Mailbag: Will Tight Ends Break Out in Ravens Passing Game?

TE Mark Andrews

Mink: There's no doubt that Mark Andrews is still an elite tight end and one of the best in the game. His production has dipped this season compared to the extremely high bar he set a year ago, but it's still very good. He has the third-most receiving yards of any tight end in the league. With that said, Andrews hasn't caught a touchdown pass since Week 6 and he's averaged 35 receiving yards per game since then.

Part of the reason why is the struggles overall in the passing game in recent weeks. Also, Andrews was such a beast last year because the Ravens didn't have a very effective rushing attack. So they fed him the ball a lot. Andrews finished with the ninth-most targets (153) in the league. This year, he ranks 26th in targets.

I'm going to push back on the notion that Andrews isn't getting open. I've seen numerous examples on film of him getting open and the ball just not coming his way. That happens, but it seems like it's happened a lot to Andrews in recent weeks. I think another reason is that defenses are obviously focused on him as the Ravens' clear top receiving threat. Baltimore's thin wide receiver corps has put a target on Andrews' back, and he's seeing a lot of different coverages and attention, particularly in the red zone.

Getting Lamar Jackson back on the field could certainly help get Andrews going, as the connection between those two is well-documented. If you watch any of Andrews' media appearances, you can tell he is very competitive, and I'm sure nobody wants a breakout more than him.

Downing: First of all, the Ravens lean on their tight ends more than any other team in the NFL. Greg Roman's offense features more multiple tight end sets than any other system, and that's part of the reason the Ravens have five tight ends on the 53-man roster. I'm not sure it's possible to use the tight ends more than the Ravens already do. Those tight ends will continue to be a huge piece of the offense the rest of the way, but that's largely independent of the receiver situation.

The one tight end that I will point to who I think could emerge with a larger role down the stretch is rookie Isaiah Likely. He's shown flashes this season and has 24 catches for 254 yards and two touchdowns this year. He's only caught two passes over the last two games, but the Ravens could feature him more as they look for ways to get this passing game in gear. Pass catching is Likely's strength, so this could be a chance to work him more into the rotation as the Ravens get creative in the passing attack. I wouldn't expect any kind of drastic change, but Likely is an intriguing player to watch down the stretch for Baltimore.

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