Former Steeler Doesn't Believe Lamar Jackson Will Thrive in Todd Monken's Offense
Lamar Jackson has made a career of silencing his critics. Next up on that list is former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Merril Hoge.
During an appearance on “The Zach Gelb Show” on CBS Sports Radio, Hoge, a former ESPN analyst, said he doesn't think Jackson will thrive in Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken's pro-style offense.
"The way they're talking about it, they're going to ask Lamar to do something he's not good at, he's never shown he's good at, and that's playing a pro-style, traditional NFL offense," Hoge said. "Now that's not me saying it. The Ravens have showed you that for his entire career. A majority of their formations are two tight ends, two backs, power formation. They don't run traditional, pro-style. When they have done that or been forced to do that, he has been exposed as a passer. That is not his strength. Not in college, not in the NFL. So he has no evidence of that, but they're gonna play into that."
It might be fair to say that Jackson has been inconsistent as a deep passer, but it's incorrect to say he's "never shown he's good at" it.
Hoge apparently didn't watch Jackson play in college. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner had a lot of success running a pro-style offense at Louisville, proving that he was a dangerous weapon with his arm as well as his legs.
Armed with the best receiver group he's ever had, Jackson is poised to make Hoge eat his words.
Which Ravens Position Group Is Strongest?
The Baltimore Banner's NFL reporters revealed what stood out to them at Ravens training camp. Among the topics discussed was which position group is the strongest. All three reporters had a different answer:
Jonas Shaffer: "It's hard not to feel good about this running back room. J.K. Dobbins' return to practice was peaceful, and he's back to gliding around the field. Gus Edwards, likewise, is finally healthy. Justice Hill is running wild in the preseason, and he's probably the group's best receiver. Rookie Keaton Mitchell has quickly become a fan favorite. Melvin Gordon III is a proven veteran. The Ravens' running game carried the offense late last season, even when Jackson was sidelined. If Dobbins, Edwards and Hill can stay healthy, the Ravens should rack up a few 200-yard games on the ground."
Kris Rhim: "I'll go with inside linebacker as the strongest. It would be a challenge to find any duo better than the Ravens' Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith. Together, they terrorized the offense regularly with big hits and pass deflections. Players are not supposed to tackle their teammates to the ground at practice, but two weeks ago Queen drove Mitchell into the ground and celebrated afterward. Smith was an All-Pro last year, and Queen has improved each season. It wouldn't be a surprise if he earned an All-Pro nod this year or in the future."
Aron Yohannes: "I'm going a different route for a team strength: the tight ends! Mark Andrews has rightfully led the group as Jackson's top target in the passing game, but the names behind him have been crushing it as well. The Ravens have big expectations for Isaiah Likely, who shined in Andrews' absence as a rookie last season and has been sure-handed all of camp. Charlie Kolar, who showed his receiving ability Monday against the Commanders, has bulked up and improved his blocking ability. Travis Vokolek has a good skill set for his size, and his two-touchdown performance Monday will make it tough for the Ravens to keep him on their practice squad."
Three Ravens Players Whose Stock Is Up
With the deadline for the 53-man roster less than a week away, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec issued his latest stock report, focusing on Ravens players who are competing for a spot or pushing for a bigger role.
Here are three players whose stock is up:
RB Justice Hill
"You no longer should be asking whether Hill is a lock to make the team. It's probably more pertinent to ask whether he'll have a notable role on offense. He's earned it with how he's practiced this summer and played in the preseason. In two games, he has five rushes for 73 yards and one catch for 13 yards. Hill's roster spot was probably secure because of his special teams ability. But new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken could be just what Hill needed in his quest to become a bigger offensive contributor."
WR Tylan Wallace
"Kudos to Wallace, who acknowledged that he felt his Ravens career was at a crossroads this offseason and decided he needed to change the way he prepared. He hired a new trainer and went to work. It's paid dividends. Not only has Wallace been more productive and active in practices, but he has touchdown catches in each of the preseason games. It feels like he's made the sixth receiver competition into a non-story a week before cutdown day. There is no guarantee the Ravens keep six. Wallace has at least forced General Manager Eric DeCosta and company to make a tough decision."
DB Ar'Darius Washington
"His stock has risen more over the past few weeks than anybody on the roster. Washington was probably the Ravens' best defender on the field against the Commanders, finishing with seven tackles and three pass breakups. He played with physicality and great energy and effort. He's exhibited similar form on the practice field all summer. He's not a burner, and his 5-foot-8, 177-pound frame would be tough to overcome in certain matchups. Washington, though, has made it hard for decision-makers to leave him off the team. Right now, he just might be Baltimore's best option in the nickel role."
Pat McAfee on Justin Tucker: 'It's Awesome to Witness His Greatness'
It goes without saying just how great Justin Tucker is, but it's OK to say it anyway. The All-Pro kicker was lauded on “The Pat McAfee Show” this week.
Here's what McAfee, a former punter who played with three-time All-Pro kicker and all-time scoring leader Adam Vinatieri on the Indianapolis Colts, had to say about Tucker (minus the frequent expletives):
"No [one] has ever kicked a football anywhere near as good or consistent as Justin Tucker. He is remarkable. Every kicker on Earth watches Justin Tucker hit one ball, then two balls, then three balls, and then four balls, and goes, 'Yeah, I could never do what this guy just did.' He is a JUGS machine. He is a robot, and it's awesome to witness his greatness. He's going to be able to do this for 20 years I think. He's getting stronger.
"On defense, what've we got to hold them to? Field goal. Where's that? Field-goal line is like 45, 50. And that [guy] is gonna make it, too. He's been like that since Day 1. I am a huge fan, and it's awesome to watch him."
Former NFL safety Adam "Pacman" Jones, who spent eight seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, said he saw more of Tucker than he cared to.
"He's getting better with time and he can do everything," Jones said. "I hated playing against him."