OWINGS MILLS, Md. — One of the Ravens' top priorities is boosting a passing attack that ranked last in the NFL last season.
Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta acknowledged that some of those problems stemmed from the offensive line, which struggled with its pass blocking.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson absorbed 29 sacks in the regular season and was taken down eight more times in two playoff games.
The Ravens had a makeshift offensive line this season because of injuries, most notably to left tackle Ronnie Stanley that forced Orlando Brown Jr to shift from the right side. Baltimore also had challenges at center with cleanly snapping the ball.
“I think one of the things we have to do is get better up front with pass protection," DeCosta said. "Losing Ronnie Stanley was definitely a tough deal for the offensive line to handle. Orlando did a great job, and I think the offensive line, in general, really battled versus some adversity this year.
"But pass protection is going to be a factor. I think that having an OTA this year, if we can, more practice time would be a big thing. We’ve got some young receivers that would benefit from more practice time, and OTAs, and an offseason. We’ll look at the personnel as well. There are a lot of different ways that we can do that."
The Ravens will look to add a playmaking wide receiver either through free agency or the draft. Baltimore averaged just 171.2 yards passing per game. Marquise Brown was pegged as the No. 1 wide receiver but he struggles with some drops and creating separation before finishing the season strong.
Baltimore also had numerous pre-snap penalties on the offensive line, an issue that needs to be addressed this offseason.
"Receivers come in all different sizes and shapes," DeCosta said. "We’ve got the Draft; we’ve got free agency. I think one of the things, as you think about the passing game, is we throw the ball a lot less than a lot of other teams do. That’s by design; we’re a running football team. People like to look at yards per game as a good metric of a passing game, and I think we threw the ball probably 150-160 times less than any other team did this year in the NFL. We want to be precise, for sure. I think that we want to be more efficient.
"Some of that is simply reducing penalties. We were highly penalized this year. We had a lot of pre-snap penalties. That’s not an ideal thing for a team that wants to be a passing team. We’ve got to do a better job in that regard, and I think turnovers as well – reducing the amount of turnovers. We had a bunch of turnovers this year – for instance, before the half. So, there are a lot of things that we can do."
DeCosta hinted the team might not make a big splash in free agency by signing a veteran wide receiver. The team has other issues with its roster and needs to balance a potential tight salary cap situation that has yet to be resolved by the league.
"It’s not all about getting the quote ‘Number One receiver’ that everybody likes to talk about," DeCosta said. "We will certainly look at that. We would try to upgrade every single position on this football team this offseason, if we can – based on the parameters of what we have to work with draft pick-wise, money-wise, and all the other challenges associated with building a football team.”