But the Ravens have been stuck in a passing quagmire for three years now. In that time, they might be the best rushing team in NFL history, but they can’t go deep into the postseason without being able to throw downfield consistently and accurately.
So, what are the Ravens going to do? Are they going to find a way to jazz up the passing game a little, or will they be satisfied winning 10-12 games a season and then falling short in the playoffs?
So, the next best step for the Ravens is to improve the situation and surrounding talent around Jackson. His running ability is superb, miraculous at times, but will only take him and the Ravens so far.
The Ravens could add a star receiver, and that would make Jackson better to some degree, but they have to improve their concepts to take the passing game to a higher level.
If the Ravens can add that big receiver on the outside, sign a center and get a lot of repetitions with some new concepts, they might be on to something.
The real question is whether changes will be made or if the Ravens were just providing the same lip service we’ve heard the past two years.
2021 AFC free agency matchmaking: Lamar Jackson gets new weapon, Dolphins upgrade at RB, Patriots add TE - Jordan Dajani
Jones’ time with the Detroit Lions has been impressive, as he has recorded nine receiving touchdowns in three out of five seasons. He played in all 16 games for the first time in three years last season, and showed no signs of slowing down. He’s looking to play for a contender in 2021 but also get paid, and the Ravens seem like a team that could be a nice landing spot. Marquise Brown is a fun weapon and Devin Duvernay and Miles Boykin have shown potential, but if the Ravens want to get the most out of Lamar Jackson, finding a true No. 1 wideout is going to be important for his development and Baltimore’s success at large moving forward. Jones is a veteran, but also still a dynamic player. I like this fit with the Ravens.
Needs: Wide receiver, edge rusher, offensive line.
Projected cap space: $19.9 million.
Whatever Lamar Jackson’s limitations are as a passer, the Ravens don’t help him enough at wide receiver. It’s probably safe to say Marquise Brown isn’t a No. 1, two years into his career. Baltimore’s pass-rush personnel might look a lot different in 2021 — which isn’t a bad thing — as it wasn’t a very effective bunch last year. Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon are among those not under contract for next season. There could be some shake-up on the interior of the Ravens’ offensive line. If Orlando Brown is serious about only playing left tackle, his departure would leave a huge void outside, as well.
• Darius Stills, West Virginia: Man, I like this kid. Plays mean! Very quick and strong. Could be a steal late in the third round or the fourth round. He is the son of former Ravens linebacker Gary Stills.
• Tedarrell Slayton, Florida: Leverage and power is his game; will fall due to some balance issues at times but if that gets fixed, he could be a 0- or 1-technique starter.
• Khyiris Tonga, BYU: Looking for a run stuffer? This is your late-round guy.
THE RAVENS WOULDN’T MIND SUDDEN DEATH
Justin Tucker has a much better successful field goal percentage than an average kicker would have when kicking in his average weather circumstances. This is especially true for long kicks, where his success rate is more than 10% higher than the league average.
A very good kicker barely shifts the odds before the start of the game, but he does shift them in a sudden-death scenario. Consequently, the prospect of facing Justin Tucker makes it harder for opponents to choose the spot against the Ravens. No matter which yard line they choose, the Ravens probably need to travel a shorter distance to get in reasonable field-goal range.