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Better, worse or same? Lamar Jackson and Ravens offense look more dangerous

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens have been the NFL’s highest-scoring team in Lamar Jackson’s first two full seasons as a starting quarterback.

So, why did the Ravens’ biggest free-agent additions and their top draft pick address offense?

Baltimore, which has averaged 31.2 points in the regular season with Jackson, has totaled 32 points in Jackson’s three postseason losses. After a 17-3 divisional playoff loss in Buffalo, the Ravens signed guard Kevin Zeitler and wide receiver Sammy Watkins in free agency and drafted wide receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round.

With training camp starting July 28, are the Ravens better, worse or the same on offense?

Here is a position-by-position analysis for 2021:

Quarterbacks

Additions: None

Losses: Robert Griffin III

Returners: Lamar Jackson, Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley

Better, worse or the same? Same, even though there will be a new primary backup to Jackson.

The Ravens didn’t re-sign Griffin III, who was the least effective of Baltimore’s reserve quarterbacks. McSorley and Huntley showed more big-play potential in limited playing time. So, the upside of McSorley and Huntley cancel out RG3’s experience.

It’s uncertain at this point who will win the battle between McSorley and Huntley, and the Ravens will likely keep only two quarterbacks on the season-opening 53-man roster for the first time since 2017. This is a calculated risk for Baltimore, which didn’t want to use limited cap space on a viable veteran backup, especially because Jackson has proved to be more durable than many expected.

Running backs

Additions: Nate McCrary

Losses: Mark Ingram II

Returners: J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Ty’Son Williams, Patrick Ricard (FB)

Better, worse or the same? Same

The loss of Ingram isn’t much of a loss. A Pro Bowl runner in 2019, Ingram was a healthy scratch in six games last season, including both playoff games.

Dobbins and Edwards form one of the league’s best running back tandems. During Baltimore’s season-ending five-game win streak, they totaled 762 yards rushing and eight touchdowns.

The bad news for AFC North defenses is the Ravens’ running back situation should remain the same for a while. Dobbins and Edwards are under contract through 2023.

Wide receivers

Additions: Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, Tylan Wallace, Deon Cain, Devin Gray

Losses: Willie Snead IV, Dez Bryant, Chris Moore, Antoine Wesley, DeAndrew White

Returners: Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II, Jaylon Moore, Binjimen Victor

Better, worse or the same? Better, and the Ravens are banking on it.

The Ravens signed Watkins to a one-year, $5 million deal and used the No. 27 overall pick on Bateman after their wide receivers ranked last in catches and receiving yards for the second straight season. Baltimore was so desperate last season that the team signed Bryant, who hadn’t played in the two previous seasons.

This group can improve even more if Brown, a first-round pick in 2019, can deliver some consistency. He finished last season strongly (six touchdowns in last six games), and he just participated in his first full offseason. Boykin and Duvernay, two former third-round picks, can earn more playing time with a strong training camp and preseason.

The Ravens need to help Jackson by producing more big plays. Baltimore’s wide receivers totaled 38 catches of 20-plus yards, which were tied for third fewest in the NFL.

Tight ends

Additions: Josh Oliver, Ben Mason, Tony Poljan.

Losses: None

Returners: Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Eric Tomlinson, Eli Wolf, Jake Breeland

Better, worse or the same? Better

Andrews, who has 17 touchdown catches the past two seasons, really impressed coach John Harbaugh with his improved route running this offseason. Heading into his contract year, Andrews is set to cash in with another big season.

The return of Boyle makes the Ravens and their running game even stronger. Boyle, who is considered the top blocking tight end in the league, missed the final seven games last season with a knee injury.

One of Baltimore’s more underrated moves was trading a conditional seventh-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Oliver. He flashed at times this spring and looks like a raw version of Darren Waller, who began his career with the Ravens.

Offensive line

Additions: Kevin Zeitler, Alejandro Villanueva, Ben Cleveland, Michael Schofield, Ja’Wuan James, Greg Mancz, Adrian Ealy, Foster Sarell

Losses: Orlando Brown Jr., Matt Skura, D.J. Fluker

Returners: Ronnie Stanley, Bradley Bozeman, Patrick Mekari, Tyre Phillips, Ben Powers, Trystan Colon, Ben Bredeson, Andre Smith

Better, worse or the same? Better, at least the Ravens hope so.

No group underwent more changes on the Ravens than the offensive line. There is no starter returning to the same spot from last season’s playoffs.

Stanley, a first-team All-Pro in 2019, is expected to return at left tackle at some point in training camp after suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 8. Bradley Bozeman, a two-year starter at left guard, has moved to his more natural position at center, which was a major trouble spot for Baltimore last season.

Zeiter, the team’s biggest free-agent addition, should provide some Marshal Yanda-type stability at right guard. The Ravens made a bold move of trading Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs and replacing him at right tackle with Alejandro Villanueva, the former left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The major question mark is at left guard. Rookie third-round pick Ben Cleveland appears to the be the frontrunner, although he’ll have to beat out Tyre Phillips and Ben Powers.

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