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Andrews-Likely Partnership Could Unlock Ravens Offense

Andrews-Likely Partnership Could Unlock Ravens Offense: The Ravens need to find a way to use both tight ends to elevate their air attack.
An Andrews-Likely partnership could elevate the Ravens offense to new heights.

The Baltimore Ravens overcame the Carolina Panthers 13-3 in Week 11. Despite claiming the win, it was far from pretty. The Ravens sputtered on offense and failed to gather any real momentum. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Ravens score the game’s sole touchdown. It was a disappointing display for Lamar Jackson’s offense by all accounts.

On the game, Jackson threw for 209 yards and a pick on 33 attempts. Most of this went to the team’s one offensive bright spot: Demarcus Robinson. The 28-year-old secured all nine of his targets for 128 yards. Mark Andrews was the team’s next top receiver with six catches for 63 yards. Isaiah Likely managed just one catch for one yard.

An Andrews-Likely Partnership Could Be the Difference in Baltimore

The Ravens have a comfortable path to the playoffs, but they will not want to rely on scrappy wins to get there. Developing the Andrews-Likely partnership could unlock the Ravens offense and lift the team’s passing attack to a new level.

When Andrews was out injured, Likely stepped into the TE1 role and did an excellent job. The Ravens need to find a way to use both tight ends to elevate their air attack.

Likely’s Season to Date

Likely was Baltimore’s most hyped selection from the 2022 NFL Draft. The fourth-round selection impressed coaches early, flashing clean route-running, and excellent run-after-catch ability. His preseason performances were so strong that many commentators believed he was set to be Baltimore’s ‘third receiver’ for the season. That prediction did not come to fruition, though. At the start of the season, Likely saw very few snaps.

Likely’s fate started to change in Week 6. Against the New York Giants, the Ravens relied on their deep tight end group for their offensive production. In that game, Likely showed out a little more, and saw four targets go his way.

Week 8 was Likely’s true breakout game though. His six catches (on seven targets) went for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Week 9 saw him catch just one pass for a 24-yard score, but he also received five targets in this game.

The reason for Likely’s increased opportunities? Injuries. Andrews’ injury ruled him out of both Week 8 and 9, which meant that Likely was used as the primary receiving tight end. With a bigger role, Likely showed what all the off-season hype was about. His strong performances were reflected in the rookie report after the bye.

With Andrews back in Week 11, Likely returned to his backup role. His opportunities were vastly reduced, and his production reflected that.

On the season, Likely has 18 catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns. All the touchdowns and a large portion of the yards came during Andrews’ absence. Given how well Likely played when Andrews was out, the Ravens ought to consider giving him more looks. The Andrews-Likely partnership could unlock the Ravens offense, given how talented both tight ends are.

Fitting Andrews and Likely Together

To fit both Andrews and Likely in the offense, the Ravens will need to use more creative multiple tight end sets. As it stands, they often use Andrews alongside Josh Oliver, both of whom are strong blockers. However, by fitting Likely in, they can disguise more pass plays in heavy packages. Like the prime New England Patriots, Baltimore should look to find a tight end tandem that performs a central role in the passing game.

This is particularly important given how thin the receiving corps is. The Ravens lost Rashod Bateman to season-ending surgery and have been without a premier wideout since. Robinson stepped up against the Panthers, but it is unclear whether he is the long-term solution. Devin Duvernay is better suited to a gadget/WR2 role and new signing DeSean Jackson is dealing with an injury currently. The Ravens ought to dip into free agency to bolster their receiving group, and Odell Beckham Jr. should be top of their list.

Thus, the Ravens could really do with Likely filling in as the ‘third receiver’. Andrews should retain his role as the team’s top target. He is Baltimore’s best receiver and is also an elite all-around tight end. Likely, however, is largely an ineffective blocker. He makes up for this with his excellent receiving skills.

Given their different skill sets, the Andrews-Likely partnership could unlock the Ravens offense by giving them more variety. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman could primarily use Likely in the slot as a tight-end-wide-receiver hybrid.

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