After more than a month of inactivity, football is approaching fast.
The Ravens’ first full-team training camp practice will be held July 25. Their first preseason game is Aug. 8 against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars. Final cuts for the 53-man active roster are due by 4 p.m. Aug. 31.
Training camp will help shape the roster before the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Dolphins in Miami. As practice nears, The Baltimore Sun will take a position-by-position look at the Ravens’ roster, including breakdowns of all 90 players. Today, the team’s quarterback situation is analyzed.
What will the Ravens’ run-pass ratio look like at the end of the season? After Lamar Jackson took over in Week 11, the Ravens passed less than 38% of the time (excluding kneel-downs). Around the NFL, only one other team ran more than it passed. With the superior efficiency of passing, first-year offensive coordinator Greg Roman will have to strike the right balance in Baltimore.
One smaller question
How often will the Ravens give Jackson the option of running? If the offense continues to feature run-pass-option and zone-read plays, opposing defenses might dare Jackson to keep the ball and break into the open field. He set the single-season NFL record for rushing attempts by a quarterback (147) last year, finishing with 10 more carries than running back Gus Edwards had.
Lamar Jackson: The Ravens’ most important player is entering a transitional training camp. A year ago, Jackson shared second-string repetitions with Robert Griffin III; now he’s the unquestioned starter. Last season, he was the focal point in a run-heavy attack; now the offense promises to be more balanced.
Jackson’s strengths are obvious: He’s a respected leader, a dynamic runner and a strong-armed passer. But the types of throws he preferred were obvious, too. Over 44% of his passing yardage came on throws down the middle, and he had a passer rating of 100.7 for the season on such attempts. (Andrew Luck, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers all finished with lower overall passer ratings.) On passes to the left, Jackson posted a 76.5 passer rating; to the right, 82.7.
The NFL’s top quarterbacks last season were generally more successful throwing down the middle as well, but Jackson will find tighter lanes for his top targets, tight end Mark Andrews and slot receiver Willie Snead IV, unless he proves capable of nailing outside routes. Improved wide receiver play can help, but his mechanics need to be better, too.
Robert Griffin III: The former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has found a system in Baltimore perhaps better suited to his ability than any other in the league. Still, after his year away from football in 2017, there’s some uncertainty over how he would fare if called on to lead the Ravens for more than a possession.
He oversaw a 14-play, 60-yard drive for a field goal against the Atlanta Falcons, completing two of four passes but appearing unwilling to keep the ball (and risk injury) on zone-read plays. A week later, facing third-and-22 and then fourth-and-22 in overtime after the Kansas City Chiefs knocked Jackson out of the game, he went 0-for-2. But the 29-year-old has been consistent and productive in preseason and practice settings, and what more can you ask of a backup?
On the bubble
Trace McSorley: The sixth-round draft pick who holds Penn State records for career wins, completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns will be scrutinized as much, if not more, for his special teams ability as he will for his quarterback acumen.
As a passer, McSorley’s performance fluctuated throughout organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, struggling with some sideline throws but also finding seams in red-zone drills. It was too early then to tell how he projected as the Ravens’ very own Taysom Hill, but training camp should provide a clearer picture of his use and usefulness.
McSorley doesn’t lack athleticism: He finished his Nittany Lions career as the program’s most prolific running quarterback, and no quarterback at the NFL scouting combine bested his 40-yard-dash time of 4.57 seconds.