The Ravens met expectations during the 2022 season.
They were expected to win between 10 and 11 games, get to playoffs and have to beat Kansas City, Buffalo or Cincinnati in some combination to make it to the Super Bowl. They didn’t, losing to the Bengals, 24-17, in the AFC wild-card round.
Now, the Ravens are searching for an offensive coordinator to replace Greg Roman, and they have a decision to make about star quarterback Lamar Jackson. Do they trade him, or do they try to work out some equitable contract extension?
Regardless of what happens with Jackson, look for the Ravens to select a quarterback early in April’s draft and to find reinforcements at cornerback and wide receiver. They’ll want to upgrade their passing game and get faster on the back end of the defense.
But before we look too far into the future, The Baltimore Sun presents its final report card for the 2022 Ravens.
Lamar Jackson started the season strong but the Ravens turned him into a game manager after two major turnovers late in their 24-20 loss to the New York Giants in Week 6. Jackson wasn’t happy with his new role, but the Ravens rattled off four more wins before losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He injured his knee in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos the following week and did not return, missing the final six games. Backup Tyler Huntley played reasonably well, completing 67% of his passes for 658 yards and two touchdowns, but he will be long remembered for his goal-line fumble that Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard returned 98 yards for the game-winning touchdown in the Ravens’ playoff loss to Cincinnati. Third-stringer Anthony Brown showed surprising arm strength in his one start late in the regular-season finale against the Bengals, but the Ravens never fully overcame the loss of Jackson, who completed 62.3% of his passes for 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns. Jackson, though, needs to be reminded that quarterbacks earn their status of greatness in the playoffs, and you can’t win a Super Bowl if you’re not on the field. Grade: C
Starter J.K. Dobbins finished with 520 yards on 92 carries and backup Gus Edwards had 433 yards on 87 attempts, but they seldom worked in tandem like they did two years ago. They were slowed by their recoveries from major knee injuries that forced each to miss the 2021 season, and both had lingering effects, especially Dobbins, who also tore his hamstring and then had a cleanup knee surgery midseason. No. 3 running back Kenyan Drake (109 carries for 482 yards) played well at times and his cutback ability presented problems for opposing teams who were used to the downhill running styles of Dobbins and Edwards. With a strong offseason, Dobbins and Edwards should be able to become a dominant duo in 2023, especially with a new offensive coordinator. Dobbins could become the runner who controls the pace early before Edwards closes the door in the fourth quarter with his punishing style. They couldn’t find that rhythm consistently in 2022, but the Ravens still had one of the top running games in the NFL. Grade: B-
The Ravens were successful in running their combination blocks and scraping off to find other targets in the ground game. They might have had some of the best pulling tackles in the game in Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses. Stanley, though, still looked like he was struggling to plant his feet in pass protection after missing significant time with his ankle injury, and Moses struggled with speed rushers to the outside. Right guard Kevin Zeitler was solid, even stellar at times, and left guard Ben Powers played so well that he is going to make a lot of money in free agency during the offseason. The Ravens need to be prepared to ante up to keep him and this unit intact. Rookie center Tyler Linderbaum played reasonably well and made blocks into the second level, but he has to get stronger this offseason to move defensive linemen lined up directly in front of him. Backup Patrick Mekari was the perfect utility man at all positions on the offensive line and the Ravens didn’t lose much when he filled in. The Ravens, though, still need to be better in pass protection, and they didn’t have much of a running game inside the red zone. Throwing downfield and having time to do it needs to become a regular part of the offense. Grade: B
The Ravens have failed miserably at this position through the years in both the draft and free agency. General manager Eric DeCosta needs to address why he keeps using first-round draft picks on guys like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Rashod Bateman, who were both injured in their final college seasons. Neither has played up to where they were drafted. The Ravens keep signing veteran free agents like Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson (48 catches for 458 yards) and DeSean Jackson (nine catches for 153 yards), but they are past their prime. The younger ones like Devin Duvernay (37 catches for 407 yards) and James Proche II (eight catches for 62 yards) either can’t get open or the Ravens don’t do enough to scheme them open. The Ravens do have talent at tight end, though, as Mark Andrews had 73 receptions for 847 yards and five touchdowns and rookie Isaiah Likely had 36 catches for 373 yards and two touchdowns. They also got tight end Josh Oliver in the mix. Grade: D
The Ravens showed a lot of versatility and depth here. They got little out of nose tackle Michael Pierce, who had season-ending surgery on his torn biceps after Week 3, but got adequate contributions from replacements Broderick Washington (49 tackles, one sack) and rookie Travis Jones (24 tackles, one sack). Washington became one of the unsung heroes on defense. Veteran defensive end Calais Campbell had another strong year with 36 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks despite missing three games. Tackle Justin Madubuike (42 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks) showed good quickness and penetration into the backfield to shut down running plays, but he needs to improve as a pass rusher to become more of a complete player. End Brent Urban (21 tackles, one sack) also provided depth for a defense that regularly shut down opposing running games. Grade: B
Middle linebacker Roquan Smith proved to be the team’s Most Valuable Player, finishing with the third-most tackles on the team (86) despite playing eight games for the Bears. Smith not only gave the Ravens a physical presence in the middle but, more importantly, an every-down player who could run sideline to sideline or cover receivers. Smith made linebacker Patrick Queen (team-leading 117 tackles) better because the Ravens could use him more as a run or pass blitzer, utilizing his straight-ahead speed, but he still needs to improve in pass coverage. The outside linebackers were inconsistent throughout the year in everything from holding the edge to providing consistent pressure on quarterbacks. Veterans such as Justin Houston (9 1/2 sacks) and Jason Pierre-Paul (three sacks) were strong rushers at times, while second-year pro Odafe Oweh and veteran Tyus Bowser struggled to provide consistent pressure. Rookie David Ojabo might become the team’s top pass rusher in the future but was slowed by his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in March. Grade: B
The Ravens need to get faster at cornerback and find the shutdown type. Marcus Peters brings a certain degree of nastiness to this defense but creates anxious moments when matched against a speedy receiver like the Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase. Marlon Humphrey (71 tackles) is an excellent slot cornerback when he can work near the line of scrimmage but struggles in space. The Ravens like to brag that he didn’t get beat for a touchdown this season, but how many times did he get penalized for pass interference near the goal line? At safety, Marcus Williams (61 tackles) was an excellent addition, Chuck Clark was second on the team with 101 tackles and rookie Kyle Hamilton added 55 while playing different positions on the back end. Brandon Stephens came on slowly as a cornerback late in the season but he is a better fit at safety. Grade: C+
Justin Tucker was again one of the most reliable kickers in the league, converting 37 of 43 field goal attempts, including a long of 58 yards. He also converted 31 of 32 extra point tries. Rookie Jordan Stout averaged 45.9 yards on 57 punts with 26 inside the 20, but he needs to be more consistent, especially in crunch time. The Ravens had problems finding returners because of injury, but also indecisiveness. Duvernay was always a threat until he broke his foot and was placed on injured reserve Dec. 20. Grade: B
There were times when coach John Harbaugh needed to gamble on fourth down and be aggressive, but other times when he just needed to be patient. His clock management continues to be a problem, and that’s a major part of any game, especially in the postseason. Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald was sound in his approach and in his combination of mixing zone and man-to-man coverage. As for the offense, it’s best put this way: Regardless if Greg Roman was forced out or resigned, it was time for him and the team to part ways. Grade: C-