Ravens Offense Under Todd Monken Is 'One of the Most Fascinating Makeovers We'll See This Year'
There's a lot of excitement about the Ravens offense this season under new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken. “The Xs and Os with Greg Cosell and Doug Farrar” took a deep dive into what to expect from the unit.
"This is one of the most fascinating makeovers we'll see this year because, with very few exceptions, I don't think it will look like a Greg Roman offense," said Cosell, an analyst with NFL Films and ESPN.
Touchdown Wire's Farrar pointed out that they're not criticizing Roman, who helped the Ravens win a lot of games in his four seasons as offensive coordinator. It's just that Monken's offense will look radically different.
With the addition of Odell Beckham Jr., first-round pick Zay Flowers, and Nelson Agholor at wide receiver, Lamar Jackson has more weapons than ever before, prompting the quarterback to quip that he wants to throw for 6,000 yards.
However, while improving the league's 28th-ranked passing offense is a priority, Monken's scheme figures to make the league's most prolific running quarterback even more dangerous with his legs, according to Cosell and Farrar.
"[Monken] had Stetson Bennett running effectively [at Georgia]. You gotta think: What's he going to do with Lamar Jackson?" Farrar said.
Cosell said: "I think you'll see more spread formations, more wide receivers. …. I think you'll see more empty sets. And that also creates a lot of space for Lamar Jackson as a runner, because you don't want to lose that. There are different ways to run your quarterback. Obviously under Greg Roman they ran their quarterback with tighter formation, quarterback power – those kinds of things were built more on tight formation. You can certainly run your quarterback out of spread formation. Some might even argue that's a better way to do it because the defense is so spread."
Cosell said he also expects to see more no-huddle tempo from the offense.
"No-huddle tempo is really good for any quarterback because it forces the defense to have to get set, and it makes it tougher for the defense to communicate pre-snap and to create pressure packages, because the combination of spread and no huddle means they have to get to where they are and blitzes they have to show, they have to declare those pressure concepts pretty quickly because they don't know when the ball's going to be snapped, because no-huddle tempo doesn't mean everything is quick," Cosell said. "It could be quick, [but] there's really three or four kinds of no-huddle tempo, and some of it you can stay in no-huddle and not snap the ball until there's two seconds left on the play clock.
"I think that this theoretically and conceptually absolutely helps Lamar. It helps most quarterbacks, but you also have the running element with Lamar, which really helps, because now how does the defense deal with that? Because if you're spread and there's no huddle, it's really difficult to deal with Lamar Jackson and the running ability that he has. I'm real curious to see how this plays out."
Free Agent Justin Houston Reportedly Receiving 'Significant Interest'
Justin Houston signed with the Ravens in the summer the past two offseasons, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he did so again this year. However, if the Ravens are interested in a reunion with the veteran edge rusher, they could have some serious competition for his services.
"Multiple sources tell Heavy that Houston is garnering 'significant interest,' from multiple teams, but that the 34-year-old is in no rush to make a decision, and is currently weighing his options," wrote Heavy.com, noting that potential fits for Houston include the Bills, Giants, Jaguars, and Bears.
The Ravens are excited about the potential impact David Ojabo can make this season, and they're hoping for a Year 3 breakout from Odafe Oweh and rebound season from a healthy Tyus Bowser. Still, they could use a proven pass rusher such as Houston, who had a team-leading 9.5 sacks last season, his highest total since 2019.
"Houston's 2022 campaign underscores that he has plenty of quality football in front of him and the value he can provide to a competitive team," Heavy.com wrote. "It is also fair to wonder if Houston will wait until the season gets underway, and sign with a Super Bowl contender, similar to Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph joining the Philadelphia Eagles' championship chase last season."
Getting Trenton Simpson With 86th-Overall Pick Is 'Borderline Criminal'
Add Yahoo Sports’ Curt Popejoy to the list of pundits who believe the Ravens got a steal by landing inside linebacker Trenton Simpson in the third round of the draft.
Popejoy named Simpson as one of four non-first-round picks he can't wait to see play defense this season.
"When you think about great linebackers, you think about the Baltimore Ravens. It is borderline criminal the Ravens got a linebacker the quality of Trenton Simpson with the No. 86 overall pick but we can't wait to see how they utilize his ridiculous athleticism," Popejoy wrote.
The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker had some thoughts on how Simpson will be utilized by Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald.
"A look at his past perhaps portends his role with the Ravens, at least for now," Wacker wrote. "In his last two seasons at Clemson, he allowed only 353 yards on 66 targets — a skill that is ultra-important at linebacker in today's NFL. Over 37 career games for the Tigers, he had 87 tackles — including 22 1/2 for loss — 12 1/2 sacks, six pass breakups and three forced fumbles with a propensity to chop at the ball.
"While Simpson's tackling technique isn't flawless — his read-and-react time is a tick slower than where it needs to be and he sometimes gets lost in the wash in the middle — those are things the Ravens feel he can improve. His movement skills, meanwhile, are much more similar to that of a defensive back than a linebacker, which could make him an impactful defender right away. A look at another Raven also provides a clue. Safety Kyle Hamilton played all over the defensive backfield, as well as special teams, during his rookie year before eventually settling in to become an effective starter late last season."
CBS Sports Pundit Projects Ravens to Go 12-5
The win total for the Ravens this season is 9.5, according to Caesar's Sportsbook. CBS Sports’ Will Brinson is taking the over.
Brinson projected the win-loss records for every team this season, and he has the Ravens going 12-5.
"The Ravens' win total shot up significantly since Lamar Jackson inked his deal, jumping a full game and plenty of juice as well," Brinson wrote. "Baltimore has three divisional road games in its first five games of the year. If the Ravens manage to go 2-1 in those games, they'd be a borderline lock to get double-digit wins. Todd Monken will make this offense fun again."
As for the rest of the AFC North, Brinson has the Bengals at 13-4, the Steelers at 9-8, and the Browns at 7-10.
- Before deciding on the matchup between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins for the newly installed Black Friday game, the league considered Black Friday rivalry matchups featuring the Cincinnati Bengals hosting either the Ravens or Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL executive Mike North told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.