Monday, January 23, 2023

Ravens wants to speak to Geno Smith’s mentor about being a key coach

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Finding the right offensive coordinator will help the Baltimore Ravens secure a new contract with Lamar Jackson. The franchise quarterback needs a play-caller and a system tailored to help him progress as a passer.

That’s why the Ravens want to talk to Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Dave Canales about such an exciting development. The message was reported by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowlerwho identified the key role Canales played in transforming Geno Smith into a Pro-Bowl QB:

Smith’s transformation from underling to record starter gives Canales the highest recommendation for Greg Roman’s successor. It also raises tantalizing possibilities as to what wonders the quarterback whisperer could work with an athlete as naturally gifted as Jackson.

Smith was scheduled to enter the 2022 NFL season as Drew Lock’s replacement. It’s a role the 32-year-old was more than familiar with from similar days on the bench for the New York Jets, New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers.

Instead, Smith produced a comeback season to last, setting a new Seahawks franchise record in the process CBS sports:

A Seahawks team, reportedly in rebuild mode, airborne Smith’s 30 touchdowns to the playoffs. Although the Seahawks were beaten on the road by the San Francisco 49ers in the wild card round, Smith put up a good fight against the league’s strongest defense, Per Dov Kleimann:

The overall jump in Smith’s numbers is what the Ravens should keep an eye on any interview with Canales. He’s improved significantly from Smith’s best season as a starter to date, the 2013 campaign with the Jets.

Smith averaged 6.9 yards per attempt and had a 66.5 QB rating that year. Those numbers jumped to 7.5 yards per attempt, along with a 100.9 rating this season.

This is the blueprint for what the Ravens need from Jackson outside of Roman’s run-heavy offense. Achieving this requires a few things, including some that Jackson doesn’t have.

Jackson needs to stay healthy to refine his game. Unfortunately, staying on the field has been a problem for the last two seasons.

The 26-year-old missed the last six games of the season with a PCL injury. An ankle problem kept Jackson out of the final five games of the 2021 season.

Going 2-9 during that run showed the Ravens how badly they need No. 8 to stay upright, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. The other equips Jackson with better playmakers among his pass catchers, particularly at wide receivers.

Talent in the latter position is not in short supply for the Seahawks. Not when DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett can burn the full-back freely. Both surpassed 1,000 yards this season and combined for half of Smith’s touchdown passes, with Metcalf also contributing against the niners:

Metcalf and Lockett are top notch wideouts, but Jackson has had to settle for experienced retreaders like DeSean Jackson and untried youngsters like Tylan Wallace. The options available to Jackson will need to improve this offseason if the next coordinator is to make a meaningful difference.

Investing in a headline free agent won’t be easy. Not when Jackson is likely to be tagged as a franchise, something that could cost as much as $32,445,000 of the Ravens’ projected $32,861,209 under salary cap space.

It’s an issue General Manager Eric DeCosta needs to solve, but if the Ravens traded Jackson, the next OC would likely have to get more from a less talented signal caller. In other words, exactly what Canales did to Smith.

Experience isn’t an issue for the 41-year-old, who has been with the Seahawks since 2010 but was promoted to passing game coordinator in 2020. Canales is well-versed in the one area the Ravens need to fix next season after Roman’s last year on the headset totaled just 3,202 yards, the third-least in the league.

If a seasoned quarterbacks coach were running the offense, a QB-friendly scheme would be better suited to getting the most out of the Ravens’ most important player.

It’s an issue General Manager Eric DeCosta needs to solve, but if the Ravens traded Jackson, the next OC would likely have to get more from a less talented signal caller. In other words, exactly what Canales did to Smith.

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