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Ravens’ red zone offense must improve under Todd Monken

Ravens were one of the worst offenses in the red zone. Monken must find ways to stop settling for field goals.

Kyle P. Barber

On Thursday during the media available portion of OTAs, the Baltimore Ravens offense attempted to score in a simulated first half two-minute drill. The offense was down three and needed to move 75 yards.

On the first play, Lamar Jackson scramble from a closing pocket for a 15-yard gain. The next play he found wide receiver Devin Duvernay for around a 30-yard gain. After back-to-back chunk plays, the offense faltered and soon enough they called for the field goal unit.

Later in practice, they simulated a game-winning drive scenario, down four in the fourth quarter with two minutes remaining.

Jackson was intercepted by safety Marcus Williams as he pushed the ball downfield to wide receiver Andy Isabella, who also had safety Kyle Hamilton in the vicinity.

Tyler Huntley’s drive didn’t end better, with undrafted free agent cornerback Jordan Swann intercepting a pass intended for undrafted free agent wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr.

It’s early. The team is in their second week of voluntary workouts in late May/early June. The offense is still being installed and notable starters aren’t on the field on both sides. I’m acutely aware. But the critical area to improve from last season isn’t the run-pass balance, it’s the red zone touchdown rate.

In 2022, the Ravens were ranked No. 30 in red zone touchdown rate at a paltry 44-percent. Of course, that’s including the late season struggles with Jackson missing the final five games, but the woes began before Jackson’s injury.

The red zone offense will be a focus for Monken; he mentioned it as a key point his offensive philosophy.

“... 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 during his introductory press conference.

Monken has the numbers to back it up, too. The Georgia Bulldogs scored on 98.67-percent of their red zone drives (touchdown and field goals), while averaging 5.4 red zone attempts per game, second-best in the country. They boasted the No. 1 touchdown-scoring offense too, with a 68.7-percent clip. That would come in as the No. 3 red zone touchdown rate in the NFL, behind only the Dallas Cowboys (71.43%) and Kansas City Chiefs (71.08%).

No, a voluntary practice absent numerous starters in June is not an indictment on Monken and the offense. There are four months before the games start to count. But this will certainly be an area the Ravens desperately need to improve, and they brought in the offensive coordinator to do so.