The Adam Schefter Podcast: Highlights From Justin Madubuike Interview
On a team filled with breakout 2023 seasons, none may have put together a better one than defensive lineman Justin Madubuike. After 12 games, Madubuike has shattered career bests with 10 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 21 quarterback hits. His breakout has also come in a contract year, which according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens tried to avoid.
"[Justin Madubuike] timed this perfectly," Schefter said. "Baltimore 'put on a press' to sign him this summer. He rolled the dice. He bet on himself like Joe Flacco once did with the Baltimore Ravens, and like Joe Flacco winning, Justin Madubuike is in line to win. He's one of the elite young defenders in the game."
Madubuike's play has Schefter clamoring for him to make the Pro Bowl, and even enter the Defensive Player of the Year discussion.
"I believe he's on his way to the Pro Bowl this year," Schefter said. "If he doesn't go to the Pro Bowl, it's a travesty. You could even make some conversation that he belongs in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. Which, I don't think he'll win when you got guys like Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt dominating play. But that's how good Justin Madubuike has been. He'll be a Pro Bowl player I expect."
The Ravens certainly won't want to see Madubuike go elsewhere after developing into an interior pressure generator. According to Schefter, they'll continue to work on a long-term deal with Madubuike, but if it comes down to it, the Ravens could consider using the franchise tag to keep their star defensive lineman.
"He is a free agent this offseason. And I know he won't like to hear this but I would think that the Baltimore Ravens can't let him go. And if they can't get him re-signed by then, they'll probably have to use their franchise tag on him."
Schefter sat down with Madubuike to talk about his season and offer some insight into his season and what's it like having Lamar Jackson as his quarterback and going against him in practice.
AS: What would it mean to you to be voted to the Pro Bowl?
JM: "It would mean a lot. It would mean a lot. But all that stuff is outside of my power, outside of my control. I just want to be a dominant player for my team. Be a force on the defensive front. Setting edges, making TFL's, whatever I can do to make my team win. When I focus on that, all the extra stuff will sprinkle after."
AS: What is the thing people don't realize about QB Lamar Jackson?
JM: "That man is the best quarterback in the NFL. I chase after him every day at practice. He's throwing darts, running super-fast. Great guy, great teammate. Great human being. Best quarterback I've ever had in my life. A lot of people don't know Lamar is very very down to Earth human being. Very cool guy. Very funny dude. Great leader. He doesn't say way too much but when he does speak, everybody listens, and he means what he says. That's our leader. That's our guy. Thankful he's on my team, fo' sho.'"
AS: What is the one thing or one skill Lamar Jackson has that impresses you the most?
JM: "Just able to make defenders miss and kind of make them look ridiculous when he does it. Just, how he does it every game. Every game. Every game, all the time, all the time. He got that, I don't know what kind of gene it is, the Michael Jackson gene? I don't know what it is."
AS: Has he done it to you?
JM: "He may have. Sometimes. It happens to everybody! Nobody's safe!"
AS: What would it feel like to bring a Super Bowl to the city of Baltimore?
JM: "Dream come true. Crazy. I can't even have words to describe it. It just has to happen. If it's any year, it's this year. So, we're just going to keep taking it one game at a time. One day at a time.
Ronnie Stanley's Up-and-Down Play Hopes to Settle with Time to Heal
The Ravens got it done against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, but many were surprised how they struggled to score points against a porous defense. One of the notable developments has been left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who is playing through injury.
"In his return from a knee injury, Stanley struggled to deal with Los Angeles Chargers standout edge rusher Khalil Mack, who had two sacks and was in Jackson's face for much of the evening," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "Stanley allowed six quarterback pressures and committed two penalties in the game, prompting Ravens coach John Harbaugh to say a day later, 'It's not been great. I think he'd be the first person to tell you that it's not been great.'"
However, the Ravens' bye week could be a boon.
