OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The improvement of the Baltimore Ravens’ offense under Gary Kubiak can be measured by a variety of statistics, including Justin Forsett’s 1,147 yards rushing and Joe Flacco’s career-high tying 25 touchdown passes.
To focus solely on those numbers would be missing the point, or rather, the points. The Ravens have scored 389 points this season, and with 10 more on Sunday against Cleveland they will set a franchise record.
“We’ll break that,” said fourth-year wide receiver Torrey Smith, whose 10 touchdown catches are the most of his career.
Kubiak was hired as offensive coordinator in January after Jim Caldwell left to become head coach of the Detroit Lions. Kubiak was available because he was fired as coach of the Houston Texans in December following an eight-year run.
He took over an offense that last season totaled 1,328 yards rushing with an average of 3.1 yards per attempt. He inherited a quarterback, Joe Flacco, who was sacked 48 times and had 22 interceptions compared to 19 touchdown passes.
Kubiak tore down the system and started anew. The results have been impressive, if not downright amazing, given that Ray Rice never got a carry and the offensive line has been repeatedly shuffled because of injuries.
Forsett, who never before gained more than 619 yards, could end up doubling that. He is averaging an NFL-best 5.3 yards per carry, one reason why Baltimore has garnered 1,890 yards on the ground and averages 4.5 yards per attempt.
And Flacco? He’s been sacked only 18 times, has more than twice as many TD throws than interceptions (25-12) and needs 326 yards passing Sunday to reach the 4,000-mark for the first time.
All this can be attributed primarily to Kubiak.
“I think his biggest asset is he’s a great teacher,” Smith said Wednesday. “He’s been successful everywhere he’s been, and it’s been no different here. Being in meetings with him, he’s fun, a guy you want to play for. Everyone kind of bought into his system. He’s obviously doing a great job.”
Forsett, who played for Houston and Kubiak in 2012, was delighted to be reunited with his former coach in Baltimore.
“He’s consistent. He’s able to relate to the guys,” Forsett said. “What you see is what you get every day. He’s going to hammer out the details, the little things, to make sure it’s second nature when we get out there on the field.
“Mainly, he cares. He cares about the players, on and off the field. When you have a guy like that, it just makes you want to play for him even more.”
Kubiak rarely speaks about his accomplishments, but he’s justifiably proud of what he’s accomplished with a Baltimore offense that is ranked 11th in the NFL after finishing 29th in 2014.
“Offensively, some of the things we’ve been through — the running back situation — some of those things, you’ve got to feel good about some of the things that happened to us throughout the course of the year,” he said.
Kubiak, 53, may get another chance to be a head coach but his focus this year has been to get the Ravens (9-6) into the playoffs. There’s still one game left, so he’s not quite ready to look back on the 2014 season.
“Evaluations will be at the end but there are some players who have done some really good things,” Kubiak said. “The biggest thing we’ve done offensively is we’ve gotten better protecting the quarterback and we’ve run the football. Those are important. But I always think there’s more. That’s why we do what we do.”
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