ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio: Onus Is On Greg Roman To Get Ravens’ Offense Rolling

The last three games have not been pretty for the Ravens offensively, and ESPN NFL reporter Sal Paolantonio believes the onus is on the offensive coordinator Greg Roman to right the ship.

Paolantonio, 65, has been part of ESPN since 1995 and is widely known for covering the NFL for the network. Paolantonio has covered 27 Super Bowls for ESPN and is on the selection committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Paolantonio has covered four Ravens games this season and will call Ravens-Steelers Dec. 5 for ESPN Radio.

Paolantonio has seen his fair share of the Ravens’ offense this season. He believes Roman has to make some changes to give the offense a chance for more success during the difficult stretch of games remaining for the Ravens. Paolantonio also says Baltimore’s offense needs to produce more than it has in recent weeks in order to beat the Steelers.

During the past three games, the Ravens’ offense has turned the ball over seven times, including five interceptions from star quarterback Lamar Jackson (one against Miami and four against Cleveland).

“It’s not optimum for the quarterback to throw four picks,” Paolantonio said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 1. “The last 41 quarterbacks in the NFL to throw four picks in a game lost.”

Paolantonio believes Jackson’s struggles stem from the injuries that the offense has had this season. The Ravens lost All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley early on after another season-ending ankle injury. Jackson has been sacked 30 times this season, tied for third most in the NFL.

The Ravens have also struggled with the season-ending injuries to running backs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Veteran back Devonta Freeman, signed in September, has carried the load of late. Freeman’s best game as a Raven came against the Vikings Nov. 7, when he rushed for 79 yards on 13 carries.

Though the Ravens posted 43 carries against the Browns, Paolantonio felt that the Ravens should have leaned on it even more to help out a struggling offense. Baltimore was getting little going through the air against the Browns other than with tight end Mark Andrews, who came down with multiple crucial catches.

“I thought that Roman should have hammered home more in the run game — stuck with it, gone heavy and just said, ‘OK boys, try to stop us,'” Paolantontio said. “You did have 43 rushing attempts, but 17 of them were by Lamar, and his average was only 4 yards a carry.”

Paolantonio believes that if the run game is not working, then Roman should find ways to help out Andrews and get Rashod Bateman, Sammy Watkins and Patrick Ricard more involved. Andrews was the hero for the Ravens against the Browns, catching four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. However, on four of Andrews’ 10 targets resulted in interceptions.

“It’s [Roman’s] responsibility. He’s got accountability here. He’s the guy who gets paid the big bucks,” Paolantonio said. “Scheme Andrews open. Whether it’s motion, whether it’s trips set to the right or to the left where you create a lot of mesh or traffic in the face of the DBs where Andrews can break free quickly.”

Andrews is second in catches (60) receiving yards (761) among tight ends this season. Andrews also has five touchdowns so far.

Next, the Ravens will be on the road in Pittsburgh, a place where the rivalry runs deep. Paolantonio believes that the Ravens’ offense needs to play better than in it has recently to win this game. The Steelers sit third in the AFC North at 5-5-1 in a season that could be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s last.

However, the Steelers have always been a tough opponent for the Ravens. Mike Tomlin’s Steelers are 15-14 against John Harbaugh’s Ravens, including the playoffs. The last time the Ravens beat the Steelers was Dec. 29, 2019.

“If Lamar throws two picks, the Ravens lose the game,” Paolantonio said.

With the playoffs looming, Paolantonio says this is a must-win matchup for Baltimore to help secure home-field advantage in the playoffs and host a possible AFC championship game in Baltimore.

“You do not want to go to Foxborough and play in the AFC championship game,” Paolantonio said. “You want it to be at M&T Bank Stadium where we have crab cakes in the cafeteria at lunchtime, Uncle Sal gets some pasta Saturday night in Little Italy. That’s where we want it to be.”

For more from Paolantonio, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox