Baltimore Ravens’ organization under fire from players over alarming pattern of issues

The Baltimore Ravens are widely viewed by many fans and league officials as one of the best organizations in the NFL. However, there is a concerning trend of recent and current players speaking out against the franchise.

Baltimore is already under the microscope with its handling of quarterback Lamar Jackson. One of the top NFL free agents in 2023, the 2019 NFL MVP has already become one of the best players in the Ravens’ history. However, his future in Baltimore is increasingly uncertain.

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No team other than the Kansas City Chiefs puts more of their offense on their quarterback’s shoulders than the Ravens. Since the 2019 season, Jackson has attempted nearly 1,500 passes with 116 sacks taken.

Not only does he carry a passing attack with one of the worst receiving corps among high-end quarterbacks, but he also has led the team in rushing attempts in each of the last four seasons. For comparison, Jackson (580) has nearly as many carries as Aaron Jones received (585) over the last three years.

Injuries have forced the 212-pound quarterback to miss 10 regular-season games over the last two years. Despite Jackson’s historic importance to the offense, the organization seemingly isn’t treating the face of the franchise like the center of its team and it’s not even their only issue.

Ravens’ handling of Lamar Jackson raises questions

NFL: Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens
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Baltimore has made reasonable efforts to sign Jackson to a contract extension, reportedly making an offer that would’ve made him one of the highest-paid NFL quarterbacks. However, the NFL star has been frustrated by leaks that seemed to come from Ravens’ sources that falsely portrayed his asking price for a new deal.

The Ravens’ search for a new offensive coordinator also raises questions about how the front office and head coach John Harbaugh view Jackson. According to ESPN, Baltimore never involved Jackson in its extensive search for a new play-caller to replace Greg Roman.

Related: Baltimore Ravens OC hiring process raises questions about Lamar Jackson’s future

“Lamar Jackson was never consulted or talked to or asked what his opinions would be. He was informed, ‘This is your new boss at the offensive coordinator spot, who will be calling plays for you.’”

Stephen A. Smith on Baltimore Ravens hiring of Todd Monken

Harbaugh did himself no favors this season. Baltimore’s head coach came under fire from NFL executives for his old-school mentality, acting like a college coach and letting Jackson twist in the wind thus hurting his reputation among the fan base as he recovered from a PCL sprain.

Jackson’s teammates have made it clear he wants to spend his entire career in Baltimore and is interested in signing a long-term deal. Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews even offered to take a pay cut to help facilitate a deal.

While it remains possible a resolution eventually happens and Baltimore is ready to use the franchise tag if necessary, the recent developments have fueled trade rumors. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only problem that seems to be impacting the organization.

Players speak out against Baltimore Ravens coaching staff

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints
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The NFL Players Association released its first report on team report cards following the 2022 season. More than 1,300 players provided in-depth analyses of experiences with their current teams. All 32 organizations were graded on how they treated players’ families, nutrition, travel experiences, the conditions inside team facilities and how the staff treated them.

Baltimore finished 17th in the NFL, drawing high marks for food service, training staff, the locker room and travel experience. However, the treatment of families (T-18th in NFL) and the strength coaches (32nd in NFL) significantly hurt the team’s reputation among players.

The Ravens were one of just two NFL teams to have their strength coaches receive a negative review. Even more alarming, Baltimore’s strength staff in 2022 rated much worse than the second-worst team. Players said they did not feel supported by the strength coaches in 2022, with head strength coach Steve Saunders being the biggest problem.

Numerous players later came forward on Twitter explaining why the Ravens graded so poorly. Former wide receiver Quincy Adeboyeko, who played for the Ravens from 2017-’18, blamed the strength & conditioning staff for ruining his career.

He was far from the only former Ravens player to criticize the staff. Derek Wolfe said the strength staff was ‘trash”, former Ravens’ cornerback Carl Davis Jr (2015-’17) said he was a victim of the strength coaches’ approach and ex-Ravens’ linebacker Bam Bradley shared his negative experiences with Saunders.

Baltimore fired Saunders in February after years of criticism from players after they left the organization. While a new strength coach may change things for the better, the number of years it took for the Ravens to make a change is concerning.

Friction between Ravens’ front office, current players

Syndication: The Record
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Finally, there is the recent issue between general manager Eric DeCosta and wide receiver Rashod Bateman. Asked by reporters at the NFL Combine about the team’s receiving corps and missing on different wideouts, Baltimore’s top executive seemed to take a shot at players on the roster.

“It’s a challenging position to evaluate in different ways. If I had an answer, that means I would probably have some better receivers, I guess. We keep trying. I think there’s a lot of things that go along with that position. Sometimes it is tied to the quarterback. And I think it’s tied to things like durability. It’s tied to a lot of things. We’re gonna keep swinging. There have been some guys that have been successful players for us that were draft picks. We’ve never really hit on that All-Pro type of guy, which is disappointing, I would say. But it’s not for lack of effort.

Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta on the team missing on its drafted wide receivers

Bateman, the 27th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, responded in a since-deleted tweet. He responded strongly to the Ravens’ general manager seemingly calling out the very players he drafted and the 23-year-old receiver also seemed to indicate Roman was a bigger part of the problem in previous seasons. Bateman’s belief was echoed by teammate Mike Davis.

“How bout you play to your player’s strength and & stop pointing the finger at us and #8. Blame the one you let do this…. we take heat 24/7. & keep us healthy … care about US & see what happen..ain’t no promises tho … tired of y’all lyin and capn on players for no reason.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman in response to DeCosta’s comments

A new offensive coordinator and strength coach could alleviate some of the Ravens’ issues from recent years with new voices helping improve morale. However, all of this together raises significant questions about how the organization is being run from top to bottom.

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If Baltimore ultimately loses Jackson in free agency or trades him, given how important he is to the offense and his reputation among teammates, it’s possible things could get even worse.

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