"The question the Ravens have to ponder is will the bye week and the current stretch of just one game in 23 days help Stanley get closer to his pre-injury form, or is this essentially who he is as a player with the injuries having taken a toll?" Zrebiec wrote. "When healthy, Stanley has been one of the best players in the league at his position. If their answer is the latter, do they consider making a change if things don't improve soon?"
While the expectation is on Stanley returning to form, Zrebiec says the team must consider contingencies for the future depending upon how the rest of the season shakes out.
"Then, in the offseason, Baltimore may have a decision to make," Zrebiec wrote. "Cutting Stanley pre-June 1 would trigger $8.3 million of cap savings and $17.8 million of dead money. That would hardly be ideal. The Ravens probably need to find an heir apparent to Stanley this offseason, but that's a concern for another day."
Kyle Hamilton for Pro Bowl? How About All-Pro?
On the national stage, the football world was introduced to Ravens' second-year safety Kyle Hamilton. His play on "Sunday Night Football," and throughout this season, has him careening toward Pro Bowl honors. But PFF’s Gordon McGuinness thinks the Pro Bowl may not be enough of an accolade for Hamilton's play. McGuinness sees him heading for First-Team All-Pro honors.
"But from either the slot or the box, only Antoine Winfield Jr. beats out Hamilton's 84.5 overall PFF grade, and Hamilton's 83.0 PFF coverage grade close to the line of scrimmage is the best among safeties," McGuinness wrote. "He's good enough to erase short passes from opposing offenses, which was evident in the win over the Chargers. Hamilton made three tackles resulting in a defensive stop, including two where he dominated the attempted block by wide receivers before bringing the ball carrier down."
McGuinness isn't alone in complimenting the "baby-faced assassin," as The Athletic's Ted Nguyen wrote, "Kyle Hamilton was built in a lab to destroy modern offenses. He was incredible against the Chargers."
Pundits Ponder Ravens Projections in Playoff Race
The Ravens sit atop the AFC for now, though things could change drastically on Sunday. If the Chiefs defeat the Packers, Jacksonville beats the Bengals and Miami beats the Commanders, the Ravens fall to fourth place, due to losing the tiebreakers to all three teams based on win percentage in conference games.
The Ravens will face two of those teams—Jacksonville and Miami – later this season in head-to-head matchups that will impact the tiebreakers. But even if the Ravens win both those games, the Chiefs still may be the team to beat in the race for the No. 1 seed, and it's an uphill climb according to CBS Sports’ John Breech.
"The Chiefs (8-3) aren't in the top spot in the AFC right now, but they will be if they beat the Packers on Sunday. Although the Chiefs are currently the second seed, the computer is projecting that Kansas City will finish at the top of the AFC," Breech wrote. "The two biggest things working in the Chiefs' favor: They have the easiest remaining strength of schedule in the AFC and they hold almost every key tiebreaker over the other top teams in the conference (They beat the Jags and Dolphins and they have a better conference record than the Ravens)."
The early-season losses against AFC foes, the Colts, Steelers and Browns could prove costly for the Ravens. But that's the past, and the Ravens look to the future, one where they are the favorite to win the AFC North and have a chance for the best record in the AFC.
"The computer has the Ravens and Chiefs finishing with the same record, but as we mentioned above, the Chiefs would likely get the top seed in that scenario since they have a better conference record (The Chiefs are currently 6-1 while the Ravens are 6-3)," Breech wrote. "As long as the Chiefs don't stumble down the stretch, it's going to be hard for Baltimore (9-3) to get the top seed. That being said, the computer does like Baltimore's chances of winning the AFC North with the Ravens currently being given a 65.3% chance to win the division."
- Gus Edwards was ranked the No. 9 running back by NFL Network’s Maurice Jones-Drew, saying, "The Ravens' top-ranked rushing attack has relied on a host of running backs and despite Keaton Mitchell having the hot hand of late, Gus Edwards is still the guy in the red zone. The veteran is one of three running backs with double-digit TD runs this season, with nine of them in the last six games."