Offensive X-factors for all 32 NFL teams, from Giants’ new weapon to Browns’ Deshaun Watson returning to form
Jared Dubin, CBS Sports
Baltimore Ravens: OC Todd Monken
I mean, the Ravens basically told us this was their X-factor when they made the move to fire longtime coordinator Greg Roman and hire Monken in his stead. Monken is charged with opening up and modernizing the passing-game concepts to complement the diverse, efficient run game the Ravens have built since Lamar Jackson assumed the starting job. He’ll have help in the form of Odell Beckham Jr., Nelson Agholor and Zay Flowers joining the receiving corps, but the concepts need to put Jackson in far better position to succeed than the ones that the Ravens have been utilizing over the past few years. And that’s on Monken.
Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will run less.
Jackson has been the Ravens’ leading rusher ever since he took over as the starter midway through the 2018 season. He’s made it very clear that he wants to run less and pass more moving forward, and Monken is on board.
The Ravens will still pick their spots to utilize Jackson’s legs and will use him on play-action rollouts to get him to the perimeter. Jackson is more than willing to still burn opponents if he can’t find an open receiver. Even so, it would be surprising to see him lead the team in rushing again.
Overall, Baltimore is shifting from an offense predicated on the run to a more spread and balanced offensive attack. Running the ball and being physical will still be important, but the Ravens will look to get the ball in the hands of their upgraded perimeter playmakers more.
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic
It has been 10 years since the Ravens won the Super Bowl, and Stephen Bisciotti has been relatively clear that he does not want to own the team forever. The Ravens indicate that they always want to be a competitive, playoff-caliber team that competes year after year, but given those two factors, do you expect them to be a little more aggressive over the next few years to try and get to the Super Bowl? — Anthony C.
It depends on your definition of aggressive. To me, we’ve already seen that with the deal for Lamar Jackson, with the significant overpay on Odell Beckham Jr., with the void years being added to so many contracts this offseason. The Ravens, under general manager Eric DeCosta, have also been one of the most aggressive teams in the NFL in making trades. There was a time when Baltimore rarely made pre-trade deadline deals of any significance. Now, just about every year, the Ravens are getting an impact player before the deadline. I don’t think their operating procedure will change too much. They’ll still take their shots, but I don’t expect them to follow the blueprint of the Rams all of a sudden.
Roquan Smith Trade Revisited: Who Were the Real Winners and Losers From Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears Trade?
Arif Hasan, Pro Football Network
Winners and Losers From the Roquan Smith Trade
Smith had quietly been falling off a little bit in his time in Chicago, and it was no secret that he couldn’t get along with the Bears’ front office. On both fronts, he’s a winner after the trade.
Smith’s play in Baltimore was excellent, and he secured a long-term deal at a position that no longer gets top dollar in the free agent market. Smith now tops all off-ball linebackers in average annual salary.
Patrick Queen was also playing poorly for Baltimore despite his rookie accolades but has played markedly better since. One fairly clear example of this would be through his PFF grade.
While it’s an imperfect measure, the stark difference makes the point pretty clear — Queen ranked 48th of 83 linebackers with a grade of 59.8 before the trade. After the trade, he ranked 12th with a grade of 80.4.
Having a linebacker next to him with greater range and versatility reduced Queen’s responsibilities enough that he could dial in on the things he did best and perform well there. That makes Queen a winner.
As for Baltimore themselves, they were able to spend a second-round pick, a player, and a late-rounder to improve two positions. That’s pretty rare, though it’s tough to declare them outright winners because of the debate surrounding LB positional value. It could be the case that they overpaid for a position that doesn’t have much of an impact in the modern NFL.
On top of that, the Ravens spent more than a second-round pick, a sixth-round pick, and a veteran — they gave Smith the biggest contract at his position.
The Ravens have their own well-developed analytics department, and it’s difficult to improve multiple positions with one transaction. Baltimore got better, and that’s hard to do, but they gave up a lot to do it. It might be best to call this a wash for them.
Eric Edholm, NFL.com
I thought long and hard about Roquan Smith, who, admittedly, is probably the odds-on favorite for this category. However, I’m just fascinated by Hamilton, who was a bit miscast in a heavy nickel role last season but battled admirably and made tangible strides.
The belief is that he’ll be able to showcase more of his playmaking ability in a more complete safety role this coming season — and don’t forget, he’s still only 22 years old. I might be a year or two ahead of myself here, but I think the 2022 first-round pick is capable of a five-sack, five-interception type of season.
Facing strong QB competition in the AFC North, along with a few tough late-season games, the Ravens are going to need Pro Bowl-level play from Hamilton, and it says here they’ll get that this season.