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3 under-the-radar offseason moves that could pay dividends for the Ravens in 2020by Frank J. Platko on July 11, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports The Ravens offseason was headlined by the big-name additions of Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, Patrick Queen and J.K. Dobbins, among others. Additionally, retaining incumbent free agents like Marcus Peters and Matthew Judon also stand out as high-octane moves. However, in addition to the transactions listed above, Eric DeCosta and company made a number of less-heralded moves that could similarly have a major impact on the team’s success in 2020. What are your thoughts on the three acquisitions below? Vote in the polls at the end of this article and join in on the conversation with any other considerations! Re-signing Pernell McPhee The latest of the Ravens’ free agent signings this offseason came on May 5, when it was announced that the team had re-signed OLB Pernell McPhee to a one-year deal. McPhee rejoined Baltimore in 2019 after playing the first four seasons of his career with the Ravens. Unfortunately, his return was cut short after seven games, as McPhee suffered a torn triceps injury in Week 7 and missed the remainder of the season. When the Ravens held off on adding an edge rusher in the draft, it almost felt like a given that McPhee would be back - and sure enough that’s what happened. McPhee is now 31 years old but demonstrated last year that he still has plenty left in the tank. In seven appearances, McPhee had racked up three sacks, six QB hits and nine pressures. He was on his way to his best statistical campaign in quite some time. The Ravens needed consistent, starter-level production from McPhee last season, as he was the only established pass-rusher at the position aside from Matthew Judon. In 2020, though, McPhee can work in more of a rotational role alongside Jaylon Ferguson and Tyus Bowser. McPhee’s veteran leadership and playoff experience will also be invital as the Ravens look to make a push towards a Super Bowl appearance. Signing D.J. Fluker The Ravens added a number of offensive lineman this offseason to help replace Marshal Yanda, and the competition for the vacant right guard spot should be intense. Heading into training camp, veteran D.J. Fluker likely has the inside track. Fluker was signed to a one-year in late April after being released by the Seahawks earlier in the offseason. Fluker’s play in Seattle was inconsistent, but the former first-round pick did start in all 14 of his appearances in 2019. Fluker spent the past two seasons with the Seahawks after playing for the Chargers and Giants, briefly, between 2013-2017. At 6-foot-5, 342 Ibs, Fluker’s size gives him an advantage as a mauler in the downhill run game, as does his impressive 7-foot wingspan. Given his athletic traits and scheme fit, Fluker could potentially thrive in Greg Roman’s offensive system. He’s the only candidate for the starting right guard spot with experience to his name, as Ben Bredeson and Tyre Phillips are rookies and Ben Powers appeared in just one game last season. Re-signing Jihad Ward Another lowkey but well-received move was the re-signing of Jihad Ward, who also was given a one-year contract. Ward joined the Ravens in Week 4 of the 2019 season and saw his role expand as the season progressed. From Week 5 on, Ward played over 50% of defensive snaps in all but one game, which was the 42-21 drubbing of the Jets on Thursday Night Football in Week 12. Ward’s increasing and then steady snap count reflects the trust he quickly earned from the coaching staff. His numbers don’t jump off the page, but they fail to tell the whole story. On the season, Ward posted seven tackles, six pressures, six QB hits and one sack. In a rotational role, though, he seemingly made a number of impact plays throughout the year. Ward is a natural defensive end but possesses the versatility to kick inside and outside along the front seven, which gives “Wink” Martindale yet another tool to work with. He should provide steady depth behind Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, while the upgrades the Ravens made on the defensive line could open up more individual opportunities for him to make his share of plays.
