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Mailbag: How Pass Heavy Will Todd Monken's Offense Be?

OC Todd Monken
OC Todd Monken

Mink: The excitement surrounding the Ravens' receiving corps, coupled with the likelihood of Lamar Jackson running less, has put Baltimore's passing attack at the forefront of the offseason buzz. However, I agree that the rushing attack is getting a little lost in the conversation.

The Ravens ran the ball more than any team in the league during the Greg Roman era. But they ran it a lot before Roman became the offensive coordinator too. They ran it the most in the league in 2018 and seventh-most in 2017, for example. Head Coach John Harbaugh wants a physical offense, and running the ball, and doing so effectively, is part of his offensive philosophy.

Now let's look at Monken's offense the past two years with back-to-back national championships at Georgia. In games involving two FBS schools last year, the Bulldogs were 64th in the country in passing attempts per game and 55th in rushing attempts per game. The year before, they were 107th in passing and 67th in rushing.

So, while I do expect the Ravens to throw the ball significantly more this season, I do not think Baltimore is going to be as pass heavy under Monken as it was run heavy under Roman. The idea is better balance. I agree that I expect the Ravens to land somewhere in the 10-15 range in passing attempts per game.

I also expect that once J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards start practicing, we'll all get more excited about the rushing potential of the 2023 Ravens. With a very strong returning offensive line and more weapons in the passing game, there should be more room to run this season. Opponents won't be able to lock onto the rushing attack as much. Fewer rushing attempts but even better rushing efficiency is the goal.

Brown: Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen might be the NFL's top inside linebacker combination, and Trenton Simpson will need to shine quickly to earn snaps playing with them as a rookie. I don't think we'll see that three-linebacker combination much, if at all. I see Simpson's most important role as a rookie being on special teams, and serving as a valuable backup should a starting linebacker suffer an injury.

Simpson was a versatile three-down linebacker at Clemson playing both inside and outside and used as a run stopper, blitzer and pass defender. Can Simpson make an immediate impact for the Ravens as a third-down rusher? Will his pass coverage be good enough as a rookie to match up with tight ends or running backs in open space?

If Simpson can excel at those things quickly, then perhaps he will earn reps on third down to help the defense get off the field. But Baltimore is blessed with versatile defenders such as Tyus Bowser, Kyle Hamilton, and Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens who Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald can use in a variety of ways. The Ravens are also expecting young outside linebackers Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo to take their games to another level, and they will stay on the field if they do so. That will make it tough for Simpson to earn many reps in a package that also includes Smith and Queen.

Mink: I think the Ravens like the cornerbacks they have on the team now, especially after the signing of veteran Rock Ya-Sin. We unfortunately haven't seen a lot of Jalyn Armour-Davis or Pepe Williams in OTAs, which is unfortunate considering the two sophomore cornerbacks could step into larger roles this season. They need the practice reps.

Baltimore believes in having a strong and deep cornerback group because injuries always seem to strike at that position. Thus, I don't think the door is closed for a potential Marcus Peters return. General Manager Eric DeCosta has already stated his respect for Peters, who remains on the free-agent market. Peters also loves Baltimore. He replied to a Lamar Jackson Instagram post with a photo of Jackson practicing at OTAs with "Miss my folks."

I think the Ravens are in a wait-and-see mode at cornerback and outside linebacker. Peters and Justin Houston are still available, and the Ravens have their phone numbers.

Brown: As primarily a run-stopping defensive tackle, Travis Jones should see most of his action in rotation behind the presumed starter Michael Pierce. Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington are expected to bookend Pierce on a Baltimore defensive line that takes on a younger look after Campbell's departure to the Falcons.

I understand being concerned about the loss of Campbell, a unique player who checked plenty of boxes as a run stopper, pass rusher and leader. But the Ravens still have plenty of talent on their defensive line with Pierce, Madubuike, Washington, Jones and Brent Urban. And don't overlook Angelo Blackson, a veteran defensive tackle with starting experience who could be another sneaky-good signing by DeCosta.

No one player will replace Campbell, but I think it's a collective challenge that the Ravens are up for. Physical players such as Pierce, Jones and Madubuike won't allow the Ravens to be bullied up front. Pierce has vowed to take a larger leadership role. And while Campbell had 5.5 sacks last season, the pass rush won't suffer if Ojabo and Oweh make the improvement that's expected.

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