Adam Rank, NFL.com
One storyline ...
... people are overthinking: The Ravens are doomed when they fall behind in games. I feel like I hear a lot of dumb narratives suggesting Lamar Jackson can’t throw. Has anybody ever noticed that the Ravens — in their entire history — have never drafted a Pro Bowl receiver? I hope that changes with Zay Flowers, but they haven’t had a lot of success drafting receivers. Also, I just want to point out that since at least 2000 (min. 50 attempts), Jackson ranks first in the NFL in pass yards per attempt (9.2) and passer rating (115.8) when the Ravens are trailing with two minutes or less remaining in the fourth quarter. He also has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 5:1 in those scenarios, which is tied for second in the NFL over that span. Dude can sling it.
For 2023 to be a success, the Ravens MUST:
Return to the playoffs and win. That’s right. If you’re going to be resetting the market for quarterbacks, you need to win in the playoffs. Lamar Jackson is just 1-3 in the postseason during his career. He has not played in a postseason game since the 2020 season. It’s time for the Ravens to take that next step. Not that anybody is in danger of losing their gig or anything. But if the Ravens get to the playoffs and lose their first game, like they have done in three of their last four playoff appearances, that would be a huge bummer. Especially with the Orioles playing so well this year.
Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com
If the Ravens are going to realize their Super Bowl dreams, Lamar Jackson must be back at the top of his game. It’s easy to forget that even though the Ravens upgraded his weapons and scheme, Jackson needs to improve himself. I think he’s well positioned to do that.
With better speed on the outside, I expect we won’t see Jackson overthrow receivers as much. But I think trust and chemistry will be the biggest component to hitting more of those shots. It’s good to see Jackson putting in the work, evidenced by his South Florida session with Flowers.
We got some insight into some of Todd Monken’s philosophies in our latest episode of “Wired” from minicamp. One of the best quotes was from Monken saying, “If we don’t get our skills guys involved, we’ll never be the team we can be.” He’s taking the top off the offense.
Three notes from Monken’s classroom presentation – misdirection, tempo, and trick plays. We’ve known he plans to pick up the pace and misdirection is a given. Trick plays are an interesting nugget. I love how creative the Chiefs get around the goal line. Will we see some of that in Baltimore?
Jamison Hensley, ESPN
What is the division’s biggest lingering question?
How good will Deshaun Watson be this season? Watson is the biggest X factor in the division. Last season, after serving an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault as defined by the league, Watson, who also sat out the entire 2021 season, looked like a quarterback who hadn’t played a game in almost two years. In the final six weeks of the regular season, he ranked 27th in Total QBR (38.3), throwing seven touchdowns and five interceptions. If he can bounce back and look like the same player who made the Pro Bowl from 2018 to 2020, Cleveland will contend for its first AFC North title. If Watson resembles the player from last year, the Browns will likely finish last in the division for a second straight season.
Who is the biggest threat to Cincy in the division?
The Ravens. Since Jackson became Baltimore’s starter midway through the 2018 season, he has posted an impressive 45-16 (.738) mark. The only current quarterback with a better record over that span is Patrick Mahomes (.797). The key is keeping Jackson healthy. Jackson hasn’t been able to finish the past two seasons because of injuries, and the Bengals have been the AFC North champions in each of those years. With Jackson getting a new contract as well as an upgraded group of wide receivers, Baltimore is in its best position to make a championship run since 2019.
2023 NFL head coach rankings: Andy Reid remains No. 1 as disciples Doug Pederson, John Harbaugh crack top 10
Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports
5. John Harbaugh (Ravens)
Season: 16th with BAL, 16th as HC
Career record: 147-95 | Playoffs: 11-9 (1-0 in Super Bowls)
The recent playoff results haven’t been overly encouraging (notice a theme here?); his Ravens have won just a single postseason contest in the last eight years. But his last half-decade has proven he’s more adaptable than most, building around Lamar Jackson while maintaining a stingy “D.” Should Jackson make another leap of his own, Harbaugh could finally contend for a second ring.
Matt Galatzan, Sports Illustrated
“To me, the roster is good enough to go play – with no changes – and it’s never so good that it can’t be improved,” Harbaugh said. “So, if there’s an opportunity, I’m sure that – because that’s how (general manager) Eric (DeCosta) thinks – we’ll make the most of it.”
So where could those moves come from? One suggestion that has been proposed has been an edge rusher, where Melvin Ingram could be an impact addition.
Another could be at the running back spot - an area where Baltimore has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons. And of course, adding more weapons for your recently-extended long-term quarterback is never a bad idea, so a receiver could also very well be on the menu.
Either way, with the “good enough” Ravens ready to take a jump back into the AFC’s elite, they are going to be in the market. It just has to be the right move at the right time.