Ravens hopeful bye week can help solve passing game originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Through six games of the 2020 season, the Ravens’ offense is 7th in the league in scoring (29.8 points per game) and has averaged 164.3 yards per game on the ground.
Those numbers, for most any team in the NFL, are more than enough to celebrate. But for the Ravens, there’s something missing.
The team’s passing attack hasn’t matched its proficiency from its record-breaking 2019 season, with misses on deep shots to wideout Marquise Brown, or miscommunication altogether with wide receiver Miles Boykin.
Now, the Ravens are hopeful they can use the bye week to get back to their 2019 standard, a level they’re well aware they’ll be compared to for the duration of the season.
“I think it’s natural,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “I think it’s understandable. We use the same standard; it’s where we want to be. We want to improve on where we’ve been in the past. Sure, we’re not where we want to be. I don’t think we were necessarily where we wanted to be last year at this time, either. It definitely is a work in progress, but we know we have a lot of work to do. We have to improve. Our guys are all about it.”
Quarterback Lamar Jackson hasn’t been poor over the start of the season for the Ravens, but he’s missed opportunities that could’ve sprung comfortable wins into outright blowouts.
He’s thrown for 189.2 yards per game with a 63 percent completion percentage. He’s also thrown 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions while averaging 57.7 yards per game on the ground. For most quarterbacks, that’s a level to aspire to.
Jackson, however, isn’t most quarterbacks.
“We did a lot of great things the past few weeks,” Jackson said. “I’d say what we didn’t do is finish drives — scoring a lot of touchdowns. Last year, we started the season out, and we were rolling. (Last season) in the first game, we put a lot of points on the board, but after that, we slowed down, but then we picked it back up after our bye week. So, hopefully it will be similar to that from last year.”
A year ago, Jackson completed 66.1 percent of his passes and averaged 208.5 yards per game. Now, he’s trying to reach last year’s MVP level once again. And one way to get there is to get on the same page with Boykin.
Multiple times over the last few weeks, Jackson and Boykin have looked to be on different wavelengths during the game. The Ravens had big expectations for Boykin entering the 2020 season, but through six games, he’s tallied just 11 catches and zero touchdowns.
“There have been a couple communication things,” pass coordinator David Culley said Tuesday. “First of all, when we’re in the huddle a couple of those happened when we were kind of in a two-minute or hurry-up situation, and Miles heard one thing and Lamar said another thing. It’s our responsibility when we’re in the huddle to make sure we’re hearing and listening to what he’s saying. He didn’t understand exactly what he had said, because he was trying to get out.”
Outside of Boykin’s progression, there’s a few ways the Ravens could add to their passing attack. Firstly, by completing the deep passes to Brown.
Brown has 26 catches for 376 yards and one touchdown through six games this year, but those numbers could look much prettier if he and Jackson connected on some deep passes. Notably, in the Washington game in Week 4.
“It’s about just running more routes,” Brown said. “When the opportunity presents itself in the game, we’ve got to hit it. It’s not really this hard thing. We’ve just got to go out there and do it.”
He also complimented Devin Duvernay, who has seen his opportunities and snap counts increase steadily throughout the season.
“He’s a guy who’s always ready,” Brown said. “When he’s on the field, he’s looking to make a big play, and that’s what I love about him. Every time he’s on the field, he’s looking to make a big play soon. I’m kind of happy that he can come in and he’s a guy that there’s no complaining. When he gets his opportunity, he tries to make the most of it.”
So while the Ravens’ offense, specifically the passing game, is seemingly missing something significant from a year ago, the answers they need might end up being in-house.