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Ravens News 9/4: Comeback Candidates and more

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NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

‘Let’s get these guys the ball’: Ravens’ new-look offense should put weapons in prime position

Chris Bumbaca, USA Today

Space, pace and weapons.

It’s not a military slogan, but how offensive coordinator Todd Monken plans on putting his stamp on the Baltimore Ravens – if training camp and his recent coaching history are any indication.

“Todd is a big advocate of this: Take the guys you have and use them, the things they do well,” head coach John Harbaugh said.

“I definitely think Todd wants to throw the ball, and we’ve got a lot of talented guys,” said Beckham, who played in Monken’s system in 2019 with the Cleveland Brows. “So, I think, just finding ways to get the playmakers the ball in their hands and be an explosive offense – that’s what stands out the most.”

“Let’s get these guys the ball and let them do them,” said Jackson, who learned his new playbook by reciting the name of the play out loud, flipping the page, and testing his memory. “We have the guys that will make stuff happen, get yards after the catch.”

Asked whether Monken’s scheme is an evolution of what Roman built over four years or is a drastic change, Harbaugh said it’s both. The blocking schemes are similar, with offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris still overseeing that unit.

“How new and how different it will be, we’ll find out,” Harbaugh said, “but it will be what we feel we need to do to be most successful.”

2023 NFL projections, rankings, predictions, Super Bowl pick

Mike Clay, ESPN

X factors: Make-or-break players who will decide the 2023 season

Lamar Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr.

If Baltimore is going to overtake the Bengals in the AFC North (and perhaps the Chiefs in the AFC), it’s going to require healthy seasons from Jackson (five games missed each of the past two seasons) and the 30-year-old Beckham (one full season since 2017 and was out all of 2022). That might be a tall order, but this duo has lethal upside in a new-look offense under coordinator Todd Monken.

Preseason power rankings

11. Baltimore Ravens

The defense is shakier on paper than we’re used to seeing in Baltimore, but a new-look offense led by a healthy Lamar Jackson and elite coaching from John Harbaugh can get this team back to the playoffs.

AFC North 2023 Season Preview: Bengals Are the Team to Beat in a Division of Playoff Hopefuls

Matt Verderame, Sports Illustrated

Baltimore Ravens

Best-case: Monken gives Baltimore a fresh look alongside the additions of Flowers and Beckham Jr. The defense gets buoyed by young talent maturing, headlined by edge rusher Odafe Oweh and safety Kyle Hamilton, mitigating the offseason losses of Houston and Clark. With coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens are always a good bet to be in the mix.

Worst-case: Jackson doesn’t thrive in the new scheme, while Rashod Bateman and Beckham go through more injury plagued seasons. Meanwhile, the defense begins to sharply fall off with the aforementioned losses along with Peters hitting free agency. Baltimore has to win a litany of shootouts but doesn’t have the capacity.

Who will be NFL Comeback Player of the Year? Damar Hamlin, 9 others to watch

Mike Jones, The Athletic

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Baltimore Ravens

Sidelined for the entire 2022 season while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in Super Bowl LVI, Beckham aims to recapture his electrifying form and help put Lamar Jackson and the Ravens over the top.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

After missing the final five regular-season games and Baltimore’s playoff game against Cincinnati (which the Ravens lost), Jackson looks to capitalize on an improved supporting cast and a new offensive coordinator and take Baltimore on a Super Bowl run.

50 Words or Less: Where the Ravens Stand Entering Kickoff Week

Ryan Mink,

The Ravens defense is strong up the middle. The defensive line is stout. The Roquan Smith-Patrick Queen inside linebacker tandem is elite. Same with the Marcus Williams-Kyle Hamilton safety duo. Baltimore’s edges are the question. Will the strengths outweigh the weaknesses? My prediction is yes.

I would’ve loved to see David Ojabo tear up the preseason. That didn’t happen, but I’m not sounding the alarm off 19 preseason pass rush snaps. He’s only played in 16 college and pro games. Maybe our high midsummer expectations should be tempered, but he’ll still make a sizeable impact.

Macdonald’s Ravens blitzed at the second-highest rate this preseason, only behind Wink Martindale and the Giants (of course). It’s partly due to the wave of pressures at the end of the Commanders game, but also could be an indication that Macdonald will turn up the heat more this season.

Speaking of scheme, the Ravens’ use of 11 personnel (three WRs) has exploded. Per Sharp Football Analytics, Baltimore used that grouping 9.8% of the time on early downs in the first half, the lowest in a decade. It was up to 64% in those scenarios this preseason under Todd Monken.