The Baltimore Ravens are off to a hot start in the 2018 NFL season, but their performance is not what has people talking. Instead, it’s Lamar Jackson’s play that is making headlines.
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MARYLAND’S OWINGS MILLS — In Lamar Jackson’s first two full seasons as a starting quarterback, the Baltimore Ravens were the highest-scoring team in the NFL.
So, why did the Ravens target offense with their biggest free-agent signings and top overall pick?
In Jackson’s three playoff defeats, Baltimore, which averaged 31.2 points during the regular season, has totalled 32 points. The Ravens signed center Kevin Zeitler and wide receiver Sammy Watkins in free agency after a 17-3 divisional playoff defeat in Buffalo, then selected wide receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round.
With training camp beginning on July 28, are the Ravens’ offenses better, worse, or the same?
For 2021, here is a position-by-position analysis:
No changes have been made.
Robert Griffin III, Robert Griffin III, Robert Griffin III, Robert Griffin III, Robert Griffin III
Lamar Jackson, Trace McSorley, and Tyler Huntley are among the returners.
Is it getting better, worse, or staying the same? Even though Jackson will have a new primary backup, the situation will remain the same.
Griffin III, Baltimore’s least successful reserve quarterback, was not re-signed by the Ravens. In little playing time, McSorley and Huntley showed greater big-play potential. As a result, the benefits of McSorley and Huntley balance out RG3’s bad luck.
It’s unclear who will win the quarterback duel between McSorley and Huntley at this point, and the Ravens are expected to retain just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for the first time since 2017. This is a calculated gamble for Baltimore, which didn’t want to spend limited budget space on a credible experienced backup, particularly because Jackson has shown to be more durable than many had anticipated.
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Backs on the ground
Nate McCrary has been added to the list of newcomers.
Mark Ingram II, Mark Ingram II, Mark Ingram II, Mark Ingram II, Mark
J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Ty’Son Williams, and Patrick Ricard are among the returners (FB)
Is it getting better, worse, or staying the same? Same
Ingram’s departure isn’t a significant one. Ingram was a healthy scratch in six games last season, including both playoff games, after being a Pro Bowl runner in 2019.
Dobbins and Edwards are one of the finest running back duos in the league. Baltimore rushed for 762 yards and eight touchdowns during their season-ending five-game winning run.
The bad news for AFC North defenses is that the Ravens’ running back position is likely to stay unchanged for the foreseeable future. Dobbins and Edwards have contracts that last through 2023.
Wide receivers are a kind of wide receiver who can catch
Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, Tylan Wallace, Deon Cain, and Devin Gray are among the newcomers.
Willie Snead IV, Dez Bryant, Chris Moore, Antoine Wesley, and DeAndrew White all suffered losses.
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II, Jaylon Moore, and Binjimen Victor are among the returners.
Is it getting better, worse, or staying the same? Better is on the way, and the Ravens are betting on it.
After its wide receivers finished last in receptions and receiving yards for the second consecutive season, the Ravens signed Watkins to a one-year, $5 million contract and selected Bateman with the No. 27 overall selection. Last season, Baltimore was in such a dire situation that it signed Bryant, who had not played in the previous two seasons.
Brown, a first-round selection in 2019, can help this team grow even more if he can stay consistent. He had a great end to last season (six touchdowns in his last six games), and he recently completed his first full offseason. With a good training camp and preseason, Boykin and Duvernay, two previous third-round selections, may earn additional playing time.
The Ravens must provide more big plays to aid Jackson. The Ravens’ wide receivers had 38 receptions of 20 yards or more, which tied for third-fewest in the NFL.
Ends that are too close together
Josh Oliver, Ben Mason, and Tony Poljan have been added to the roster.
There have been no losses.
Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Eric Tomlinson, Eli Wolf, and Jake Breeland are among the returning cast members.
Is it getting better, worse, or staying the same? Better
Andrews, who has 17 touchdown receptions in the last two seasons, wowed coach John Harbaugh this summer with his improved route running. Andrews is poised to have another successful season as he enters his contract year.
The Ravens’ running offense gains even more strength with Boyle’s return. Boyle, the league’s best blocking tight end, missed the last seven games of the season due to a knee injury.
The trade of a conditional seventh-round selection to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Oliver was one of Baltimore’s more underappreciated transactions. He looked like a raw version of Darren Waller, who started his career with the Ravens, at moments this spring.
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Line of attack
Kevin Zeitler, Alejandro Villanueva, Ben Cleveland, Michael Schofield, Ja’Wuan James, Greg Mancz, Adrian Ealy, and Foster Sarell have all been added to the roster.
Orlando Brown Jr., Matt Skura, and D.J. Fluker all suffered losses.
Ronnie Stanley, Bradley Bozeman, Patrick Mekari, Tyre Phillips, Ben Powers, Trystan Colon, Ben Bredeson, and Andre Smith are among the returning players.
Is it getting better, worse, or staying the same? At least, that’s what the Ravens hope.
The offensive line was the group that saw the most changes on the Ravens. There will be no starters returning from last season’s playoffs.
After sustaining a season-ending ankle injury in Week 8, Stanley, a first-team All-Pro in 2019, is anticipated to return to left tackle at some point during training camp. Bradley Bozeman, a two-year starter at left guard, has shifted to center, his natural position, which was a significant source of difficulty for Baltimore last season.
At right guard, Zeiter, the team’s biggest free-agent acquisition, could offer some Marshal Yanda-like steadiness. The Ravens took a risk by selling Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs and replacing him at right tackle with Alejandro Villanueva, a former Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle.
At left guard, there is a big question mark. Ben Cleveland, a rookie third-round selection, looks to be the favorite, but he’ll have to fight off Tyre Phillips and Ben Powers.
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