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 next two weeks, we will debate some of the most pressing issues facing the Ravens as they enter the 2022 season.
Is Lamar Jackson primed for another MVP season?
Yes, he certainly could. The pieces are there for Jackson to have more success than he did in 2020 and 2021, and Jackson has improved as a player since his historic 2019 campaign.
Much of it centers on Jackson's continued development. Simply put, he's a better thrower than he was in 2019, even when he led the league in touchdown passes.
Jackson's passing mechanics and motion have improved through his work with Ravens Quarterbacks Coach James Urban and off-site throwing instructor Adam Dedeux of 3DQB. Jackson has always been a good thrower, but there was no doubt that growing in that area was the key to him taking the next step. Jackson has.
His added 15-20 pounds of muscle this offseason also translated to more zip on the ball during Ravens minicamp. His coaches, receivers and defenders all noticed the difference. Jackson was practicing with a lot of confidence and said he feels better than he did entering 2019.
Then there's the pieces around Jackson, and those have improved as well, especially compared to the past two seasons.
Jackson had an exceptional offensive line in front of him in 2019, which paved the way for a record-breaking rushing attack, opened holes for Jackson to run, and kept him on his feet as a passer.
The Ravens' rushing attack kept Jackson and the offense in favorable down-and-distances that put defenses more on their heels, not knowing whether Jackson was going to take off running on third down or throw for the first down. Jackson was sacked just 23 times that season, tied for the third-least among quarterbacks who played a full season. By comparison, Jackson was sacked 38 times in just 12 games last year.
In 2019, Jackson had bookend Pro Bowl offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr., plus Hall of Fame-worthy right guard Marshal Yanda. Much of the success of this year's offensive line will hinge on a healthy return for Stanley, but the line is in better position than it was in 2020 and 2021. Morgan Moses is an upgrade at right tackle, rookie first-round pick Tyler Linderbaum is an upgrade at center and Kevin Zeitler is coming off a very strong year at right guard.
Much of the handwringing surrounding Jackson's weapons is about the wide receivers after top target Marquise "Hollywood" Brown was traded. However, Jackson didn't have a receiver top 600 passing yards in 2019 and the No. 2 wideout, Willie Snead IV, had 339 yards. It's almost a certainty that this year's wide receiver corps, led by 2021 first-round pick and breakout candidate Rashod Bateman, will top that production. Devin Duvernay and James Proche II have shown they're worthy of more opportunities and they have good chemistry with Jackson.
With the selections of rookie tight ends Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely, plus the healthy return of veteran Nick Boyle, Jackson has more of a tight-end heavy group of targets similar to 2019. Mark Andrews has also evolved into an even bigger beast since 2019 and looks ready to replicate his monster 2021 season.
Add it all up and Jackson is in good position to have a strong season. It would be tough to replicate the insane numbers of his 2019 MVP season, but Jackson should be among the league's best quarterbacks once again.