I think it’s safe to assume all of Baltimore, and maybe even the majority of football fans outside of Kansas City, are still riding the high of Sunday Night’s thriller between the Ravens and the Chiefs. The game itself was incredible, but there were a number of performances that were outstanding in their own right, none bigger than that by Lamar Jackson.
Jackson always will have a target on his back, not only because he’s a quarterback but also because he’s one that’s different from the rest. But thus far in his young career, Jackson has done nothing but defy expectations and win. He’s led some potent offensive attacks, but I’m here to argue that this 2021 Ravens offense will be the best Baltimore has ever seen.
Sure, it’s early and it’s a bold statement; there have been some great Ravens offenses before, especially in recent memory. This year’s group, however, is more balanced, deeper, and in my eyes, more explosive than any other.
Ravens fans have been begging for better receivers since Jackson entered the league. In all actuality, they’ve been begging for that since Baltimore’s last Super Bowl with Joe Flacco. After a few years working on the group, Eric DeCosta may have finally found the right set of WRs to take this offense to the next level.
So far in 2021, we have Hollywood Brown averaging 91 yards per game with two TDs. He looks sharp, focused, and poised for a breakout campaign. Aside from Brown, however, Baltimore added Sammy Watkins. He hasn’t blown the doors off since arriving, but he has tallied four catches a game and has shown the ability to stretch the defense. Watkins could easily be that reliable 2nd outside target that Jackson has needed at his disposal. Finally, after a reassuring second game of the season against the Chiefs, Mark Andrews looks ready to pick up where he left off as Jackson’s safety blanket. From what I’ve seen thus far, the Ravens passing attack with Lamar at the helm is more dangerous than ever.
A huge question late in the offseason was the running backs room, which has been devastated by injury. Personally, though, if Baltimore is getting 440 rushing yards through two games, I’m not too pressed about the names toting the rock. The Ravens running backs have been completely fine with room to grow as Ty’Son Williams further adjusts to the NFL and the veteran backs grow into the offense.
Another apparent hole after Week 1 was the state of the offensive line. Well, that certainly appeared to be cleaned up against Kansas City, as PFF tallied 0 pressures on the QB all game. The O-Line may not be perfect, but as they jell and LT Ronnie Stanley continues to recover from his injury, they look to be more than serviceable after a rough start to the season.
I’m summarizing all these position groups to first, say that where Baltimore’s offense is at now is promising, but second, note three other pieces to the puzzle that will make this attack the best in Ravens history.
As we’ve seen, this offense could have the same output as years past even if it stays exactly the same as it is right now. But that won’t be the case. In a few weeks’ time, Baltimore will have its first-round pick Rashod Bateman returning from injury. If he’s as impressive as the other first rounder Odafe Oweh has been, look out. Bateman should add yet another reliable playmaker to the Ravens’ crop of outside targets, which could truly make the passing attack scary. I’m expecting big things from him, if healthy.
We also can’t gloss over the value that Nick Boyle will provide once he returns. Andrews is no slouch in the blocking game either, as we see here:
Mark Andrews Run Blocking @PFF Grade of 81.5 (45 snaps) is the highest of all @NFL tight ends with atleast 25 run bocking snaps. @Mandrews_81 @PFF_Ravens @Ravens @jamisonhensley @jonas_shaffer @ravens4dummies
— Jack Andrews (@JackAndrewsMD) September 20, 2021
Boyle, of course, excels as a blocker, and has shown plenty of competence catching passes. His return will be another boon to the unit.
What’s even more exciting, however, is the position I’ve yet to analyze in this article: quarterback. Lamar Jackson looks poised, and as multiple reporters have noted, seems to be reading the field and running the offense extremely well. Sure, he needs to cut down the turnovers, but I’ve seen a signal caller that making both instinctive plays and calculated ones. He’s working the pocket, moving through his progressions, and finding targets with improved efficiency.
Lamar Jackson has gotten better, the position groups around him have gotten better, and this Ravens offense has gotten better. In fact, it’s going to be the best one Baltimore has ever had the pleasure of watching.