How Justin Tucker Could Win the NFL MVP Award
Justin Tucker is a two-time Ravens MVP, but could he win the league's MVP award this season?
ESPN's Bill Barnwell looked at MVP winners from 13 different seasons and identified a comparable player who could have that sort of year in 2022.
In 1982, Washington's Mark Moseley became the first — and still the only — kicker to win the MVP award. Barnwell said Tucker is the leading candidate to replicate Moseley's feat.
Barnwell noted that 1982 was a strange year because a players' strike limited the season to nine games, "which created an opportunity that likely wouldn't exist otherwise." Moseley won the award by two votes over Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts.
"Moseley, who had hit 62% of his field goals over what was already a lengthy career, went 20-of-21," Barnwell wrote. "Several were game winners for an 8-1 Washington team. The small sample helped Moseley (who surely would have regressed to the mean over a larger sample) and hurt all the usual candidates (whose numbers looked puny relative to the usual 14- or 16-game totals)."
So what would it take for Tucker to win the award?
"He would need something virtually unprecedented," Barnwell wrote. "The Ravens would need to win at least 14 games. He would need to be perfect (or come close) and hit at least five game-winners, preferably from long distance and in games Baltimore was losing. Even then, Lamar Jackson would be more likely to win MVP than his kicker, but that's the sort of difference Tucker would have to make to get in the conversation.
"Is that possible? I think so. Gary Anderson and Mike Vanderjagt both produced perfect field goal seasons during the 16-game era. And last season, Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson hit nine field goals in the fourth quarter or overtime which gave his team a lead, three more than we've seen from any other kicker since 2000, Tucker included. Getting both those things to happen in the same season without your team's quarterback playing well enough to win MVP might be an impossible needle to thread, but Moseley managed to pull it off just over 40 years ago."
Lamar Jackson, Bernard Pollard Call a Truce
It appears a truce has been called in the Twitter feud between Jackson and former Ravens safety Bernard Pollard.
As noted in yesterday’s Late for Work, Jackson and Pollard engaged in a heated exchange on Twitter Wednesday night after Pollard made a negative tweet about the Ravens quarterback. Last night, Jackson offered an olive branch, which Pollard accepted.
Kudos to Jackson for reaching out to Pollard and putting an end to the keyboard vitriol.
Mark Andrews Remains Outside Top Three in ESPN's Tight Ends Rankings
It was noted in Late for Work a few weeks ago that Mark Andrews was named the Ravens' most underrated player by Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr, who said the first-team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl tight end is "even better than you already think he is."
Andrews' place in ESPN's top 10 tight ends rankings reinforces Orr's point about him being underrated.
Despite coming off one of the best seasons ever for a tight end, Andrews was ranked as just the fourth-best tight end in a survey of more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players. It was the second year in a row Andrews finished behind San Francisco's George Kittle, Kansas City's Travis Kelce and Las Vegas' Darren Waller.
"Andrews made his most compelling argument for the top three yet, leading the tight end class in targets (152), receptions (107), receiving yardage (1,361), first downs (75, 12 more than any other tight end) and air yards per target (10.3). His nine TD catches also tied three others for the tight end lead," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote.
Andrews was ranked as high as No. 2 by voters, but as low as No. 6 (!).
"He's certainly exceeded my expectations," an NFC offensive coach said. "I thought he was a one-speed guy, but he's been more dynamic than that. Great catch radius and savvy. He just doesn't have the elite skills that you see with a [Kyle] Pitts or Waller. Can he match up outside and win like those guys? I think he's a notch below that."
Ronnie Stanley Still Ranked Among Top 10 Offensive Tackles
Speaking of ESPN's positional rankings, the voters haven't forgotten how good left tackle Ronnie Stanley is when he's healthy. Despite being limited to just seven games over the past two seasons because of a left ankle injury that required multiple surgeries, Stanley came in at No. 8 in the offensive tackle rankings.
Stanley, who was No. 5 on last year's list, was ranked as high as No. 2 in this year's survey.
"When he last played, he was pretty darn good — elite range and footwork," an NFC executive said. "It figures that if he's close to where he was pre-injury, he's still a top guy."
Former Raven Orlando Brown Jr. of the Chiefs was the top honorable mention.
- The Ravens were No. 5 in Sharp Football Analysis’ defensive secondary rankings.
- The Ravens' strong 2018 draft class was reflected in The 33rd Team’s redrafting of the 2018 first round. Jackson (No. 2 overall), Brown Jr. (No. 5) and Andrews (No. 17) all were selected. The Ravens got Jackson with the last pick in the first round and took Brown and Andrews in the third round.