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Mailbag: What Will the Run/Pass Balance Look Like? Will the Ravens Add a Veteran Safety?

RB Derrick Henry
RB Derrick Henry

Brown: That's an interesting question, particularly since the Ravens acquired Derrick Henry.

I think the run/pass ratio will be close to 50-50 again, resembling last season when the Ravens had 494 rushing attempts and 541 passing attempts. Some of those rushing attempts were designed passes that Lamar Jackson turned into positive yards with his legs. However, I don't think the offense will become dramatically more run-heavy because the Ravens want to have a balanced attack.

Certainly, Henry is going to get plenty of work. He led the league in carries four of the past five years, and the Ravens led the NFL in rushing attempts in 2023. Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken said recently, "I know this: If (Henry) carries it 300 times, we're having a helluva year. It means we're running a lot. It means we're up in games. We want him to finish, (and) we want him to be the closer."

However, Jackson attempted a career-high 457 passes in 2023 and completed a career-high 67.2% of them. That was his first season in Monken's offense, and Jackson has a greater comfort level with the system now.

Jackson has only had two seasons when he attempted more than 400 passes – 2019 and 2023. In both of those seasons, Jackson was named the league's MVP. The Ravens want to have a dynamic passing attack led by Jackson and a dynamic rushing attack led by Henry. That's why I see them having a balanced offense where both Jackson and Henry have a chance to shine.

Downing: Justin Simmons is a talented player. He started 15 games last year for the Denver Broncos, notching three interceptions and 70 tackles. He has 14 interceptions over the last three seasons. It's surprising that he's still on the market at this point, and it's hard to predict the type of deal he would get this late in the game. He would fit in well with this defense and give the Ravens added versatility on the back end, but he's started every game he's played over the last seven seasons, so he may want to go to a team where he has a more direct path to a starting job. Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams will be the Ravens starting safeties, so that could be a deterrent if Simmons is seeking a chance to compete for a starting role. Another possibility at safety is veteran Jamal Adams, who the Ravens recently brought in for a visit.

I also think, in general, the three safety conversation is a bit overplayed when talking about the Ravens defense. They used three safeties a good amount last year because they had the personnel to do it. Former Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald talked many times about building the system around the personnel, and that's what he did to get Hamilton, Williams,and Geno Stone on the field at the same time. With Stone now in Cincinnati, the Ravens could end up using fewer three safety sets. They also could use nickel backs like Arthur Maulet or Pepe Williams, or even slide Marlon Humphrey inside, to get an additional defensive back on the field. The Ravens have a talented secondary with a good deal of versatility. They could still bring another safety into the fold, but getting three safeties on the field is not necessarily the end goal.

Brown: This question will be easier to answer once we get into training camp and the preseason, when rookies will be wearing pads and the practices become physical.

At this early stage, Nate Wiggins would get my vote for the rookie who looks most comfortable. His speed jumps out, and I've been impressed by Wiggins' aggressiveness matching up against the Ravens' top receivers like Zay Flowers and Rashod Bateman. Wiggins hasn't won every battle, but he carries himself like a more experienced player and never seems to lose confidence for the next rep.

Rookie wide receiver Devontez Walker has also had a couple of nice catches in practice and seems to be coming on. If Walker can force his way into the wide receiver rotation on game days, his deep threat ability would be a nice addition to the offense.

Downing: Adding another pass rusher is not out of the question, but I don't think it's a pressing priority. There was plenty of concern about the Ravens pass rush a year ago, and the Ravens ended up leading the league in sacks. Yes, the team lost Jadeveon Clowney in free agency, but they re-signed veteran Kyle Van Noy and then drafted Penn State's Adisa Isaac in the third round. There is also optimism around former second-round pick David Ojabo, who is expected to be full go in training camp as he works his way back from last year's knee injury. Ojabo has been on the field during offseason practices going through individual drills, but the team is waiting until training camp for him to step back into 11-on-11 work. Ojabo's first two seasons have been marred by injuries, but he's a talented player who the Ravens believe could be in store for a breakout season. The Ravens also still have Odafe Oweh, who is going into his fourth season, and they are confident in his ability to be a difference maker.

The Ravens signed Clowney last August and then added Van Noy in September, so it's still possible for them to add a veteran if they feel like it's needed. I would be surprised if Jason Pierre-Paul is that addition; he played just three games last year between stints with Miami and New Orleans and only registered two tackles on the season. There could be another veteran on the market the Ravens are watching, but I expect them to give their current pass rushers a chance to establish themselves before trying to bring another veteran into the fold.

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