Lamar Jackson Graded Among NFL's Best Decision-Makers
Lamar Jackson has shown that he can beat opposing defenses with his arm and his legs, but a new analytical study shows his head also makes him special.
Pro Football Focus devised a model that measures NFL quarterbacks' decision-making process over the past three seasons. Specifically, which quarterbacks made the optimal decisions by choosing the receiver with the highest expected output.
Based on the data, Jackson was the league's third-best decision-maker.
The two quarterbacks ranked ahead of Jackson? Sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
Two years ago, when Jackson was coming off his MVP season, he said he wanted to focus on the mental aspect of the game.
"I just want my mind to grow even more, just learning the ins and outs of the game even more — Tom Brady stuff," Jackson said.
On a side note, Jackson's physical transformation — he's noticeably more muscular— hasn't gone unnoticed by his peers.
After Jackson tweeted a photo that displayed his sculpted biceps, jacked Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf commented.
Reunion With Justin Houston Is 'Excellent Move That Should Not Fly Under the Radar'
The Ravens and veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston agreeing to terms on a one-year contract wasn't unexpected, but the importance of bringing back the four-time Pro Bowler should not be overlooked, Ebony Bird’s Justin Fried said.
Pass rush was considered the Ravens' biggest remaining offseason need, and the addition of the 33-year-old Houston addresses the concern.
"Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh are both recovering from major offseason surgeries while second-round pick David Ojabo is out for the foreseeable future after tearing his Achilles this past April. The Ravens needed a reliable veteran who could hold down the fort and provide stability at a position with plenty of question marks. Houston will do just that," Fried wrote. "This is an excellent move that should not fly under the radar."
Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed said the reunion between the Ravens and Houston "makes perfect sense for both sides."
"Houston is likely looking to add to his legacy by chasing a championship with a contender and the Ravens were in desperate need of reinforcements on the edge of their defensive front," Reed wrote. "The 11-year veteran will benefit greatly from the improvements made to both the secondary and interior defensive line this offseason as well as the new scheme that first-year Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald will run."
Even though Houston had just 4.5 sacks last season, he led the Ravens in quarterback hits (17) and ranked 14th in the league in pass-rush win rate, per ESPN and Next Gen Stats.
"It feels like Houston has been in the league forever, but he still presents problems for opposing quarterbacks," The Athletic's Larry Holder wrote. "He produced a 10.7 percent pressure rate last season, via TruMedia. That ranked 47th among qualified pass rushers (minimum 200 pass rush snaps, 176 qualified pass rushers). That was a better rate than the likes of the Panthers' Brian Burns, the Eagles' Haason Reddick, the Raiders' Chandler Jones and the Saints' Cam Jordan."
Mark Andrews Predicted to Be Ravens' Non-QB MVP
The NFL MVP award almost always goes to a quarterback. A quarterback has won the award nine years in a row and 14 times in the past 15 years (running back Adrian Peterson was the 2012 MVP).
With that in mind, NFL.com’s Kevin Patra predicted each AFC team's MVP if quarterbacks were taken out of the equation. Tight end Mark Andrews was his pick for the Ravens.
"Zero tight ends in NFL history have won an NFL MVP award. Z-E-R-O. That makes Andrews perfect for our exercise. LET'S MAKE HISTORY," Patra wrote. "Andrews led all TEs in receptions (107), receiving yards (1,361), and TDs (nine; tied) in 2021. Among all players, he finished tied for fifth in receptions and sixth in yards. And that was before the Ravens whittled their receiver corps to Rashod Bateman and Riddler-level question marks.
"Andrews is assured of getting a smorgasbord of targets from Lamar Jackson. Not only has the tight end proven to be a good route runner, but he also can make contested snags in close quarters. Given the uncertainty at receiver in Baltimore, would it be that much of a stunner if Andrews threatened to lead the NFL in receiving?"
Ravens Are No. 10 in CBS Sports' Roster Rankings
The Ravens are No. 10 in CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin’s roster rankings heading into training camp.
"They've seemingly doubled down on a run-first approach with Lamar Jackson under center, jettisoning Marquise Brown (and a more proven WR corps) in favor of added responsibility for tight end Mark Andrews and a stable of rehabbing rushers, including J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. But they know how to run it well!" Benjamin wrote. "And the line, presumably with a healthier Ronnie Stanley back at left tackle, should be improved with a pair of new starters in Tyler Linderbaum and Morgan Moses.
"The defense is really where Baltimore could make its money, as lynchpins like Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey return from injury. More impressive is the youth they've added at each level: Travis Jones up front, David Ojabo off the edge, and Kyle Hamilton on the back end. Paired with ex-Saints standout Marcus Williams, Hamilton has the versatility to transform the Ravens back to one of the NFL's feistiest contenders."
The rankings reflected the perception that the AFC is the more talented conference. Four of the top six were AFC teams: the Buffalo Bills (No. 1), Los Angeles Chargers (No. 2), Cincinnati Bengals (No. 5) and Kansas City Chiefs (No. 6).
Ravens' 2017 Draft Class Gets a B+ Grade
As noted in yesterday’s Late for Work, NFL.com ranked the Ravens' 2018 draft as the best in the league that year. Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton evaluated the 2017 draft, and Baltimore's haul that year, while not as exceptional as 2018's class (which included Jackson, Andrews and Orlando Brown Jr.), was still pretty good.
Moton gave the Ravens' 2017 class a B+ grade. Only five teams received higher marks.
"Aside from two-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey, the Baltimore Ravens' top 2017 picks needed time to develop into first-stringers," Moton wrote. "In 2021, Tyus Bowser became a full-time starter, recording 59 tackles, eight for loss, seven sacks and 26 pressures. After two years in a backup role, Chuck Clark has started in most of the games at safety.
"Overall, Baltimore gets a lot of credit for finding three starters on defense — one of them a top playmaker among the league's cornerbacks."
Humphrey, by the way, was ranked as the eighth-best cornerback in the league in an ESPN survey of more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players.