J.K. Dobbins on What to Expect When He Returns: 'It'll Be the Full Me'
J.K. Dobbins wants to set the record straight about his recent knee surgery and his status for the rest of the season.
When it was announced three weeks ago that Dobbins would be undergoing surgery to remove scar tissue from his previous surgery, there was consternation among Ravens fans, who feared the talented running back had reinjured his knee.
Head Coach John Harbaugh explained that wasn't the case, and now Dobbins has said so and provided his perspective.
"I didn't get reinjured. I didn't hurt myself or anything," Dobbins said during Wednesday night's taping of WJZ's "Purple Playbook." "I just didn't feel like myself. We looked at it and there was some stuff in my knee that was making me not feel like myself. It wasn't bad, I could have still played but I'd rather be 100 percent going into the playoffs towards the end of the year so I could really do what I really need to do to help the team win."
After missing the entire 2021 season due to suffering a torn ACL, LCL, meniscus and hamstring, Dobbins repeatedly expressed his desire to return to the field from the first day of training camp, but team officials understandably proceeded with caution.
Dobbins made his season debut in Week 3 and played in four games before his knee flared up in Week 6 against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Having never even missed a practice in college or during his rookie season in 2020, Dobbins said this has been a learning experience.
"Last year when [the injury] happened and even this year still going into the season, it was frustrating," Dobbins said. "During camp, I was trying to run out there with my helmet and they were like, 'No, you can't do it.' So that was a learning experience. So, coming back and then actually playing and not feeling like myself all the way, that's another learning experience. It's just teaching me patience.
"So now this time around I'm like, 'All right, I get what's going on.' So now whenever I come back, it'll be me – the full me."
Last week, Harbaugh categorized the surgery as a "smashing success," saying, "I can't wait until he's out here running around in three or four weeks."
When Dobbins returns, the Ravens could have an embarrassment of riches at running back. Gus Edwards (hamstring) is expected to be back for next week's game against the Carolina Panthers; Kenyan Drake has scored four touchdowns and rushed for 279 yards in the past four games; and Justice Hill is averaging 5.9 yards on 32 carries.
Brandon Marshall: 'This May Be the Best Ravens Team We've Ever Seen'
There have been some outstanding Ravens teams over the years, including two Super Bowl champions and six AFC North champions. Could this season's edition become the best Ravens team ever?
"Inside the NFL" analyst and former All-Pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall thinks so.
"The Baltimore Ravens is the best team in the league and it's not even close," Marshall said. "I just want to let everybody know that the Baltimore Ravens, this may be the year that they win the Super Bowl. This may be the best Baltimore Ravens team we've ever seen."
Marshall's take runs contrary to popular opinion that the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs are a notch above everyone else in the AFC. In recent weeks, however, a number of pundits have identified the Ravens as the biggest threat to the Big Two, thanks to a revamped defense, outstanding running game, and Lamar Jackson doing Lamar Jackson things.
"They're going to start playing their best ball when the league really starts and that's [after Thanksgiving]," Marshall said. "They're getting better. They're going to get healthier. Lamar Jackson looks good."
Multiple NFL Analysts Pick Ravens to Win Super Bowl
Marshall isn't alone in his belief that the Ravens could be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the third time this February.
NFL.com’s panel of analysts made their Super Bowl predictions at the midpoint of the season, and three of them picked the Ravens to win it all. Only the Bills (11 votes), Chiefs (five), and undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (five) got more votes. The San Francisco 49ers (one) were the only other team to receive a vote.
Here's what the three analysts who picked the Ravens said:
Jeremy Bergman: Ravens over Cowboys. "Dallas, on the back of Micah Parsons (and Odell Beckham Jr.?), replaces the Packers, my misguided preseason NFC pick, in Glendale, while Lamar Jackson and the Ravens lose out on the North, but go on a wild-card prove-it run to glory."
Ali Bhanpuri: Ravens over Cowboys. "Big D back on the big stage after 27 years … but Lamar Jackson isn't starstruck. Despite memorable performances from Dak Prescott, Micah Parsons and a spirited Ezekiel Elliott (in perhaps his last game as a Cowboy), it's Jackson who leaves Phoenix with two trophies and a Rod Tidwell-esque message for Ravens leadership."
