Roughly four months separate the Baltimore Ravens from their Week 1 tilt with the Houston Texans. Between now and the moment that game kicks off, the Ravens will have to make several difficult determinations that will influence the direction of their season.

How will the offense change under new OC?

In 28 seasons as a franchise, the Ravens never fielded a more dominant offense than they did in 2019. Lamar Jackson broke out in a major way, becoming a unanimous league MVP in his just his second year. Meanwhile, no club had a more diverse and unpredictable ground attack, allowing Baltimore to control the flow of games and grind down opponents unlike anyone else that season. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman served as the architect of it all, earning AP NFL Assistant Coach of the Year for his efforts.

Now, following three seasons of diminishing returns, Roman has left the organization. In his place, the Ravens hired decorated Georgia Bulldogs offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

Historically, Monken’s approach differs significantly from that of his predecessor in Baltimore. Where as Roman funneled as much as possible through the run game, Monken rather famously prefers to move the ball less methodically.

“We don’t need more 5-yard plays,” Monken said in 2016 after joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “Who needs more 5-yard plays? How can we be explosive? That’s what the game is about, man. People like big plays. I like big plays.”

That mentality works as a soundbite, but how can the Ravens’ new OC make it work with the NFL’s premier running quarterback? Jackson has demonstrated more than mere proficiency as a passer, but any offense built around him should still prioritize how his legs challenge the defense. Monken will have to figure out some happy medium between his desire to bomb it down the field with Jackson’s most dangerous weapon.

What can Ravens expect from OBJ at this stage of his career?

The Ravens began the offseason with a clear intention to remake the receiving corps. That process would have probably occurred even had Jackson not returned on his multiyear extension. While the wideouts have flashed high-end potential at times, injuries and other offensive issues prevented the group from developing into an impactful unit.

Rashod Bateman returns as a starter, but the rest of the receiving corps will feature new faces. The biggest of those, veteran Odell Beckham Jr., will step into a new town with big expectations.

But what kind of role makes sense for Beckham at this stage of his career? Not only has the receiver dealt with multiple serious injuries over his career, he missed the entire 2022 campaign while recovering from a torn ACL he suffered during the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals the previous season.

Beckham, now more than 15 months removed from ACL tear, should have as much explosion and speed as he can reasonably possess at this stage of his career. The 2014 draft pick will turn 31 later this year and will have an incredibly difficult time reaching his previous peak level of performance for more than a flash here and there.

The Ravens can’t expect Beckham to deliver an All-Pro season. Still, they will need him to provide consistent, starting-caliber play. For a receiver who has missed an average of 7.5 games per season over the past six years, how much can he realistically give the offense?

How long will Ravens stick with Patrick Queen?

When the Ravens drafted Patrick Queen in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, they hoped he would become the next field-tilting off-ball linebacker in the franchise’s history. His rookie season offered some promise, but his play quickly fell off from there. The lack of development grew so concerning that general manager Eric DeCosta made a midseason trade for Roquan Smith.

So far this offseason, the Ravens have signed Smith to an extension, drafted Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson with their second highest pick, and officially declined Queen’s fifth-year option. The writing on the walls seems pretty clear.

With the commitment to Queen precarious at best, how long will Baltimore stick with him in 2023? While he might provide better play than Simpson in the short run — very much not a guarantee, but rookie linebackers tend to struggle — transitioning sooner would probably give the defense a better long-term outlook.

Perhaps Queen decides this for the Ravens by either playing incredibly well or indisputably poorly. But if he lands in the middle, the coaching staff will have to decide whether to just take their lumps now and make the move to Simpson.

Jason B. Hirschhorn
Jason B. Hirschhorn

Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. He has bylines at, SB Nation, Sports Illustrated, and other outlets.