1. The Ravens passing game remains a weakness
The Ravens will live and die on the hill that is Lamar Jackson and the running game. The 24-year-old franchise quarterback deserves all the love after winning league MVP and shattering quarterback rushing records in his first three NFL seasons.
Ever since they first met in 2018, Jackson and the Ravens were a match made in NFL paradise as Baltimore quickly married Jackson’s running ability and built their roster to best suit that system.
Running alone won’t get them to an elite level. Baltimore’s biggest weakness entering the season will be their passing game, which involves everyone from Jackson to offensive coordinator Greg Roman to the wide receivers.
Developing a more consistent passing attack will allow Jackson to target all areas of the field, better exploit opponents’ vulnerabilities, and otherwise give the Ravens more options when things inevitably go wrong.
The best teams, after all, have flexible rosters that can tactically adapt to different conditions and still bag wins when opponents throw wrenches into their formula.
In last year’s AFC Divisional Round match, the Bills needed only to toss a small bolt to screw up Baltimore’s entire offense, which was all too predictable.
Yes, the running game worked wonders during the regular season, but when it came down to uber-competitive, win-or-go-home games, the scheme’s one-dimensionality continued to let Baltimore down.
The Ravens’ past four playoff games since 2018 have seen them go 1-3 and score 17, 12, 20, and three points, respectively.
The Ravens’ toothless offensive showing in postseasons naturally has critics pointing fingers at the man at the helm, whose passing stats have taken a hit. Jackson was just 23rd in the NFL in on-target throw percentage at 75.3 percent, slightly below the 76 percent from last season.
Jackson was also 12th in the league in pocket time at 2.5 seconds per pass attempt and was pressured 21.4 percent of the time (17th in NFL), so he does have time to go through his progressions.
The team just isn’t tactically prepared for it yet.
Building a multi-pronged passing attack to spread things out offensively will prevent the Ravens from running themselves into the ground this season.
It’s a Herculean, risk-heavy task for the offensive personnel and it’ll take more than Jackson’s arm to rebuild their passing game, but come postseason, the Ravens will be better off for it.