Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:
Everyone is allowed an opinion, but I laugh when I read/hear that the Ravens "have a decision to make" on Lamar Jackson deserving a new contract. He has a 30-7 record as a starter and has won two division titles and a playoff game by age 24. No decision necessary.
The contract extension for tight end Nick Boyle, announced Friday, indicates his importance to the offense, but it also is a sign of the organization's trust in him, as Boyle is still recovering from the knee injury that ended his 2020 season. The Ravens obviously believe he'll fully recover.
Given the uncertainty at outside linebacker with so many pending free agents, retaining Pernell McPhee on a one-year deal makes great sense. He handled a heavy snap load this season, delivered in big games and led in the locker room. He is easy to envision as part of the solution.
It's quite a testament to the general caliber of coaching at the Under Armour Performance Center that Head Coach John Harbaugh's 2020 staff of assistants has thus far produced one head coach (David Culley, Houston Texans) and three unit coordinators (Joe Cullen, Jaguars; Mike Macdonald, Michigan; Jesse Minter, Vanderbilt).
It's completely unfair to suggest, as some have, that Culley is getting hired because he connected so well with Deshaun Watson at the 2020 Pro Bowl. He is getting hired because he is an impressive candidate with decades of experience. Watson reportedly wants out so their relationship is irrelevant.
I sniffed the scent of evolution when GM Eric DeCosta acknowledged more teams run offenses in which the quarterback's first job is to get rid of the ball quickly and not get sacked. You still need a pass rush, DeCosta said, but prioritizing coverage over pressure is becoming a thing.
The Ravens have more than a little in common with one of the Super Bowl teams. The Tampa Bay Bucs were 7-5 in early December, won their remaining regular-season games and then went on the road as a wild-card qualifier and won their first-round playoff game. Sound familiar?
After Harbaugh and DeCosta referenced it, I checked the Ravens' league-low total of pass attempts in 2020. Indeed, their average of 25 per game was 10 below the league average. It's no surprise, but if anything, the Ravens need to throw more to force defenses to play them more straightaway.
Keep in mind: When asked how to go about improving the passing game in 2021, DeCosta started by saying, "One of the things we have to do is get better up front with pass protection." I think he meant more than just getting tackle Ronnie Stanley back from injury.
In his first year as a starter, safety DeShon Elliott made a strong case for a new contract. He ranked fourth on the team in solo tackles. Only one player on the defense (Chuck Clark) played more snaps. His rookie deal expires after next season. Time to get busy.
A way-too-early prediction for 2021: J.K Dobbins will surpass 1,000 rushing yards for the season. He turns 23 in December, so he's a lot younger than the Ravens' two most recent thousand-yard rushers (at running back). Mark Ingram II was 30 in 2019 and Justin Forsett was 29 in 2014.