The Baltimore Ravens made it a point to surround quarterback Lamar Jackson with more talent during the 2021 offseason. The team brought in many new offensive lineman while also adding talented pass catchers such as wide receivers Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace.
Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report took a look at each team’s biggest reason for optimism heading into training camp, and for Baltimore pointed to their improved receiver corps as something to be excited about. However, first he argued that the reason could have easily been Jackson himself.
“One could argue quarterback Lamar Jackson is the Baltimore Ravens’ biggest reason for optimism. He was the league MVP two years ago, and the Ravens have not missed the playoffs with him as the starting quarterback.”
Despite making a case for Jackson, Knox settled on the Ravens’ receivers as his choice.
“However, Jackson and the Ravens could be poised to take the next step this season thanks to their revamped receiving corps. Baltimore added Sammy Watkins in free agency and drafted Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace in the spring…Bateman has the potential to be the No. 1 perimeter target that Jackson has lacked in his NFL career—last year’s No. 1 wideout, Marquise Brown, had just 58 catches for 769 receiving yards. This is big because if Jackson can improve even a little in the passing game, the Baltimore offense could be borderline unstoppable.”
With the rushing attack the Baltimore’s offense already houses, even having a passing offense just in the top-half of the league could pose serious problems for opposing defenses. If Jackson is able to mesh well with his new receivers over the course of training camp and the preseason, they can take good chemistry into the regular season, where they kick off their 2021 year with a “Monday Night Football” matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Ravens have a difficult schedule that they’ll have to navigate through this year, but Knox says that an AFC Championship Game appearance should be within reach for the team.
“Even in a “down” year last season, Jackson passed for 26 touchdowns, topped 1,000 yards rushing and carried the Ravens into the second round of the playoffs. With more talent out wide, there’s no reason why the AFC title game shouldn’t be a realistic goal.”
With playoff growth of some sort in each of the last three seasons, there’s plenty of optimism that 2021 could be another year where Baltimore makes strides in January. The new receivers on the team should play a big part in that, and with Jackson projected to get even better this season, the offense might be in line to break even more records.