Last season was a bumpy road for the Baltimore Ravens injuries plagued a handful of key players, including starting quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the team finished last in the AFC North with an 8-9 record.
Jackson, who won NFL MVP in 2019, played just 12 games in 2021 due to an illness against the Chicago Bears and an ankle injury he suffered against the Cleveland Browns.
He finished the season tossing for 2,882 yards with 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
But with Jackson en route to a full recovery and free agency and the NFL Draft behind us, Ravens fans should no longer feel “doomed” as Baltimore did some major upgrading over the last few months.
The upgrades, along with Jackson’s personal efforts, should help him get back to being the MVP quarterback we once saw in 2019.
Ravens Kick-Off Upgrades With Pass Protection
The Ravens wasted no time when NFL free agency began on March 16 and immediately signed offensive tackle Morgan Moses to a three-year, $15 million deal that day.
Moses was one of, if not, the best available tackles on market. He played for the New York Jets in 2021 after spending seven seasons with the Washington Commanders.
The Virginia product has been extremely reliable since becoming a starter in 2015 and has not missed a game.
In 2021, Moses played a total of 1,022 snaps where he allowed just four sacks and committed three penalties. He finished the year with a Pro Football Focus grade of 71.0
The Ravens desperately needed to upgrade their offensive line after they allowed 57 sacks last season, second to only the Chicago Bears with 58.
Naturally, Jackson can only play to his best ability if he has better pass protection and Baltimore did a good job honing in on that at the start of free agency.
Ravens Select the 2022 NFL Draft’s Unicorn
The Ravens shocked the league when they traded former first-round pick, Hollywood Brown, to the Arizona Cardinals during this year’s NFL Draft, but they certainly made up for it.
With their first pick at 14th overall, the Ravens selected Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. Hamilton was a highly-touted draft prospect and even considered a top-five prospect.
He was also deemed a “unicorn” by PFF’s NFL Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein.
In his prospect analysis, Zierlein wrote that Hamilton is a “high-impact safety with a unique blend of traits and characteristics that make him a bit of a unicorn at the position.
Hamilton has the eyes and speed to play over the top, the strength and toughness to play near the line, and coverage length to guard elite pass-catching tight ends who often mismatch opposing defenses.”
Zierlein called Hamilton “a ferocious striker and intimidator who has the football intelligence and athletic prowess to go make plays in the passing game,” adding that he “has the traits and football character to transition from standout college moments to a standout pro career as a future Pro Bowler with All-Pro potential.”
Hamilton was a two-time All-American during his three seasons with the Fighting Irish. Despite just playing in seven games last season, he was a consensus All-American.
Hamilton logged 34 tackles, picked off three passes, broke up four more throws, and had two tackles for loss in 2021.
Jackson Is Spending the Offseason Working on Himself
Aside from the Ravens giving Jackson a new weapon and solidifying his pass protection, Jackson is working on himself.
According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Jackson has been spending the offseason working with a mechanics expert.
He’s been training with Adam Dedeaux, the CEO and “motion performance expert” of 3DQB, which is a high-profiled training company in Huntington Beach, California.
They’ve worked with several big-name quarterbacks in the league, including Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, and several others.
Jackson will enter his fifth NFL season and the Ravens have already picked up his fifth-year option, which will pay the two-time Pro Bowler $23.1 million this coming season.
However, that doesn’t mean the Ravens are 100% committed to keeping him around as their franchise QB for years to come.
Even with the upgrades that they’ve added to help him out, Jackson will still have to prove himself that he’s worth the big bucks, but it looks like he’s already doing so by working on himself while Baltimore works on improving around him.
That being said, there’s a very high possibility that Jackson can flash the 2019 MVP QB again.
“[My] goal next year is to get that Bowl,” Jackson said, via Sports Illustrated. “Take it one game at a time. Get better as an individual and as a team.”