We all know how well the Baltimore Ravens can run the football, but our question now is how well can they pass it with all its new assets?
When one thinks of the Baltimore Ravens offense their mind instantaneously fixates on the run game. It’s hard not to, considering not only the team’s recent success in that department but also its fortunes throughout the franchise’s history. Studs like Jamal Lewis and Ray Rice had extremely productive years running the ball for Baltimore and now the team has guys like Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins manning the backfield. Heck, the team even has a dual-threat quarterback with Lamar Jackson, who is already on his way to being one of the greatest mobile quarterbacks ever. We’ve also seen plenty of vets run through (pun intended) and have career years like Justin Forsett and Mark Ingram. Better yet, some guys are made relevant because of the Ravens like Terrance West and Alex Collins. Honestly, if you love running the football and/or you’re a running back, the Baltimore Ravens are definitely the team for you.
With all that success in the run game there comes some questions about the team’s ability to pass the football effectively. The stats may not be there, but Baltimore does pass the football at an efficient rate. Sure, it’s never going to steal your gaze in the box score, but you’d rather have the unit be more competent than eye-popping.
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In recent years there has been more of the former than the latter. The Ravens saw the aforementioned Jackson pace the league in passing touchdowns (36) back in 2019 and the team as a whole had a solid 27 in 2020. The team has achieved these numbers in large part because of their quarterback, Jackson, and his big-play ability. Guys like Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown are studs in their own rights, but neither has proven to be the guy to change Baltimore’s passing prowess.
Perhaps that narrative changes in 2021, however.
General manager Eric DeCosta has been ultra-aggressive in trying to make the passing attack more viable since he took over the reins to the Ravens back in 2019. In each of his three drafts, DeCosta has drafted two receivers including two in the first round, those being Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and now Rashod Bateman. Additionally, EDC has spent two more third-round picks, a fourth-rounder, and a sixth-rounder at the position. DeCosta has also decided to kick the tires on Sammy Watkins this offseason.
With these guys making up the wide receiving core and Andrews and the overlooked Nick Boyle making up the tight end room could we finally see a jump in production from the passing game?
It’s important to note here that a “jump in production” mainly refers to the box score numbers we mentioned that aren’t really a big deal to this team. Obviously, Baltimore has proven it can throw touchdowns through the air even without lighting up the passing yards stat. What we’re wondering is whether or not those passing yard stats will improve.
It seems to be within reason that this passing game will improve significantly after a mediocre 2020 output. We should see the unit get back to averaging 200 YPG again and maybe even more than that in 2021. Opposing defenses will be so stressed about stopping this rushing attack that they won’t respect the passing attack nearly as much. Lamar “Action” Jackson has proven that that can be a fatal mistake and with all his weapons could spell doom for opposing secondaries.
This, on paper at least, should be the most potent air attack Baltimore has fielded in quite some time. It makes a lot of sense to believe that it could be a serious problem for opposing defenses. We saw how deadly a balanced offense can be for the Ravens back in 2019 and this 2021 squad could even better.
Basically, we could be looking at a potential jump in the numbers category for the Baltimore Ravens passing attack. It would certainly be a crazy sight to see considering the team’s run-first mentality, but perhaps the investments in the passing game could balance out this offense a bit more like 2019’s edition. This is the best-case scenario, but we could also see the numbers take a significant leap in relevancy in 2021. Will this be the year that the passing game puts up some video game-like numbers? If it were to happen, this would be the year.