Former Ravens wide receiver and current WJZ pre-and postgame host Qadry Ismail believes quarterback Lamar Jackson can take the Ravens’ passing game to the next level in 2021 with help from the team’s new receivers and coaches.
“I think there’s this undertone from people that [Jackson is] not capable of throwing the ball,” Ismail said on Glenn Clark Radio July 22. “I just think that that’s a misnomer. The guy does amazing with the ball and is very accurate with the placement of the ball. I think the challenge was that I don’t know if the offense was on the same page as far throwing it in the outside lanes.”
Ismail played in Baltimore for four seasons after being traded from the New Orleans Saints in 1999. During his time with the Ravens, he caught 191 passes for 2,819 yards and 18 touchdowns. In January 2001, Ismail won a Super Bowl with the Ravens.
This year, the Ravens are seeking to win their third Super Bowl, but to do that, the passing game will need to take a step forward. Last season, Jackson threw for 2,757 yards and 26 touchdowns, but the offense was built around the running game. The Ravens averaged 191.9 yards per game on the ground, tops in the league.
“The mindset has been, ‘What do we do best? We run the football,'” Ismail said. “The last three years has been historical for the Ravens, for the NFL, when it comes to the Ravens just imposing their will and dominating running the football.”
Ismail is excited to watch wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in 2021, though Brown is currently out with a hamstring injury. Last season, Brown tallied 769 yards on 58 receptions with eight touchdowns.
“I think for Hollywood it’s not about carrying the main load,” Ismail said. “It’s about creating mismatches because you have others around you that you can utilize and take advantage of their skill set.”
The Ravens have upgraded their receiving corps with the additions of free-agent signing Sammy Watkins and first-round pick Rashod Bateman. There have been new additions to the Ravens’ coaching staff to help the passing game as well. The coaching staff now includes new wide receivers coach Tee Martin and passing game specialist Keith Williams.
Martin, a former quarterback, starred at Tennessee and played in the NFL for two seasons. He was most recently the wide receivers coach at Tennessee. Williams was a longtime wide receivers coach at the college level and was most recently a personal coach to a number of NFL wide receivers.
“In the offseason one of the biggest things is that guys on good teams do is that they do a self-evaluation. What is it that we do well? What is it that we struggle with? And I think what makes John Harbaugh such a good coach is not settling for just the status quo,” Ismail said.
Jackson will have to stay upright as well. The Ravens’ offensive line no longer includes Orlando Brown Jr., who was dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason. However, the Ravens brought in Alejandro Villanueva and Kevin Zeitler via free agency as part of an overhaul after the offensive line struggled in the playoffs against the Buffalo Bills.
“The offensive line wasn’t necessarily bad as much as they were bad at the wrong time,” Ismail said. “I think that were when you look at this offensive line, they’re going to surprise some people.”
The division that the Ravens are in is a very difficult one, with Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals all posing challenges. However, the Browns are probably the biggest threat that the Ravens will have this upcoming season, according to Ismail.
“I think Kevin Stefanski, the way in which he has put together his staff, the way in which he [employs] his coaching style, guys have bought in,” Ismail said. “It’s about a culture mindset … it’s such a perfect term to describe what bad football looks like and what good football looks like.”
For more from Ismail, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox