By Chris Schisler
At the end of the 2021 season, Baltimore Ravens fans won’t be the only people wondering if Mark Andrews is the best tight end in the National Football League. Andrews is set to have a monster season for the purple and black.
The Ravens got better at the wide receiver position. This can never hurt a tight end who had been getting used to being the center of a defense’s attention. Andrews won’t slip down the priority list for the opposing defensive coordinator, but he will be harder to deal with.
Imagine being the defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Cincinnati Bengals. At this point, you’ve seen the Lamar Jackson show enough that you have a good idea of what you want to accomplish against the Ravens. The Ravens changed their personnel. You change who the defense has to deal with and you change the how.
The direct benefactor of the Ravens opening up the offense has to be Andrews. Andrews operates mostly in the middle of the field. He’s a tight end, usually flexed out almost as a slot receiver. He’s Jackson’s favorite target, who runs routes where Jackson likes to throw it. That last part is a key detail.
Again, we’re thinking about this from how the teams like to play the Ravens. They like to clog the middle of the field. First, they know that’s where Jackson operates most as a passer, secondly they like to crowd Andrews. That’s going to be harder when Marquise Brown isn’t the only real weapon on the outside.
Why the Ravens will see Andrews’s stock is up
With Rashod Bateman, Sammy Watkins, and Brown as the main three receivers, the defense has to respect both sides of the ball. A lot of people assume that the upgrades at wide receiver will make things easier on Hollywood Brown. They will, but Andrews will have the biggest chance to shine.
If the Ravens can spread the ball around, and not just rely on two targets, Andrews becomes a completely different threat. Andrews becomes what Travis Kelce is for the Chiefs. He’s the one player that you don’t have a good match up for and you have other things to deal with.
All it takes is Bateman to be a solid rookie and Watkins to have his typical performance and Andrews will see a bump up in production.
Andrews had 58 receptions last year and 64 the year before that. If the Ravens take a step forward in the passing game, they’re going to pass more often. They won’t try to be the Chiefs but the can make Andrews their version of Kelce.
In 2018, Andrews averaged 16.2 yards per reception. That number has gone down in two consecutive years. Teams were willing to do just about anything to prevent Andrews from having a big play. In 2018, nobody expected the Ravens third-round pick to be an instant star. The way the Ravens used Andrews didn’t change.
The fact that Andrews had 58 receptions in such an uncrowded group of pass-catchers shows how sneaky he is at getting open. Andrews has a great feel for the game and he and Jackson have great chemistry. A better situation makes a huge difference.
Ravens Bottom Line:
Let’s just say that between Watkins and Bateman you get 90 total receptions. That’s huge gains from the wide receiver position. Remember, Willie Snead, and Miles Boykin only gave the Ravens a total of 52 receptions last year. Add Duvernay to the mix and the Ravens only got 72 receptions from their main receivers not named Brown.
All it takes is 90 receptions from Watkins and Bateman and the Ravens have enough threats around the field that Andrews will be unfettered. If Keith Williams has the impact on the passing game that he was hired to have as the passing game coordinator, Andrews will be a weapon that will be the X-factor of the 2021 season. There’s a lot of if’s, though none of them are unrealistic. Pick Andrews in Fantasy Football. That’s all I’m saying