In mid-June, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was starting over. For the past four seasons, he’d tried to master offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s system. Now he had to familiarize himself with not only a new play-caller, Todd Monken, but also a new playbook.

“It doesn’t take long,” Jackson said at the team’s mandatory minicamp. “You just have to study. It’s a job at the end of the day. So me doing my job, studying and trying to learn the ins and outs and pinpoint everything, every detail, it will help.”

Jackson and Monken’s first test comes Sunday, when the Ravens open the season at M&T Bank Stadium against the Houston Texans. As a new era of offense begins in Baltimore, here’s an A-to-Z refresher course on what Monken brings to the team and its scheme, as well as the pieces at his disposal. (All stats are courtesy of TruMedia and the NFL’s Next Gen Stats unless otherwise noted.)

“Air Raid” offense: Monken’s success at Oklahoma State under coach Mike Gundy earned him a label as an Air Raid play-caller, reliant on four-wide-receiver shotgun sets and a pass-first approach. At Georgia, with a dominant offensive line and deep tight end room, he turned to a more balanced game plan and heavier personnel.

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But there were still Air Raid concepts in the Bulldogs’ passing attack, just as there are Air Raid staples in the Ravens’ playbook, too. Wide receiver Tylan Wallace drew a pass-interference penalty in the preseason against the Washington Commanders on a “Four Verts” play: four wide receivers running go routes, stretching the secondary not only vertically but horizontally as well.

“Bunch” formations: Monken leaned on them at Georgia last season, daring run defenses to stand up to the Bulldogs’ varied blocking schemes and challenging pass defenses to handle their varied route distributions, especially from condensed looks.

The Ravens have plenty of experience operating in tight quarters. But if Monken prefers three-wide-receiver sets over two-tight-end sets in Baltimore, can he stress run defenses the same way out of bunch formations? The Ravens’ run blocking at wide receiver doesn’t project to be a strength.

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Check-downs: Excluding screens, Ravens running backs were targeted on passes of 5 air yards or fewer just 52 times last season, or just over three per game, tied for 28th in the NFL. Under Roman, Jackson was the team’s preferred check-down option; on drop-backs, Ravens running backs tended to stay in the pocket and block or get out of his way.

In three preseason games, excluding screens, Ravens quarterbacks threw 13 short passes to running backs, or 4.3 per game — a more middle-of-the-pack rate, but a notable jump nonetheless. Throughout camp, running backs were featured more regularly on intermediate and downfield routes, too, a feature of Monken’s offenses. “The backs are very much a part of the passing game right now,” coach John Harbaugh said last month.

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Deception: Monken’s never afraid to reach into his bag of trick plays. In the College Football Playoff semifinals two years ago, Georgia scored on an 18-yard pass play from running back Kenny McIntosh, who’d taken a shotgun handoff, to wide-open wide receiver Adonai Mitchell. Last year, in the Southeastern Conference title game, the Bulldogs scored the final points of a 50-30 blowout win over LSU with an end-around pass on a 2-point conversion.

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Explosive plays: Monken has never been shy to articulate what, exactly, he’s looking for in an offense. When he was hired as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coordinator in 2016, he told local reporters: “The bottom line is, how can you be explosive? I’ve always thought, we don’t need more 5-yard plays. Who needs more 5-yard plays? How can we be explosive? That’s what the game is about, man. Big plays.”

When he was hired at Georgia in 2020, more of the same. “The bottom line is, you want to be explosive one out of every eight plays,” Monken told local reporters, which he defined as a run of at least 12 yards or a pass of at least 16 yards.

At his introductory news conference in Owings Mills, Monken used the word “explosive” four times. “The game has changed in terms of using their athleticism, using players’ athleticism, what they bring to the table, because the game is about space,” he said. “It’s about being explosive.”

The Ravens ranked eighth in explosive-play rate last season, finishing first in carries of at least 12 yards (11.8%) but 23rd in passes of at least 16 yards (12.9%).

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Fullback: Patrick Ricard’s not expected to play as often as he did last season, when he was on the field for nearly two-thirds of the Ravens’ offensive snaps. But he’s the closest thing Monken has to a traditional blocking tight end, which was a prerequisite for some of Georgia’s most effective run concepts. The four-time Pro Bowl selection won’t be a recurring presence in the slot, as he was at times under Roman, but he’ll likely move around the field. Against Washington, Ricard lined up in the backfield, along the line of scrimmage and as an H-back.

