The Ravens want to improve their offense, but they don't need to rebuild it.
Baltimore's offensive attack is young and dynamic, and the continuity should continue with every starter under contract for next season and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman returning. Losing to the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round was a Mike-Tyson-like knockout punch, a stunning end to a record-setting season. But this wasn't the end of the new offensive era in Baltimore. It was the beginning.
"There's a lot to look forward to," tight Mark Andrews said. "Obviously, it's hard to do that right now, but there's so much coming back. We have all the pieces. This is a young group; the sky is really the limit and I'm excited to get back here and start working again, to be honest with you. This sucks to be in this position, but we've got the guys that are hungry and have the will to prove everyone wrong."
The 2019 season was the debut of Baltimore's redesigned offense with Roman in his first year as the offensive play-caller and Lamar Jackson in his first full year as the starting quarterback. The regular-season results became the talk of the NFL.
Back in training camp, who expected Jackson to become the presumptive MVP? Who expected him to lead the NFL in touchdown passes? Who expected the Ravens to set the NFL single-season record for rushing yards? Who expected Baltimore to be the league's highest-scoring team?
The talent base that drove Baltimore's offense to new heights isn't going anywhere. Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda could retire, but Yanda and running back Mark Ingram II are the only starters who are age 30 or older. Jackson is 23 years old. Andrews made the Pro Bowl in his second season. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and fullback Patrick Ricard became Pro Bowlers at age 25. Wide receiver Marquise Brown had 46 catches for 584 yards as a rookie, and he was the best receiver on the field during the playoff loss with seven catches for 126 yards.
Roman is returning and will have the offseason to assess what went wrong against Tennessee, and to expand on the concepts that made Baltimore the league's most productive regular-season offense. The Ravens are in excellent position to remain at the top of the heap offensively.
Jackson greatly improved while learning a new offense. Now that he's comfortable running it, his chemistry with Andrews, Brown, Willie Snead IV, Hayden Hurst, Nick Boyle and Miles Boykin figures to grow.
General Manager Eric DeCosta and the scouting department will seek to add more offensive talent around Jackson via free agency, the draft and trades. However, the foundation has already been set.
"I think that's what they intended to do, especially when they envisioned us when they drafted Lamar and how young we are," Boykin said. "Obviously, you have me and Marquise and you have Mark and Hayden. We're just an extremely young group, and we're only going to get better. You're talking to 22, 23-year-olds playing against veterans every day. We're excited for it."
Roman has been long regarded as a running-game guru, but the Ravens' offensive balance was impressive. They averaged 206.0 yards rushing and 201.6 yards passing. That's part of what Head Coach John Harbaugh was referring to when he spoke of an "offensive revolution" before the season.
No other team had a quarterback with Jackson's running ability. No other team had a 300-pound battering ram fullback like Ricard. No other team used three tight ends as interchangeably or creatively as the Ravens used Andrews, Hurst and Boyle. Ricard loves the way he is used in Baltimore's offense, in a league where many teams have phased out using fullbacks at all. He looks forward to the next steps in the offensive evolution.
"We'll see with some other guys in free agency, but I think the future is bright here, especially with Lamar as our quarterback," Ricard said. "I'm excited for it. I can't wait to get to work and come in for OTAs and just keep getting better."
Changing offensive coordinators and changing an offensive playbook is a major challenge for a young quarterback. Jackson went through that last offseason, then took the NFL by storm once the season began.
Once again, the Ravens must deal with the sting of losing a home playoff game. But they don't need an offensive makeover, because it's both young and good-looking.
"[We] have a lot to be thankful for, a lot to look forward to," Andrews said. "We're going to come back hungry. This is going to eat at us, and it's going to drive us to be better."