Mike Preston’s Ravens mailbag: Answering questions about Mike Macdonald’s future, Lamar Jackson’s input and more | COMMENTARY

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Columnist Mike Preston writes that he has always thought that once Ravens coach John Harbaugh left, defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, pictured during training camp in August, would replace him.

Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston will answer fans’ questions throughout the Ravens season. Coming off Baltimore’s 31-24 win in Week 8 against the Arizona Cardinals, plenty of questions remain heading into a Week 9 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.

Here’s Preston’s take:


(Editor’s note: Questions have been edited for length and clarity.)

I am sure Mike Macdonald will be getting a number of interviews for head coaching vacancies once the season is over. I would hate to see the Ravens lose him. Do you think there is any way the Ravens can keep him? Perhaps give him a hefty raise and promise him that he will be the Ravens’ head coach once Harbaugh steps down? — Joe Deasel


It depends on the team making the offer. Macdonald is young, smart and will have his options if the defense continues to play well. There will probably be teams that pursue him, but I’m not sure that Macdonald wants to go work for an unstable franchise such as the Las Vegas Raiders. Some coaches, particularly African Americans, have to take those opportunities because few are available, but Macdonald will have his options.

I have always thought that once Harbaugh left, Macdonald would replace him. I have no definitive proof of that, but I see him as a Harbaugh clone. The Ravens can offer him a new contract and more money, but if a stable franchise such as the Pittsburgh Steelers comes calling, Macdonald would pursue the opportunity. Why wouldn’t he?

On top of all other things, is Zay Flowers the best blocker among all the wide receivers? I think he is even better than Miles Boykin, and he has kept a multiyear career being a blocker. — Patrick Kiernan

That’s a tough question. The Ravens demand their receivers block because of their emphasis on the running game. I’ve seen Odell Beckham Jr. make blocks this season. Flowers will stick his neck in there, so to speak. Nelson Agholor has done well at times, particularly inside the red zone.

Boykin, a 2019 third-round draft pick by the Ravens who’s now with the Steelers, was a masher. At 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds, he should have been a tight end.

Forrest Gump stated about a box of chocolates that “you never know what you will get.” The same can be said of the Ravens offense and Lamar Jackson. It changes from game to game, sometimes half to half. From the euphoria after the Lions game to the letdowns against the Colts and Steelers, what, if anything, can Todd Monken and/or Lamar Jackson do to make the Ravens offense more consistent? Is it coaching? Or is it Jackson just being Jackson? Thank you. — Bob in North Carolina

I’ve always said that Jackson is like a box of the old Cracker Jack popcorn: you never know what prize you might find inside. It might be something valuable, or something not quite up to your standard. He has been that way throughout his pro career. I can say he is a better quarterback than he was in 2019, especially passing inside the red zone. He can still run but isn’t quite as explosive.

Consistency has been the problem with the offense for years, which is why the Ravens can’t go far in the playoffs. It might be the same in 2023. Right now, it’s still a matter of getting all the starters on the field at the same time, and there is a chance that could happen by the end of the season when the top teams peak.


The silver lining right now is that the offense should get better. This group is still in an adjustment period, but Jackson will always be Jackson.

After Sunday’s game, Lamar said he thought the game plan should have been to run more in the first half. As a sixth-year QB and former NFL MVP, does Lamar have any input during the week on the game plan? Do players get involved like that with the coordinators? Or is it just not Lamar’s style/personality to get involved like that? — Paul in Orlando

I would be surprised that the Ravens would exclude Jackson from having input into the offense and the game plan every week. He has been around for six years and he was the NFL Most Valuable Player in 2019, as you mentioned.

At the beginning of training camp, both Jackson and new offensive coordinator Todd Monken stressed that Jackson had the liberty to check and change plays at the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately, I don’t know the extent of that — can he change a passing play to a running play? I sense that Monken and Jackson have had their concerns over whether Jackson should stay in the pocket or throw on the run.

Regardless, the offense is still better and more versatile than a year ago. Jackson, though, after getting that $260 million contract in the offseason, seems more willing to give his opinions than in the past.

Have a question for Mike Preston? Email with “Ravens mailbag” in the subject line and it could be answered in The Baltimore Sun.