Baltimore Ravens OTAs Preview: Lamar Jackson and Todd Monken Feel It Out

When the Baltimore Ravens' OTAs open, Lamar Jackson will be stepping into a brand-new environment with a brand-new offense and brand-new weapons.

The Baltimore Ravens will open their OTAs with a familiar face back at quarterback. After a few months of consternation, Lamar Jackson signed a massive long-term contract that will keep him front and (under) center for the Ravens. For their part, not only did Baltimore bring him back, but they also added veteran receiver help around him. The hope is that these will be the upgrades so sorely needed in the passing game. At OTAs, we’ll get a taste of if it is indeed an upgrade.

Baltimore Ravens OTAs Preview

Lamar Jackson and the Sea of Receivers

The gripe among Ravens fans the last several years is that Jackson has never been able to truly show off his skill as a passer because of how bad the WR room is. This is despite the resources the Ravens have poured into it.

Since drafting Jackson, Baltimore has drafted two first-round wide receivers. Marquise Brown has subsequently been traded, and the team is still waiting for a Rashod Bateman breakout.

In the 2023 NFL Draft, the Ravens selected yet another wide receiver in Boston College’s Zay Flowers. Their effort in providing the resources is not in question. But this year, they have buttressed their draft pick with multiple pieces of veteran help.

In addition to Bateman, the Ravens’ OTAs will also feature Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor. Beckham, though, hasn’t played in a football game in over a year, Agholor is not considered a difference-maker, and Bateman hasn’t shown that he’ll take the next step forward.

MORE: Is the Ravens’ Overhauled Defense Super Bowl-Caliber?

Part of why Beckham ended up in Baltimore was the possibility of playing with Jackson, even if Jackson gave him no assurances he would definitely be back.

“The goal was to come here and have that possibility to play with him,” Beckham said. He also separately directed his own comment to Jackson, prior to him signing his new contract. “Lamar, if you’re watching, I would love to get to work with you,” Beckham said after signing his own contract in Baltimore.

Baltimore’s OTAs are where we’ll see the progress of these players building chemistry begin. How does the timing look between Jackson and the new additions? Are Flowers and Bateman in a positional battle for playing time?

These are the key questions we’ll only begin to answer when OTAs start.

Todd Monken Brings a Broom to the Old Ways

Like the Tibetan Monks who carry a broom to sweep away insects who cross their path, new offensive coordinator Todd Monken will be sweeping away the power-run offense we’ve come to know.

At the Ravens’ OTAs, Monken’s spread-style offense will be starkly different from the Greg Roman Ravens we’ve come to know. Under Roman, Baltimore was a run-first offense. They often used power run to create extra blockers that produced huge runs and lanes for Jackson, as well as a dynamic play-action game.

For years, Ravens fans complained that it was Roman’s offensive style that was limiting Jackson as a passer. If only Roman would unleash him, the offense would take another step. Others, meanwhile, maintained that Jackson’s skill set required the style of offense Roman developed. At the Ravens’ OTAs, we’ll start to see which side was correct.

Monken will be introducing spread concepts and a heavy passing attack. At Louisville, Jackson ran a spread version of the Erhardt-Perkins system. This won’t have the Erhardt-Perkins concepts that we know of, but it will be more spread focused. OTAs will give us insight into what this new look offense will look like, and how Jackson looks in it.

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