Baltimore Beat: Early Offseason Edition

Welcome to my first edition of the Baltimore Beat. In this, I’ll be covering all things Ravens and Orioles. Might be a weekly post, might be as needed. Either way, It’s been a busy first three days in the Ravens’ offseason. I’d much rather be writing about how we’re going to dismantle the Chiefs this week, but such is life. The Ravens lost and it’s officially time to turn the page. Since Saturday night, the front office has been anything but stagnant, the pass rush is a big question mark and so is the passing game (I’m looking at you Greg Roman).

Baltimore Branch of the Heisman House gets a little smaller

The Ravens let go two of three former Heisman trophy winners on the roster, RG3 and Mark Ingram. I think we all saw these coming. RG3’s best moments as a Raven came in those pregame videos where he would jump out at the camera and Ingram was a healthy scratch down the home stretch. I don’t mind RG3 leaving, but I do wish this wasn’t the end with Ingram. There’s just simply not room for him in the backfield.

Ingram was a huge part of the team over the last two years and I couldn’t have thought of a better locker room guy to pull a young offense together. He came in and immediately had an impact when he stepped foot on the field. 1,000 yard rusher and a Pro Bowler. Then, this year, a rookie named JK Dobbins showed up and struggles came for him on the field. Not to mention the presence of the ever-consistent Guz Buzzz. It would’ve been really easy for him to fold and pout, demand a release or trade, but he adapted and decided to take the high road and mentor the guys. During week 1, he was mic’d up and said he didn’t care about his stats, all he cared about was winning. He would sit on the bench if every game was 38-6. That’s the kind of guy you want on the squad. He wasn’t just a teammate and mentor though, he was the biggest fan of all his guys. Constant hype man. He started MVP chants during games last year, nicknamed Lamar L-Freaky, and was the father of BIG TRUSS. What a guy. Extremely entertaining. Although his time here was short, he might be one of my favorite vet signings the Ravens have ever had.

The Ravens gave him a heck of tribute on Twitter earlier today:

Pass Rush Might Look a Little Different Next Year

The Ravens have three edge rushers heading to free agency, Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and Tyus Bowser. Derek Wolfe is also a free agent, but I feel like it’s a no brainer for both sides for him to come back. Some might say this is a cause for concern, but EDC and company always seem to figure it out. Personally, I hope we let Judon and his 15 weekly penalty yards walk. Great player, but such a knucklehead and lacked discipline. I wish the best of luck to him, but I think it would be much smarter to resign the guy you traded for midseason and Bowser, who has been a late bloomer of sorts. He had a solid year and I wouldn’t mind bringing him back on a 1-2 year “prove it” deal and let him continue to grow. There’s also quite a few veteran names on the market that we could go after. They might carry a hefty price tag so we could go with the Baltimore special: draft a young edge rusher somewhere in the 2nd-4th round range and then he’ll lead the team in sacks in 2 years. Always on board with that option.

Passing Game and GRo

Last couple of things, but they all fall under the same category: the Ravens passing game and how it has got to improve. Hollywood Brown started it off by saying that the offense has got to be more balanced and I don’t disagree. Being first in rushing is great, but I certainly think the passing game can and has to improve. I think this is possible, especially with the potential signing of Allen Robinson. According to his likes on Twitter, he might be interested in joining the Flock too:

Dez then posted some IG videos from practice about how he wished he got to show out in games more, along with pointing out that Lamar was making all of the NFL throws. I wish he did too, especially in the redzone.

Annnnnd then this YouTube breakdown from Kurt Warner has been circulating the internet:

Quite frankly, Greg Roman is a problem (for the passing game). I’m not going to sit here and say that our offense has been bad over the last two years because that simply is not true. We’ve led the league in points and yet, the Ravens have SO MUCH room to grow. I don’t think Lamar regressed, but the passing game did.

Two big indicators for me were the Ravens play action pass percentage and Lamar’s scramble rate.

Lamar in Play Action:
2019: 163 pass attempts for 892 yards, 40.6% of all pass plays
2020: 87 pass attempts for 767 yards, 23.1% of all pass plays

So the Ravens were actually MORE efficient than last year on play action, with HALF as many attempts. I don’t really have an explanation because the Ravens also ran about 20 less RPO plays this year. My guess is that Roman listened to the outside noise and was forcing Lamar into situations that he could not coach well. Think about it. Roman struck out on some head coaching vacancies last year, probably due to the fact that the league is a passing league. So he wanted to take the league MVP and make him drop straight back more often. But as seen in the Kurt Warner video, the route concepts stink! The passing game is about timing and spacing and the Ravens currently have neither, which leads Lamar to scramble and create.

This year, Lamar had 49 scramble attempts (rushes on plays designed as passes) for 353 yards. This doesn’t include the many times that the play broke down, he got out of the pocket and made a play with his arm. Lamar has bailed out Greg Roman in ways that Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor never could.

If not for incredible O-Line play, an extremely talented backfield and the best athlete in the league, Roman would be on his couch. I recently wrote about how all Tyreek Hill does is run straight and sit in between zones… that is literally the entire current Ravens passing attack. It simply HAS to be better.

That said, Roman is a genius in the run game. I truly think the way to success for the Ravens is to make GRo the Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator. Spin it as a promotion, but then bring in a true OC who can create pass concepts, run a real NFL route tree, and call plays. This will never happen, but a guy can dream.

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