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Back in 2019, the Baltimore Ravens took the NFL by storm with an offense designed around their then-new starting quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson's combination of rushing prowess and downfield passing acumen was as rare as the league had ever seen, and what he, a strong offensive line and a powerful run game were able to do to opposing defenses was downright rude. 

The Ravens led the NFL that season in points per game, and they finished first, second or third in the NFL in nearly every measurement of offensive performance. But the next few years were not quite as successful. Teams caught onto the simplicity of former offensive coordinator Greg Roman's passing game. The team let the skill position talent around Jackson atrophy. And the offense struggled with injuries both to Jackson and along the offensive line. 

This past offseason, Baltimore made significant investments in a dramatic reimagining of their offense. Roman was let go from his post, and replaced with George Bulldogs offensive coordinator Todd Monken, fresh off back-to-back national championships. They finally poured resources into their wide receiver room, signing Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor, and drafting Zay Flowers in the first round. They brought back most of their offensive line, and hoped to get better health out of both that group and the running back room. 

For the most part, the changes have worked exactly as the Ravens planned. There have still been health issues both up front and at running back (J.K. Dobbins tore his Achilles in Week 1), but pairing Jackson with Monken and remaking the receiver corps have been smashing successes. 

In the table below, we have bolded the metrics in which the Ravens' to-date ranking (per Tru Media) during the 2023 season is the team's best since Jackson's MVP campaign in 2019. You should notice a trend.

Success Rate21713116
Drive TD%1920207
Total DVOA1111694
Pass DVOA11716148
Rush DVOA111221

No matter how you slice it, this has been by far the Ravens' best offensive season since 2019. Much of that is due to Jackson remaining healthy so far this year (although he has been clearly playing banged up of late), but a significant share of the bump can also be attributed to the schematic changes Monken has made, and how they have put Jackson and others in position to succeed. 

The single-most important thing Monken has done is spread the field out with more receivers to give Jackson more room to operate. Looking at Baltimore's personnel usage, you'll see that it has dramatically scaled up its 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE) rate, while shrinking its usage of 12 (1 RB, 2 TE), 21 (2 RB, 1 TE) and 22 (2 RB, 2 TE) sets. 

Personnel usage20192020202120222023

Putting more receivers on the field rather than backs or tight ends forces the opponent to cover a larger area of the field, and not pack quite so many defenders in near the line of scrimmage. It's no wonder that so far this season the Ravens have faced eight-man boxes at by far their lowest rate of the last five years: It's at 19.1% this year, compared with 31.7% last year and as high as 37% back in 2019, per Tru Media. That's afforded them wider running lanes they have had over the past few years, which has allowed them to find success running the ball despite the absence of Dobbins. 

Having more -- and crucially, better -- wide receivers in the game has also helped Jackson find significantly more passing success than he had over the past few years. Throwing to Flowers, Beckham, Agholor and Rashod Bateman is just a massive improvement over, say, Devin Duvernay, Demarcus Robinson, James Proche and Tylan Wallace, which was the group the Ravens had for a good portion of last season. Jackson has directed a career-high 58.3% of his passes to wide receivers after throwing to them just 40.8% of the time last year. 

A spread field and more advanced concepts has afforded Jackson the opportunity to better see the routes develop, which has led to his most accurate passing season in years. According to Tru Media, Jackson's off-target throw rate (11.3%) is his best since 2020, while his turnover-worthy throw rate (1.7%) is his best since 2019. He's also pushing the ball downfield far better than ever, with a 9.6% explosive pass-per-dropback rate that bests even the one he posted during his MVP campaign (9.1%) and is a full 1.5 times better than where he was at a year ago (6.4%).

Lamar Jackson
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Monken and Jackson also deserve credit for finally discovering and excelling with quick-game passing concepts. Partially due to his scrambling ability but also in part due to Roman's offensive design, Jackson has routinely thrown among the league's lowest rate of quick passes. Prior to this season, just 38.7% of his career throws has been released within 2.5 seconds of the snap, according to Tru Media. That rate has spiked to 44.4% this year, revealing an increased willingness to aggressively take the answers the defense is giving him early in the down. Those short, quick chain-movers can open things up for the aforementioned downfield throws, which are connecting at a higher rate this year. 

Down tight end Mark Andrews for most of, if not the entire rest of the season, things might have to change even more down the stretch. You may even see the Ravens break out some four-receiver sets to get their best pass-catchers on the field. And it wouldn't be surprising if they tried to involve explosive rookie running back Keaton Mitchell in the passing game a bit more often as well. 

With the decrepit Chargers pass defense on tap this Sunday night (8:20 p.m. ET on NBC), we should see Jackson and Co. find plenty of success through the air this weekend. If they can use that game as a springboard through the rest of the regular season, they could potentially make a run at the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and perhaps finally advance to the conference championship game or beyond for the first time during Jackson's tenure. If they're able to pull that off, the revamping of their offense will have been a huge reason why.