Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Baltimore Ravens Season Preview

Last year the Ravens moved on from longtime QB, and Super Bowl XLVII MVP, Joe Flacco. They showed us a new identity, bringing in both Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III, two polar opposites of Flacco. John Harbaugh had been under pressure for the 2 previous years, so something needed to change, and the final flash draft pick of Jackson from outgoing GM, Ozzie Newsome, gave Baltimore the new identity they needed..

Flashback to Week 1 2018, Flacco was under center, which makes it seem as if it was ages ago now, but it wasn’t the offense that shone, despite scoring 47 points. It was Don “Wink” Martindale’s defense. They limited the Bills to 3 points, achieving 7 sacks in the process. The outstanding defense was a common theme throughout the season. Starting 4-2, they shutout the Tennessee Titans in week 6, spending most of the game in the Titans’ backfield.

But there were a few turning points, the offense was just so Joe Flacco throughout the season. When facing 3 of the most in-form teams at the time, in the Steelers, Panthers and the Saints, they went 0-3, in those games, heading into their bye, with an overall record of 4-5. To make the wounds worse, Flacco went down with an injury. Little did they know it was a blessing in disguise…

What a second half of the season it was, the Ravens won the AFC North last year because of that. Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson was a big reason for the success in a revitalised offense. Finishing the season 10-6, only losing to eventual Number 1 seed Kansas City, The power run game from both Gus Edwards and, of course, the scrambling QB in Jackson, dominated defenses and was incredibly hard to stop, well until the Chargers figured them out in the wild card round.

Staff additions

First off, one big loss is Ozzie Newsome. The face of the Baltimore Ravens from day one. He, however, is replaced by Eric DeCosta, a man who has been in the organization for a while, so Ravens fans shouldn’t be worried at all, it doesn’t make a difference really.

The big addition to the coaching staff is the new offensive coordinator, Greg Roman. It’s official, the Flacco era is over. Out goes former OC Marty Mornheinwig, which I’m sure loads of people are happy about.

Roman has worked with similar QB’s to Jackson, in Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor, the former going to the super bowl in his system. He was also Tight End’s coach for the Ravens last year, so there will be some familiarity. for those at the Tight End position, which is essential in his scheme. This is good news for the young TEs in Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst. I’m sure Andrews will continue his fine form from last time out.

2019 Offseason (Free Agency and Draft)

Let’s face it, Baltimore has lost a lot this season. LB C.J. Mosley is the one with arguably the highest-profile departure. He signed with the Jets after they handed him over $50 million in guaranteed money.

Safety Eric Weddle moved to the LA Rams, that’s one move I was surprised to see, although they might have got a pretty good replacement for him. More on that later.

Wideouts John Brown and Michael Crabtree departed for Buffalo and Arizona respectively.

There were two more linebacker losses in Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith. The latter joined the Green Bay Packers and both left a pretty big hole in that unit. Mr. T-Sizzle, A.K.A Suggs, was in Baltimore for 15 years, his entire NFL career. In that time he won Super Bowl XLVII, with Flacco, Harbaugh, etc. As well as appearing in 7 Pro Bowls and being First-team All-Pro once in 2011. Suggs also won Defensive Player of the Year that season. Although he’s getting on a bit, I was still surprised to see him join Arizona this offseason.

Longtime QB Joe Flacco was traded to Denver for a fourth-round pick. Flacco was a good servant for the Ravens, but he started to decline throughout his last few years. I wonder how long he’ll stay a starter in this league.

As for their incomings, there are a couple of big ones.

Mark Ingram is a perfect fit for the Ravens backfield. He and Gus Edwards will produce an excellent power run game, which worked ever so well towards the end of last season. It will be similar to the outstanding Alvin Kamara and Ingram pairing in New Orleans the past few years.

Earlier I mentioned a safety to replace Eric Weddle, that guy is Earl Thomas. Thomas, a former Seahawk needed a fresh start, after the fall out of the legion of boom. I for one am intrigued to see if he can get back to his best.

There were no other notable additions really, leaving a few holes pre-draft.

2019 NFL Draft Class – Baltimore Ravens

Below are the 2019 draft selections for the Ravens.

  • 1st round (25) – Marquise Brown – WR – Oklahoma 
  • 3rd round (85) – Jaylon Ferguson – OLB – Louisiana Tech 
  • 3rd round (93) – Miles Boykin – WR – Notre Dame
  • 4th round (113) – Justice Hill – RB – Oklahoma State
  • 4th round (123) – Ben Powers – G – Oklahoma
  • 4th round (127) – Iman Marshall – CB – USC
  • 5th round (160) – Daylon Mack – DT – UAB
  • 6th round (197) – Trace McSorley – QB – Penn State 

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown tops of an excellent first draft class for De Costa and co. The Oklahoma man is a flashy receiver, just like his uncle, Antonio Brown. He is lightning quick and will pair up nicely with fellow rookie, and physical threat, Miles Boykin. Talking of flashy, I’m sure Justice Hill can contribute to a few big plays as well. Trace McSorely is a special player and should make the roster. Comparisons are being made to Taysom Hill. I’m all for that, the Ravens QB room, certainly has speed.

As for the UDFA’s,

  • TE Cole Herdman (Purdue)
  • TE Charles Scarff (Delaware)
  • WR Sean Modster (Boise State)
  • WR Jaylen Smith (Louisville)
  • WR Antoine Wesley (Texas Tech)
  • OL C.J. Toogood (Elon)
  • G Patrick Mekari (Cal-Berkeley)
  • OT Marcus Applefield (Virginia)
  • DT Gerald Willis (Miami)
  • DT Kalil Morris (Kent State)
  • OLB Marcus Jones (Angelo State)
  • OLB Michael Onuoha (Texas A&M – Commerce)
  • ILB Otaro Alaka (Texas A&M)
  • ILB EJ Ejiya (North Texas)
  • ILB Silas Stewart (Incarnate Word)
  • S Evan Worthington (Colorado)
  • LS Matt Orzech (Azusa Pacific)

Training Camp standouts.

Rookie guard Ben Powers has had a few good opportunities throughout camp and preseason and performed well.

Also a Rookie, Trace McSorley has been phenomenal this preseason, setting records and showing what a special utility player he could be. He’s probably the next Taysom Hill kind of player, as previously stated.

Finally, 3rd-year pass rusher Tyus Bowser is shining in the wake of losing Suggs and Smith. He recorded four tackles, two for a loss and a sack.

That’s all from the Baltimore Ravens Season Preview, they’re looking set to be in the playoff mix again, it’s going to be a 3-way race to the AFC North title, sorry Bengals fans.

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