Ravens OC Todd Monken wants to exploit skill sets, sees QB Lamar Jackson as an ‘underrated’ passer - Kevin Patra
“Players dictate style of play,” Monken said. “They do. Players around the quarterback dictate the style of play. There’s no way around it… When I was in Tampa, we had really good receivers … and we had quarterbacks that loved to throw it — sometimes to the other team, but they liked to throw it. But the reality is we were much better throwing it. So that’s where you play to — the strengths of who you have.”
For years under Greg Roman, the Ravens’ strength lied in the ground game. Baltimore was great at it — with Lamar Jackson under center. The passing game, on the other hand, struggled mightily. Following the Marquise Brown trade and Rashod Bateman’s foot injuryin 2022, the receiver corps was gutted. At times it was Mark Andrews or bust.
This offseason, the hope is Baltimore upgrades the pass-catching unit. But Monken made no grand pronouncements about the brand of football he intends to employ.
“To me, balance isn’t run-pass,” he said. “Balance is make them cover all five of your guys, make them defend the field, make them defend the depth of the field.”
Ravens film study: The plays that made Todd Monken’s Georgia offense dangerous — and how they fit in Baltimore - Jonas Shaffer
Because Georgia saw man-to-man coverage on only about a quarter of its drop-backs last season, according to PFF, Monken needed an array of zone beaters for his passing attack.
Crossing routes proved a good bet. According to SIS, Bennett was 16-for-20 last season when targeting receivers running dig routes (a vertical pattern that breaks sharply to the middle of the field at a depth of about 10 to 15 yards) and deep crosses (an almost diagonal pattern for an inside receiver aimed at the space behind a defense’s linebackers and in front of its safeties).
With reliable pass protection up front and dynamic receiving options at running back, Georgia could put second-level defenders in a high-low bind. Drop too far back in coverage, and Bennett might throw a check-down for an easy gain. Get pulled in by a route closer to the line of scrimmage, and Bennett might throw into the space a defender just vacated.
In Baltimore, wide receiver Rashod Bateman and tight end Mark Andrews should fill those roles nicely. As a sophomore at Minnesota, Bateman finished fifth in the country in receiving yards on dig routes, according to SIS. A year later, he was even more productive on a per-game basis. Andrews, meanwhile, has been one of the NFL’s most productive receivers on deep crosses.
Despite dealing with no real threat at wide receiver for most of the year and backup quarterbacks for some of it, Andrews remained elite for the Ravens. He caught 73 of the 110 targets thrown his way, dropping just four passes all season.
Baltimore’s rookie safety had people worried in the preseason after some tough reps in practice and preseason games, but he looked like the assured college star once the games counted for real in the regular season. He became particularly adept as the season wore on at covering the slot against tight ends and running backs.
Jackson played in just 13 games in 2022 — his second straight injury-marred year — but those games saw him approach some of his best play again. He finished with a 5.0% big-time throw rate while adding 47 first downs and 6.9 yards per carry on the ground.
2023 NFL free agency: Unheralded players who should be kept off the market by their teams - NGS Analytics Team
Edge · Age: 34
The edge rusher showed few signs of his age in his 12th NFL season, leading the Ravens with 36 pressures. Houston maintains his twitchy burst off the ball — he averaged a pass-rush get-off of 0.75 seconds, the fourth-quickest in the NFL (minimum of 250 pass rushes). That translated into a sack rate of 3.7 percent, a number that trailed only three players: Brandon Graham, Nick Bosa and Haason Reddick.
Round 1 (No. 22): Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Despite their track record for taking the best player available in early rounds and not being overly consumed by need, the Ravens’ two biggest roster holes will be awfully hard to ignore. They badly need a wide receiver, or two or three. They also very much need to acquire a starting-caliber cornerback this offseason.
If cornerbacks Joey Porter Jr. of Penn State and Devon Witherspoon of Illinois are available at 22, they’d be difficult to pass up. They both play with the type of physicality and confidence that the Ravens look for at the position and could probably step in opposite Marlon Humphrey from the jump. However, there’s a decent chance both will be gone by the time the Ravens are on the clock. This draft is also well-stocked with talented cornerbacks, so if the Ravens are going to wait on a position, they can probably do it at cornerback and prioritize wide receiver instead.
Round 3 (No. 86): Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
Even with a very deep cornerback draft, it would be hard for the Ravens to bank on finding a starting-caliber corner on Day 3. If the Ravens don’t take one on Day 1 and don’t find a way to recoup a second-round pick, there will be some pressure to add to their cornerback ranks by the end of the third round.