Welcome back to another edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race In The Perspective Of Chase’, a close to daily NFL article previewing your favorite teams season! The Baltimore Ravens have now been a contender ever since Lamar Jackson’s breakout MVP season in 2019. But with blown opportunities and injuries come their way throughout the past few years, Baltimore continues fall short of, even an AFC championship appearance! But will that change? Baltimore has locked up Lamar Jackson, and is bringing in a new offensive coordinator and brought in some lethal receivers to go next to Jackson in the passing attack. Or will Baltimore continue to find a way to fall short of that glorious Super Bowl title? Here is everything you need to know about the Baltimore Ravens going into the 2023 season!
It has to be answered: Is the passing attack going to turn-around this Baltimore offense?
This past Ravens season was definitely interesting to say the least. Baltimore blew several two possession leads, and actually held a two possession lead in every one of their first 11 contests. The season really came to an end though when Lamar Jackson suffered what ended up being a season ending knee injury in Week 13 vs. Denver. Baltimore lost in the Wild Card round to Cincinnati by just seven points despite being without their former MVP.
That former MVP put up another fabulous campaign in 2022. Jackson threw for 17 touchdowns to just seven interceptions in 12 games, and through the first three weeks of the season had more touchdowns than 30 NFL teams! Jackson posted over a 91.0 passer rating, and completed 62% of his passes. And even if the numbers don’t show it, it was obvious Lamar was, once again, one of the more lethal threats in the game, considered he also ran for over 700 yards on the ground. When he got hurt, Pro Bowler (I don’t know how either) Tyler Huntley wasn’t amazing, but was good enough to make Baltimore competitive.
In the rushing game, you had Jackson, but then there was J.K. Dobbins, who despite only running for 520 yards in just the eight contests he played in, actually led the NFL in rushing yards from weeks 14-17. Why that’s important is because those were the only weeks he was fully healthy in 2022. He finished the season also running for close to six yards per attempt! His backup, Gus Edwards, also was limited due to injury, but still piled up over 48 yards per game, mark that was his highest since his rookie campaign in 2018. Baltimore was 2nd in the entire NFL in rushing yards per game with close to 170 in 2022.
In the receiving game, well, there wasn’t much. In fact, after Rashod Bateman went down with a season ending injury after just six games, Baltimore had no true wide receivers to work with. Obviously they had Mark Andrews at tight end, and he racked up another Pro Bowl campaign with 847 yards, but Baltimore’s next best receiver was Demarcus Robinson with 458…not exactly a philosophy to success.
Defensively, Baltimore made the mid-season acquisition of trading for Roquan Smith from Chicago, and he finished the year third in the entire NFL in tackles and made first team All-Pro. Baltimore rewarded him with a $100 million dollar contract, the largest ever given to a linebacker! Marlon Humphrey didn’t allow a touchdown the entire season and was a lock-down cornerback for Baltimore, and new Raven Marcus Williams had four interceptions in just 10 games. On the defensive line, Calais Campbell and Justin Madibuke each had 5.5 sacks, and Justin Houston carried the pass rush with 9.5 sacks in just 14 games!
So Baltimore went another season under Jackson and another season with essentially no playoff success. But the biggest question for Baltimore going into the offseason was if they going to sign Lamar Jackson, who was going into free agency and had requested a trade from Baltimore. Eventually, things got worked out and Baltimore locked up Jackson for the next five years on a deal that at the time made him the highest paid player in the history of the sport. Despite a lack of playoff success thus far, I think Ravens fans are very happy to continue to have Lamar under center!
So with Jackson locked up, Baltimore needed to find a way to improve their team. They let go of 2019 Coordinator of the Year Greg Roman, and replaced him with Georgia’s Todd Monken, who runs more of a pass-first system. So Baltimore needed to add some pass catchers. The Ravens signed Odell Beckham Jr. to a one year contract, and despite not playing all of last season due to injury, he was most recently a key piece on the Rams Super Bowl squad two years back. Baltimore also drafted Boston College receiver Zay Flowers in the first round, and the 5’10 speedster should make a significant impact in year one. Baltimore also signed Nelson Agholor to add depth to the position.
But moving to a passing system was not the only thing needed this offseason. Baltimore let go of Houston and Marcus Peters and traded Chuck Clark this offseason, so Baltimore brought in former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney and signed Rock Ya-Sin, Ronald Darby and Arthur Maulet. But is that enough to improve a weaker Baltimore pass rush and secondary? Williams and Hamilton should be great at safety and Humphrey is amazing, but is Sin, Darby, Maulet Jayln Armour-Davis and players of that caliber is not great depth at cornerback, and an injury prone Clowney and Tyus Bowser and unproven youngsters like Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo may not be enough at pass rush. So while Baltimore has some talent, they also have some glaring weaknesses that could limit their success.
Overall, while the weaknesses are there, I think the entire team will come down to Lamar Jackson. The guy is talented, but yet has not been a consistently accurate quarterback and has underperformed in the playoffs. And if that continues, Baltimore isn’t going anywhere. This is all going to come down to Lamar Jackson and his ability to throw the football in a more pass-heavy system. If he is the MVP player through the air and on the ground, in the regular season and in the playoffs, this team is going to go far. And I think that should be expected by Lamar and this Ravens squad in 2023!
Prediction: Find out on the Cool Sports Newsletter series Ravens Reacts on September 9th!
Wiz Talk with Chase
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Twitter: Chase Coburn (@coolsportskid)
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