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Late for Work 1/23: Reported Interview Requests Show Focus on Improving Passing Attack

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QB Lamar Jackson

Ravens Reported Interview Requests Gleans Focus on Improved Passing Attack

Days after Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman stepped down to pursue other opportunities, the Ravens have reportedly sent in four interview requests across the league, with more options being considered.

According to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec, it's telling of what Head Coach John Harbaugh wants improved by the coaches he's requested to talk to.

"In last Thursday's season-ending news conference, Harbaugh dismissed the idea that the Ravens were going to stray too far from their physical, run-first mentality," Zrebiec wrote. "Early reports of Ravens offensive coordinator candidates, however, seem to suggest that Harbaugh is very aware of the importance of fixing the passing game. All four have coordinated an NFL passing game or a college or pro offense. All four have been or still are wide receivers coaches in their careers."

There has also been consideration among the Ravens' internal candidates, where Zrebiec sees at least three coaches who fit a similar profile.

"Urban, the Ravens' quarterbacks coach, was the Cincinnati Bengals' longtime wide receivers coach before coming to Baltimore in 2018, where he's worked closest with Jackson," Zrebiec wrote. "Martin, the Ravens' wide receivers coach, was a passing game coordinator and offensive coordinator on the college level. Godsey, the Ravens' tight ends coach, was an offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins and also coached quarterbacks in Detroit and Houston."

These candidates are only some that have surfaced, with a report from ESPN's Jeremy Fowler stating the Ravens are interested in former Colts Head Coach Frank Reich, Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy and former Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich.

Zrebiec believes there are even more that haven't surfaced, which shouldn't be surprising seeing as Harbaugh has gone through lengthy hiring processes before and stated he wanted to "cast a wide net."

"There are surely more candidates whose names haven't surfaced," Zrebiec wrote. "Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson, San Francisco 49ers pass game coordinator Bobby Slowik and Denver Broncos pass game coordinator Klint Kubiak are among the names of assistants garnering some buzz around the league. When Harbaugh hired Kubiak's father, Gary, to run his offense, he spoke to more than 30 candidates for the job in a process that took about two weeks."

Tough Choices Lie Ahead for GM Eric DeCosta

Before free agency or the NFL Draft, decisions must be made regarding the Ravens' own unrestricted free agents.

The Ravens have a large list of players whose contracts have expired and The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer listed some of the "difficult roster decisions" that lie ahead for General Manager Eric DeCosta.

S Chuck Clark

"Clark has played every defensive snap over the past three seasons. He's been an emotional leader, a defensive signal-caller and a reliable tackler," Shaffer wrote. "He also represents $3.6 million in potential cap savings and happens to play a position the Ravens bolstered last offseason with the first-round selection of Kyle Hamilton and the signing of Marcus Williams. Geno Stone's emergence as a reliable stopgap starter could also make Clark expendable."

CB Marcus Peters

"In his first season back from a torn ACL, Peters played a career-low 13 games and struggled at times in defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald's zone-heavy system," Shaffer wrote. "He allowed 48 completions on 68 targets for 559 yards and five touchdowns, according to PFF, with two passes broken up and one intercepted. Peters, a beloved teammate whose insights on film study helped Marlon Humphrey's development, is a pending free agent. The 30-year-old told The Ringer this past season that he wanted to stay in Baltimore, calling it 'the best thing for me.' The Ravens are thin at the position, with little returning starting experience beyond Humphrey and Brandon Stephens, whose play was also erratic in 2022."

LG Ben Powers

"Among NFL guards, Powers finished 10th in ESPN's pass-block win rate and second in run-block win rate," Shaffer wrote. "He also didn't miss a snap on offense, playing all 1,096 in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. But with more pressing roster needs elsewhere, and capable reserves who could step in next season — Patrick Mekari, Ben Cleveland, Trystan Colon — DeCosta seemed resigned to losing Powers in free agency."

Media Gives Encore Applause for Ravens Defense After Bengals Trounce Bills

While the Ravens' season ended last Sunday, they received a second round of applause after the Cincinnati Bengals bullied the Buffalo Bills, 27-10, and marched on to the AFC Championship.

Media members gave credit to the Ravens defense, which kept Joe Burrow and their big-name weapons at bay in back-to-back weeks.

Over the course of Week 18 and the Super Wild-Card round, the Ravens defense allowed 106 rushing yards. Against the Bills, Bengals running back Joe Mixon went for 105 yards and a touchdown, while running back Samaje Perine and Burrow added another 70.

Daniel Jeremiah Goes QB for the Ravens in First Mock Draft

Last week, both DeCosta and Harbaugh shared their confidence in securing Lamar Jackson to a long-term deal.

If things don't shake out the way both parties intend, the Ravens have franchise tag options that would keep Jackson in Baltimore for at least another year.

That's a possibility NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah sees in his first 2023 NFL mock draft, where he envisions the Ravens taking Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson.

"I'm throwing a dart with this selection. The Ravens have yet to ink Lamar Jackson to an extension, and Richardson would be a high-upside, developmental project for the organization," Jeremiah wrote. "Baltimore's brass was steadfast this week in its desire to build around Jackson for the future. But if contract talks don't progress in a positive direction in the coming months, they could apply the franchise tag on the former MVP, buying time for Richardson to eventually be ready to play."

As a sophomore, Richardson started 12 games for the Gators, throwing for 2,549 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 103 carries for 654 yards and nine rushing touchdowns as Florida finished with a 6-7 record.

Jeremiah's co-worker, Bucky Brooks, also has the Ravens taking Richardson in his first mock draft.

"Head coach John Harbaugh said last week that the Ravens are committed to keeping Lamar Jackson in Baltimore," Brooks wrote. "But if the two sides can't reach a long-term deal and the Ravens decide to start preparing for an alternate future at the position, the Florida standout could be an option despite his shortcomings as a passer."

Quick Hits

  • NBC Sports' Peter King feels uncertainty on what will come of Jackson and the Ravens this offseason. "I think Ravens coach John Harbaugh and GM Eric DeCosta said all the right things, and I'm certain they both hope Lamar Jackson ends up behind center when the 2023 season kicks off in nine months. But let's be realistic. Jackson's probably not going to get the money or guarantees he wants from Baltimore after missing 34 percent of the last two seasons due to injury," King wrote. "I have no idea how this will go, but the waters will be choppy in February and March."
  • The Baltimore Sun's Ryan McFadden gave summaries and 2023 projections on all 11 of the Ravens 2022 draft picks.

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