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Keys to Unlocking the Baltimore Ravens Offense in 2023

Keys to Unlocking the Baltimore Offense in 2023: In a bid to revolutionise their offense, the Ravens turn to a new offensive coordinator.
Baltimore Ravens Offense

There is no beating around the bush. The Baltimore Ravens had a bad offense in 2022. Despite a strong start, injuries, bad schemes, and, generally, poor execution meant that the Ravens offense reversed into the playoffs on the back of their elite defense. The offensive unit turned what was a comfortable path to the playoffs into a much harder one, fumbling the AFC North title in the process.

In a bid to revolutionize their offense once again, Greg Roman was relieved of his duties after four seasons calling the shots. There are a lot of good candidates to succeed him. Appointing a good offensive coordinator will be fundamental to Baltimore’s offensive success (and overall record) in 2023. Thankfully for the incoming coordinator, they will not be short of talent. What they must work out is how best to put their players in a position to succeed. While Roman is a well-respected coordinator in the league, it was his inability to scheme up an effective passing game that was ultimately the downfall of the Baltimore offense.

Let’s take a look at some features of Baltimore’s offense that the new coordinator must look to improve in 2023.

How to Improve the Baltimore Ravens Offense In 2023

Utilizing Lamar Jackson’s Dual-Threat Ability

Without a doubt, effectively utilizing Lamar Jackson’s rushing ability is key to unlocking Baltimore’s offense. His rushing ability gets the Ravens out of tight spots and facilitates other aspects of the offense to open up. His rushing ability was something that Roman was good at honing. Having worked with a few mobile quarterbacks before, Roman had a decent way of maximizing Jackson’s running threat.

Jackson’s rushing must be balanced with his passing, however. There is a common narrative that Jackson is a below-average thrower. While Jackson has a tendency to miss some throws, his accuracy is no worse than any of the other top quarterbacks in the league. His improved deep ball was particularly evident at the start of the season. The new offensive coordinator will need to find a way to fully maximize Jackson’s legs while also ensuring that the defense is kept humble by Jackson’s passing threat. Enhancing the unpredictability of the Ravens offense, through Jackson, is essential.

Putting a Stronger Emphasis on the Run-to-Finish Games

Part of the Ravens’ struggles in 2022 was down to the inconsistency of the run game. With J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards both healthy and available, the team looked much better. However, Roman was still ineffective at managing the game with the run. This was perhaps most evident in the Wild Card Round. Against the Cincinnati Bengals, with the season on the line, the Ravens opted for a quarterback sneak on the goal line. The play was botched, and Tyler Huntley fumbled the ball, resulting in a scoop-and-score. Dobbins was particularly vocal about the matter, saying that he believed he should be the primary goal line handler.

While Roman is a genius at drawing up creative run plays, the run was not deployed in appropriate manners. Throughout the season, the Ravens struggled to see games off, allowing their opponents to stay in games far too long. Part of this was down to their inability (and unwillingness) to sustain possession through a strong running game. Their lack of clutch mentality was clear against the Buffalo Bills. With the clock running down and the Ravens in the red zone, the team opted to throw the ball rather than run down the clock. It came back to bite them as Jackson threw a costly pick, allowing Josh Allen to drive down the field and win the game. Had the Ravens been able to rely on the run late in games, they would have been able to hold onto fourth-quarter leads better.

Developing a Partnership Between Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely

Isaiah Likely was a bright spot on offense for the Baltimore Ravens last year. His breakout was no surprise. Following his selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Likely impressed coaches early. So much so that many claimed that the Ravens had their ‘third receiver’ in the form of the versatile tight end. His start to the season was quiet. However, once Mark Andrews went down, Likely was thrown into the fire as the team’s primary tight end. He delivered, showing excellent run-after-catch ability and a good sense of soft spots in zone coverage. He also showed good ability when Jackson was improvising, showing good chemistry between the pair.

Of course, Andrews remains the team’s primary receiving threat. Andrews was the team’s offensive player of the year. He regressed from his elite 2021 season but 2022 was still impressive. However, it was clear that teams were able to focus more attention on him due to the lack of receiving threats.

To allow Andrews to break out once again, the Ravens could look to use Likely more in the 2023 season. Developing a partnership between Andrews and Likely would be smart. Both players have complementary skill sets but, fundamentally, both are excellent pass catchers at the tight end position. To maximise both players, Baltimore’s offense must find a way to get both players on the field at the same time.

Encouraging More Varied Route Trees

One of the biggest knocks on Roman was his inability to create an explosive passing offense for the Baltimore Ravens. Despite the offseason hype of developing the deep ball, Baltimore only flashed that development sporadically. By the end of the season, a combination of a lack of receiving talent and uncreative routes meant that Baltimore’s wide receivers were essentially phased out of entire games.

For the new offensive coordinator, it is imperative that they can scheme wide receivers open. This is something that the Kansas City Chiefs have done impressively. They are able to make the most of their limited talent at wide receiver through clever plays. Baltimore could certainly do with some of that. The first step in this will be ensuring a more diverse route tree. 2022’s passing plays failed to utilize even the most basic of route concepts and there were even times when receivers got in the way of each other.

Granted, the receiving talent was far from ideal. Indeed, one could make a case for Baltimore’s receiving corps being among the bottom three in the league coming into the season. This was further exacerbated by injuries to Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay. It meant that, heading into the playoffs, the Ravens were reliant on a receiving trio of Sammy Watkins, James Proche, and Demarcus Robinson. As the injuries piled up, so did the drops. This certainly did not help the lackluster passing game.

Having a Backup Plan in Case of Injury to Jackson

Perhaps one of the biggest keys to unlocking Baltimore’s offense is ensuring a backup plan. On the assumption that Jackson stays in Baltimore, it is important that the new offensive coordinator is able to come up with a plan B in the likely event that Jackson misses time during the season. Jackson has missed the final stretch of both the 2021 and 2022 seasons for different reasons. In both cases, his injury derailed the team’s hopes of making the playoffs.

With Huntley now a free agent, the team must find a top-tier backup quarterback to fill in for Jackson during his inevitable absences. Regardless of who it is, the new offensive coordinator must be able to implement a coherent gameplan to ensure that the offense can still function (albeit through different means).

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