One Realistic Trade the Ravens Could Make
The Nov. 3 trade deadline is right around the corner, and there's a growing expectation that the Ravens could swing a trade.
Last week in Late for Work, Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr said he'd like to see Baltimore trade for Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones. CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin followed along the same line, proposing the Ravens trade a 2021 sixth-round draft pick and 2022 seventh-round pick for Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr.
"The Lions can't really expect much more for Jones at this point in his career, but the Ravens can certainly afford to surrender a few late-rounders if it means giving Lamar Jackson someone other than Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown as an option out wide," Benjamin wrote. "When you're run-based and have Jackson, Willie Snead and Devin Duvernay and Miles Boykin will pass. But Baltimore is aiming for a title. Does Jones bring that closer? Not by much, if at all. But the gamble is worth it if he can be even a fraction of his old self amid new scenery."
In part because of injury, Jones has been limited to 14 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown this season, but is a proven commodity The seven-time Pro Bowler has totaled at least 500 yards in six of the last seven seasons, including a 1,101-yard, nine-touchdown campaign in 2017.
Acquiring a receiver like Julio Jones is an exciting thought, but how realistic is it? It would likely cost the Ravens a first-round pick and more. They wouldn't have to give up as much for Marvin Jones. Financially, Marvin Jones carries a $9.1 million cap hit this season compared to Julio Jones' $20.4 million.
Orr said on Glenn Clark Radio that he doesn't think the Falcons will be committed to trading Jones at the deadline, but also suggested Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green as a potential trade target.
Pass catcher seems to be the common theme among pundits when proposing trades for the Ravens right now. They currently rank seventh in the NFL in points per game (29.8), but second-to-last in passing yards per game (177.8).
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec acknowledged that General Manager Eric DeCosta might not just focus on acquiring a pass catcher. After all, no one expected the Ravens to trade for cornerback Marcus Peters before last year's trade deadline.
"With the trade deadline just over two weeks away, there continues to be an outside fixation on the Ravens acquiring a wide receiver or a pass rusher," Zrebiec wrote. "Either would make sense. However, you could at least make a case for an interior offensive lineman to head the list of needs or the Ravens could use the bye week to install Mekari and/or Ben Powers as starters and go from there. Either way, the Ravens offensive line will need to play much better than it did in Sunday's penalty-filled affair for the offense to reach the level we saw for a good chunk of last season."
Brian Westbrook: Jackson Needs to Be More Accurate if Ravens Want to Win a Super Bowl
Quarterbacks Coach James Urban told reporters on Tuesday that he's not worried about Jackson's completion percentage, but one pundit believes the third-year quarterback needs to be more accurate for the Ravens to elevate themselves into Super Bowl contention.
Former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook told "The Lefkoe Show Podcast," that Jackson needs to perform better as a passer in the pocket.
"There's part of me that felt [against the Eagles], that Jackson actually regressed," Westbrook said. "He went backwards, as far as being able to throw the ball. He's still lethal in the run game. He's still faster than everybody else. … But throwing the ball yesterday, I'm looking at it like, he'll never win any shootout versus a team that can put up 17 points in the first half."
Jackson finished just 16-of-27 for 186 yards and a touchdown through the air but played better than the box score suggests. Ahead of "Monday Night Football," Jackson was Pro Football Focus' second-highest graded quarterback, only behind Ryan Tannehill (87.5).
"Jackson played much better than he was probably given credit for Sunday," Zrebiec wrote. "It wasn't a dynamic offensive performance. However, he made a couple of key third-down throws early to set up scores and he made two of the game's decisive plays in the second half with his legs. There were a few throws that he wanted back and he absolutely cannot take an 11-yard sack on the first drive of the second half when the Ravens were in field-goal range. He needs to throw the ball away there and he had time to do it. However, you can't blame him for the nine offensive penalties and for the penetration the interior of the offensive line continually allowed. The Ravens offense is just not built to overcome negative plays and penalties. All-in-all, there was plenty to like about Jackson's performance."
ForTheWin's Steven Ruiz dove into the film and analyzed the differences between the Ravens' passing attack this season compared to last season. What he found was that Jackson went from being the most productive quarterback in empty sets (five receivers) to the league's least productive through six games.
