Count Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis among those who believe Lamar Jackson needs a play-making wide receiver for the Ravens offense to flourish.
"Lamar Jackson is a rock star, but the offense that he's been playing in the past three or four years, with Greg Roman as offensive coordinator, doesn't fit him," Lewis said on "Inside the NFL." "It fits him because he has to be Superman. He has to make five people miss.
"Lamar Jackson needs a No. 1 receiver. Lamar Jackson needs help. They haven't given Lamar Jackson the opportunity to really throw the ball downfield. Let this guy do what I think he does very well. … When you have a player that dynamic — Patrick Mahomes is surrounded around nothing but help. Lamar – we got Mark Andrews, we got a couple of other guys, but we need pieces around Lamar Jackson to help Lamar Jackson."
General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh both acknowledged at last week's press conference that they are determined to upgrade the wide receiver corps this offseason.
Lewis' colleague, Phil Simms, noted that the Ravens were trying to throw the ball more last season and this season, but "injuries slowed that process down."
In the two games before he was injured, Jackson threw 33 passes against the Carolina Panthers and 32 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Patrick Queen Opines on Rivalry With Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson's Contract Situation, How to Slow Bengals Offense
Having played the Cincinnati Bengals three times this season and being a teammate of Joe Burrow's at LSU, inside linebacker Patrick Queen knows the Ravens' AFC North rival and its quarterback as well as anyone.
Ahead of Sunday's AFC Championship Game between the Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs, Queen joined Kay Adams on the "Up & Adams" show to discuss a variety of topics. Here are some excerpts:
Making a jump in Year 3: "[The game] definitely slowed down. I feel like I made a great jump but it was not where I want to be. I still wanted to be even better. I guess that just comes with experience, so now that I got more experience under my belt, Year 4 can be even better. So that's what I'm looking forward to, that's what I'm going to be working for this offseason — just improve on what I just did."
Advice he'd give to Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnulo on how to defend the Bengals offense: "No explosive plays. Just make them check the ball down the whole game. They've got great athletes, great wide receivers – every wide receiver on that team is great. The running backs can do whatever they want on the field. So I think the best thing for him to do is just try to get pressure with a four-man rush and just drop back and make them check it down. I think if you limit those explosive plays, make them go the long, hard way, eventually something's got to give."
His friendly rivalry with Burrow: "Yeah, we're friends. Everybody thinks we're not friends because we had a fight in college like every college teammates have with each other. … At the end of the day, if Joe ever needed something from me, I'll be there for him. When we step on the field, he's trying to beat me just like I'm trying to beat him. If we're competing against each other and it looks mean, ugly, and nasty, that's football."
His first impression of Burrow at LSU: "Him coming in the first day of summer practice, and we had the conditioning test, and he comes out first day, just lights it up, outrunning me, outrunning Devin [White], trying to prove a point to the team. So we're all sitting there like, 'This guy's legit.' He had the long hair, [we] were calling him 'Sunshine' and stuff. I don't think [he liked being called 'Sunshine']. It was getting to that point where he was like, 'I'm done with it.' Obviously, he cut his hair, so …"
Lamar Jackson's contract situation: "I want to see him get the bag. I think he deserves it. Great guy, great leader, great player. Just all-around a football player. Somebody our team jells with a lot and loves and will do anything for. So I definitely want to see Lamar stay in Baltimore and get paid and try to go on these Super Bowl runs."
Marlon Humphrey, Isaiah Likely Among Recipients of Baltimore Sun's Ravens Superlatives
The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker handed out his Ravens superlatives for the 2022 season. Here are a handful of them:
Most Valuable Raven: CB Marlon Humphrey
"Humphrey would be a delight to coach. He's not the No. 1 cover cornerback in the league, but he's in the top tier. He shifts seamlessly to the slot whenever asked. He tackles with aplomb, forced four turnovers this season and even added three sacks. He always shows up in terrific condition and rarely misses a practice. The Ravens extended him for almost $100 million to be one of their cornerstones, and he was just that in 2022. As they try to build an even nastier defense for 2023, with [Roquan] Smith now locked up on a five-year extension, they will know they can count on Humphrey."
Most missed: WR Rashod Bateman
"Bateman saw his last action in the eighth game of the season. Not coincidentally, the Ravens' top stretch as a passing team coincided with the second-year wide receiver's only string of healthy games. Bateman needs to become a more reliable target, but he averaged 19 yards per catch, offering a glimpse of how potent he might become, especially if a new offensive coordinator tunes up the team's aerial attack. Coach John Harbaugh said Bateman has recovered from his Lisfranc injury enough to resume running at full speed sometime soon, so he should have several healthy months to ramp up for training camp."
Sleeping giant: TE Isaiah Likely
"Likely would be the first to say he kept himself off the field with dropped passes and other mental lapses. But when the Ravens needed their rookie tight end to step in for an injured or resting Mark Andrews, he reminded us why he was the star of training camp …. Likely beats linebackers and safeties downfield, makes acrobatic grabs against tight coverage and fights for yards after the catch. Given their paucity of pass-catching talent, the Ravens need to find ways to unlock his production when he's on the field with Andrews, even if that means lining him up in sports typically occupied by wide receivers. Likely vowed to come back as a more consistent receiver, but the Ravens need to do their part by feeding him in his second season."
Best individual game: Lamar Jackson's five-touchdown evisceration of the Patriots
"He had thrown for 318 yards and three touchdowns in the home opener only to watch the Miami Dolphins wipe away his great work with a 28-3 fourth quarter. He and the Ravens needed to get back on track against a Patriots defense that would finish the season third in Football Outsiders' DVOA. Well, the Patriots found no answer for Jackson, who threw for 218 yards and a season-high four touchdowns and added 107 rushing yards on 11 carries. He scored on a 9-yard keeper with three minutes left in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. At that moment, fleeting as it turned out, he appeared ready to chase a second MVP award."
Baltimore 'Could Be an Ideal Landing Spot' for Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy
Could the Ravens' next offensive coordinator be standing on the sideline during Sunday's AFC Championship Game?
"Bieniemy has met with more than half a dozen teams for NFL head-coaching interviews in recent years, but he has seemingly never become a finalist for a job," Johnson wrote. "While there are a variety of reports offering different rationales for why he still isn't an NFL head coach, one of the most common is league executives tying the Chiefs' success entirely to Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid.
"Baltimore could be an ideal landing spot for Bieniemy. He receives glowing reviews from Mahomes and that recommendation could go a long way with Jackson. The Ravens also boast one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, which would make life easier for their next offensive coordinator."
Bieniemy, 53, has been the Chiefs' offensive coordinator since 2018, guiding one of the league's most prolific units.