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Late for Work: Why the Ravens' Use of 12 Personnel 'Should Keep Defensive Coordinators Up at Night'

OC Todd Monken
OC Todd Monken

Ravens' Use of 12 Personnel Could Be Trendsetting in 2024

The expected offensive trend of 2024 may be the Ravens' greatest strength, according to’s Bucky Brooks.

"As the NFL evolves into a passing league built around three-receiver sets, some team builders are looking to zig while the rest of the league zags," Brooks wrote. "Instead of trotting out 11 personnel (3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 RB) to spread out defenses stocked with extra defensive backs and hybrid linebackers, shrewd schemers are utilizing old-school formations from 12 personnel packages (2 WRs, 2 TEs, 1 RB) to create and exploit mismatches all over the field."

Brooks isn't alone in thinking the Ravens may cause mayhem in 12 personnel. Tight end Isaiah Likely said that personnel group could be "electric" on "Up & Adams" last week.

"Not only do you have Lamar in the backfield. You have Derrick Henry in the backfield, where you also have to worry about our run game," Likely said. "And then you have All-Pro Mark Andrews, where you obviously have to give credit where credit is due. Then you also have our great receivers like Zay and Bateman, and you also have me. You have to worry about anybody at any point in time in the offense going the distance."

Similarly to Likely, Brooks writes the Ravens' 12 personnel unit is something few defenses can match up against.

"Baltimore will be able to line up in a multiple tight end set complemented by an explosive backfield pairing of a two-time NFL MVP and a two-time NFL rushing champ," Brooks wrote. "Few opponents will possess the size, strength, and physicality to deal with the Ravens' running game while also having enough athletes on the field to cover the team's dynamic pass catchers on the perimeter. The combination of personnel and tactics should keep defensive coordinators up at night when building a game plan to slow down the perennial title contenders."

But before you expect to see two tight end sets all season, it's worth noting a few numbers.

Brooks noted 12 personnel last season was used on 19.3% of all offensive snaps last season across the NFL, second to 11 personnel (62.1%). Using 11 personnel has steadily been on the rise for years, as more than 60% of offensive snaps in 2022 were using such personnel group.

Heavy usage of 12 personnel would be another big transition for the Ravens. After the addition of Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken, the Ravens ramped up their 11 personnel usage from 9.8% (lowest rate for any NFL offense in a decade) to 64%. The Ravens also have an affinity for using 21 personnel, capitalizing on All-Pro fullback Patrick Ricard.

All this is to say the Ravens have a "pick your poison" offense, with enough talent to succeed in any personnel grouping. But Brooks expects the Ravens to be the banner-carrying team to punish NFL defenses with 12 personnel in 2024.

Late Offseason Free Agents the Ravens May Consider

There may not be a handful of teams who pluck talent and value late in the dredges of the offseason more than the Ravens. With the signings no longer impacting the compensatory pick formula, the Ravens may be on the search to nab a player or two off the market.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec listed a few players the Ravens are likely to look at over the next few weeks.

Adrian Amos, Safety

"The Ravens were pretty far down the road of signing Amos last offseason before the New York Jets suddenly had an urgent need at safety after Chuck Clark went down with a season-ending injury. Amos chose to sign with the Jets, feeling like he'd get more playing time. He wound up getting released in early December and finished the season with the Houston Texans. The Baltimore native probably isn't a starter at this stage of his career, but the Ravens don't need one. They need a reliable veteran No. 3 or 4 safety to provide depth behind Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams and to play on special teams. You'd have to think the 31-year-old Amos would be intrigued by potentially finishing his career in his hometown, and he'd probably come cheap."

Dalvin Cook, Running back

"Cook's time with the Ravens last season was short-lived as he was active for just the two playoff games but saw action in only one of them. The 28-year-old is looking for an opportunity and is adamant that he has plenty of juice left. Derrick Henry and Justice Hill are entrenched as the Ravens' top two backs, but there are questions about the No. 3 spot. Keaton Mitchell's status for the start of the season is unclear after he had major knee surgery in December, and Rasheen Ali is a rookie fifth-round pick who is still recovering from a biceps injury. If the Ravens want to add experience and depth, Cook would be a logical choice."

Corey Davis, Wide receiver

"The 29-year-old abruptly retired last summer after an injury-plagued two seasons with the Jets. He applied for reinstatement two months ago, but there's been little noise about a potential landing spot. The Ravens did love Davis coming out of the 2017 draft when he went No. 5 to the Tennessee Titans. Davis is a big target (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) who would be an intriguing buy-low candidate if he was healthy again and in a good place mentally and physically."

Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback

"There has been no indication the Ravens are in the Tannehill or backup quarterback market. They have five quarterbacks on their roster as is, and team officials have said on multiple occasions they consider Josh Johnson to be the No. 2 behind Lamar Jackson. Rookie sixth-round pick Devin Leary projects as the No. 3. However, it would be hard to argue against the fact that Tannehill would be an upgrade over what the Ravens have as backup options. Tannehill lost his starting job last year in Tennessee to rookie Will Levis, but he's a former Pro Bowl selection who has thrown for nearly 35,000 yards in his career, succeeded in a run-first offense and won playoff games. Henry can also vouch for what a quality teammate the 35-year-old Tannehill is."

Former DBs Coach Dennard Wilson Praises Ravens-Steelers Rivalry

Last week, former Ravens defensive backs coach and new Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dennard Wilson joined the "Green Light with Chris Long" podcast.

During the interview, Wilson talked about the Ravens and more. Here are some of the highlights.

On the Ravens-Steelers rivalry …

"The Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry is something I've never seen before and I've been in multiple divisions. I've been in the old school black and blue division with the Chicago Bears, being in the division with Philly and Dallas and everything, the Pittsburgh-Baltimore rival is totally different. The first thing they say is that you're not a true Raven until you beat the Steelers, right? So I mean that's huge. And it doesn't matter how good the team is or what your record is –– when you line up against the Steelers or Baltimore, it is a bloodbath. I mean it's old school football."

On L'Jarius Snead's punch-out tackle on wide receiver Zay Flowers in the AFC Championship …

"It's the play in the AFC championship game last year when Zay Flowers reaches out on the goal line and you see a DB aggressively attack the ball. And it wasn't just good enough to tackle a guy, he got the ball off of him. And in hindsight, if you look back at it, if we scored that touchdown, maybe the momentum's kind of on our side. He deflated the momentum with that one play. … It changed the trajectory of the game."

"It is probably less than 30, going back to just the game, the physicality of the game. From an athlete standpoint, you would think that guys could end up playing tight end, which has happened in the league over the years. But you look at Ant-Man [Anthony Edwards], he looks like a football player and he plays basketball like a football player. … If it was a spatial game with all of the tackling and physicality, I would say yes, it might be more, but I think it should be a select few that can actually line up and dominate in a football game. …I think [Russell Westbrook] could probably play."

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