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Ravens News 2/23: Pace, Space and more

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Why patience, pace and Lamar Jackson are so important to Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken - Jonas Shaffer

Pace and space will be important

Over the past six seasons — a stretch that predates Jackson’s arrival — the Ravens’ no-huddle rate in non-hurry-up situations (two-plus-minutes remaining in a half) hasn’t eclipsed 5.5%, according to TruMedia. Only six offenses last season used it less than the Ravens (3.6%).

At Georgia, meanwhile, over three-quarters of quarterback Stetson Bennett’s drop-backs last season came after no-huddle play calls, according to Sports Information Solutions. Over 57% of the Bulldogs’ rush attempts were no-huddle calls, too.

With more stress on defenses, the hope is that the Ravens can crank their explosiveness up. The team ranked first in the NFL last season in explosive-run rate, according to TruMedia, generating a carry of at least 12 yards on 11.8% of its attempts. But it finished 23rd in explosive-pass rate (at least 16 yards). Over Roman’s four seasons as coordinator, the Ravens never ranked higher than 16th.

“The game has changed; it’s changing,” Monken said. “At one time, it was taller pocket passers, and now you’re seeing more shorter, athletic players. The game has changed in terms of using their athleticism, using players’ athleticisms, what they bring to the table, because the game is about space. It’s about being explosive. Well, how do you create explosives? Well, part of it is creating space. So, that’s probably the biggest thing, is: How do you find a way to incorporate that into your offense?”

Over the past four seasons, Jackson and Huntley ranked 48th among 56 qualifying quarterbacks in the percent of passing yards that came after the catch (42.3%). Huntley ranked 51st (40.5%).

Five takeaways from Ravens OC Todd Monken’s introductory news conference - Jeff Zrebiec

You can see why Monken made a strong impression on Harbaugh

From the day Roman’s departure became official, Harbaugh was adamant that the Ravens weren’t going to completely change their offensive philosophy. They obviously had to get better and more dangerous in the passing game. The running game and passing game clearly had to be aligned much better to take the next step offensively. But the Ravens weren’t going to completely change everything and start from scratch.

In Monken, Harbaugh found someone who shares similar beliefs in several key areas.

“Obviously, the better you run the football, the better you throw it, so it starts with an excellent run game and then go from there,” Monken said.

As he’s studied the Ravens’ offense in recent seasons, Monken came away highly impressed by the creativity of the team’s running game. He avoided criticizing Roman’s much-maligned passing schemes, but he also seems to understand that’s the reason he was brought in, to better marry the run and pass games.

At his different coaching stops, Monken has maintained different kinds of systems. He’s been at places that passed the ball a lot. He’s run the ball quite a bit at different spots, too. That versatility and adaptability were surely attractive to Harbaugh, as were Monken’s tenets for a successful offense.

“What you realize is that good football is surrounded by don’t turn it over, be explosive, score touchdowns in the red zone, be good on third downs, don’t have loss yardage plays and athletic quarterbacks that make off-schedule plays,” Monken said. “The rest of it just falls into that.”

Twelve Ravens Thoughts following Todd Monken press conference - Luke Jones

Winning the introductory presser is overrated, but Monken made a strong first impression and showed off the personality and communication skills that have made him popular with players as an offensive teacher.

Though Monken’s praise for Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t mean a reunion between the two is happening, I do hope it signals an end to wide receivers being so unhappy playing in this Baltimore offense. Now, it’s on Eric DeCosta to add more talent at the position.

Until there’s some semblance of a resolution with Jackson for at least the upcoming season, determining what Monken’s arrival means remains difficult. Is he trying to take the former MVP to new heights, making the best of a lengthy summer holdout, or potentially even starting over with a new quarterback?

2023 NFL Free Agency: Landing spots for PFF’s top 50 free agents - Menon & Spielberger


2023 team prediction: Baltimore Ravens

Whether it’s signing Jackson via the franchise tag or a multi-year deal, the Ravens arguably have too much committed to the rest of this team to start over at the quarterback position.

Jackson seemingly makes strides every season in the areas of his game previously identified as weaknesses. In 2022, Jackson’s 57.1% of passes being charted as accurate was a career high, and his 54.8% accuracy rate on balls thrown outside the numbers was more than a five-percentage-point improvement compared to his previous season high, an area for which he has long received criticism.

With continued growth as a traditional passer — which should only continue if Baltimore can add more receiving weapons and an offensive coordinator with more pass-game prowess — Jackson can be a walking highlight reel through the air and on the ground for years to come.

2023 NFL Free Agency: Buy-low candidates at every position - Gordon McGuinness


2022 Team: New Orleans Saints

2022 PFF Grade: 77.3

It would’ve been unheard of for Thomas to be a buy-low candidate following 2019, but two injury-ridden campaigns make him a prime candidate for a one-year deal to prove that he can stay healthy. Thomas has produced a 77.0 or higher PFF grade every season in the NFL and has never dropped more than 5.9% of his passes in a single year.


2022 Team: Minnesota Vikings

2022 PFF Grade: 77.8

Age means that Peterson is currently projected to land a one-year, $5 million contract in free agency. While a team would be gambling a little given that he is now 33 years old, this is also the player who ranked eighth among cornerbacks with a 79.7 PFF coverage grade and tied for second at the position with five interceptions this past season.