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Ravens News 5/22: Monken’s Scheme and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens OTA Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

How new Ravens OC Todd Monken’s scheme will unlock a more complete Lamar Jackson

Ted Nguyen, The Athletic

Though Monken has talked about creating more space, his base formation last season was “bunch.” Bunch is a condensed formation, but it’s a one-back formation with four immediate vertical threats on the line of scrimmage. Monken ran all his bread-and-butter concepts from it. Defenses have to have special rules with how they handle bunch formations because of the potential pick plays it offers, so Monken uses a lot of motions and shifts that force defenses to quickly communicate and adjust.

Monken’s offense is littered with constraint plays. For each one of his bread-and-butter plays, he also has plays built off the same action that punish defenses for playing too aggressively.

Aside from explosiveness, Monken has to find ways to make the Ravens’ passing game more efficient. Run/pass options (RPOs) are a great way to do that, and they protect the Ravens’ run game against teams that want to load the box or aggressively fit against the run. Though Roman used RPOs, he had stretches where he would go away from them for too long. Monken has made RPOs part of his offenses in the NFL and college. With the Ravens, he should even expand on his RPO package.

Under Roman, the Ravens ranked near the bottom of the league in screen plays last season. Monken has shown several well-designed screen concepts that target outside receivers, slot receivers, running backs and tight ends.

50 Words or Less: Scheme Isn’t the Only Thing Changing With Todd Monken’s Offense

Ryan Mink,

Monken’s more spread, wide receiver friendly scheme will be a departure from Greg Roman’s run-heavy, tight formations. It’s also already clear that the pace will be faster. Fans won’t be holding their breath so often, hoping the Ravens get the snap off. The Ravens will dictate the action more.

With OTAs starting this week, it’s an important time for the offense to take the next step. Numerous defensive leaders and starters were at football school. Monken is probably eager to get his side up to speed. The next month will set the stage for a successful training camp.

The Ravens wide receiver room was ranked 18th best in the NFL by ESPN’s Mike Clay. I expect Baltimore will finish better than that by season’s end so long as OBJ and Rashod Bateman’s health checks out and holds up. Devin Duvernay is a helluva WR 4/5.

As it stands now, the Ravens will badly need Ojabo and Oweh to level up this season. I still expect Baltimore to add another veteran pass edge rusher this offseason, but even if so, the former high school teammates will have the leading roles in the Ravens’ pass rush script.

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has a new contract, new weapons and a new coordinator. Is a return to OTAs next?

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

He added: “Everything is new now. It’s like I said: It’s a new start for us, and we got new guys on our team, and I’m not a rookie anymore. Now I’m a vet, you know? Because, on my rookie deal, I felt like I was still a rookie throughout the entire process. You’re still on your rookie deal; you’re not a vet yet. So certain things vets can get away with, I’m like, ‘Nah, I can’t get away with that. I’m still a rookie.’ To me, that’s just my mindset.”

Now, though, in Year 6, Jackson faces new pressures. His megadeal has answered some questions and raised others. Under Todd Monken, the Ravens are learning what Jackson himself has called a “different” offense. The former Georgia play-caller will be Jackson’s third offensive coordinator in six years, but he represents by far the offense’s most substantial shake-up during Jackson’s time; Greg Roman, the primary architect of the Ravens’ run game, was already on staff when he succeeded Marty Mornhinweg after the 2018 season.

Most quarterbacks in Jackson’s situation tend not to wait. Over the last two years, a team has entered OTAs with a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator or both 30 times. (Five teams underwent coaching changes in both 2021 and 2022.) According to media reports, only three of the 30 projected starting quarterbacks on those teams skipped all or part of OTAs.

2023 offseason grades for all 32 NFL teams: Eagles, Bengals among those to earn As

Sam Monson, PFF


Offseason Grade: B

Baltimore’s offseason gets a bump by me for “winning” their negotiations with Lamar Jackson at every step. They drew a line in the sand, refused to replicate the fully guaranteed contract Deshaun Watson received and dared Jackson to find the deal anywhere else. That didn’t happen, and then they waited until another quarterback got signed and used that contract to finalize Jackson’s deal.

Adding Odell Beckham Jr. is an interesting move, albeit a pricey one, but gives Baltimore needed receiver help. The draft continued that trend with Zay Flowers a nice fit even if the first round was higher than I would have personally drafted him. Andrew Vorhees along the offensive line is a steal in Round 7, but otherwise this draft felt some way short of Baltimore’s usual standard.

NFL playoff predictions for 2023 season: Eagles fall, Falcons rise, plus full division and wild-card picks

Will Brinson, CBS Sports

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals (13-4) — Division winner

Baltimore Ravens (12-5)* — Wild-card team

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-8)

Cleveland Browns (7-10)

The Bengals have never been AFC North champs for three straight seasons. Last year was just their 12th divisional title and just the second time they repeated as divisional champs. Joe Burrow is pretty good! This year would have been a cakewalk, too, barring something strange, if Baltimore hadn’t gotten its act together and inked Lamar Jackson to a long-term deal.

Jackson’s presence definitely makes this divisional race much more interesting. I’ve still got the Bengals squeaking it out, although in very narrow fashion with the Ravens projecting as the top wild-card team in the AFC. I love Todd Monken’s addition as offensive coordinator plus the weapons Baltimore grabbed for Lamar this offseason.

The Steelers were definitely close to being a wild-card team in my model; Matt Canada is very meh but I like what they’ve done to the roster. The Browns went 3-3 last year with Deshaun Watson back, beating the Texans, Ravens sans Lamar and Washington. Maybe settle down on this coronation, Cleveland.