Jonas Shaffer & Kris Rhim, The Baltimore Banner
Lamar Jackson will set a career high in passing yards
Jackson had one of his worst years as a starter last season. In another injury-shortened campaign, he finished with the second-fewest passing yards of his career, and his play declined as the year went on. Jackson also struggled to find receivers deep, finishing last in the NFL among qualifying quarterbacks in catchable rate (41%).
Some of those struggles could be placed on the Ravens’ receiving corps, which didn’t have a star wideout who threatened defenses, especially after 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman suffered a season-ending Lisfranc (foot) injury. But an equal share of the blame can be placed on Jackson. Either way, a rich contract, new receivers and new offensive coordinator Todd Monken could get Jackson back to the player he was in 2019, when he won league Most Valuable Player honors
That year, Jackson put together one of the most impressive seasons in NFL history, setting the league’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback and throwing for 3,127 yards, 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions while completing 66 percent of his passes, all career-best marks as a full-time starter. If Jackson can get close to his 2019 levels, the Ravens will be a legitimate contender.
Steven Ruiz, The Ringer
5. Lamar Jackson
Jackson defies conventional quarterback evaluation. That’s why so many teams were unwilling to make a firm offer for him when the Ravens allowed him to seek a trade this offseason. Some of the teams’ concerns are fair: He isn’t a consistent processor, and his mechanics could use some tightening. But the constraints his mobility puts on a defense more than make up for whatever overblown limitations he has as a passer. And now that he’s in a more modern offense, we could see his development accelerate. Not that he has far to go.
Jackson is quite talented at throwing the football and has been for some time. He’s got a quick release, can change arm angles, and throws with touch when needed. He’s also gotten more consistent after tinkering with his mechanics. And then there’s his unparalleled mobility, which fuels a Ravens run game that you can pencil into the top five in efficiency every season thanks to his presence in the backfield. Even when the ball isn’t in Jackson’s hands, his gravitational pull opens rushing lanes for his running backs. That forces defenses to add extra bodies to the run box, which opens up passing opportunities downfield. And with more talent around him this season, we could see Jackson return to playing at an MVP level. He certainly has the talent—as both a runner and a passer.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: CREATIVITY
There isn’t another quarterback in the league who scares defenses on designed runs quite like Jackson. His mobility has fueled the Ravens offense for years, and now, in a new system that will spread the field, he will have significantly more space to work with than he’s used to.
Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun
Quarterback Lamar Jackson perhaps summed up his new teammate’s fame best, saying Beckham is a “household name.”
He’s also the biggest star the organization and maybe even the city has ever had. Other Baltimore athletes have achieved more legendary status — Cal Ripken Jr., Johnny Unitas, Michael Phelps and Ray Lewis are all Hall of Famers — but Beckham transcends his sport in ways they did not. He created a trend single-handedly Nov. 23, 2014, and his persona has exploded exponentially since, aided by the hair, the tattoos, the personality, the controversies, the celebrity.
Baltimore’s belief in Beckham was so deep, in fact, that despite not knowing how well he would ultimately be able to run — even after he worked out for them and a handful of other teams in Phoenix this past March — they signed him anyway.
But the deal was hardly a one-way street. In the Ravens, Beckham saw a perfect fit. In addition to the financial enrichment, there was the appeal of a dynamic quarterback who is a star in his own right; a familiar offensive coordinator in Todd Monken, whom he’d worked with during his brief stint with the Cleveland Browns; a team that was consistently good; and the feeling of being wanted.
“He doesn’t need to be the face of an organization,” Nelson Stewart, Beckham’s high school coach from Isidore Newman in New Orleans, told The Sun. “He can come in and be a part of something bigger than himself.”
Ryan Smith, PFF
The Ravens have their most complete and dangerous offense since quarterback Lamar Jackson was drafted, a terrifying thought for opposing defenses.
Wide receiver Zay Flowers was one of the most impressive rookies at any camp around the league. He played one series against the Washington Commanders in the final preseason game, catching two passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. Odell Beckham Jr. signed as a free agent and is back in the mix after missing all of 2022. Rashod Bateman was limited to just 189 snaps last season and was activated from the PUP list earlier this month.
The much-improved Ravens receiving corps unit lands 15th in our rankings heading into the 2023 season.
Bo Wulf, The Athletic
Model rank: T-3 (10.7 wins)
Best-case scenario: After taking a few games to fully grasp the concept of “wide receivers” and being encouraged to “throw” the ball to the outside, Lamar Jackson sets a new high for passing yards and starts every game of the season for the first time in his career. Zay Flowers wins Offensive Rookie of the Year and Odell Beckham Jr. turns back the clock. On the other side of the ball, Mike Macdonald continues to look like one of the best young defensive coordinators in football as Marlon Humphrey returns ahead of schedule and Roquan Smith puts to rest concerns about resource allocation at his position.
Worst-case scenario: Ravens fans kick themselves for thinking the guy whose last two stints as an NFL offensive coordinator included finishes of 21st and 11th in EPA (expected points added) per drive was going to be their schematic savior. Flowers never blossoms, and the rest of the important offensive players remain as injury-prone as their recent histories suggest. They watch as the other three AFC North teams make the playoffs.