The Ravens met expectations during the 2022 season.
They were expected to win between 10 and 11 games, get to the playoffs and need to beat either 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 wild-card round.
Now, the Ravens are on the search 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 at the same time 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 he rattled off four more wins before losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he injured his knee in the first quarter of their next game against the Denver Broncos and never played again, missing the final six games. Backup Tyler Huntley played reasonably well, completing 75 of 112 passes for 658 yards and two touchdowns, but will be long remembered for his goal-line fumble that Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard recovered and took 98 yards for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in the Ravens’ 24-17 playoff loss to Cincinnati. No. 3 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 203 of 326 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 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 surgery midseason. No. 3 running back Kenyon Drake 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, as he finished with 482 yards rushing on 109 carries. 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, 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 in order 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 (9 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 (8 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 guard Michael Pierce, who had season-ending surgery on his torn biceps after Week 3, and got adequate contributions from replacements Broderick Washington, who finished with 49 tackles, and rookie Travis Jones, who had 24. Washington became one of the unsung heroes on defense. Veteran end Calais Campbell had another strong year with 36 tackles despite missing three games. Tackle Justin Madubuike (42 tackles) 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 also provided depth and finished with 21 tackles for a defense that regularly shut down most opposing running games. Grade: B
Middle linebacker Roquan Smith proved to be the team’s Most Valuable Player and finished with 86 tackles, third best on the team, despite playing eight games for the Bears. Smith gave the Ravens a physical presence in the middle but more importantly, an every-down player who could run sideline to sideline or provide coverage. Smith made linebacker Patrick Queen, who led the team with 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 (3 sacks) were strong rushers at times, while second-year outside linebacker Odafe Oweh and veteran Tyus Bowser also struggled to provide consistent pressure. Rookie David Ojabo might become the team’s top pass rusher in the future but was slowed by 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 on 37 of 43 field goals, including a long of 58 yards. He also converted 31 of 32 extra points. Rookie Justin 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 on Dec. 20. Grade: B
There were times when coach John Harbaugh needed to gamble on fourth-down situations 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. Coordinator Mike Macdonald was sound in his defensive approach and in his combination of mixing zone and man-to-man. 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-