Perhaps Lamar Jackson actually doesn’t want huge receivers.
We are saying this with tongue planted in cheek. The Ravens nonetheless really feel compelled to stay two quick guys on the perimeters of their offense to maintain opponents trustworthy, and Jackson nonetheless likes to throw the ball downfield, rating fourth amongst present beginning quarterbacks in air yards per try.
Take into consideration the final two inflection factors when basic supervisor Eric DeCosta may have invested in huge receivers. In April, he traded his prime incumbent, Marquise Brown, to keep away from navigating Brown’s private dissatisfaction with the offense and his impending contract calls for. Somewhat than draft Brown’s alternative, DeCosta used his prime 4 picks on a 3rd security, a beginning heart, an injured edge rusher and a defensive sort out. Extra just lately, on the commerce deadline, DeCosta may have used a pair of picks to chase a large receiver equivalent to Brandin Cooks of the Houston Texans or Jerry Jeudy of the Denver Broncos. He determined the Ravens can be higher off with their current offense and a protection bolstered by one of many recreation’s prime linebackers, Roquan Smith. It didn’t matter that Bateman was about to go for season-ending surgical procedure on his foot.
What does this inform us? DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh don’t see worth in utilizing their most valuable sources, monetary or draft, on move catchers who won’t thrive in Baltimore anyway. They’re counting on extra “heavy” offensive units than any workforce within the league, with solely the Atlanta Falcons in the identical ZIP code. They imagine this method will carry them a great distance given Jackson’s one-of-one impression as a running-game fulcrum, the standard of their offensive line and their embarrassment of defensive riches. It’s a wager they finally misplaced after successful many video games in 2019 and 2020, however they’re tripling down.
Standing out: There may be a lot to focus on right here. Rookie heart Tyler Linderbaum has been as marketed. So has veteran proper sort out Morgan Moses. Proper guard Kevin Zeitler has been top-of-the-line free-agent signings in workforce historical past and left guard Ben Powers is a much-improved participant. However left sort out Ronnie Stanley’s return to the lineup and his capability to rapidly recapture his Pro Bowl kind could be essentially the most optimistic improvement of the Ravens’ first half.
Wants enchancment: The Ravens’ offensive line has improved nearly each week. The subsequent step is simply being a bit extra constant. Meaning eliminating a number of the pre-snap penalties and premature breakdowns and simply getting after defenses earlier in video games. Nonetheless, that’s nitpicky at this level. If the Ravens make a run, the offensive line might be a giant motive why.
Midseason grade: B+
Like at operating again, DeCosta additionally delivered on his offseason vow to enhance the offensive line. The additions of Moses, Linderbaum and even rookie fourth-round decide Daniel Faalele, who wasn’t overmatched when he was known as on early within the season, have solidified this group. Sixth offensive lineman Patrick Mekari stays one of many extra precious gamers on the roster. A wholesome and dominant Stanley has taken this group to a different stage.
Bye Week Roster Evaluation –Defense – Ken McKusick
Younger Producers (7): Kyle Hamilton, Justin Madubuike, Odafe Oweh, Patrick Queen, Roquan Smith*, Geno Stone, Broderick Washington
These are gamers on their first contract who’re have already got a major function (or ought to have one) and are taking part in nicely. A workforce wants as many of those gamers as attainable to repeatedly outperform the wage cap.
Hamilton, Queen, Smith, Stone, and Washington are all new additions because the finish of the 2021 season.
Of the group, solely Roquan Smith might be a UFA on the finish of the season.
Developmental (7): Jalyn Armour-Davis, Malik Harrison, Travis Jones, David Ojabo, Brandon Stephens, Pepe Williams, Josh Ross
These gamers are all nonetheless on their rookie offers, however one thing is holding them again from constant efficiency, a beginning function, or each. We hope that the majority, if not all, of those gamers will emerge to be younger producers rapidly. In reality, some are operating out of time to take action. By the beginning of subsequent season, the Ravens might want to get youthful defensively to offset giant contracts which will go to Roquan Smith, Marcus Peters, and Lamar Jackson.
Veterans Taking part in for Market Worth (10): Tyus Bowser, Calais Campbell, Chuck Clark, Justin Houston*, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters*, Michael Pierce, Jason Pierre-Paul*, Brent City*, Marcus Williams
A big chunk of the cap is spent on this group and these gamers are those (usually) who’re price it. This group contains 4 gamers who might be UFAs this offseason.
Ravens Coach: ‘You Wish You Could Just Clone’ Marlon Humphrey – Todd Karpovich
“Marlon, you want you may simply clone him and simply put him all around the subject due to the form of man that he’s, however he’s taking part in at a excessive stage proper now taking part in at nook,” Hewitt mentioned. “We’re giving him some extra alternatives to return inside and play some nickel, too, as a result of we see him coming off the sting as a blitzer; that’s one thing that he does rather well.”
Humphrey has not allowed a landing over 372 snaps this season. He has the second-highest grade within the NFL for man-coverage behind the Jets’ Sauce Gardner.
Humphrey additionally ranks third on the Ravens with 35 tackles and is tied with Marcus Williams for the workforce lead with 5 passes defensed.
Humphrey additionally has an interception and earned his first sack in Week 9 towards the New Orleans Saints when flew off the sting.
“He has that component there, that toughness inside that you just want,” Hewitt mentioned. “I’m positively happy with Marlon, the place he’s proper now and the place he’s going, as a result of we now have to get higher for the second half of the season as nicely.”
Tight finish Mark Andrews (knee/shoulder) and operating again Gus Edwards (hamstring) didn’t play Week 9 towards the Saints, huge receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) didn’t play within the second half, whereas move rusher Jason Pierre-Paul is coping with an ankle problem.
Harbaugh mentioned all these gamers have an opportunity to play Sunday when the Ravens host the Carolina Panthers.
“You speak to Mark [Andrews], he sounds very optimistic – clearly – about it, and the trainers, as nicely,” Harbaugh mentioned. “We’ll see the way it progresses all through the remainder of the week. It’ll be the identical reply for Gus. JPP (Pierre-Paul) was on the market right now. DeSean, all these guys, we’ll simply see how they appear on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. All of them have a very good likelihood.”
Two rookies who haven’t performed this season are shifting nearer to recreation motion – outdoors linebacker David Ojabo (Achilles) and fourth-round tight finish Charlie Kolar (hernia surgical procedure). Nonetheless, the Ravens are giving each rookies an opportunity to ramp up progressively.