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Late for Work 7/3: Lamar Jackson 'May be the World's Most Difficult Individual to Defend'

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

Browns Pundit Predicts Lamar Jackson Will Win the MVP Again in 2023

The allure of Lamar Jackson with a full arsenal of weapons and a new offensive coordinator has pundits believing the Ravens quarterback will be at an MVP level once more. Brownswire’s Cory Kinnan says Jackson will hoist his second league MVP trophy this season.

"Bookmark this: Lamar Jackson will win the MVP again in 2023," Kinnan wrote. "Now outside of the handicapped offense of Greg Roman and into the hands of new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, look for the Baltimore offense to act like grown-ups this year. And now with his contract taken care of, Jackson is back to business."

Kinnan's not the only one seeing explosiveness in the Ravens' offense, and specifically Jackson. Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski sees Jackson and the Ravens capable of "dethroning" the Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC North crown.

"…a fully realized Jackson may be the world's most difficult individual to defend," Sobleski wrote. "Both the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers are ready to make a run, but Jackson and the Ravens clicking on all cylinders are the most likely to dethrone Joe Burrow and Co."

But with the lofty expectations comes the overarching importance on not the individual awards, but the postseason, with’s Adam Rank believing a successful season for the Ravens (and Jackson) being about the postseason.

"If you're going to be resetting the market for quarterbacks, you need to win in the playoffs," Rank wrote. "Lamar Jackson is just 1-3 in the postseason during his career. He has not played in a postseason game since the 2020 season. It's time for the Ravens to take that next step. Not that anybody is in danger of losing their gig or anything. But if the Ravens get to the playoffs and lose their first game, like they have done in three of their last four playoff appearances, that would be a huge bummer."

John Harbaugh Ranked No. 5 In Head Coach Rankings

The offseason is a time for ranking every position, and we've now arrived at coach rankings. For both PFF’s Trevor Sikkema and CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr, Head Coach John Harbaugh lands at No. 5 in their respective NFL head coach rankings.

"I can't keep Harbaugh out of the top five," Sikkema wrote. "In a modern NFL world that says [you] can't run the ball anymore, the Ravens are No. 1 in the league since 2018, staying creative and innovative as they play to their strengths, earning 0.092 expected points added per rush over the span. In second place is the Green Bay Packers at 0.051, which shows the Ravens aren't just better than everyone else on the ground; they're far and away better. They also rank sixth in the league in EPA per play allowed on defense at -0.059."

"The recent playoff results haven't been overly encouraging (notice a theme here?); his Ravens have won just a single postseason contest in the last eight years," Kerr added. "But his last half-decade has proven he's more adaptable than most, building around Lamar Jackson while maintaining a stingy 'D.' Should Jackson make another leap of his own, Harbaugh could finally contend for a second ring."

Rank also gave great respect toward Harbaugh in his “State of the Ravens.”

"This is once again the spot where I applaud the efforts of John Harbaugh, who continues to be one of the most overlooked coaches in the NFL," Rank wrote. "He managed to get the Ravens into the tournament last year despite the absence of Jackson down the stretch, and -- I hate to bring up this painful stuff for Ravens fans -- they were so close to knocking off the Bengals in the playoffs."

Justin Tucker Ranked No. 1 Kicker for Fourth Straight Season

Give credit to CBS Sports for their boldness to rank kickers; also credit them for putting Justin Tucker as their No. 1 for a fourth straight season.

"This is the fourth year that we've ranked the top 10 kickers in the NFL and for the fourth straight year, there's no surprise when it comes to the top spot: Justin Tucker is No. 1. And he'll probably remain there as long as he has a functioning right leg," CBS Sports’ John Breech wrote.

While Ravens fans know and love Tucker, it's great to see the national audience know of his greatness with details on what makes him special.

"From inside 54 yards, Tucker went 33 of 35 in 2022 and one of those two misses was blocked," Breech wrote. "Besides his accuracy, another thing that makes Tucker great is his ability to make kicks in the clutch. At one point in his career, Tucker had hit 65 STRAIGHT FIELD GOALS in the fourth quarter or overtime, which was the longest streak in NFL history…"

When all is said and done, Breech sees Tucker being one of the few pure placekickers to earn a bronze bust.

"It's not often that you talk about a kicker being a lock for the Hall of Fame, but Tucker is getting close to being in that category after 11 NFL seasons," Breech wrote. "Although the Pro Football Hall of Fame has only inducted two true kickers -- Jan Stenerud and Morten Andersen -- in its 60-year existence, Tucker is making a strong case for being the third (or fourth, if Adam Vinatieri gets in), so needless to say, he's at the top of our best kicker list."

Quick Hits

  • USA Today’s Mike Freeman ranked the Ravens' fanbase in his second tier of best fanbases, calling them, "A gritty, smart fan base in one of the best cities in America."

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