"This is where the Lamar doubters start doing the Leonardo DiCaprio pointing meme, but I don't think there's any reason to believe this is a foundational flaw in his game," Ruiz wrote. "There are examples of him handling that pressure with poise, as he does here where he knows his protection is overloaded to one side and drifts to his left to buy time to get a throw off.
"I'd be a lot more concerned if this were another team, but the Ravens have a smart coaching staff that has proven capable of making midseason adjustments on the fly. It was around this time last year that Baltimore transformed its defense into one of the NFL's best with some schematic adjustments and a few low-cost personnel moves."
Power Rankings: Ravens Enter Bye Week as Consensus Top Five Team
The Ravens enter their bye week among the top teams at 5-1, and that's reflected in the power rankings.
Baltimore ranked as a top-five team in five of the six publications we looked at this week.
" Baltimore continues to put up points and win games, but this is not the same attack that ripped up the NFL last season," NFL.com's Dan Hanzus wrote. "In Sunday's 30-28 win over the Eagles (a strange game Baltimore almost let slip away through lack of attention), the Ravens logged just one drive of more than 50 yards and went three-and-out on five possessions, something that's never happened in the Jackson era. There's no reason to panic when a team is averaging nearly 30 points per game, but it's something that you notice when you watch the Ravens this year. They're ... fine. Just not unstoppable."
While the Ravens didn't look their best against the Eagles, pundits still have plenty of confidence. CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, who moved the Ravens up one spot from No. 5 to No. 4 in his rankings, believes we haven't seen Baltimore's best football yet.
The biggest test for the Ravens will be the stretch of games after the bye week. They'll face the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, and Tennessee Titans.
"[O]f all the one-loss teams, their defeat is the easiest to excuse away," Sports Illustrated's Mitch Goldich wrote. "Their schedule is about to get more challenging, which should give us some fun games to watch. The Ravens have entered the realm where most fans will only care about what they do in the playoffs, but it'll still be telling to see how they compete in potential previews against the teams they'll meet when they get there."
|Source||Ranking||Last Week's Ranking||Comments|
|ESPN||No. 4||No. 4||N/A|
|NFL.com||No. 4||No. 3||“Baltimore continues to put up points and win games, but this is not the same attack that ripped up the NFL last season. … There's no reason to panic when a team is averaging nearly 30 points per game, but it's something that you notice when you watch the Ravens this year.|
|Bleacher Report||No. 5||No. 5||"The Ravens might be 5-1, but they aren't rolling along like the 2019 iteration did, especially on offense. That might not matter against an Eagles team … but it could when the Ravens have to play the Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans or division-rival Pittsburgh Steelers."|
|USA Today||No. 6||No. 8||“Baltimore is 5-1 for the third time in franchise's 25-season history. The other two occurrences were precursors to Super Bowl victories.”|
|Sports Illustrated||No. 5||No. 4||“The Ravens seem to be quietly taking care of business, but have done most of what has been asked of them … but it’ll still be telling to see how they compete in potential previews against the teams they’ll meet when they get there.”|
|CBS Sports||No. 4||No. 5||“They are 5-1 heading to their bye and I still don't think they have played close to their best. They have the Steelers coming out of that bye, so they better be ready.”|
Jimmy Smith is Even More Important to the Secondary
Ravens fans were excited to see veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith return to Baltimore on a one-year deal this offseason, and it's easy to see why.
Through six games, Smith has emerged as one of the secondary's most important pieces, and he's playing some of his best football.
"He had the coverage bust that nearly resulted in a long touchdown by John Hightower on the Eagles' first drive and he was on the receiving end of an animated lecture from Peters, but Smith responded nicely," Zrebiec wrote. "He was credited with one pass defense and he was in great position on two or three other Wentz pass attempts. His re-signing has turned into a very important move for general manager Eric DeCosta."
With Anthony Averett out, Smith played 64 snaps against the Eagles. Averett is expected to miss time with a shoulder fracture. Smith's ability to play cornerback and safety makes him a versatile depth piece in the secondary.
"Smith seems to become more essential every week," The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker wrote. "With Averett sidelined for much of the game, the veteran cornerback played almost as much as [Marlon] Humphrey and [Marcus] Peters."