Ravens reveal All-Time Team: Lamar Jackson beats out Joe Flacco, Derek Mason snubbedby Dustin Cox on July 11, 2020 at 1:00 pm
Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images Have you ever wondered what the All-Time Team for the Ravens would look like? There are obvious answers to certain positions like inside linebacker, free safety, and left tackle, but what about the rest of the roster? Fans recently voted for their choice of player at each position, and while most selections come as little to no surprise, others lead way to quite the debate. While the Ravens have lacked top-end offenses for a large portion of their existence as a franchise, there have still been some impressive players to come through on that side of the ball, making for some tough choices at certain positions. Quarterback: Lamar Jackson Running back: Jamal Lewis Fullback: Vonta Leach Wide receiver: Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith Sr. Tight end: Todd Heap Offensive tackle: Jonathan Odgen, Ronnie Stanley Guard: Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele Center: Matt Birk Jackson beating Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco may come as a bit of a surprise. While Jackson is clearly the better player, as evident by winning the second ever unanimous MVP award in his first full season as a starter, Flacco’s postseason success cannot be understated. In his 11 years with Baltimore, Flacco won 10 playoff games, eight of which on the road, with his most notable performances coming during a historic playoff run culminating in beating the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. Jackson is the obvious answer if you are asking who the better quarterback is, but he has yet to put a dent into the playoff success experienced with Flacco at the helm. The omission of WR Derek Mason will surely spark much debate as well. Mason is the all-time franchise leader in receiving yards with 5,777 yards. It’s undisputed that Boldin belongs here, so Mason would have to replace Steve Smith Sr., who is a fan favorite despite only playing three seasons in Baltimore at the end of his storied career. The defensive selections are less controversial: Defensive tackle: Haloti Ngata, Tony Siragusa Defensive end: Michael McCrary Outside linebacker: Terrell Suggs, Peter Boulware Inside linebacker: Ray Lewis, C.J. Mosley Cornerback: Chris McAlister, Marlon Humphrey Free safety: Ed Reed Strong safety: Rod Woodson It is quite impressive for Humphrey to join such elite company after only three seasons in the NFL. He has quickly emerged as one of the best corners in the NFL. As for special teams, there should be absolutely no surprises here: Kicker: Justin Tucker Punter: Sam Koch Long snapper: Morgan Cox Return specialist: Jacoby Jones If Tucker isn’t already the best kicker of all time, he surely will be when he hangs his cleats up. Koch has been one of the best and most consistent punters in the league throughout his career and Cox is as steady as a rock. Jones only played for the Ravens for three seasons but his role in the Super Bowl run was second only to Flacco with many to this day even arguing that he should have won Super Bowl MVP instead. What are your thoughts on the Ravens All-Time Team as voted by the fans?
Lamar Jackson tops list of reddit.com’s Top 100 NFL playersby Kyle P Barber on July 10, 2020 at 1:00 pm
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports No surprise here, folks Before the 2019 season, Jackson was brutally criticized for his “lack of throwing ability.” By the end of the season, many wonder how that was ever in question. The r/nfl subreddit of reddit.com was no different, and yet here Lamar Jackson tops their list of Top 100 NFL players of 2019. The subreddit is home to 1.9 million subscribers and boasts enough activity during the Super Bowl to crash the website’s servers in years past. It’s where I learned to love writing and talking football many years ago, in fact. Now, these aren’t experts but they are dedicated fans. They also went through strong methodology to bring reasonable results. I highly recommend checking out the methodology as it’s a solid structure any media outlet would be proud of. And where did it place Jackson? As I said above, it placed him first in the NFL. The write up for Jackson is a treat. And for it being written by an individual under the username /u/UnbiasedBrownsFan, provides great analysis and commentary from a person not rooting for the Ravens. Below is /u/UnbiasedBrownsFan’s intro, but I strongly urge you to read the entire write up. Introduction You’ve made it, the top of the list, the crème de la crème. Lamar Motherfuckin’ Jackson. It’s difficult to put into words what exactly makes Lamar Jackson special. Some of the words I’ve used to describe him include: “Holy Fuck” “What the Hell” “You’ve got to be shitting me” Basically, it’s the return of the “Ah, wait, no way, you’re kidding. He didn’t just do what I think he did, did he?” The likes of which we haven’t seen since the Michael Vick days in Madden 04 but if we turned him up to about 17. Coming into the season Lamar had the weight of the Ravens franchise on his shoulders and constant pressure from critics who didn’t believe he could cut it as a quarterback. Well, the jokes were on them because he spent literally all of 2019 cutting it up and down the field. And whether he was tormenting opposing teams on the field, or just torturing me in my own personal dreamscape, it truly felt like Lamar Jackson was everywhere last season. And perhaps he was? No. That must have been a dream. Virtual Reality Lamar Jackson can’t hurt you. But he still possessed the uncanny ability to feed a grown man into the dirt and had an unnerving knack for inserting IV drips directly into the lives of opposing linemen. And it is because of this that Jackson has become a man to be feared among NFL circles. And it was that same sheer force of will that engineered Jackson’s brilliant 2019 season.
