The Ravens’ offense can win in a variety of ways
After a sloppy Week 1 output from Baltimore’s offense under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the unit looked like a well-oiled machine in Cincinnati. An excellent performance from quarterback Lamar Jackson is the main headline from the game, but how balanced the offense was is another major takeaway. Whether it was through the air with multiple wide receivers or on the ground with Gus Edwards and Patrick Ricard leading the way, the Ravens’ offense found success no matter what.
Much was made this offseason about the offense moving towards a more pass-heavy approach. While the team has certainly shown the willingness to spread defenses out with multiple-wideout sets so far this season, Week 2 demonstrated that they can still play bully ball with a strong rushing attack. Ricard logged 25 offensive snaps in Week 2 and was on the field for the game-winning third-down conversion by Edwards. The Pro Bowl fullback may not have as large as a role under Monken compared to previous offensive coordinator Greg Roman, but he is still a vital component to the rushing attack and in closing out games when needed.
It has only been two games, but so far Monken has displayed a willingness to use the entirety of his personnel on hand to keep defenses on their toes. With a deep wide receiver corps, multiple threats at tight end, and a bruising run game in their arsenal, defenses will have a hard time defending Baltimore in 2023.
Depth saved the day
The Ravens continually preach and show commitment to having a deep roster behind the starters. This was the driving catalyst for an NFL record 24-straight preseason victories. On Sunday, that depth proved to be crucial in securing an important divisional win on the road.
With multiple players absent in Week 2 from injuries suffered in Week 1, Baltimore entered their meeting with Cincinnati with one hand tied behind their back it seemed. Geno Stone had to step in for free safety Marcus Williams against one of the best receiving corps in the entire NFL. Patrick Mekari and Sam Mustipher had to fill in on the offensive line for left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum. Running backs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill were called upon in the absence of J.K. Dobbins. Brandon Stephens, Ronald Darby, Rock Ya-Sin, and Ar’Darius Washington continue to hold down the cornerback rotation while Marlon Humphrey remains sidelined with a foot injury.
All of these players contributed to a victory on Sunday. Stone came up with a crucial interception on quarterback Joe Burrow while the Bengals were in the red zone pushing to take their first lead of the day. Despite missing two starters, the offensive line allowed the lowest pressure rate of Jackson’s career. Multiple cornerbacks made plays throughout the game and limited star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase to just 31 yards on eight targets. Ya-Sin in particular had an impressive pass breakup on Chase in the endzone to save a touchdown. Edwards and Hill combined for 101 rushing yards, with Edwards picking up multiple key first downs in the game.
With no clear timetable on when many of the Ravens injured players will return, the team will continue to rely on such strong depth on game days.
The Ravens’ cornerback room is coming together
Heading into the season, one of the biggest concerns surrounding Baltimore’s roster was the questionable depth at cornerback behind Humphrey. With Humphrey missing the start of the season, that depth has been put to the test. So far through two games, it appears that the concerns may have been overblown. Between Stephens, Darby, Ya-Sin, and Washington, the Ravens have gotten steady play from their cornerbacks.
With Humphrey set to return in the near future, Baltimore’s cornerback room could become a more-than-solid group. When added to great safety play, potentially the league’s best inside linebacker duo, and a stout defensive line, it should make the Ravens’ defense even harder to move the ball against. When Humphrey does return to the field, Baltimore could potentially opt to move him into the slot and keep a combination of Stephens, Darby, and Ya-Sin on the outside to get the best possible lineup on the field.