing and won’t step up in the pocket when pres­sured. He isn’t very ac­cu­rate on short passes, and his play is er­ratic from half to half.

Mean­while, the crit­i­cism is al­ways the same of the co­or­di­na­tor, who is usu­ally ac­cused of not run­ning the ball, throw­ing too many passes to the run­ning backs out of the back­field and fail­ing to pro­duce a ver­ti­cal game.

So are the co­or­di­na­tors al­lowed to call their own plays or are they be­ing hand­cuffed by the head coach?

Har­baugh has to as­sess his re­la­tion­ship with his co­or­di­na­tors. In Sun­day’s loss to Wash­ing­ton, was he force­ful in de­mand­ing that Trest­man run the ball in the se­cond half?

Dur­ing Trest­man’s 21 games as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, very sel­dom did you see com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween him and Har­baugh on the side­line. There was only slightly more be­tween Trest­man and Flacco, and even less be­tween Flacco and Cameron.

If the Ravens want to make a true eval­u­a­tion of their of­fense, they need to find some al­pha males. They need play­mak­ers such as An­to­nio Brown and A.J. Green, who can make plays in the fi­nal four min­utes of games.

The best the Ravens have is Smith, age 37.

The Ravens will get a spark from Morn­hin­weg. The players will play harder be­cause the onus is now on them. They ba­si­cally got what they wanted — they wanted Trest­man out.

But once the smoke has cleared, Morn­hin­weg will have the same prob­lems as Trest­man. The Band-Aid can only cover so much.

ALGERINA PERNA/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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