As teams head to training camp and the NFL season approaches, The 33rd Team asks its experts to preview every team’s outlook for the 2023 season. In this installment, Marty Mornhinweg takes a deep dive into the Baltimore Ravens.
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What to Know: Offense
The Ravens’ biggest storyline on offense is the adjustments made by new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. They still need to create some big plays, which likely will happen in the run game with QB Lamar Jackson. That will affect the opponent at all times.
They need to run just enough so that it’s a threat. The threat of the quarterback run will pull the Ravens’ opponents apart just a little bit.
With the Ravens dialing back the quarterback run game just a bit, it could lead to a healthier season for Jackson. The Ravens have not had Jackson down the stretch and into the playoffs for two straight years, so look for an offensive adjustment there.
Watch for them to generate big plays in the running game but still pass the ball a bit more. That change could keep Jackson healthy for the marathon that is the NFL season.
What to Know: Defense
Kyle Hamilton will assume more of a traditional safety role this season with Chuck Clark gone. Last season, Hamilton played mostly in the slot. The former first-round pick is a heck of a player and is primed for a breakout season in 2023.
Hamilton will make defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s job easier and allow him to be more creative. Macdonald has a special piece on defense with Hamilton’s versatility, and his new role will allow Macdonald to place Hamilton all over the field.
Biggest Off-Field Storyline
It’s the after-effects of Jackson’s new contract. Did the sides mend some of their bad feelings with each other? Or does Jackson still have some? Is it still in the Ravens management team? Keep an eye on that.
It could be subtle. It could be completely over with. But if things go poorly early in the season, you’ll start to hear some rumblings. You’ll start to hear stuff about whether Jackson is worth the contract he signed and why negotiations took so long.
However, I expect things to go well with Monken and Jackson running the offense.
Breakout Player Prediction
A healthy Odell Beckham Jr. is primed for a breakout. He’s a talented, talented receiver. If he’s healthy, he is going to have a great season.
If Beckham Jr. isn’t healthy, look for rookie receiver Zay Flowers to have a huge year. Flowers could have a huge year even if Beckham Jr. is healthy. The receiver opposite a great talent like Beckham Jr. is usually highly productive.
Move the Ravens Should Make
The Ravens still could add a cornerback to their roster. It looks like they’re one man short. Teams can never have enough good cover players in today’s NFL.
They also need pass-rushing depth, so they could add another pass-rush specialist to their defensive unit. That would allow Macdonald to just absolutely turn it loose on defense.
2023 Season Expectations
Once again, the Ravens have sky-high expectations this season. They will compete for the playoffs in the AFC North.
How deep their playoff run goes depends entirely on Monken’s offensive adjustments and Jackson’s health. Those are the two critical points for a deep playoff run.
Marty Mornhinweg is a former head coach of the Detroit Lions and a longtime NFL offensive assistant. He was the quarterbacks coach on the 1996 Green Bay Packers team that won Super Bowl XXXI. Follow him on Twitter at @MartyMornhinweg.