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Ravens News 7/6: Secondary Concerns and more

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Identifying each AFC North team’s biggest concern from a GM’s perspective

Randy Mueller, The Athletic

Monken already has said he wants defenses to have to defend the whole width and length of the field when facing his Ravens. It makes sense. The problem, though, is that spreading out defenders will force Jackson to have to make many more throws in areas of the field that have not traditionally been his strength.

I would want Jackson to do what he does best and not be boxed into any particular system. Having said that, the upgrades Baltimore made on the perimeter are outstanding and the value of these players has to be maximized. So naturally, the field will be defended differently, just based on the skill sets of the receivers.

The key is that the run game, which has been essential to the play-action game and in utilizing Jackson’s skill set, must still be effective. The Ravens likely will introduce two new starters on offense: first-round rookie Zay Flowers (at least as the No. 3 wide receiver) and a replacement for former starting left guard Ben Powers, who signed with Denver. Because of their wide receiver upgrades with Odell Beckham Jr., Nelson Agholor and a healthier Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay is probably a backup now and can be used as a kickoff and punt returner.

My biggest worry for this team is whether Jackson can handle the change in offense. Everyone is assuming, as a former league MVP, he will just immediately regain form. Realistically, there will probably be a period of adjustment. If so, Baltimore has to hope it will be temporary. There is a lot of pressure on the quarterback after all the changes this offseason.

Freddie Kitchens, Dirk Koetter On What Ravens OC Todd Monken Brings To Baltimore

Michael Rovetto, PressBox

Koetter says Monken can harness Jackson’s skill set.

“Part of that is Baltimore was just a terrific running team the past few years and I just think being a little bit more balanced and spreading the ball around to all your various playmakers, I think Todd will do a great job of that,” Koetter said.

Since Jackson entered the league in 2018, the Ravens have the most rushing yards by a team and it’s not particularly close. Baltimore has lacked a consistent wide receiver corps in years past but with the offseason additions of Beckham and Flowers, the Ravens are hoping Monken is the offensive coordinator to elevate Baltimore’s offense and lead the team to its third Super Bowl ring.

“Todd can put Odell in position to be successful,” said Kitchens, who coached Beckham in 2019. “Knowing how he is as a person, knowing how he is as a player, and how hard of a worker he is, I think that’s a great situation for him.”

Ravens film study: Lessons learned from rewatching every 2022 game

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

Sack attack

Getting to the quarterback works. Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles and Chiefs ranked first and second in sacks, respectively, and they ended up in the Super Bowl.

The Ravens, meanwhile, ranked fourth with 48 sacks. They had five against the Bengals in the wild-card matchup in what was Baltimore’s best overall pass-rushing performance of the season, but the Ravens still lost.

The beauty in their success getting to the quarterback, however, was that they blitzed just 21.3% of the time, 21st in the NFL. Fifteen of the Ravens’ sacks came from Justin Houston and Calais Campbell, though, and neither of them is on currently on the team.

How will the Ravens make up for their production?

Expectations are high for David Ojabo and Odafe Oweh, though questions about whether they can live up to them remain. Don’t expect any drastic changes from Macdonald, either. There are also several free agent edge rushers who could help account for the difference.

Among them: Yannick Ngakoue, Melvin Ingram and, of course, the 34-year-old Houston.

“That’s when you get one of those veteran guys,” Bowen said. “They don’t have to be an every down player; they can be a third-down pass rusher. You need a pass rusher on third down, in the red zone and for the [final] two-minutes. That’s when you need them to show up to win games.

“But I think that’s question is still unanswered. They need to go through padded practices, maybe a preseason game or two or scrimmage and find out what they have.”

10 Questions: How Will the Secondary Come Together?

Ryan Mink,

Hamilton and other safeties could have hybrid role.

While Hamilton will step into a different role in 2023, he still could see some similar assignments to what he had last year. Hamilton and the Ravens like his versatility. If they need or want him to go down to the line of scrimmage to match up against a big tight end or receiver in the slot, defend the run, or blitz the passer, they’ll do it. It will be interesting to see how the Ravens marry what Hamilton was so good at last year with the more traditional back-end safety role he’ll step into this season. Hamilton was a rangy ball hawk in college, so he’s capable of doing a lot.

The Ravens also have a couple other versatile defensive backs in Brandon Stephens and Ar’Darius Washington who could see hybrid action. Stephens was a solid starting cornerback late last year, replacing the injured Peters, but is now getting most of his practice snaps at safety. Washington is listed as a safety but played most of his offseason reps as a slot corner. If the Ravens lean on three-safety formations a lot like last year, would Stephens or Geno Stone be the third safety inserted?

3 most important non-QBs to Baltimore Ravens success in 2023

Gordon McGuinness, PFF


Maybe this is cheating a bit because it’s a position and not a player, but right now, it is the biggest issue the Ravens face on the defensive side of the ball. If the season were starting today, I think this would be Damarion Williams, but he struggled as a fourth-round rookie, earning a 41.0 PFF coverage grade. Kyle Hamilton will likely see some time in the slot, and Geno Stone can replace his safety snaps when that’s needed, but I don’t think that’s a realistic option for the full season. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Ravens bring in a veteran before the season to fill this role, though.

It matters because, as things stand, Marlon Humphrey is the best slot cornerback on the Ravens roster. Over the past four seasons, his 84.4 PFF coverage grade when lined up in the slot is the best in the league among players to play at least 1,000 snaps in that spot. However, pushing Humphrey into the slot leaves them with an even bigger hole on the outside, something that feels like a disaster waiting to happen in a division where they will play the Cincinnati Bengals and arguably the best wide receiver duo in the league in Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins twice.