Goal line: The Ravens’ red-zone offense was a glaring weakness last season. They finished 30th in the NFL in red-zone touchdown percentage (44.4%), and with Jackson on the field, they ranked 25th in expected points added per play in goal-to-go scenarios. Monken wasn’t a red-zone whiz at Georgia — among 131 qualifying teams, the Bulldogs ranked 49th and 57th in EPA per play in goal-to-go and red-zone scenarios from 2020 to 2022, respectively — but he’ll at least bring new ideas to the table.

Heavy personnel: No team used 22 personnel (two backs, two tight ends and one wideout) more often last season than the Ravens. With their wide receiver room depleted by injury, especially later in the season, the offense lined up in 22 personnel on 33.9% of its plays, more than triple the rate of the offense with the second-most such usage, the Atlanta Falcons (10.6% of plays).

The Ravens this year are expected to rely less on the “medieval” personnel groupings that Roman favored, but Monken will likely sprinkle them in on occasion. Ricard can wipe out second-level defenders and hold the edge in pass protection, and Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely, while not prototypical in-line tight ends, graded out well as run blockers last season.

Inside zone: The run concept was Monken’s favorite at Georgia last season. On inside-zone plays, the offensive line moves in the running back’s direction as blockers try to displace first-level defenders in their designed area, often with double teams, before taking on second-level defenders. Because of quarterback Stetson Bennett’s mobility, Monken often featured the concept on option plays.

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Jackson: The Ravens’ franchise quarterback entered and ended last season without a long-term deal. He’s said the uncertainty never affected him, but general manager Eric DeCosta suggested otherwise Friday.

“I think last year was a challenging year for a lot of reasons, obviously, just where he was with his contract,” he said. “This year, it’s just [his] attitude [and] his enthusiasm has been fantastic. He’s throwing the ball very, very well. He’s been able to build a great rapport with the receivers very, very quickly. He’s taking care of his body. He seems really into the offense — he’s excited about it.”

Now that Jackson has a record-breaking five-year, $260 million extension and a revamped offense, he could face a new level of scrutiny.

Kicker: When all else fails, the Ravens have Justin Tucker. The six-time Pro Bowl selection led the NFL last season with 17 lead-changing field goals.

Late-game success: The Ravens lost just two games by double digits last season, with the first not coming until Week 15. In most cases, they struggled to put away opposing defenses. The Ravens’ fourth-quarter offense ranked 26th in EPA per play and averaged just 5.1 points per period last season. Georgia, meanwhile, ranked 15th in EPA per fourth-quarter play last season among 133 qualifying offenses, and it averaged 7.9 points per period.

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Motion: The Ravens finished seventh in the NFL in presnap-motion rate last year, moving at least one player around on 63.9% of their plays. At Georgia, the Bulldogs kept things simpler. According to charting by SEC Stat Cat, Georgia used presnap motion on just 17.7% of its plays last season, seventh in the conference.

In the preseason, at least, Monken and the Ravens seemed to find a happy medium. The offense’s presnap-motion rate over three games was 45.1%, ninth highest in the NFL. Compared to Roman, Monken also seems more inclined to use “short motion,” which moves receivers closer to the ball while keeping them on the same side of the field.

No-huddle: Even if their offense never majors in no-huddle, the Ravens can still use it situationally. The offense hurried to the line of scrimmage in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles before converting a third-and-short run. Monken said in February that the transition from college to the NFL “will take some working through” as the Ravens figure out how to use tempo, but that “it’s a speed bump, not a hurdle.”

Optionality: There’s a new flexibility not only in the Ravens’ presnap operations, where Jackson and his fellow quarterbacks have been empowered to audible out of unfavorable calls, but also perhaps during plays themselves. Wide receiver Zay Flowers’ first preseason catch seemed to come on a run-pass-option play; with the Commanders dropping a safety into the box, Johnson ignored a handoff opportunity and instead threw a quick hitter to Flowers, who juked his way to an 11-yard gain.

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“Coach [Monken] is basically just giving us the keys to the offense, really,” said Jackson, who’s thrown just 87 RPO passes since 2019, according to Sports Info Solutions, or less than two per game.

Pace: On the Ravens’ best drive of the preseason, a four-play, 80-yard march to the end zone against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense filled with starters, the offense did not wait long to get going. Johnson snapped the ball on the offense’s first play with 11 seconds left. The second: with 15 seconds left. Then 13 seconds. Then, finally, 12 seconds. Monken didn’t need a 40-second play clock; the Ravens would’ve been fine with just 30 seconds.

It wasn’t a warp-speed pace of play, but it felt like it. Under the more deliberate Roman, Jackson often found himself in a race against the clock before the snap. Under Monken, the sooner the Ravens can get to the line of scrimmage, the more time they’ll have to adjust their play call, if necessary. Defenses will have to be on the lookout for no-huddle plays, too.

