Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Late for Work: Pundits Express Concern About Ravens Offense

Baltimore Ravens
27 Sep 2023, 05:25 GMT+10

Kevin Eck Shannon Sharpe Says He Doesn't See Anything New About Ravens Offense

There was a lot of talk this offseason about the Ravens having a more explosive offense with the hiring of coordinator Todd Monken and additions of wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers.

However, after the offense's disappointing showing in Sunday's overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts, pundits such as Shannon Sharpe said they are not impressed with what they've seen from the unit thus far.

The former Ravens tight end doesn't think the Ravens' new-look offense looks new at all.

"I don't see the ooh la la that everybody told me I should expect from Todd Monken. I see the same offense that I saw the last couple years under the last OC," Sharpe said on ESPN's "First Take." "I know there's no [Odell Beckham Jr.] and I get that it was raining. Look, guys, everything is not going to be 75 and sunny. You're going to have to find a way to move the ball even when it's inclement weather.

"I was expecting to see Lamar [Jackson] push the ball down the field. I was expecting to see a lot of trickeration, a lot of window dressing. I see the same offense that everybody was seeing over the last four years. I see no exoticness to this offense."

Sharpe's colleague, Ryan Clark, expressed a similar sentiment, but also contended that the Ravens are better served sticking with their old formula.

"You know what I saw in the red zone [Sunday]? I saw two called quarterback runs for Lamar Jackson. And they were extremely successful," Clark said. "You know what else I've seen since 2019 in the red zone? I've seen called runs for Lamar Jackson that were extremely successful. We aren't seeing anything different."

Clark then appeared to contradict himself, saying that the Ravens are actually changing things too much.

"I actually think whatever the simple changes are that they're trying to make to the passing game is holding this offense back," Clark said. "It's putting this offense in a place where now Lamar Jackson is thinking; where now the receivers' route combinations aren't as crisp. They need to simplify it. I don't want people to take this wrong like Lamar can't handle it. There seems like there's too much going on. Like we're trying to take too big of a step instead of finding out what does this group of individuals do well and let's do that."

The Baltimore Banner's Kyle Goon pushed back on the notion that the offense is the same as it has been in recent years.

"The results might feel frustratingly similar to last year, but the offense is, indeed, very, very different," Goon wrote. "The Ravens are spreading more and are using more sets with more receivers. They're screening more, and finding more quick outlets. The quarterback runs are, and should be, just as much a part of the offense as they were before, but Lamar Jackson, especially against the Colts, took advantage of space. On his second touchdown, he audibled for Gus Edwards to line up out wide, then made a read to run into the open field and score.

"If not for the fumbles, Jackson's game would look better to the eye. Aside from a few drives, he's been pretty accurate on his throws: His completion rate is up to 77.3% this season. The Ravens are a middle-of-the-pack team with eight passing plays of 20 yards or more, but it would put them on pace (45) to well exceed last year's total (33). Last week when the Ravens had 237 passing yards and Jackson outdueled Joe Burrow; did that just not happen?"

Goon noted that the Ravens are dealing with injuries to a number of key players, and also that we're still only three weeks into the new offensive system.

"Everyone knew going into the season it would likely take some time for Jackson and others in the system to get comfortable with Todd Monken's offense. That's still happening," Goon wrote. "You can quibble with the results the offense has gotten, and acknowledge they should have found a way to get in field goal position in overtime, but it's just not accurate to say the offense looks the same as the last few years."

Baltimore Positive's Luke Jones said the offense remains a work in progress and is still trying to find its identity, but the lack of explosiveness in the passing game is a legitimate concern.

"Offensive line injuries haven't helped, but not being able to push the ball downfield more against an underwhelming secondary was disappointing," Jones wrote. "Dealing with hamstring tightness late in the game, Rashod Bateman registered only one catch for six yards on three targets despite playing 50 of 72 offensive snaps. Todd Monken needs to find ways to jump-start the big-play potential we saw out of Bateman prior to last year's foot injury.

"Speaking of home-run ability, Zay Flowers making eight catches for 48 yards isn't what you have in mind for such a speedy receiver. Beyond his highlight 52-yard catch in Cincinnati, the rookie has gained 136 yards on his other 20 catches. You'd like to see a few more downfield routes."

Justin Tucker's Near Miss Proved 'Even the Best Has His Limits'

One of the most surprising aspects of the Ravens' loss to the Colts was that Justin Tucker came up just short on a game-winning field-goal attempt in the final seconds of regulation.

It's a testament to how great Tucker is that people assumed converting a 61-yard field goal in wet field conditions would be automatic.

"A 61-yarder is difficult to hit in domed stadiums, let alone in a steady September rain in Baltimore," ESPN's Bill Barnwell wrote. "The league as a whole is 21-of-44 on attempts between 59 and 64 yards over the past five seasons, and even that's subject to some serious selection bias. Teams typically won't attempt those sorts of kicks in wet, windy conditions or with kickers who don't have elite legs.

"Maybe it shouldn't have been as big of a surprise. Although Tucker hit a 66-yarder to win the game against the Lions in 2021, he's 0-for-4 on kicks in that aforementioned range over the past five years and 1-for-8 on kicks of 60 yards or more over the past decade. Anything seems possible with Tucker because of how reliable he has been inside of 60, but even the best has his limits."

Michael Pierce and Jadeveon Clowney Had Strong Performances Against Colts

Despite Sunday's defeat, the Ravens did have several strong individual performances.

Ebony Bird's Parker Hurley identified three players who stood out in the game. At the top of the list was defensive back Kyle Hamilton, whose versatility was on full display.

Here's a look at the two other players cited by Hurley for their play against the Colts:

DT Michael Pierce

"Michael Pierce was dominant on Sunday. Based on where he was at this time last season, many were not sure if that would be possible. By week three of 2022, Pierce was on the sideline with a second straight season-ending injury. Now, Pierce played his season high in snaps and added six pressures and five run stops."

OLB Jadeveon Clowney

"Jadeveon Clowney is off to a strong start to the 2023 season. It is only three games, but he is pacing for one of the best years of his career. Clowney has been a destroyer. ... He showed up with six pressures in this game. He beat Bernhard Raimann but mostly did his work against Braden Smith, who has a notable reputation."

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