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Ravens News 5/30: Seam Runner and more

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

50 Words or Less: Lamar Jackson’s Aerial Show Is Ready for Takeoff

Ryan Mink,

Jackson was never clearer about his desire to pass more than he was Wednesday when he said “running can only take you so far.” It’s a new offensive era in Baltimore and it’s a change Jackson has clearly wanted. Happy wife, happy life. What’s the saying for a happy quarterback?

It will be a different challenge with opponents expecting more passes and less running. Jackson’s finest year as a passer was in 2019, when the Ravens broke the all-time rushing record. He averaged 27 passes per game that year, same as last season. Jackson was just more efficient.

Pundits debated this week whether more passing and less running is the right course of action for a Jackson-led offense. I think it is. The Ravens were too one-dimensional before. It was a strong dimension, but if the passing game takes off, Baltimore’s offense becomes scary again.

One thing being overlooked, probably because J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards aren’t on the field yet, is how the improvements in the passing attack will open the game up for running. The Ravens have been running into stacked boxes for years and still had success. Open boxes? Sign me up.

The NFL’s decision to basically eliminate kickoffs stinks. It stinks for fans, it stinks for the many teams and coaches who opposed it, and it stinks for the Ravens, who pour a ton of effort into their special teams units. Prepare for even more touchbacks, fans. Yawn.

Star WR DeAndre Hopkins is a free agent. After a busy offseason, do the Ravens still need him?

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

Under general manager Eric DeCosta, the Ravens largely have been unwilling to mortgage their future. Even when they spent lavishly on Beckham, his signing came with an all-important olive branch for Jackson. Now the Ravens have a franchise quarterback, a solid receiving corps and more pressing needs elsewhere.

In Baltimore, Hopkins would be Jackson’s clear-cut top wide receiver.

But the Ravens have other needs of relatively equal import, and they can be filled much more cheaply. With only three veteran edge rushers on the roster, they could look to re-sign Justin Houston, who led the team in sacks last year, for about $5 million. With little depth in the slot, they could add a cornerback such as Bryce Callahan and still have space for another notable acquisition.

2023 NFL All-Breakout Team, Offense: Kenny Pickett and George Pickens give Steelers bright future

Bucky Brooks,

TE Isaiah Likely

Baltimore Ravens · Age: 23

After a solid rookie campaign — highlighted by an eight-catch, 103-yard outing in Week 18 — Likely is poised to make a major impact in Year 2 as part of an offensive makeover that could turn the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens into an aerial circus under new coordinator Todd Monken. With opponents focusing on passing-game weapons like Odell Beckham Jr., Mark Andrews, Rashod Bateman and first-round pick Zay Flowers, Likely could produce big play after big play as the designated seam runner against two-deep coverage.

Ranking the easiest, hardest schedules for all 32 NFL teams: Saints, Falcons and Colts have favorable schedules in 2023

Amelia Probst, PFF


Projected win total: 8.3

Easiest game: Week 1 vs. Houston Texans

Hardest game: Week 2 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Ravens start off with an easy game against the Texans at home but have to travel to Cincinnati the following week. If they can come out of that with a win, there is potential for a hot streak until their Week 13 bye.

‘We’re Gonna Do It Differently!’ Ravens Take New Approach to London Matchup with Titans

Timm Hamm, Sports Illustrated

With the memory of a 44-7 defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017 still fresh in their minds, coach John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens are taking somewhat of a different approach to their game in London this year.

Harbaugh described that day recently on The Adam Jones Podcast as the “worst loss in the history of the Ravens or Baltimore sports, it was really a bad day.”

And now he hopes that fans can forget all about it, “We’ve got to try to wash that one away if he can,” he said. And in the spirit of forgetting, they’re changing things this season with regard to their London trip.

“We’re gonna do it differently,” Harbaugh said. “We’re gonna go out earlier. Try to flip the script a little if we can.”

Ranking NFL divisions from 1-8 after big 2023 free agency moves, draft: Will NFC East be even better?

Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports

3. AFC North

Imagine how good this division can be in 2023. The Cincinnati Bengals were in the AFC Championship Game and have one of the game’s best quarterbacks in Joe Burrow. Cincinnati has the core in place with Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon — and have added Orlando Brownto the mix to improve the offensive line. Myles Murphy makes the pass rush with Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard even stronger.

The Baltimore Ravens were able to re-sign Lamar Jackson, giving him his best group of wide receivers since he entered the NFL. Baltimore also signed Roquan Smith well before free agency started, knowing how strong the defense was with him on the field.

Kenny Pickett should improve with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Year 2, as the franchise never has losing seasons and always competes for playoff berths with Mike Tomlin. The Cleveland Browns should be better with a full season of Deshaun Watson and an improved defense with the additions of Dalvin Tomlinson and Juan Thornhill.

Cincinnati is the top team in this division, but the AFC North will be a grind — again. All four teams should compete for a playoff berth.