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Late for Work: Lamar Jackson 'Heading for Career Year' in Todd Monken's Offense

QB Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson 'Heading for Career Year' in Todd Monken's Offense

Lamar Jackson's stats this season might not jump off the page, but the Ravens quarterback "is heading for a career year," according to Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness.

"Jackson's raw passing numbers aren't going to get anyone too excited, with the Ravens' signal-caller currently on track for 3,550 passing yards with only 14 touchdowns to eight interceptions," McGuinness wrote. "Those 3,550 yards would be a career high, though, and more importantly, so would his 86.2 PFF passing grade."

McGuinness added that Jackson is on track for a career-high 5.5% big-time throw rate.

"He's getting the ball out quicker than ever before, averaging 2.98 seconds to throw — the lowest of his career — while recording what would be another career high in adjusted completion percentage (78.9%)," McGuinness wrote.

McGuinness credited new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken's scheme for presenting Jackson with more opportunities in the passing game.

"The Ravens' offense hasn't reached its full potential yet, but Todd Monken's impact on the passing game is undeniable," McGuinness wrote. "Gone are the social media images showing Baltimore receivers clumped in one area play after play, holding the offense back. The Ravens are now one of the better teams in the league at getting receivers open.

"In 2022, Baltimore had three or more open receivers on 23.9% of their passing plays and four or more open on 7.9% of passing plays. This season, those numbers have jumped to 32.0% and 11.7%, respectively. Their 74 dropbacks with three or more open receivers is tied for the fourth-best mark in the league, while their 27 dropbacks with four-plus open receivers are more than any other team in football."

As noted in yesterday’s Late for Work, the Ravens have had difficulty scoring touchdowns in the red zone and putting up points in the second half, but Jackson believes the offense is trending in the right direction.

"We've been showing glimpses of what we could be," Jackson said. "We just need to be more consistent, driving the ball down the field and scoring points."

Trade Proposal Has Ravens Acquiring Commanders Edge Rusher Chase Young

The Ravens are tied for the league lead in sacks with 24, but a lot of them are coming from blitzes. The prevailing opinion is that the team could use another proven edge rusher.

With the Oct. 31 trade deadline approaching, PFF’s Brad Spielberger proposed a trade in which Baltimore would acquire Washington Commanders edge rusher Chase Young in exchange for a 2024 third-round pick and 2025 third-round pick.

General Manager Eric DeCosta has made splashy deadline trades in three of the past four seasons — all of which were for defensive players — but as much as the Ravens adding Young makes sense, Spielberger said completing the trade wouldn't be easy.

"The Ravens are already in the top three of cash spending for 2023, so pulling off another blockbuster like they did last year in acquiring linebacker Roquan Smith may be tough to accomplish," Spielberger wrote. "Giving up premium draft capital also makes it harder to add cheap young talent, further compounding the issue."

Spielberger said the Ravens would effectively be buying the right to franchise tag or extend Young, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, after the season.

"Another key part of the equation is that the Ravens could choose to let Young walk after the season and recoup a compensatory pick, something they do as well as any franchise in the league," Spielberger wrote. "They'd really just move down a bit in the draft one year later while parting ways with a third-round pick for a very talented mercenary pass-rusher during a playoff push.

"Among edge defenders with at least 50 pass-rush snaps this season, Young's 20.6% pass-rush win rate and 18.2% pressure rate rank ninth. Perhaps most importantly, given his recent injury history, we're not just talking about efficiency on a small sample, as Young's 31 total pressures are the fifth most in the NFL among edge defenders despite his missing Week 1."

Patrick Queen Focused on His Play, Not His Contract

Patrick Queen is having a career year in a contract year, but the fourth-year inside linebacker said he's not looking ahead.

"I'm not thinking about it at all, honestly," Queen said on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access.” "I'm just going out there, playing my game, just letting God take care of everything else. I don't really stress about too much. I've been injury free, so I'm confident in my play."

DeCosta has said that he wants to sign Queen to an extension, but the reality is that Queen will command a deal that is near the top of the league at his position if he keeps playing at the level he has, and the Ravens already have the highest-paid inside linebacker in Roquan Smith.

When asked about his play this season, Queen said it's just a matter of him being more comfortable.

"I just do my job, and when a play presents itself, I go make it," Queen said. "I think in the past I used to stress myself too much to try to press to make plays and try to do everybody's job instead of just doing my own."

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