The Baltimore Ravens steamrolled their opponents during the 2019 regular season en route to a 14-2 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Led by league MVP Lamar Jackson and a defense full of capable playmakers, the Ravens look like they have the potential to compete for multiple Super Bowl championships in the coming years.
Baltimore enters the 2020 season with high expectations after falling to the Tennessee Titans in last year’s Divisional round.
The Ravens had a busy offseason, adding Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe to set the edge while selecting former LSU linebacker Patrick Queen to be the next Ravens great in the second level.
Don Martindale’s defense looks even stronger than last year, when the Ravens ranked fourth in defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA).
The offense should continue to rely on a devastating rushing attack led by Jackson, Mark Ingram and rookie halfback J.K. Dobbins.
But while the Ravens should still be as explosive as any team in football, it is hard to ignore the needs they have at wide receiver.
Who will step up?
Jackson made tremendous strides as a passer last year. He led the NFL with 36 touchdowns while throwing for over 3,100 yards and completing over 66 percent of his pass attempts.
But the Ravens did not add much personnel at wideout this offseason. Aside from third-round pick Devin Duvernay, Baltimore has been mostly mum in terms of adding talent. Granted, the free-agent receiver market was fairly lackluster. Still, guys are going to have to step up this year.
Start with Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. The former first-round pick burst onto the scene by grabbing four receptions for 147 yards and two scores in his first NFL game. He also had eight catches for 86 yards in his second game. From there, it was a struggle.
Brown had just over 300 yards receiving over the course of his next 12 games. The former Oklahoma star seemed to disappear from the offense. However, Brown also played just over 50 percent of all offensive snaps as the Ravens looked to manage his playing time following offseason Lisfranc surgery. Baltimore will almost certainly let Brown loose this year, and he could be a major boon out wide.
But the Ravens need more. Though he was a backup, tight end Hayden Hurst gave Baltimore a threat running the seams. But Hurst is gone, increasing some of the pressure on Mark Andrews to remain healthy and replicate his success.
What about the likes of burner Miles Boykin? Can he refine himself as a route-runner and become a dependable option?
For now, the Ravens are relying on internal improvements.
What about AB?
Of course, there is the possibility the Ravens sign Antonio Brown.
Josina Anderson of ESPN reported yesterday the Ravens have not discussed Brown internally. But the former All-Pro has had plenty of links to Baltimore, and he worked out with Jackson and “Hollywood” (his cousin) earlier in the offseason.
If Brown is right — both mentally and physically — he could be the weapon which puts Baltimore’s offense over the top in 2020.