The Ravens released a video on social media showing Lamar Jackson throwing the ball downfield during this week’s OTAs.
The second-year quarterback will be the primary focus throughout the offseason.
Jackson has a new offensive coordinator with Greg Roman, a mix of veteran and young wide receivers and three talented tight ends that are expected to help him take the next step in his development.
The Ravens now need Jackson to take advantage of those resources and become more adept at passing the ball downfield.
Last season, Jackson played in 16 games (seven starts) and completed 99 of 170 (58.1%) passing attempts for 1,201 yards, which ranked 37th in the league. He also threw for six touchdowns and three interceptions.
Jackson led the Ravens to victories in six of their last seven games, helping the team win their first AFC North Division crown since 2012. He was most effective on the ground, amassing 556 rushing yards over that stretch, which ranked seventh in the NFL.
Overall, Jackson led all NFL quarterbacks with 695 yards rushing.
However, Jackson is obviously going to need to improve as a passer for the Ravens to contend for a playoff spot for the second straight season. Jackson also needs to do a better job holding onto the football.
This season, Jackson can ideally complete at least 63 percent of his passes for about 3,000 yards, which is a fair baseline for an NFL quarterback.
For comparison sake, Joe Flacco competed 257 of 428 passing attempts (60 percent) for 2,971 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions his rookie year. He also led the Ravens to the playoffs.
The following year, Flacco completed 315 of 499 passes (63.1 percent) for 3,613 yards with 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Flacco played under five different offensive coordinators, which some claim hurt the continuity of the offense.
His best season came in 2016 under both Marc Trestman, who was fired midseason, and Marty Mornhinweg when he completed 436 of 672 passes (64.9 percent) for 4,317 yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions,
Flacco threw for a career-high 27 touchdowns under Gary Kubiak in 2014.
Jackson has been compared to Steve McNair as far as field vision. However, McNair didn’t become a full-time starter until his third year when he completed 216 of 415 passes (52 percent) for 2,665 yards with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The bar is much higher for Jackson in just his second year.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh promoted Roman to offensive coordinator over Mornhinweg to help Jackson evolve more effectively. Roman developed a plan for Jackson this offseason, and by all accounts, the young quarterback has worked hard to meet those expectations.
Roman knows the Ravens cannot go into the 2019 season with the same offense as last year.
“I definitely think we’ll have more balance,” Roman said. “That’s what we’re pushing to do. I think you’ve seen in very recent history, teams that can run it and throw it effectively, that’s the panacea. That is where you want to be.
“That’s another thing we want to do is make a lot more big plays in the passing game. Take advantage of these looks we’re getting from defenses, who are basically stacking everybody up in there and playing a modified 6-2 defense.”
The Ravens hope they added a new dimension to the offense by selecting wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Miles Boykin and running back Justice Hill in this year’s NFL Draft. The three players add a new element of speed to the offense.
Those new weapons could allow the Ravens to attack teams more aggressively and keep them from stacking the box.
“The idea of adding speed with Lamar is just an exciting thing to think about teams having to defend,” Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said. “I know Greg is excited about it and John [Harbaugh] is excited about it. It’s a chance to really put fear into our opposing defenses.”
The goal is to attack teams more aggressively.
One of the keys beginning this week will be executing that plan.
Jackson will be under the microscope.