Ravens News 7/10: The RB struggle and moreby Vasilis Lericos on July 10, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images NFL’s most complete teams in ‘20? Ravens, 49ers, Chiefs top the list - Adam Schein 1. Baltimore Ravens General manager Eric DeCosta has assembled the best roster in the NFL, bar none. Last season, the Ravens led the league in scoring and finished third in scoring defense. Both units are positioned to dominate once again in 2020. On offense, it obviously starts with Lamar Jackson. The former Heisman Trophy winner and reigning NFL MVP took a massive leap forward in his second pro season, leading the league with 36 touchdown passes and shattering Michael Vick’s QB record with 1,206 rushing yards. Scary thought: He’s only going to get better, with a talented, young supporting cast he can continue to grow alongside. Second-round pick J.K. Dobbins, with his talent, toughness, work ethic and pedigree, was put on Earth to run the football for the Ravens. With Dobbins joining a backfield that already featured Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, Baltimore has every possible skill set you could want from the running back position. Meanwhile, second-year wideout Hollywood Brown can fly, making him a big-play threat on every snap. And tight end Mark Andrews is fresh off a breakout season that ended in the Pro Bowl, thanks to 852 yards and 10 touchdowns. Marshal Yanda’s retirement is a hit to the offensive line, no doubt, but the Ravens boast one of the NFL’s top tackle tandems in 26-year-old Ronnie Stanley and 24-year-old Orlando Brown Jr. Defensively, Baltimore remains absolutely stacked in the back end, with first-team All-Pro CB Marlon Humphrey fronting one of the league’s most talented secondaries. On the second level, the Ravens snagged first-round pick Patrick Queen, whose athletic game is perfect for the modern NFL. And up front, DeCosta traded for Calais Campbell and added Derek Wolfe in free agency, giving the D-line a pair of experienced, versatile veterans with great leadership skills. Did I mention that Campbell’s been a Pro Bowler in five of the past six seasons? No NFL team is perfect, but DeCosta’s fine work — in free agency and the draft — has produced a roster with the fewest blemishes in the league today. 2020 NFL training camp battles to watch: Running backs - Ben Linsey BALTIMORE RAVENS: MARK INGRAM VS. J.K. DOBBINS VS. GUS EDWARDS VS. JUSTICE HILL The Ravens weren’t lacking in the running back department in 2019, and things only got more crowded after they used a second-round pick on Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins. Some of the “pros” for Dobbins in the 2020 PFF Draft Guide included ideal size and burst for an NFL back in conjunction with a one-cut, north-south running style that should fit well in the Ravens’ offense. Obviously, his production at Ohio State speaks for itself. He can carry the load if asked to do so, but he likely won’t be a true lead back given the other running backs Baltimore has at its disposal. Mark Ingram isn’t the flashiest of options, but the guy can run the ball. His 75.5 rushing grade in his first season with the Ravens ranked 16th among 45 running backs with 100 or more carries. Going back a few more years highlights one of Ingram’s biggest strengths as a runner: He rarely takes negative plays. Since 2016, no running back has had a lower percentage of their carries go for no gain or a loss than Ingram (14%). With Lamar Jackson freezing defenders on all the read options that Baltimore runs, you want a running back who hits the hole and takes advantage of that hesitation. Ingram fills that need. That brings us to the two options who likely fall behind Dobbins and Ingram. If we’re talking about production, Gus Edwards is getting a raw deal coming in third or lower on any depth chart. Over the past two years, his 83.6 rushing grade ranks 13th among running backs, and no player at the position has had a higher percentage of their runs go