Quarterback runs: In May, Jackson said he expects “less running and more throwing” in Monken’s offense. That includes fewer designed QB runs, too. “Absolutely,” he said, “especially with the receivers we have.”

Just how much — or how little — the Ravens scale back Jackson’s workload could be revealing. He’s one of the NFL’s best runners and scramblers, and Monken said in May that “you can’t take that completely out of his toolbox, because that’s a huge weapon for him and for us.” At Georgia, the decently athletic Bennett rushed just 24 times on designed carries last season, according to SIS. He was most effective in the red zone, finishing with six rushing scores, second most on the team.

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Run-pass ratio: Over the past four years, the Ravens have gone from ranking last in the NFL in early-down pass rate (43.4%) to 30th in 2020 (44.6%) to 12th in both 2021 (54.3%) and 2022, (52.7%), according to

That doesn’t mean Monken will usher in more of a pass-heavy approach, however. When he called plays for Tampa Bay in 2018, the Buccaneers ranked fourth in early-down pass rate (59.9%). At Georgia, however, the Bulldogs passed on just 43.1% of their offensive plays in 2021, in the bottom third of Football Bowl Subdivision schools, and on just 46.5% of their plays in 2022, in the bottom half of the FBS.

Screens: Jackson has never finished a season higher than 28th in the NFL in attempted screens, according to Pro Football Focus. That should change under Monken. Bennett attempted 100 screen passes at Georgia last season, completing 87 for 633 yards (6.3 per attempt) and a touchdown, according to PFF. Only six FBS quarterbacks threw more screens in 2022.

With elusive ball carriers at running back, tight end and wide receiver, as well as a relatively mobile offensive line, the Ravens could have one of the NFL’s most diverse screen games.

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Tight ends: The Ravens’ tight end room has ranked either first or second in receiving yardage in three of the past four years. Even with the team’s investment at wide receiver, Monken could look to replicate some of his success at Georgia, where two-tight-end sets helped propel one of the country’s best offenses. The challenge for the Ravens is developing a scheme that can work with both Andrews and Likely on the field together.

Under center: The Ravens will likely operate primarily from the shotgun this season. They lined up a quarterback under center on just 14.6% of their snaps in the preseason, the fifth-lowest rate in the NFL. The Ravens ran the ball on 17 of those 24 plays, averaging a solid 5.4 yards per play overall.

Vertical passing: Jackson has long been one of the NFL’s most aggressive quarterbacks. Over the past four seasons, he ranks third in air yards per attempt (8.8), ahead of strong-armed passers like the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen and Los Angeles Rams’ Matthew Stafford and behind only the Chicago Bears’ Justin Fields and Denver Broncos’ Russell Wilson.

If the Ravens’ protection holds up this season, Jackson could look downfield even more often. Under Monken, Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston (10.8 yards) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (10.3 yards) ranked second and third leaguewide, respectively, in air yards per attempt in 2018.

Wide receivers: DeCosta, who’s worked for the franchise since its debut season in 1996, sidestepped a question Friday about where this Ravens wide receiver room ranks all time. But it’s clearly the most talented Jackson’s had since he arrived in 2018. The team’s projected top four wideouts — Rashod Bateman, Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers and Nelson Agholor — are all former first-round picks.

X factor: Monken left Georgia in February without knowing whether Jackson would re-sign with the Ravens. Now he’s designing an offense for easily the most talented quarterback he’s ever coached. The big question hanging over their partnership is Jackson’s health. He’s missed five games each of the past two seasons, sidelined by minor lower-body injuries. Jackson was also knocked out of the Ravens’ 2020 playoff loss to the Bills after suffering a concussion.

Yards after the catch: Early in training camp, Jackson knew the offense could have a new dimension. “Let’s get these guys the ball and let them do them,” he said. Few quarterbacks have gotten less open-field production than Jackson. Over the past four seasons, among the 82 quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts, he ranks No. 69 in the percent of passing yards that came after the catch (42.3%).

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At Georgia, Monken compensated for Bennett’s limited arm strength by creating favorable matchups for his receivers in space. The Bulldogs finished 18th in the FBS last season in yards after the catch per reception (6.9), bolstered by an array of screens, RPOs and spread looks.

Zone reads: The Ravens’ read-option attack, which rolled up 1,062 yards and 6.2 yards per carry last season, relied heavily on gap schemes, according to SIS. That could change under Monken. The bulk of Georgia’s production on options last season came on zone schemes, with the Bulldogs rushing for 550 yards and 5.9 yards per carry on zone and split-zone concepts.

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

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