Colin Cowherd: Ravens Could Be 15-Year Dynasty
Fox Sports Radio's Colin Cowherd is a firm believer that the Ravens are anything but a one-year wonder. In fact, he thinks the Ravens have the potential to be a 15-year dynasty.
"I think this thing lasts," he said. "I think it's durable. I think it's going to get better. … This Baltimore thing has 15 years on it. It feels like it's going to last a long time. … If they're the next dynasty, I'm good with it. All the things I love about football, all the traits and habits, Baltimore's got all of them."
Cowherd said he sees similarities between the 14-2 Ravens and the 2015 Carolina Panthers team that went 15-1 before eventually losing to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, but the main difference between the two teams is the makeup of 23-year-old Lamar Jackson.
"I love Lamar's traits," Cowherd said. "He's more coachable. He's got a chip on his shoulder. [Panthers quarterback Cam Newton] in college wanted to be a star. Lamar wants to win football games. … He's incredibly humble.
"When I look at all these quarterbacks, you guys are falling in love with arms, I'm falling in love with traits. … Lamar's traits – those are dynasty traits."
Cowherd also shot down the notion that Jackson is bound to get hurt due to his penchant for running the football.
"He never got hurt in college. He had a sprained ankle and missed one game in college," Cowherd said. "I haven't seen him getting hurt, and I've seen him get whacked about 15 times this year."
While it's hard to predict any NFL team's fortunes from week to week, much less over a 15-year span, the Ravens do seem to be a team that's built for the long haul. Eleven of the Ravens' record-tying 12 Pro Bowl players this season are signed for 2020, including three that will still be playing on their rookie contracts.
Having one of the league's best head coaches in John Harbaugh and front offices, led by General Manager Eric DeCosta and Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome, doesn't hurt, either.
Pundits Debate: Is Jackson Or Derrick Henry More Unstoppable?
Jackson is the MVP front-runner after throwing a league-best 36 touchdown passes and breaking the single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,206.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry led the NFL in rushing yards (1,540) and rushing touchdowns (16) and has run for 393 yards in his past two games.
So which of the two dynamic players is more unstoppable? The "Good Morning Football" crew tackled the question, which proved to be as difficult to answer as it is to tackle the elusive Jackson and bruising Henry.
Peter Schrager said the Ravens proved last season that they can stop Henry when they held him to 21 yards on seven carries in a 21-0 victory over the Titans.
"Derrick Henry had the worst game of his pro career against the Ravens last year," Schrager said. "So you come back this year and you say, '[Defensive Coordinator] Wink Martindale, how are you going to stop Derrick Henry?' You can't blame Wink if he looks at you in the eyes and says, 'Well, we did last year and dominated this team.
"Huge, huge confidence builder for the Ravens saying, 'We've done this. Derrick Henry has walked into our defense and has gotten nothing done.' So to me, the Ravens have the edge in this one. [The Titans] don't know how to stop Lamar Jackson. The Ravens defense, we know they've had a big turnover, but at least a few of those guys and their defensive coordinator look Derrick Henry and that offense right in the eyes … and say, 'Bring it.'"
Conversely, Shaun O'Hara believes Henry is the more unstoppable because of changes the Titans made on the offensive line from last season.
"Schrager just told you what the Titans did last year, so what did the Titans do? They said, 'We're going to get one of the best run-blocking guards in free agency, Rodger Saffold,'" O'Hara said. "He and Taylor Lewan and Ben Jones have not gotten enough credit for how good they have done up front.
"I love Derrick Henry behind this group. I love the way they're getting smash-mouth. It's going to be tough to run the rock at [M&T Bank Stadium], but those guys are up to the challenge."
Nate Burleson said the question isn't who can be stopped, it's who can be slowed, and the Ravens have a better chance of slowing down Henry than the Titans have of slowing down Jackson.
"I don't think you can slow down Lamar," Burleson said. "He can pick and choose when he wants to get you; he'll pick and choose when he wants to slice through you. It's just that easy. He is literally a cheat code.
"Derrick Henry, though, if you put bodies on him – I'm talking about physical tacklers, and that's what the Ravens are. They will take that shoulder pad and they'll put it right down low at your ankle, knee, hip – and we're not talking malicious to hurt anybody – but that's how you take down a big guy like that."
What wasn't mentioned in the debate was that Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel already revealed that he knows the secret to stopping Jackson.
"Try and tie his shoelaces together," Vrabel said earlier this week.
Meanwhile, NFL.com's David Carr analyzed how each team's offense can be exploited. He wrote that the key for the Ravens defense is to involve the secondary against the run.
"Martindale has the personnel to double [wide receiver A.J.] Brown on the back end and bring a cornerback off the edge or safety Earl Thomas up to the line of scrimmage," Carr wrote. "The Ravens have the liberty to be creative against a traditional offense that is easier to defend."
For the Titans defense, it's all about playing the odds on run plays.
"Knowing Jackson's tendency to run toward the field side on designed runs (zone-run plays, read options, etc.), the Titans could stall this top-ranked rushing attack by crashing the defensive end on Mark Ingram (who runs to the opposite side of Jackson) and scraping a linebacker or safety over the top to account for Lamar," Carr wrote. "It's going to be tough to stop Jackson on every play, but by playing the odds to the field side on run plays, Tennessee will have a better chance of stalling him."
All-Pro Voter Explains Why He Didn't Pick Jackson
It seems that no matter how many games Jackson wins, how many records he breaks or spectacular plays he makes, he will always have his doubters. Jackson has said that he strives to make them eat their words, but his success remains difficult to swallow for some of his critics.
Case in point: While Jackson was named to the Associated Press All-Pro team, it was not unanimous. Three of the 50 voters chose Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson: Hall of Fame executive and ESPN analyst Bill Polian, and Sirius XM's Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan.
Miller, a former quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears from 1995-2002, explained his decision to vote for Wilson over Jackson on Glenn Clark Radio. He said Jackson gets his vote for MVP, but he believes All-Pro honors should go to the best player at each position, and in his opinion, Wilson is the best quarterback.
"I don't think voting Russell Wilson first-team All-Pro — recognizing his season — is an insult to Lamar at all," Miller said. "Lamar ended up being first-team All-Pro anyway despite my vote, but I saw it a different way. I respect all the other voters and how they look at it, but I look at it through a quarterback's lens. I think Russell Wilson had to manage a lot more out there in the great Northwest than what Lamar had to manage this year, but I did recognize the great year that he had."
Miller pointed to Wilson's four fourth-quarter comeback wins this season, as well as an overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers.
"Russell Wilson has outperformed not only Lamar Jackson, the entire National Football League if you go look at the statistics, and I appreciate that and I respect that," Miller said of the come-from-behind victories. "First-team All-Pro acknowledges that you are the best overall at your position in the National Football League. I think Russell right now with where he is in his career, I don't think anyone would argue he's better in some areas that Lamar is going to get to."
Despite not voting for Jackson, Miller said he recognizes just how good Jackson is and will be going forward.
"He's going to reach heights and levels that are unbelievable," Miller said. "He already has, because he is going to win the MVP. And every time he steps on the field, he literally is the most talented player on both sides of the football of any team he faces."
Jets Curbed Larry David's Enthusiasm for Jackson
"Seinfeld" co-creator and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Larry David said he told Mike Maccagnan, who was then the general manager of the New York Jets – David's favorite team – that he should pick Jackson in the first round of the 2018 draft.
The Jets selected quarterback Sam Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick.
Recounting the story on "The Michael Kay Show," David said Maccagnan condescendingly laughed at his suggestion.
Looks like David is having the last laugh, because Jackson has been pretty, pretty, pretty good.