In the ever-evolving world of the NFL, where players come and go, contracts become headlines, and teams strive for that elusive Super Bowl victory, the Baltimore Ravens have entered the 2023 season with renewed optimism. At the heart of this optimism is the fact that their star quarterback, Lamar Jackson, has secured a historic $260 million contract, effectively putting an end to months of uncertainty, questions, and drama.
The saga surrounding Jackson’s contract had loomed large over the Ravens for more than a year. Whenever Jackson delivered a standout performance early in the season, the topic would circle back to his pending contract. When a knee injury sidelined him towards the end of the season, rumors swirled, and questions were raised about its connection to the contract. Jackson even had to clarify the extent of his injury to those who believed he might be sandbagging. His absence on the sideline during the Ravens’ playoff game only fueled speculation about his future with the team.
The situation took an unexpected turn when the Ravens decided to franchise-tag Jackson, essentially inviting other NFL teams to make an offer. Surprisingly, there was a shocking lack of interest from other teams, despite Jackson being a 26-year-old former MVP. The lack of inquiries prompted various conspiracy theories, but the Ravens remained steadfast in their pursuit of keeping Jackson in Baltimore.
Then, in a sudden turn of events, the drama vanished as quickly as it had come. Jackson signed a contract that is the largest, per season, in NFL history. This monumental deal marked the beginning of a new era for both Jackson and the Ravens.
However, this new era is expected to look different from the previous chapter of Jackson’s NFL career. The Ravens made significant changes, including the replacement of offensive coordinator Greg Roman with Todd Monken. They also bolstered their receiving corps by signing Odell Beckham Jr. and drafting Zay Flowers in the first round. Jackson, known for his dynamic running ability, will be asked to throw more outside the numbers in Monken’s scheme. Jackson himself has expressed a desire to throw more and run less, signaling a potential transformation in his playing style.
“Running can only take you so far,” Jackson stated, emphasizing the need for an evolved approach. He further praised Coach Todd Monken’s new offensive system, which promises to bring a tremendous change to the team’s playing style.
The Ravens have enjoyed considerable success with Jackson at quarterback, boasting a 45-16 record in games he has started. However, they’ve yet to secure a deep playoff run. The 2023 offseason provided Baltimore with an opportunity to revamp their offense, upgrade their receiving talent, and retain their franchise quarterback. Now, it’s time for the Ravens to take the next step towards championship glory.
Under the leadership of head coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens have consistently delivered impressive performances, with nine double-digit win seasons in his 15-year tenure. With a Super Bowl ring to his name, Harbaugh’s coaching prowess has been overshadowed by his long-time rival Bill Belichick. However, the conclusion of the Lamar Jackson contract saga has paved the way for a promising season for the Ravens.
The 2022 season was typical of the Ravens until Jackson’s injury. The team’s defense performed well, and their special teams ranked among the best in the league. While they were 8-4 in games that Jackson started, they managed to secure two wins in games where Jackson was absent, despite subpar replacement performances.
With Jackson’s contract situation resolved, the Ravens are poised for a fresh start in 2023. Jackson’s impressive list of achievements includes an MVP award, numerous records, and now, a historic contract. However, he still has his sights set on a Super Bowl championship to solidify his legacy.
The Ravens’ offseason had its fair share of drama, primarily revolving around Lamar Jackson’s contract situation. There was a time when it seemed possible that Jackson could leave, causing anxiety for the Ravens, who lacked a backup plan. However, Jackson’s decision to remain with the team was a major victory for Baltimore. The remainder of the offseason brought mixed results. Notable departures included guard Ben Powers, tight end Josh Oliver, and defensive lineman Calais Campbell. The Ravens’ only significant free-agent addition was cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, who might not fully address their concerns at cornerback. In the NFL Draft, the Ravens selected wide receiver Zay Flowers in the first round and linebacker Trenton Simpson in the third round. The offseason’s primary objective was to reach an agreement with Jackson, and the Ravens successfully accomplished that mission.
Lamar Jackson’s ability as a passer has grown throughout his career, but he has never been a high-volume passer. In a league where several quarterbacks attempted over 442 passes last season, Jackson’s career-high for pass attempts is 402. The 2023 season is expected to be different, as the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, aims to increase passing attempts and adopt a faster tempo. Monken’s offensive scheme involves spreading the field and utilizing the team’s upgraded receiving corps, making Jackson’s adaptation to this new approach a fascinating storyline to watch.
BetMGM Odds Breakdown
The oddsmakers predict the Ravens will hover around double-digit wins in the 2023 season. The odds for 9.5 wins favor the over (-150) and the under (+115), while the odds for 10.5 wins favor the over (+115) and the under (-135). Betting against the Ravens has proven to be challenging, given their strong track record. Those who believe in Lamar Jackson’s ability to excel in the new, faster-paced offense can consider an MVP bet on him at +1400. The Ravens are not expected to have a poor season, but the exact outcome remains uncertain.
Yahoo’s Fantasy Take
Yahoo’s Scott Pianowski believes that Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews have slightly higher Yahoo Average Draft Positions (ADPs) than their national averages, and early Yahoo drafters have made the right call. Pianowski emphasizes the fresh perspective that offensive coordinator Todd Monken brings to the Ravens’ offense, indicating that both Jackson and Andrews have the potential to lead their respective positions. The Ravens’ 2023 season could hold great promise if they have better luck with injuries, setting the stage for a championship run. Pianowski also hints at a changing strategy in fantasy football, advocating for a willingness to invest more in quarterback and tight end positions to secure top scorers.
Stat to Remember
In the 2022 season, Justin Houston led the Ravens with 9.5 sacks. However, he is currently unsigned. Calais Campbell and Justin Madubuike tied for second with 5.5 sacks, with Campbell having moved on to the Atlanta Falcons. Despite tying for fifth in the NFL with 48 sacks, the Ravens lack an established, elite pass rusher on their roster. Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, in his first season with the team, will need to devise schemes to maintain a strong pass rush. The emergence of players like Odafe Oweh or David Ojabo as 10-sack contributors will be crucial to address this significant defensive issue.
As the Ravens aim to diversify their passing game, one burning question emerges: Which receiver will become Lamar Jackson’s favorite target? Mark Andrews has long been the focal point of the Ravens’ passing game,