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Red zone efficiency driving success for the Ravens

Todd Monken has struck gold inside the twenty

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2022 season, the Baltimore Ravens offense struggled. It didn’t take a football expert to realize that even when Lamar Jackson was healthy, the unit didn’t have the same juice as they had in previous seasons. Drives stalled, and the lack of talent on the outside made the team extremely one-dimensional and predictable.

This season, the tables have turned and the offense seems to be on its way to great success after carving up the Cleveland Browns No. 1 ranked defense. While there have been inconsistencies, particularly against the Texans and Colts, Jackson has put together two great games on the road vs. the Bengals and Browns. This has come with the challenge of missing multiple offensive linemen, wide receivers, and running backs.

Although the eye test might suggest that the offense is already vastly improved over last year, the stats might come as a surprise. Last year, Baltimore ranked 16th in yards per game with roughly 335 per game. This year, they are 13th with 340 yards per game. Not a huge difference, right?

While the offense has been moving up and down the field at a similar rate, the big difference has been the team putting seven on the board opposed to three. In 2022, the Ravens were 30th in the league in red zone touchdown percentage. This year they rank No. 1, converting a ridiculous 80% of their red zone trips into touchdowns. If they were to sustain this pace, it would be the highest mark over the last two decades, passing the 2019 Titans (77%), a team Ravens fans are familiar with.

So what is the big difference? With all of the injuries on the outside, the Ravens have been sporting a very similar offensive personnel to the one they did last year. The passing game has been efficient, but isn’t lighting the world on fire with deep shots. In fact they are in the bottom third in the league in yards per completion. The difference lies within their quarterback and his incredible gift of running the football.

Through four games, Jackson has already surpassed his rushing touchdowns total from last year. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken is drawing up more designed quarterback runs by the goal line opposed to between the 20s.

The Ravens offense hasn’t been perfect, but it appears that Monken has taken just the right amount of Greg Roman’s offense into 2023 — using Jackson’s legs only when necessary. His emphasis on spreading the field and featuring running backs more in the pass game has also given Jackson easy check down opportunities and more space to scramble for first-downs.

While this isn’t a finished product, the Ravens’ incredible red zone efficiency is enough to win a lot of football games. As players return from injury and Jackson continues to get more comfortable in Monken’s system, the 2023 Ravens’ offense could be a very scary sight for the rest of the league.