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Late for Work 12/24: Justin Tucker, John Harbaugh Among Best of Decade


Justin Tucker, John Harbaugh Among Best of Decade

An unforgettable 2019 season has capped what's been an outstanding decade for the Ravens.

At 97-62 (.610 winning percentage) in the 2010s with one regular-season game remaining, the Ravens have the sixth-best record overall and third-best in the AFC.

Two men who played major roles in Baltimore's success – kicker Justin Tucker and Head Coach John Harbaugh – made Pro Football's end-of-decade top 10 lists.

Tucker was named the best special teams player of the decade.

"No kicker in NFL history has ever converted better than 90 percent of their field goal attempts through their career. Eight years into Tucker's stellar tenure with the Baltimore Ravens, Tucker is doing just that," Pro Football Talk’s Curtis Crabtree wrote. "Mike Vanderjagt's 86.5 percent career mark is the best ever from a player whose career is over. While other active players are currently exceeding that mark as well, Tucker is the gold standard with a 90.6 percent conversion rate."

Harbaugh, who led the Ravens to their second Super Bowl title in the 2012 season, came in at No. 3 on the top 10 coaches of the decade list.

"[Harbaugh] has the Ravens on top this year, and has shown an impressive ability to change his approach as needed with changing personnel," Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith wrote.

Astonishingly, Harbaugh has never received a vote for Coach of the Year despite all of his success with the Ravens. That should change this season, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote.

"This was a good week for Harbaugh's Coach of the Year candidacy," Zrebiec wrote. "The Steelers' feel-good story has flamed out a bit with back-to-back losses, and Mike Tomlin's chances of winning the award took a hit in the process. Sean McDermott missed an opportunity to really strengthen his case when the New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills. There are other worthy candidates, like Green Bay's Matt LaFleur, San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan and New Orleans' Sean Payton.

"It's hard, however, not to see Harbaugh as the frontrunner at the moment."

Ravens to Use Franchise Tag on Matthew Judon?

Matthew Judon has enjoyed a breakout season and has been one of the leaders for the Ravens' fifth-ranked defense. With the outside linebacker set to hit free agency after the season, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported that the Ravens would use the franchise tag if necessary to keep Judon in the fold for 2020.

"New General Manager Eric DeCosta has made being aggressive about extending his own players a priority, and he will never be better positioned to do so than in 2020, with [Lamar] Jackson and most of his best young talent all earning under $2 million a year,"  La Canfora wrote. "Rival GMs do not see a scenario in which Judon hits the market, with several of them telling me this week they can't imagine him not being tagged if the sides cannot come to terms on an extension by late February."

The defensive end tag for 2020 should be roughly $17 million, La Canfora wrote, "and Judon is very likely to exceed that figure on the open market given the lack of stalwart pass rush available."

Judon, a first-time Pro Bowl selection this season, leads the Ravens with a career-high 8.5 sacks. He's said several times that he's not thinking about his contract.

"It'll happen when it happens," he said recently. "I've only been here for my four years and I like it here, but whatever happens is going to happen. God always has His plan."

The Ravens have only used the tag six times in the franchise's 24-year history, with the most recent being Tucker in 2016.

Re-Drafting the 2018 Quarterback Class

Hindsight being 20/20, No. 8 should've gone No. 1 in 2018.

Pro Football Focus did a re-drafting of the 2018 quarterbacks, and it's no surprise that likely MVP Jackson is at the head of the class in the hypothetical do-over.

Jackson, who the Ravens selected 32nd overall with the final pick in the first round, went behind Baker Mayfield (first overall), Sam Darnold (third), Josh Allen (seventh) and Josh Rosen (10th). PFF's re-draft order is: Jackson, Mayfield, Darnold, Allen, Rosen.

"I think the biggest thing that scared so many away from Jackson at the time was the newness of what he brought to the table," PFF’s Michael Renner wrote. "We even made the caveat in his player writeup that he could succeed 'with the right offensive coordinator.' The offense that was going to best suit Jackson's skill set not only didn't exist at the time in the NFL, it had never existed. For a league that's been historically hesitant to innovate, Jackson proved too innovative for many quarterback-needy teams.

"What I think many failed to account for was simply how special Jackson is with the ball in his hands. He got lumped in with running quarterbacks even though we've never quite seen anyone else at the position close to him other than Michael Vick. Tyrod Taylor is a running quarterback; Jackson is an explosive playmaker who just so happens to play quarterback."

As Renner noted, Jackson playing in Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman's scheme has been a perfect marriage.

"You can call him a scheme-specific player all you want, but when that scheme produces 33.5 points per game, I couldn't care less about Jackson not being able to run your West Coast offense," Renner wrote.

On a side note, Jackson apparently did some last-minute Christmas shopping last night. It looks like he could've used a few of his blockers.

Excitement Builds for RG3's Start

Even though Jackson will be one of the starters rested for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens will still have the best quarterback on the field, NFL Network's Michael Silver said of Robert Griffin III.

"RG3 will be the best quarterback on that field by a lot," Silver said. "I'm excited to watch RG3, who remember was the Rookie of the Year in a year that featured Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck having great rookie years. … I'm excited to see him play a game that at least has meaning for the opponent."

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah floated the idea that Sunday's game could be an audition of sorts for Griffin as it relates to Roman.

"As some coaches get relieved of their duties, the hot name is going to be Greg Roman and when you look at Greg Roman potentially getting another job, if he wants to take this offense with him, RG3 might be a guy he can take with him," Jeremiah said.

Griffin has completed 12 of 17 passes this season for 129 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

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