Ravens' 'Triplet' Ranks Among NFL's Elite
The NFL's best offenses are led by dynamic playmakers, and the Ravens have a trio that is drawing attention.
Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram II, and Mark Andrews landed fifth on CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin’s rankings of the league's best triplets.
"Jackson's 2019 season was simply one of a kind, fitting for a player of his skill set," Dubin wrote. "He set the all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback ... and also led the NFL in touchdown passes and touchdown rate. The concerns that followed him as a passer coming into last season are a thing of the past, and the question now is more about maintaining the consistency of the ceiling he established last season.
"Ingram had a strong debut season in Baltimore, but the team felt a need to keep Gus Edwards and Justice Hill involved throughout the year, and recently drafted J.K. Dobbins, so we can't rightly put him among the elite group of backs. Andrews and Jackson were a perfect fit last season, with Andrews' ability to identify and occupy the space behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties mixing perfectly with Baltimore's mixture of heavy personnel and play-action concepts."
The commentary on Ingram is a bit odd. Every team in the NFL uses some kind of rotation at running back, so it's not a knock on Ingram that the Ravens kept Edwards and Hill active last season.
Last year, the trio of Jackson, Ingram, and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown were Dubin's 30th-ranked triplet. They also ranked near the bottom of NFL.com’s list.
"Much like Josh] Allen, Jackson was very productive on the ground,” [Dubin said in 2019. "But he was even less productive through the air, so though the Ravens might be exciting and fun to watch, we can't exactly say with any degree of certainty that they'll be any good."
What a difference one season can make.
The Ravens' offense took the league by a storm in record-breaking fashion. Defensive coordinators will have another year of tape on Jackson and the offense, but there's reason to believe they can get better.
The Athletic's Jay Glazer believes it's more likely the Ravens continue to evolve than be exposed.
"Listen, I don't see anyone catching up to Jackson," Glazer wrote. "He has an incredible knack for not getting hit clean. He's so incredibly elusive as a runner. He works his butt off, so I think he's going to always stay a step ahead. The thing not talked about enough with Jackson is his jump in accuracy. He worked so hard to get more accurate. It wasn't a little more accurate — it was a lot more accurate. Coaches around the league marvel about his accuracy and how much he jumped last year. He has gone through the ceiling because of his work ethic."
Not only that, but there's continuity at offensive coordinator with Greg Roman. The Ravens added more firepower to the backfield with Dobbins and expect big seasons from Brown and Miles Boykin.
More Hype Surrounding Dobbins' Rookie Season
The hype around Dobbins was real when he was drafted in April, and one month later it's growing even stronger. Pundits are excited to see one of college football's best running backs plugged into a dominant run game.
NFL Network’s Charley Casserly believes Dobbins is a second-round pick with first-round impact.
"He was my top-rated back," Casserly said. "I had him in the first round. He's explosive [and] a downhill runner … but he's got quick cut ability in the hole. … They love the running game there. They just got even stronger in it."
There's no question the Ravens have a crowded, but talented backfield. Sports Illustrated’s Todd Karpovich ranked them as his top running back group in the AFC North. Baltimore Beatdown’s Dustin Cox gave the group an "A" grade, and it's not hard to see why.
Ingram rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, Edwards added over 700 yards, and Hill provided versatility as a change-of-pace back. Now you add in Dobbins and that's even more depth for the league's top rushing attack.
It's also another mouth to feed, which has pundits speculating on how carries will be divided.
"[I]t wouldn't surprise me if it becomes a 1A-1B situation at some point during the 2020 season," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "Roman wants to use a running back by committee approach to keep everyone fresh anyway. … Still, the Ravens don't want a 30-year-old Ingram to be on the field for a ton of snaps anyway. That's why, to me, the more relevant question is not how Dobbins affects Ingram's playing time, but how the rookie's presence impacts how many snaps Edwards and Hill play."
Terrell Suggs Was One of Steve Smith's Favorite Teammates
Terrell Suggs was never shy, on or off the field. The longtime Raven was beloved by many in Baltimore, including his former teammates.
NFL Network’s Steve Smith Sr. made a list of his top five teammates throughout his career and Suggs was No. 3.
"[O]ne of the things I learned about him was how dedicated he was to his passions, whether that's football or the film industry," Smith wrote. "He studied those films the way he studied the game: very detail-oriented and tirelessly. Suggs is a talented football player -- you don't make seven Pro Bowls if you're not -- but his playbook of quarterback tendencies put him at a whole other level. That playbook had everything, including how each QB audibles, so T-Sizzle was always one step ahead of his opponents."
The twohad side-by-side lockers in Baltimore, and both are known for their personalities. Maybe that's why they fit so well together.
But Smith said sometimes Suggs didn't always portray the samepersonalityto the media and opposing players. He had a way of playing tricks.
"He'd be loud and obnoxious on purpose to give a reporter a certain perspective of him, but the thing was, it wasn't necessarily him," Smith added. "He wanted people to think a certain way about him, and you would leave thinking it. That's the way he was on the field, too. Suggs always made quarterbacks think twice -- sometimes three times -- about what he might do on a play."
Suggs is still a free agent after winning a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs last season. There's almost no doubt he'll find his way into Canton when his playing days are done.
Ravens Who Could Make Their First Pro Bowl
The Ravens tied an NFL record last season with 12 Pro Bowlers. Nine were homegrown players, and Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw looked at three more who could make their first Pro Bowl this season.
Brown: "[He's] undoubtedly the Baltimore Ravens' top candidate to become a Pro Bowler in 2020. The Ravens have never had a wide receiver make the Pro Bowl outside of special teams, but Brown will look to change that narrative."
Chuck Clark: "Should Clark become that caliber player, there's no telling how good this year's edition of the defense could be. Clark will play a much bigger role than anticipated and Baltimore will reap the benefits big time."
Patrick Queen: "Not only should Queen be considered a Pro Bowl candidate for the Ravens but also a potential Defensive Rookie of the Year player. Queen will rack up good tackle numbers while also putting himself in play to force turnovers. Don't be surprised to see him dominate early in his career and make the Pro Bowl as a rookie."