10 Questions: How Can the Passing Game Take the Next Step?

QB Lamar Jackson

We've hit the slow time of the NFL calendar, the time when there's a whole lot more debate than news.

Thus, over the rest of this week, we will debate some of the most pressing issues facing the Ravens as they enter the 2022 season.

How Can the Passing Game Take the Next Step?

There are at least four ways for the Ravens' passing game to take the next step.

The pass protection for Lamar Jackson can improve. Jackson can take his game to the next level. The young wide receivers can step up. And more tight ends can get involved in the passing attack.

The retooled offensive line should provide Jackson with a cleaner pocket than last season. Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated that All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley is making encouraging progress after his latest ankle surgery. The acquisitions of rookie first-round center Tyler Linderbaum and veteran right tackle Morgan Moses were key offseason moves.

Jackson has already proven he can put up prolific numbers as a passer. In 2019, when he was sacked just 23 times in 15 games, Jackson enjoyed a unanimous MVP season with a league-leading 36 touchdown passes, only six interceptions and a career-high quarterback rating of 113.3.

Compare that to last season when Jackson was sacked a career-high 38 times in just 12 games, and he tossed a career-high 13 interceptions with 16 touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 87.0. That's why improving the offensive the line was at or near the top of General Manager Eric DeCosta's offseason to-do list.


Better protection could mean a return to MVP form for Jackson, who looks poised for a big season. He threw the ball with zip and accuracy during mandatory minicamp. Working with throwing coach Adam Dedeaux, Jackson is a better passer than he was two years ago, when he completed a career-high 66.1 percent of his passes.

Concern has been raised about Baltimore's wide receiver corps since Marquise "Hollywood' Brown was traded to Arizona. But this is a golden opportunity for Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace. All of them have talent, and all of them are hungry.

In 2019 when the Ravens went 14-2, their top four wide receivers were Brown, Willie Snead IV, Seth Roberts and Miles Boykin. This current group has greater potential and a chance to silence doubters.

"The guys do have a chip on their shoulder, and they want to go out and prove that they're ready for their opportunity," Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin said. "When we don't draft a wide receiver, what the organization is saying to you is, 'We brought you here for a reason, and it's your time.'"

Baltimore drafted two pass-catching tight ends in the fourth round, Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely, who could factor immediately into Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman's tight-end friendly attack. All-Pro Mark Andrews is coming off the best season of any tight end in franchise history, and he sounds ready to have another monster season.

Meanwhile, Likely and Kolar are capable of taking pressure off Andrews and adding to Jackson's options as big targets in the middle of the field and in the red zone.  

Even if the Ravens remain one of the NFL's most run-heavy teams, it will be important for their passing game to be consistent, providing the balance that could make them truly lethal offensively. The work toward taking the passing game to a higher level has already begun, and Jackson planned more throwing sessions with teammates at Florida Atlantic University before the start of training camp.

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