When the Ravens parted ways with offensive coordinator Greg Roman last month, John Harbaugh promised to look “far and wide and close” for his replacement.
Three weeks into the search, the Ravens have cast the kind of net Harbaugh envisioned. They’ve interviewed in-house candidates and external candidates, college play-callers and NFL play-callers, young coaches and old coaches.
“We’ll get the best fit for what we’re trying to accomplish,” Harbaugh said at the Ravens’ end-of-season news conference, “and it’s going to be a highly qualified candidate.”
With the search winding down, here’s a look at what five candidates who’ve reportedly gotten a second interview could bring to Baltimore — along with two others who could be in the mix.
Brian Angelichio, Minnesota Vikings passing game coordinator and tight ends coach
What he brings: Experience with unlocking a star wide receiver. Justin Jefferson led the NFL this past season in targets (184), catches (128) and receiving yards (1,809), production that attested not only to his All-Pro ability but also to the Vikings’ evolving offense. Over Minnesota’s first eight weeks, Jefferson averaged 107.4 yards per game while running mostly short and intermediate routes; he averaged just 8.1 air yards per target in that span, 58th in the NFL among qualifying wide receivers, according to TruMedia.
But after the Vikings traded for star tight end T.J. Hockenson at the trade deadline, their aerial attack changed, and so did Jefferson’s role in it. With the addition of Hockenson, Jefferson was free to run longer-developing routes. Over Minnesota’s final 10 games, he averaged 11.3 air yards per target, 33rd among qualifying wide receivers, and 105.7 yards per game.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell also said the offense relied on “complementary cuts” — new wrinkles on familiar-looking route concepts — to help Jefferson beat double teams and bracket coverage.
What he lacks: Play-calling experience. Angelichio hadn’t held an NFL job with big-picture schematic responsibilities until he was named the Vikings’ passing game coordinator in 2022. A longtime tight ends coach, Angelichio last called plays in 2005, when he was the offensive coordinator for Division III Ithaca.
Dave Canales, Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach
What he brings: Downfield-passing acumen. Over the past four years, on passes of at least 20 air yards, the Ravens rank last in the NFL in completion percentage (31.1%), had the second-highest percentage of off-target throws and were third to last in expected points added per attempt, according to TruMedia. Whatever the main culprit — inconsistent mechanics from quarterback Lamar Jackson, subpar pass protection, poor wide receiver play, unimaginative play designs — the long ball has long been a weakness in Baltimore.
Canales could help. In recent years, he’s helped two Seahawks quarterbacks rank among the league’s best on downfield throws. In 2018 and 2019, when Canales was Seattle’s quarterbacks coach, Russell Wilson ranked third and seventh, respectively, in EPA per deep pass among qualifying players. In 2021, when Canales was the Seahawks’ passing game coordinator, Wilson was ninth. Last season, when Canales returned to his quarterbacks coach post, Geno Smith finished third in his first season as a full-time starter. He completed 27 of his 55 attempts of 20-plus air yards for 803 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
What he lacks: Play-calling experience. Canales last called plays nearly two decades ago, as the offensive coordinator for California’s Carson High School. He served as Seattle’s passing game coordinator for two seasons, working closely with Wilson, but offensive coordinators Brian Schottenheimer (2020) and Shane Waldron (2021) were in charge.
Bobby Engram, former Wisconsin offensive coordinator
What he brings: Familiarity with the Ravens’ personnel. Engram served under Harbaugh from 2014 to 2021, first as wide receivers coach and then as tight ends coach, until he was named Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator in January 2022. Engram, well respected in the Ravens’ locker room, helped develop one of the NFL’s best collections of tight ends and fullbacks.
Fullback Patrick Ricard’s streak of four straight Pro Bowl appearances started in 2019, Engram’s first year as tight ends coach, and tight end Mark Andrews broke the Ravens’ single-season receiving record in 2021, Engram’s last year in Baltimore. Established veterans like Nick Boyle and newcomers like Eric Tomlinson also developed into important pieces in the Ravens’ offense with Engram’s help.
What he lacks: Play-calling success. Wisconsin ranked 65th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in offensive efficiency in 2021, according to ESPN. Under Engram, despite returning starting quarterback Graham Mertz and star running back Braelon Allen, the Badgers finished only 10 spots better — eighth best in the Big Ten Conference. After Wisconsin’s turbulent 7-6 season, he wasn’t retained on Luke Fickell’s new coaching staff.
