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Has the Ravens Offense Turned a Corner? Its Potential Is Showing

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

For much of this season, when the Ravens offense looked in the mirror, it saw a unit that wasn't quite as beautiful as it was a year ago.

But during Baltimore's current three-game winning streak, some of the features that made last year's offense so stunning have looked familiar.

The Ravens have scored 34, 47 and 40 points over the past three games, respectively. Baltimore piled up a season-high 409 offensive yards against the Jaguars in a 40-14 blowout win at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon.

"It just shows the potential of the offense and what we thought it would be week in and week out," wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown said.

"We didn't play a perfect game, but just to see everybody getting involved, getting touches, making plays – it's something that we try to [strive for] each week. So, we've just got to keep going forward and try to build on it."

What stood out about Sunday's win is the Ravens did it without Lamar Jackson playing "Superman" again.

Jackson put the Ravens offense on his back in a huge Monday Night Football win in Cleveland, running for 124 yards and two touchdowns, then returning from the locker room to toss the fourth-down touchdown to Brown and drive the Ravens down the field for the game-winning field goal.

Six days later, Jackson still scored four touchdowns, but also let his weapons shine. He inflicted much of his damage from in and around the pocket.

For the first time since Week 1, Jackson tossed three touchdowns. He threw for 243 yards – his third-highest total of the season – and completed 17 of 22 passes. Jackson seemed surprised that it was his first three-touchdown passing game since September.

"That feels great. I've got to keep it going," he said. "My guys got the ball in their hands, and they just did the rest for me."

Ever since coming back from COVID-19, Jackson has been playing with a different confidence and joy. He crushed the Cowboys and Browns, but when the Jaguars surprisingly bottled him up a little better on the ground, Jackson didn't panic and simply made Jacksonville pay a different way.

"We've just been bonding with each other a lot more ever since I came back from COVID-19 when we're on the field," Jackson said. "And our guys have just been focused – that's just what's on the field. Each and every drive, we just stack, and we've been scoring points."

Jackson and the offense checked off several boxes that have been lacking.

Brown, who had just six catches for 54 yards in four November games, has 17 receptions for 272 yards over the past four weeks. While Brown's three-game streak of scoring at least one touchdown was halted against Jacksonville, his 98 receiving yards were his most since Week 1.

Perhaps more important than the numbers were the drops that have plagued Brown in recent weeks didn't rear their head against the Jags, as Brown caught six of seven targets.

"As a receiver in this league, you can't drop the ball," Brown said. "So, that's what I pride myself on, and that's what I'm going to continue to work on going forward." 

One of the best signs was that Brown hauled in a deep 44-yard pass along the sideline from Jackson in the second half. That kind of deep connection has been missing for much of the season, which has hampered the Ravens' ability to threaten defenses vertically.

Other wide receivers have stepped up, too. Dez Bryant caught his first touchdown in three years and Miles Boykin, who went three straight games without a target, has caught two touchdowns in the past three games. Eight different players caught a pass against the Jaguars.

"This offense is extremely dangerous," Bryant said. "It's up to us what we want to do from here on out."

Jackson was bottled up on the ground for much of the day against the Jaguars, but the Ravens' top-ranked ground game still churned out yards. Rookie J.K. Dobbins, who has emerged as the team's lead running back, gained 64 yards on 14 carries. Gus Edwards had 42 yards on nine runs and even showed a new wrinkle to his game with a career-high 34-yard reception.

The Ravens' offensive line, which was an injury-riddled trouble spot early on this season, has found its top six to solidify the entire unit, despite Ronnie Stanley's season-ending injury. Orlando Brown Jr. looks like a natural at left tackle, Patrick Mekari has done well stepping in at center, Ben Powers is excelling at right guard and D.J. Fluker and Tyre Phillips have shared right tackle duties well.

Brown Jr. said the group is playing with confidence bred from continuity, specifically citing improved communication.

"This group of five has been really, really good," he said. "Everybody is playing hard, everybody knows what they're doing, and everybody has bought in."

The right guard spot has been under the microscope all year after Marshal Yanda's retirement and Powers has really helped to fill the gap in recent weeks. Head Coach John Harbaugh said the second-year fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma is "playing definitely his best football of his young career."

"He's been very physical," Harbaugh said. "He's a really good athlete. He can really bend and move his feet. I think his anchor has really improved. He's just the guy that takes coaching and says, 'Yes Sir. OK,' and tries to do it. It's paying off for him."

So, is this offense here to stay? Or was it more a matter of facing a 1-13 Jaguars team with the league's worst-ranked defense?

"I think that remains to be seen," Harbaugh said. "We definitely have a plan. I commend our offensive coaches and our players. We have a clear vision of what we want to try to do; the key is executing it – doing things the right way at a high level.

"We just have to keep getting better. We have to keep improving on the path that we're at, and hopefully, we can do well next week. Every game stands on its own two feet, and we have to focus on our next challenge."

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