What Mink Thinks: Ravens Stay True to Who They Are

061221-WMT
QB Lamar Jackson

I won't lie. Watching Julio Jones suit up for the Tennessee Titans this week at OTAs was a little painful.

The Titans are a rival the Ravens will have to continue to deal with among the AFC elite, and Jones is a wide receiver who would have looked good in purple and black.

But while the Ravens reportedly expressed some pre-draft interest in the seven-time Pro Bowler, I didn't expect them to pull the trigger once they had invested a first-round pick in Rashod Bateman.

That's because the Ravens are a team that stays true to who they are.

Sure, they're always looking to find the next outside-the-box idea, as my colleague John Eisenberg wrote earlier this week. But when it comes to how they spend their money and how they structure their offense, Baltimore is not going to stray from a proven winning formula.

The Ravens are still going to run the ball – a lot. You know why? Because they're really good at it and they win a lot of games because of it.

Baltimore knows that upgrading its passing attack this season is key to reaching the next level offensively. It's not going to automatically win more playoff games, but it could help.

That's why the Ravens invested another first-round pick at wide receiver – the second in three years with Marquise Brown and Bateman. That's why Baltimore signed veteran Sammy Watkins, another former first-round pick, to a reported $5 million (plus incentives) deal.

That's why Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said he and his staff worked hard this offseason to tweak their scheme and "expand our profile quite a bit" more than they did last year. That's why Baltimore brought in two new coaches for the wide receivers, aiming to turn their stable of young, talented wideouts into thoroughbreds.

Adding Jones and his steep price tag would have been a massive resources commitment, both immediately and down the road, that would have resulted in sacrifices elsewhere. I don't know about you, but I'm sure Lamar Jackson wants to keep Mark Andrews around.

There's a difference between addressing a need to enhance the passing attack and selling out to do so. The Ravens have taken steps this offseason to get better, but trading for Jones was just too rich because Baltimore is still a run-heavy team and that's not changing.

While Jackson will continue to mature with his right arm, his legs are still what makes him truly special. Every quarterback can throw. No other quarterback in the NFL can run like Jackson. He may take off less as the years go by, but he's still going to run a lot.

Jackson needs the pieces around him to take the next step as a passer. Now with three first-rounders at wide receiver and one of the league's top pass-catching tight ends, he has plenty to work with.

While Roman plans to show more with his aerial scheme this year, his run-game wizardry has always been his calling card. The Ravens are big up front and have invested to keep blocking specialists such as fullback Patrick Ricard and tight end Nick Boyle to provide an extra edge. At its core, Baltimore has always been a rough-you-up kind of team. These days, the run-you-over offense cements that identity.

This is how the Ravens are built and the building is pretty darn strong. They aren't going to deconstruct an offense that led the league in scoring in 2019 and finished seventh in 2020. They aren't going to shake up a formula that's won 25 regular-season games the past two years.

At some point, we all need to stop yearning for another wide receiver and appreciate what's already working.

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