for first downs or touchdowns than Edwards (31%). Hill, meanwhile, had just 58 rushing attempts in 2019, but it was only a year ago that the Ravens spent a fourth-round pick on the Oklahoma State product. The verdict: There is no true starter with Ingram and Dobbins splitting the majority of the work Training Camp Breakdown: Running Backs - Clifton Brown Under the Radar Hill’s longest run was 18 yards last season, but he has the speed to make more explosive plays both as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. Players often make their biggest improvement between Year 1 and Year 2. If Hill enjoys a strong training camp, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman may look for more opportunities to get Hill the ball in space. Head Coach John Harbaugh said he expects Hill to make a “big jump.” Rechsteiner is an interesting prospect out of Kennesaw State who is the son of former pro wrestler Rick Steiner. The undrafted rookie showed that physicality in his running in college, where he was also a mauling fullback. NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates: Chase Young in front - Lance Zierlein 2) Patrick Queen, LB, Baltimore Ravens While just two DROY winners over the last 10 seasons were off-ball linebackers, both players (Darius Leonard and Luke Kuechly) played fast and offered coverage versatility on third downs. Queen is not only fast in a straight line, but his scrape explosiveness is extremely impressive and he can cover both tight ends and running backs down the field. He plays with an alpha mentality and should stack plenty of tackles for a proven defense in Year 1. Mark Ingram: Return to football needs to be ‘safe, effective and efficient’ - Blake Harper “I’m basically just listening to the updates from the team, from the [players association], from the league and, I want to play ball, but I think it needs to be in a safe, effective and efficient way,” Ingram said on NFL Total Access. “I know there’s standards and protocols and guidelines and all that to make sure everybody’s healthy and safe. And we’re doing everything to make sure nobody’s at risk. I’m hopeful that we’ll be playing.” Training camp is set to start on July 28, with safety protocols set in place that are meant to keep cases from spiking among teams. “I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m preparing myself to have the best season I can,” Ingram said. “Even with everything going on, I’m just trying to stay healthy, trying to stay safe, trying to stay away from people, but most importantly not letting it hinder my work or my preparation for the season.”
Podcast: Mahomes Signs, Attendance announcementsby Jake Louque on July 9, 2020 at 5:57 pm
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images What’s up guys? It’s another thirsty Thursday on the Baltimore Beatdown Podcast, that’s what. Spencer is busy getting drunk down in Ocean City, so in his place, Ravens Flock Talk’s own Walt Hansbrough (@WalkLikeWalt) joins Jake to talk some NFL and ravens news, and open the mailbag for the week of July 9th. To start things off, the boys discuss the biggest news in NFL circles right now, and that is Patrick Mahomes mega-contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs. After that, they discuss the Ravens announcement regarding closing off their home games to only allow for a maximum attendance of 14,000 fans, and what that’s going to mean for the team in 2020. To cap things off, the guys turn to the mailbag which includes many great questions this week, such as projections for Hollywood Brown and Mark Andrews, how the attendance announcement affects home field advantage, potential breakout players at linebacker, and much, much more. Thanks for listening, and stay safe out there! Follow the show on social: Twitter: @PodcastBeatdown, @Jakelouque, @ravens4dummies IG: @baltimore_beatdown Facebook: Baltimore Beatdown - For Baltimore Ravens Fans Also check us out on YouTube for full video episodes of this podcast!