ESPN Pundit Says Kyle Hamilton Is 'Sneaky Candidate' for Defensive Player of the Year
During a breakout season, second-year safety Kyle Hamilton continues to gain recognition.
First, he was tabbed as a worthy Pro Bowler, and then an All-Pro candidate. Now, the 2022 first-round pick has been named a "sneaky candidate" for Defensive Player of the Year by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
"Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton has been all over the field with two interceptions, three sacks and eight tackles for loss," Fowler wrote.
While Hamilton winning the award over edge rushers such as the Browns' Myles Garrett, Steelers' T.J. Watt, and Cowboys' Micah Parsons, is a longshot, there's no denying the impact he has made as a versatile chess piece in Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald's system.
"Being a safety in today's game demands excelling in multiple roles. Hamilton has cleared the responsibility with room to spare this season," Heavy.com’s James Dudko wrote. "He's played 96 percent of the snaps, per Pro Football Reference, so Hamilton barely leaves the field in any situation. His constant presence allows Macdonald to show offenses different looks based on where Hamilton lines up.
"A lot of the time the safety is in the box, where he's made an impact in run support and on the blitz. He's been in on 62 tackles and created seven pressures after blitzing 27 times. Hamilton has proved just as active in coverage. He's allowed a measly 4.7 yards per completion and a 50.0 passer rating."
Hamilton talked about the mindset of the Ravens defense during his appearance on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access” yesterday.
"I think top to bottom we're a deep defense," Hamilton said. "We run about three deep at every position and guys are all over the field making plays. It starts with Roquan Smith. He's the leader of the defense, leader of our team, and his energy is infectious."
Hamilton also discussed how the offense and defense pick each other up and made the case for Lamar Jackson to win the MVP award.
How Ravens Can Elevate the Offense
The Ravens have the NFL's seventh-ranked offense, but there's still room for improvement over the final five weeks of the season.
The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer looked at where the Ravens could look to elevate the offense. Here are some excerpts:
"The bad news for the Ravens' passing game is that Jackson's downfield accuracy remains below average. He ranks 28th in completion percentage (27.5%) among the 31 quarterbacks with at least 20 deep passes (20-plus air yards), according to TruMedia. The good news: Jackson isn't overly reliant on them. With his 40 attempts, Jackson ranks 12th in deep-passing rate (12%) among the 28 quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts this season. Still, if the Ravens want to help themselves, they'll need a downfield strike every once in a while. Without the threat of home run shots, opponents can defend Jackson more aggressively, moving their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage in run support and blitzing more regularly.
"The Ravens' best hope for a breakthrough deep threat might be rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers, who flourished in that role in college. According to the NFL's Next Gen Stats, the first-round pick leads the Ravens not only in deep routes run (62), deep-pass targets (13) and deep-pass catches (five) but also separation downfield. On average, he's 2.9 yards from the nearest defender when the ball is released and 1.9 yards from the nearest defender when the pass arrives, both team-high marks that rank near the league average for wide receivers."
RB Keaton Mitchell vs. light boxes
"When the Ravens line up in 11 personnel (one back, one tight end and three wide receivers), their most common grouping this season, they often spread defenses out. On their 351 plays in 11 personnel, they've faced a "light box" — six or fewer defenders aligned between the tackles near the line of scrimmage — 272 times (77.5%). When the Ravens run the ball into those light boxes, good things usually happen. On their 49 designed carries out of 11 personnel this season, they've averaged 7.2 yards per carry — only San Francisco has fared better (9.7) — and an NFL-best 0.24 expected points added per play (The 49ers, the NFL's most efficient offense, are averaging 0.14 EPA per play overall this season).
"Rookie Keaton Mitchell's emergence has made the Ravens especially dynamic in space. On just 29 carries this season, the jet-quick running back has five gains of at least 20 yards. All but one of those explosive runs came in 11 personnel and against a light box, according to TruMedia."
Four Ravens Leading in Pro Bowl Fan Voting
The NFL released the early fan voting results for the Pro Bowl Games, and four Ravens are the leading vote-getters in the AFC at their respective positions: guard Kevin Zeitler, inside linebacker Smith, strong safety Hamilton, and free safety Geno Stone.
As a team, the Ravens are fourth in total votes, trailing only the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, and Dallas Cowboys.
Zeitler, despite his strong play and durability throughout his 12-year career, has never been named to a Pro Bowl team. He finished as the leading vote-getter among fans last year but still ended up being left off the roster.
Pro Bowl roster selections are determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches, with each group counting one-third toward determining the players.
Who Is the Scarier Player: Jackson or Tyreek Hill?
Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill is on pace to have the first 2,000-yard receiving season in history, but is the speedster the scariest player in the NFL? Or is it Jackson?
The "Good Morning Football" crew debated the question, and the results were split. Kyle Brandt went with Jackson.
"Lamar could injure you. I've seen him shake guys so badly," Brandt said. "Tyreek's just going to run by you and score, and 'oh, well.' I'm still afraid of Lamar. First of all, he's going to get way more opportunities. I know he still has that shake and that spin. I still think it's Lamar.'"
Hill and the Dolphins face Jackson and the Ravens on New Year's Eve at M&T Bank Stadium in a game that could determine the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
When the teams met last season, both players put on a show in a shootout won by the Dolphins, 42-38. In that game, Jackson completed 21 of 29 for 318 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He also rushed nine times for 119 yards and a touchdown. Hill had 11 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns.