Demarcus Robinson Believes He Can Be ‘Big Focal Point’ in Ravens Offense

Ravens WR Demarcus Robinson

Getty Ravens WR Demarcus Robinson picks up yards after the catch in a regular season game on November 20, 2022.

When second-year wide receiver and projected breakout candidate Rashod Bateman elected to have season-ending Lisfranc foot surgery, it seemed like one of the worst-case scenarios for the Baltimore Ravens and their fan base. Their lack of depth and proven talent at the position behind their 2021 first-round pick was one of the biggest concerns and question marks from many analysts about this year’s team and especially on offense.

However, over the team’s last three games including the one where Bateman would take his last snaps of the 2022 season, unheralded veteran wideout Demarcus Robinson has stepped up in a major way for quarterback Lamar Jackson and the offense. Against the Carolina Panthers in Week 11, he recorded a career-high in catches by hauling in all nine of his targets for a team-leading 128 receiving yards and finished as the Ravens’ highest-graded offensive player according to Pro Football Focus with an overall of 91.5.

“This guy right here [Demarcus Robinson] again came up big, ‘D-Rob’ making many plays,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said in his postgame press conference. “I was going to give him a game ball, but he just got the one last week, so we’ll have to see. He just played great again.”

The breakout performance also marked the second-highest receiving output of his entire seven-year career which included a six-year stint with the Kansas City Chiefs. Throughout his career to this point, he has been a supplementary or complementary pass catcher to more notable names such as Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce with the Chiefs then Bateman and Mark Andrews at the start of his tenure with the Ravens.

“I felt like I could be a big focal point wherever I would have [gone],” Robinson said in his postgame press conference. “I’m glad it’s here, obviously. I feel like I can be a big focal point, for sure.”

He was the brightest spot and most impressive performer on what was an otherwise uninspiring and lackluster day for the offense as a whole. Robinson accounted for more than half of the team’s net receiving yardage total and double the yardage production of any other pass catchers on the team.

His ability to consistently gain separation and run after the catch allowed him to take advantage of the consistent cushion he received from Caronlina’s cornerbacks for much of the game and picked up chunks of yardage at a time. He averaged 14.2 yards per catch and exhibited excellent body control when working the boundary of the field as several of his receptions came when he just managed to drag both feet inbounds.

He acknowledged that the responsibility of making plays and elevating the passing game doesn’t rest on his shoulders alone and expects his fellow members in his position group to rise to the occasion and follow his lead.

“Just to be able to step up, gather guys around in our room, and tell them, ‘It’s on us’,” Robinson said. “We just have to step up in that room and try to make plays, for sure.”

Having been a former cog in the well-oiled machine that is the Chiefs’ offense, he knows that they won’t be able to get by just scoring 13 points against the better teams in the league and especially come playoff time.

“The defense plays outstanding almost every week; I think we just need to keep upping our ante on offense so we can meet their standard,” Robinson said. “Then, I feel like we’ll be unstoppable.”

Stamp of Approval From MVP QB

Robinson has come up clutch for the Ravens in several games this year when called upon and when the ball has come his way. He received high praise from his former unanimous league MVP-winning quarterback after his huge outing in Week 11.

“He played lights out,” Lamar Jackson said in his postgame press conference. “We’ve known what he’s capable of though; we just have to keep feeding him the ball.”

Feeding him has exactly what Jackson has been doing as of late. Since Week 8, Robinson has been his most targeted pass catcher and even saw one more target this past Sunday than All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews who had caught six of eight for 63 yards in his first game back after missing the team’s Week 9 win over the New Orleans Saints before their Week 10 bye.

Ravens Want to Get All-Purpose Weapon More Involved in Offense

Even before Bateman’s season-ending diagnosis was announced, third-year wideout Devin Duvernay had been stepping up the Ravens as both a pass catcher in addition to his contributions as a returner and occasional ball carrier out of the backfield. He started the season on an impressive tear with four all-purpose touchdowns in the first three weeks including three receiving and one on a 103-yard kick return and has a rushing touchdown as well.

However, over the team’s last two games he has only touched the ball three times on offense and caught one pass in each game for a total of just nine receiving yards. He is a dynamic talent with the ball in his hands that makes plays in a plethora of ways the Ravens want to get him more touches moving forward.

“We’ve got to say to ourselves, as coaches, ‘We need him involved. We need to find a way to get him the ball,'” Harbaugh said. “So, we understand it. It doesn’t always go to a guy even when you call it towards a guy, but by the same token, we’ve got to keep chasing that, because we want the ball in his hands.”

Just because Duvernay isn’t getting the ball on regular bases, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t scheming plays up for him to get favorable looks or reads as receiver or runner. According to Harbaugh, there were “numerous passes where it just didn’t come his way” and between six to eight run-option reads where Duvernay could have gotten the ball but didn’t.

There was one particular instance in the fourth quarter on the Ravens’ second-to-last possession of the game where Jackson had a chance to hand the ball off to him on a read option but made an ill-advised decision to keep the ball and try to run it inside and was tackled behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of three yards.

When playing with a unique talent like Jackson who is confident in his electric playmaking abilities with the ball in his hands, Duvernay and the running backs may not always get to keep the ball on zone-read and read-option plays even when they probably should.

Also, with the Ravens’ low-volume passing attack, targets can sometimes be few and far between depending on the game plan or flow in any given week. Some weeks, the game plan might include more of an emphasis on specific types of runs than usual because a particular opponent might be more susceptible to power or gap-scheme runs than most.

Either way, they should make a concerted effort to get the ball in his hands on specifically called or designed plays more often no matter what. He should be getting at least seven to eight touches a game between handoffs and receptions whether they come on screens, sweeps, pitches, or receptions downfield in space.

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