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Balancing the Offense Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Street Talk Balancing the Offense

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John Harbaugh is proud of the Ravens’ record-setting ground attack.

However, he knows the team needs to upgrade the passing offense and find more balance to make a Super Bowl run this year and beyond.

One of the main objectives this offseason is to help quarterback Lamar Jackson take the next step in his development by providing him with more talent at wide receiver and better protection from the offensive line.

Jackson has already spoken to Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta about the direction of the team. 

“We’ve spent the last two and a half years or so building, probably, one of the most creative run games in the history of the National Football League, to be honest with you,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t want to overdramatize it, but it’d be pretty hard to argue against that. And probably the most successful. So, we’re certainly very happy about that, and now we want to bring that pass game along as well. It’s hard to do everything at once. 

“There are a lot of factors involved, and certainly personnel, to your point, is one of them. Certainly, execution, precision [and] reps. We didn’t have the reps last year in the offseason that we’re going to hopefully get this year.”

For the second consecutive year, the Ravens led the NFL in rushing. Baltimore finished 2020 averaging 191.9 yards rushing per game. The team’s 3,071 rushing yards are the third most in a 16-game NFL season. The Ravens also ran for 100+ yards in 39-straight games, marking the second-longest streak in pro football history.

While the Ravens dominated teams on the ground, the air attack was mostly dormant, ranking last in the NFL in averaging 171.2 yards passing per game. Baltimore also attempted the least passes in the league with 406, which has drawn some criticism from some of the team’s wide receivers on social media.

Harbaugh hired Keith Williams as the pass game specialist after David Culley, the former assistant head coach/pass coordinator/wide receivers coach, was hired as the head coach of the Houston Texans. Harbaugh expects Williams to bring new energy to the passing game. 

“Keith’s role is different; it’s unique,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not a role that’s easy to compare. I don’t know of any other staff in the league that’s got that kind of a specific type of a role, because I think Keith is a very unique coach. And I’m just really excited that we have him on board to contribute, and I know our players are excited about it, and it’s going to make us better.”

The Ravens will likely add a free-agent wide receiver with Corey Davis, formerly of the Titans, making the most sense. The team will also add a playmaker or two in the upcoming draft. Either way, the Ravens are fully focused on getting more production with the passing attack.

Their Super-Bowl aspirations could hinge on that improvement.

“If you want to have a passing game in this league that actually can attack defenses, and can be successful and make the game exciting, you better give guys a chance to grow, and develop and get good at it,” Harbaugh said. “It starts with quarterbacks, then it’s receivers, tight ends and running backs. So, pass protection, as well – technique and assignments. So, that’s really critical.” 

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About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich
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