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Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens

Will Running Less Help Lamar Jackson?

  • Justin Melo
  • May 25, 2023
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Baltimore Ravens franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson is preparing to throw the football with more consistency in 2023. The Ravens hired a new offensive coordinator in Todd Monken, who is installing a pass-happier offense compared to its predecessor. Jackson offered a hint regarding how Monken’s offense is shaping up via a media session with local reporters.

“Absolutely,” Lamar Jackson said with a grin when asked if Monken’s offense is scaling back the importance of him running the football.

It’s a positive development for Jackson, who has dealt with recurring injuries in recent years. Jackson was limited to 12 regular-season appearances this past season due to a sprained PCL. In 2021, Jackson missed five games with an ankle injury. A pass-happier offense should allow Jackson to better protect himself from suffering future ailments.

Part of the Ravens’ plan to experience a shift in offensive identity included firing ex-offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Roman built a run-first offense that lived and died with Jackson’s rushing prowess. Roman’s departure paved the way for Monken to install a new system.

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta was in lockstep with that plan. A lack of high-end talent at receiver had previously forced the Ravens to remain a run-first offense. DeCosta addressed that need in a major way this offseason.

The Ravens signed Odell Beckham Jr. to a one-year contract worth $15 million in early April. Just weeks later, DeCosta utilized his first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft on former Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers. Beckham and Flowers are expected to quickly form a one-two receiving punch in Baltimore.

Rashod Bateman is also slated to return from injury. Together, Bateman, Flowers, and Beckham Jr. easily form the best receiving trio Jackson has had the fortune of playing with throughout his time in Baltimore. The new-look receiving corps is night and day better than what Jackson has typically been asked to work with. By the way, Mark Andrews remains one of the few elite tight ends in the NFL. 

The Ravens are suddenly littered with man-coverage beaters in the passing game. It should lead to the desired improvement for a passing attack that averaged a 28th-ranked 178.8 air yards per contest last season. Cite Jackson’s injury woes all you want, but the former MVP was averaging just 186.8 passing yards per outing before his five-game absence.

By comparison, the Ravens averaged 119 fewer passing yards per contest than the Kansas City Chiefs (297.8), 86.2 fewer than the Cincinnati Bengals (265.0), and 79.3 less than the Buffalo Bills (258.1). The Chiefs, Bengals, and Bills are considered perennial Super Bowl contenders in the AFC. That’s who the Ravens need to catch up to.

Investing in improving their passing attack represents a sound strategy for the Ravens. After what felt like a never-ending contract-related dispute, DeCosta signed Jackson to a five-year extension worth a historic $260 million. Jackson’s new contract includes $185 million in guarantees and a $72.5 million signing bonus.

The Ravens are committed to Jackson for the foreseeable future. Adopting an offensive approach that better protects Jackson from exposure to injury was a necessary outcome given the size of the financial devotion. Jackson was dangerously creeping towards earning the ever-dreaded “injury-prone” label.

Baltimore’s offense will look borderline unrecognizable in 2023. A shift was required to compete with the AFC’s elite, but more importantly, to protect Jackson. A higher-volume passing attack will be beneficial to Lamar Jackson this season.

Written By

Justin Melo