Todd Monken, Georgia offensive coordinator
What he brings: Heavy-personnel success. The 2022 Bulldogs, led by a former walk-on at quarterback in Stetson Bennett, were the second-most efficient offense in the FBS, according to ESPN. And they tore up defenses without many spread looks. Georgia’s most common player package was “12″ personnel (one back, two tight ends and two wide receivers), which it ran on 59.2% of its plays, according to TruMedia; only two FBS teams used the grouping more often.
The 2022 Ravens — who, like Georgia, were long on talented tight ends and short on playmaking wide receivers — used at least two tight ends on 60.7% of their snaps, plus a heavy share of “21″ personnel (two backs, one tight end and two wide receivers) featuring Ricard. Even with the front office’s commitment to rebuilding the team’s wide receiver room, the Ravens under Harbaugh have typically favored heavier formations. Monken’s Georgia offenses align with that philosophy.
What he lacks: Goodwill in Cleveland. As the Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2019, Monken did not call plays, deferring to then-coach Freddie Kitchens. But with Cleveland’s offense sputtering late in the season, Monken reportedly told opposing coaches before games that the team was a “total mess” and criticized Kitchens’ play-calling. The Ravens have avoided those kinds of public relations messes, and solidarity may never be more important than it is now, with Jackson’s future in Baltimore uncertain.
Justin Outten, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator
What he brings: Familiarity with the NFL’s most influential scheme. Outten joined the Falcons as a coaching intern in 2016, learning from then-Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Three years later, new Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur hired Outten as the Packers’ tight ends coach. LaFleur had served as Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay’s offensive coordinator in 2017, and before that, he’d overlapped with Shanahan in Atlanta.
Their offensive systems have shaped the modern NFL. Three of the four teams in last year’s conference championship games ran the kind of wide-zone, play-action schemes that Shanahan and McVay popularized. This past season the 49ers, with Shanahan serving as play-caller, and the Bengals, coached by McVay disciple Zac Taylor, made it back to the brink of the Super Bowl with high-powered attacks. Mike McDaniel’s immediate makeover of the Miami Dolphins’ offense added another impressive branch to Shanahan’s coaching tree.
What he lacks: Play-calling experience. With then-Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett calling plays through Week 10, and passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak taking over for the next six weeks, Outten didn’t get a chance to call his first NFL game until Week 17. He certainly fared better than his predecessors had. In a Week 18 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, the Broncos posted a season high in yards per play and offensive EPA per play, according to TruMedia.
Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator
What he brings: A history of success. No candidate has worked with better offenses than Bieniemy. In his five years as the Chiefs’ coordinator, Kansas City has finished first, third, second, third and first in offensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. This past season, the Chiefs had the NFL’s best passing game despite trading away All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who’s started in Kansas City since 2018, has credited Bieniemy for much of his growth at the position. This week, he said Bieniemy, who shares play-calling responsibilities with coach Andy Reid, was more than deserving of a head coaching opportunity.
“He’s done everything the right way,” he told reporters. “He’s been a part of this offense and this team for so long, holds everybody accountable, is creative in making up plays for us. I don’t know why he hasn’t been hired, but it’s been great for us.”
What he lacks: An easy sell job. Bieniemy, a finalist for the Indianapolis Colts’ head coaching vacancy, has reportedly interviewed across the last four hiring cycles for 15 head coaching positions. A fresh start in Baltimore, which can’t interview him until after the Super Bowl, could help Bieniemy answer some of the questions that have clouded his candidacy, including his play-calling acumen. His legal history, most notably decades-old accusations of assault, could be another obstacle.
Brian Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach
What he brings: Quarterback development. Johnson worked with Dak Prescott at Mississippi State, helping the future Dallas Cowboys star earn All-Southeastern Conference honors. In his two seasons with Philadelphia, Johnson has watched Hurts evolve from a shaky second-year quarterback into an NFL Most Valuable Player candidate.
“He’s going to be a star one day,” Hurts said this week. “He’s going to be a big-time head coach one day. I have no doubt in my mind.”
Johnson also has coordinator experience — first as a 25-year-old at Utah, then a couple of years later at Houston, and most recently at Florida. The 2020 Gators offense he coordinated finished fourth nationally in efficiency, according to ESPN.
What he lacks: A compelling reason to leave Philadelphia. If Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is named the Colts’ head coach, Johnson would be an obvious in-house replacement. Even if Steichen stays put, Johnson could have his pick of several offensive coordinator vacancies in the coming years. Like Bieniemy, he can’t talk to the Ravens until after the Super Bowl.