The 2022 NFL season was a difficult one for Lamar Jackson. Baltimore‘s star quarterback suffered a knee injury during a December win over the Denver Broncos, a ligament sprain that cost him the final five games of the regular season and the Ravens‘ sole playoff game against the division rival Cincinnati Bengals.
But a couple things have happened since then. Jackson signed an extension with the Ravens in April, one of the richest contracts ever given to a quarterback. Second, the arrival of a new offensive coordinator promises to open up the passing game in Baltimore, which — combined with Jackson’s return to health — has the 26-year-old in a good mood on the eve of the 2023 NFL season.
Ravens expected to employ pass-first approach
One reason Jackson might believe he is better now than perhaps even his 2019 MVP season is the hiring of offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who replaced the much-maligned Greg Roman in February.
Monken‘s previous posting was at the University of Georgia, where he designed an offense that helped the Bulldogs claim back-to-back national championships in 2021 and 2022. His arrival in Baltimore signals a change from the tough, defense-first, “establish the run” philosophy for which many NFL fans know the Ravens.
“I think Todd and he, they get along great. They’ve got to be like that. They are like that. They talk a lot, and we’ll see what happens,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s not just one game either. We’re talking about a whole season in front of us.”
Winning over Odell
Everyone already knows what he’s capable of when he tucks the ball and turns upfield, but Jackson also has a couple new weapons at his disposal in the passing game. In addition to the steady play of elite tight end Mark Andrews, Jackson will also be throwing to exciting rookie receiver Zay Flowers and veteran Odell Beckham Jr. — who missed the entire 2022 season ensuring he was fully recovered from a devastating knee injury.
Beckham, who signed a one-year deal worth up to $15 million, says Jackson is “different” from any quarterback he’s played with, and that the former Heisman Trophy winner has already earned his respect.
Jackson and the Ravens open the 2023 season in Baltimore against rookie C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans. Seeing as the AFC North division will be a battleground that could send three teams to the playoffs this year, Jackson and co. will of course be eyeing a positive start to the campaign at M&T Bank Stadium.