The Ravens are disappointed to lose Rashod Bateman, but don't believe his absence will derail their offense.
Losing their No. 1 wide receiver is the latest major injury setback for the Ravens after Bateman's decision to have season-ending Lisfranc foot surgery. Bateman ranked second in the NFL averaging 19 yards per catch, taking a key big-play presence away from their attack.
However, the Ravens (5-3) feel more equipped than most teams to adjust. Only four teams have attempted fewer passes than the Ravens (235), yet they are fifth in the league in scoring, averaging 26.0 points per game.
Since Lamar Jackson became their starting quarterback in 2018, Baltimore has gone against the NFL grain featuring a physical running attack and Jackson's unique skillset as the most prolific running quarterback in league history. Currently, the Ravens are second in the league in rushing trailing (165.8 yards per game) trailing only the Chicago Bears (188.4 yards per game).
Meanwhile, their passing game still has playmakers. In their most recent game against the Buccaneers without Bateman and All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews (shoulder) in the second half, the Ravens rolled to a 27-22 victory rushing for more than 200 yards in the second half while Jackson passed for 238 yards, spreading targets to rookie tight end Isaiah Likely and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and Devin Duvernay, who all caught at least four passes.
That game only reinforced the Ravens' belief that their offense can continue to flourish without Bateman, and they will love to prove that again Monday night when they face the Saints.
"No doubt. We have guys," Jackson said. "We've been having guys. We've been having those same guys; they just waited for an opportunity, and they showed it. We're just going to need that each and every game, because our main guy went down. So, those guys just have to step up and do what they're supposed to do. I feel like they will."
With DeSean Jackson expected to make his Ravens debut Monday night, the Ravens will be adding another potential big-play threat to the offense. However, there's no doubt Bateman's absence for the remainder of the season will force the Ravens to gameplan differently with their passing attack.
The Ravens don't rely on their wide receivers as much as most teams, and in 2019 when they rolled to a 14-2 regular-season record, Andrews led them in receiving yards with 852, while Marquise Brown led the wide receivers with 585 yards.
Likely's breakout performance against Tampa (six catches, 77 yards, one touchdown) was the latest indication that he can become a bigger part of the offense, joining Andrews as a consistent tight end threat.
"It was great to see him finally get his chance and opportunity to do what he does," Jackson said. "We will need a lot more out of him, though. So, he's just got to keep going."
Perhaps the biggest challenge without Bateman will be producing large chunk plays through the air. The Ravens are fully capable of producing long methodical drives, but will they be able to strike quickly through the air, and will Bateman's loss make it harder for the Ravens finish drives in the red zone?
Those questions will be answered as the season progresses, but their offensive line is playing well and their running game has been steadily improving. The Ravens have rushed for at least 150 yards in seven straight games, the longest current streak in the NFL. Even with J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards both missing time this season, Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill have helped pick up the slack and the threat of Jackson as a runner (553 rushing yards) remains constant.
The Ravens may decide to sign another wide receiver at some point this season. Robinson, James Proche II, Jackson and perhaps Tylan Wallace can expect to see more targets, getting a chance to become a bigger part of the offense.
"It means opportunity for those guys to step up, and that's what those guys want; that's what they crave," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "They're excited about that opportunity. They're disappointed for their friend, but they're excited for their opportunity to step in and fill those roles."