Mailbag: Will the Ravens Offense Pass a Lot This Year?

060921-Mailbag
QB Lamar Jackson

Mink: The Ravens will pass more than they did in 2020, but they won't pass a lot. I think they wanted to pass more last year, and tried to do so early on in the season as they attempted to make up for lost practice time due to COVID-19. When the passing game didn't click as well as hoped, and with their backs against the wall at midseason, Baltimore reverted to leaning back on its grinding ground game to go on a run and reach the playoffs.

But everybody knows that for the Ravens offense and quarterback Lamar Jackson to take the next step, they need to develop a more consistent and dangerous passing attack. That's why the Ravens added weapons around Jackson at wide receiver and bolstered the blockers in front of him.

I would be surprised if the Ravens rank last in passing attempts as they did in 2020. With that said, I expect they'll still in the bottom quarter of the league. After all, Baltimore was a distant last a year ago with 406 attempts. The New England Patriots, who had the second-fewest, had 460 and there only four teams under 500.

The Ravens' bread and butter is the ground game. That's not going to change because that's how this offense is built and that's what it does best. Though Jackson will continue to improve as a passer and will be helped by the pieces around him, his most special attribute is (and may always be) his game-changing running ability. So long as Jackson is the quarterback, the Ravens will run.

Downing: Honest answer: I don't know when. Now this is easy for me to say, but I don't think the when is all that important because I fully expect it to happen at some point. My guess is that it happens before the end of the 2021 season. General Manager Eric DeCosta has made a point of extending players before they hit unrestricted free agency. Marlon Humphrey, Ronnie Stanley, Patrick Ricard and most recently Gus Edwards are all examples of that. Andrews has established himself as one of the best tight ends in the game and Jackson's most trusted target. The Ravens want to keep him and Andrews wants to stay in Baltimore. 

"I love Baltimore," he said Tuesday. "I love being here. I love playing here. I want to be here for the rest of my life." That certainly sounds like a guy who doesn't expect to be leaving any time soon. The Ravens have several contract negotiations to figure out, with Jackson at the top of that list. The reduced salary cap for 2021 makes contract negotiations a bit of a challenge, but that number is expected to make a big jump again next year. The Ravens could wait until next year to work out a deal with Andrews, but my guess is that DeCosta tries to get a done before the tight end ever hits the open market.

Mink: If this week proved anything, it's that Eric DeCosta is still tweaking this roster. No, I don't think it's complete. I still wouldn't be surprised to see Baltimore add a pass rusher such as Justin Houston, who reportedly visited earlier this offseason. I don't see the Ravens making other additions at tight end or safety as some have talked about. And don't get me started on the lack of need for another wide receiver at this point.

Downing: Given those two options, I definitely think Odafe Oweh is more in the Za'Darius Smith category. Upshaw was a much different physical build and style of player. Upshaw was much heavier, and his strength was pushing around tight ends and even some tackles to set the edge against the run. Oweh is more like Smith – tall, long arms, former basketball player. They have great speed and natural athleticism. While Upshaw relied on his brute strength, Smith was a late bloomer who added pass-rush moves to his great athleticism to develop into a premier pass rusher. Oweh has the physical gifts to thrive in the NFL, and he could develop in to a similar player as Smith if he's able to refine his game over the course of his career.

Mink: I'm going to assume the simple advice of "just break up with him" would fall on deaf ears. If this guy is worth keeping around (and that is a major "if" based on the evidence presented), you have one argument. It's the "what have they done for you lately?" argument. Pats fans are … Pats fans. They're going to waive those rings in your face if you say anything to the contrary. Hey, I probably would too. But we can all see that the Ravens are a Super Bowl contender this year while the Patriots are in the midst of rebuilding after last year's tumble. Plus, who would you rather watch every week for years to come, Lamar Jackson or Mac Jones? He should convert not only to keep your love, but for the love of the game.

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