Including the departures of Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Campanaro, Ben Watson and Danny Woodhead, the Baltimore Ravens have lost nearly 70-percent of the receiving production from their 29th ranked 2017 passing offense this offseason. The offensive line will also undergo significant changes, left tackle Ronnie Stanley is the only returning starter locked into the same position for 2018. Forging chemistry between the new offensive personnel should be the team’s top priority this offseason.
Technician Marshal Yanda is expected to return to his right guard post after fracturing his ankle in Week 2. Yet rookie right tackle Orlando Brown may hold the keys to the season. If ‘Zeus Jr.’ shows enough promise early in training camp to earn the starting job, the Ravens will have three capable interior blockers competing to start at left guard and center. It would behoove the team to settle on their best starting five early in the preseason. Quality offensive line play is predicated upon continuity, communication and teamwork.
Baltimore will need a sturdy year from their offensive line to snap a three season postseason drought. They are scheduled to face some ferocious pass rushers in 2018. Von Miller, Myles Garrett, Khalil Mack, Cameron Jordan, Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Cameron Heyward, Justin Houston, Geno Atkins, Kawann Short, Vic Beasley and Jason Pierre-Paul headline an intimidating slate. The Ravens front will be challenged by premier pass rushers on almost a weekly basis.
Protection is only part of the solution to improving the pass offense. The front office has brought in a myriad of new receivers for quarterback Joe Flacco to work with. Free agent acquisitions Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead are expected to start, while several intriguing youngsters are behind them on the depth chart. The Ravens have also remade their tight end room by drafting Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, a pair of pro-ready pass catchers.
This group will need repetitions with their quarterback to develop familiarity, especially on option routes, back shoulder throws and when tracking deep passes. Flacco also needs to learn the tendencies of his new targets to maximize his ball placement decisions and audibles. With this extreme volume of turnover in a short period of time, it is imperative that Flacco organize extra practices outside the team structure to build a rapport with his new teammates so they can hit the ground running in training camp.
The Ravens have upgraded their offensive talent this offseason. With a stout defense and burgeoning run game, the passing attack will not have to carry the team, but it will have to be better than it was last season in order for the Ravens to be legitimate AFC contenders in 2018. Success begins with working to establish chemistry this summer.