Brooke Cersosimo: Ravens over Vikings. "This game is all about Lamar Jackson. The clear star of the show performs like a man on a mission to not only win his first ring and the franchise's third title, but to become the league's highest-paid quarterback."
ESPN senior NFL writer Seth Wickersham also picked the Ravens to win the Super Bowl.
"The Baltimore Ravens have a 5.9% chance to win the Super Bowl, via ESPN's FPI, but I think they can win it all," Wickersham wrote. "John Harbaugh will become the first coach since Joe Gibbs to win championships with two different quarterbacks, and Lamar Jackson then goes on to reset the quarterback contract market."
Second-Half Predictions on Defensive Ranking, Roquan Smith Extension, and More
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec made his Ravens predictions for the second half of the season. Here's a look at a few of them:
The Ravens will finish with a top-five defense.
"That's been the annual expectation for a franchise with a proud defensive tradition. However, only a month ago the Ravens entered a key game against the Bengals with the league's 30th-ranked defense and 32nd-ranked pass defense. There was nowhere to go but up for first-year Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald's group. That ascent has begun. After dominating the Saints in their most complete defensive performance of the season, the Ravens rank 19th in total defense and 18th in scoring defense. In recent weeks, they've gotten to the quarterback with more regularity, eliminated opposing run games and limited big plays. With trade acquisition Roquan Smith settling in, rookie second-round pass rusher David Ojabo primed to make his debut after the bye and safety Marcus Williams expected back in December, the Ravens should be only getting better."
It may take a while, but General Manager Eric DeCosta will extend Roquan Smith.
"There's been no indication that this is imminent and the Ravens did the deal knowing how difficult it will be to retain Smith, who is reportedly looking to reset the inside linebacker market — and that means a contract of at least $20 million per year. The Ravens can live with getting two months of Smith with the Chicago Bears paying just about all of the tab, and a potential 2024 third-round compensatory pick if Smith walks in free agency for 2023 second- and fifth-round picks. However, that's clearly not their preference. The Ravens want to keep Smith around long term."
A Week 18 showdown against the Bengals will decide the AFC North.
"At 6-3 and 2-0 in the AFC North, and with a head-to-head win, the Ravens have the early edge on the Bengals (5-4, 0-3) heading into both teams' bye weeks. The Ravens would like nothing more than to have the division and a playbook berth clinched before they travel to Paycor Stadium for a rematch early in the new year, giving John Harbaugh the option of resting some starters. That's certainly possible. … The Ravens, however, haven't made a single thing easy on themselves all year, so why will they start now? It wouldn't seem right without something on the line for that Week 18 showdown."
Lamar Jackson, Devin Duvernay, Rashod Bateman Are Next Gen Stats Stars
Next Gen Stats revealed the season's most explosive runners, fastest ball-carriers, and most improbable touchdowns. The Ravens were well-represented.
Jackson was ranked as the third-most explosive runner.
"Jackson comfortably leads the NFL in both volume (+337) and efficiency (+4.7 per carry) when it comes to gaining more rushing yards than expected this season," The Next Gen Stats Analytics Team wrote. "He has gained at least 10 yards on a remarkable 30.2 percent of his carries, a full six percentage points higher than the next-closest player with at least 50 carries (Justin Fields, 24.2). This dominance on the ground is nothing new for Jackson, who has gained a league-high +1,917 rushing yards over expected since being drafted in 2018 (more than 500 yards ahead of second-place Nick Chubb's +1,379). Jackson has continued to defy all previously conceived notions of what a quarterback can do on the ground, and his awe-inspiring play shows no signs of slowing down."
Jackson's 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mark Andrews against the New England Patriots in Week 3 was judged the third-most unlikely touchdown. The completion probability on the pass was 12 percent.
Devin Duvernay's speed of 21.60 mph on his 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins was the third-fastest time for a ball-carrier, while Rashod Bateman's speed of 21.48 mph on his 75-yard touchdown reception in that game ranked fifth.
● Kicker Justin Tucker and return specialist Duvernay were named to Pro Football Focus’ Midseason All-Pro Team.