With training camp practices beginning this week, the Baltimore Beatdown staff offer one reason for optimism and one reason for pessimism surrounding the 2023 Baltimore Ravens:
The primary reason for optimism is a shift in offensive philosophy. Four years removed from an embarrassing 12-point postseason output as the AFC’s top seed in 2019, head coach John Harbaugh finally succumbed to the pressure to replace coordinator Greg Roman and his medieval scheme. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken is expected to utilize tempo and spread alignments to boost Baltimore’s passing attack. General manager Eric DeCosta also invested the resources required to field a championship caliber wide receiver corps this offseason after devaluing the position in previous cycles. Combined, these changes should put Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in much better position to overcome negative game scripts and win shootouts in the playoffs.
On the other hand, potential pass defense regression is a legitimate reason for pessimism. Stalwart lineman Calais Campbell was released, former Pro Bowl pass rushers Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul remain unsigned and Tyus Bowser is currently injured. A significant portion of their pass rush production must be replaced by young and inconsistent players. Furthermore, while DeCosta inked Rock Ya-Sin to man Marcus Peters starting position, former starters Chuck Clark and Kyle Fuller were not directly replaced. The fear is that DeCosta will make same mistake he made at receiver last season, applied to cornerback this year. Relying on unproven Day 3 talents to develop into solutions at premium positions is risky. A single injury could leave Baltimore’s pass defense vulnerable to the posse of AFC gunslingers, and prevent Harbaugh’s outfit from advancing in the playoffs. - Vasilis Lericos
The biggest reason for optimism surrounding the 2023 Baltimore Ravens is new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Lamar Jackson will finally have the opportunity to show what he is capable of in an expanded passing attack with better weapons at the wide receiver position. The Ravens have the chance to be an offensive juggernaut this season if health permits.
On the other side of the coin, one reason for pessimism would be the questionable depth at cornerback. In a division absolutely loaded with receiving talent, I am worried that Baltimore will not have the capable players behind Marlon Humphrey to match up. An injury to Humphrey would be catastrophic for the group as well. - Dustin Cox
One of the biggest reasons for optimism is the upgrades Baltimore made to their coaching staff on both sides of the ball, and what it means for the immediate development of the players. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken has proven he knows how to maximize the talent at his disposal to achieve high levels of success, and this is perhaps the most loaded group of skill players on offense this franchise has ever seen, especially at wide receiver. On defense, the hiring of pass rush guru Chuck Smith and defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson should help expedite the growth of the key young players that will be leaned on at outside linebacker and in the secondary.
On the opposite side of of the positivity spectrum, a big reason for pessimism is the lack of experience and production at cornerback behind Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens have plenty of promising young talent at the position, yet they are unproven and some that have been battling injuries. Free agent acquisition Rock Ya-Sin was a solid post-draft signing but another established veteran addition would ease my worries about the unit’s ability to overcome an injury to one of the starters. - Joshua Reed
Reason for optimism: Lamar Jackson will be under center. Only Patrick Mahomes has a higher winning percentage since Jackson entered the league 2018 and after the whirlwind of contract uncertainty, Ravens fans should feel optimistic that Jackson, with a much improved supporting cast, will lead Baltimore to another winning season.
Reason for pessimism: Can Baltimore finally shake the injury bug? The Ravens have been hit hard with injuries at crucial positions the last two seasons and have yet to reach their ceiling because of it. On paper, this team looks like a Super Bowl contender. But fans know too well that nothing is guaranteed. Baltimore will need to stay healthy to even get to the playoffs in a loaded AFC. - Stephen Bopst