The Baltimore Ravens—certainly in their own minds—may have had the best draft weekend of all. In the lead-up to the first round, they successfully secured a new five-year contract for quarterback Lamar Jackson, who at the time was unsigned. They applied a non-exclusive franchise tag to him back in February, with no guarantee that he would be on the field in September.
Now that know, and they celebrated by drafting him another wide receiver in the first round, the third time they have done so since drafting Jackson. The latest is Zay Flowers out of Boston College, who figures to pair with 2021 first-round pick Bashod Bateman and free agent acquisition Odell Beckham Jr., whom they signed on a one-year deal worth $15 million. It’s all got Jackson excited.
“I’m very eager; I’m very eager to be honest with you”, he said during his recent press conference after officially signing his new five-year, $260 million deal. “I think I told someone, ‘I want to throw for like 6,000 yards with the weapons we have’”.
The single-season record for passing yardage is 5,477, set by Peyton Manning in 2013. While Jackson has thrown for as high as nine yards per pass attempt, his highest total for passing yards in a single season is 3127, which came back in his MVP season in 2019. So he would almost have to double that.
Of course, he was a different quarterback at the time. He was averaging just 26.7 pass attempts per game. In the games in which he has been healthy over the past two years, he is averaging more than 30 pass attempts per game, and that should continue to rise. And throwing for 4000, 5000, 6000 yards requires volume. A football field is only 100 yards long, after all, and you’d be lucky to throw for the distances once or twice in your career.
“I’m not an individual award type of guy or stat watcher, I just want to do that because no one’s ever done it”, Jackson added about his casual reference to 6000 yards. “I feel like we have the weapons to do it. We have explosive guys”.
In addition to the three wide receivers mentioned above, the Ravens also added veteran Nelson Agholor via free agency, and they retain Devin Duvernay. They also have two talented pass-catching tight ends in All-Pro Mark Andrews and second-year Isaiah Likely, the man perpetually subject to pun-based references.
At least on paper, the Ravens have successfully surrounded Lamar Jackson with a cast of weapons that could potentially be very good. whether or not they will be once they’re on the field, and whether or not Jackson can take full advantage of them, is what remains to be seen.
What is very notable is that Baltimore also parted ways with offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who is the architect of the offense the Ravens have run since Jackson has been in the starting lineup. One wonders if that’s something Jackson wanted. I get the feeling he has a desire to throw the ball more, and I think we will see that this year—if he can be consistently successful doing it. His legs aren’t going anywhere, though. Don’t worry about that. Or rather, do.