Ravens' 'Triplet' Ranks Among NFL's Best
When it comes to ranking some of the best young offensive talent, the Ravens are always in the conversation.
CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin looked at the top quarterback, running back, wide receiver/tight end combinations for every team, and the triplet of Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, and Mark Andrews ranked eighth on the list.
"Jackson still finished the year eighth in QBR and tied for 13th in EPA per pass attempt," Dubin wrote. "Throw in his value as a runner and it's clear he was still quite good. He should remain good this season, and now that the Ravens have given him some more weapons, he should have more room for his throws. He also seems unlikely to have as poor a deep-ball season as he did last year, considering that had long been one of his strengths. Dobbins should split carries with Gus Edwards but he seems likely to be the lead guy, and the one who is targeted in the passing game. Andrews remains an excellent over-the-middle weapon, even if he doesn't play quite as many snaps as some other top tight ends."
Last year, the Ravens triplet of Jackson, Andrews, and Mark Ingram II ranked in the elite category. Now Dobbins replaces Ingram as the lead back as one of the NFL's most underappreciated players. He took over as the lead running back during the second half of last season and rushed for 805 yards along with nine touchdowns, and there's reason to believe he'll be even better this season.
"Dobbins is now the 'heartbeat' of this offense," Baltimore Beatdown’s Mike Reid wrote. "While Lamar is obviously the brains of the operation, the main attraction, and the straw that stirs the whole drink for the Ravens. Dobbins is now second-in-command after Lamar for this offense. He will be the constant pumping, explosive force that will take this historic rushing attack to another level in 2021 and for years to come."
But heading into the 2021 season, is the Ravens' offense still being slept on? NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund didn't project them as a top-10 offense.
Dubin put Baltimore eighth in his offensive rankings behind the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills.
Signing Kevin Zeitler Among NFL's Biggest Position Upgrades
The Ravens received plenty of praise when they signed Kevin Zeitler to a three-year deal in March, and ESPN’s Mike Clay ranked it among the NFL's biggest position upgrades.
"Baltimore's offensive line took a hit when the team traded star tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs during the offseason, but that was offset to some extent by the signing of Zeitler," Clay wrote. "It's possible Zeitler is no longer at his peak after a solid but unspectacular 2020 in New York, but he's still only 31 years old and has been one of the league's best guards since his days with the Browns.
"Zeitler was a top-10-graded guard at PFF as recently as 2019 (he ranked eighth), and his solid 70% run block win rate last season is surely a plus in Baltimore's run-heavy scheme. Zeitler has also been extremely reliable, playing at least 773 snaps every season since he was drafted in 2012."
It was a patented Ravens move to provide stability at a position where they'd lacked a clear solution since the retirement of Marshal Yanda.
Along with Zeitler, the Ravens further solidified the offensive line with the addition of Alejandro Villanueva.
It's still early, but the shape of the starting line is coming together with Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, Bradley Bozeman at center, Zeitler at right guard, and Villanueva at right tackle.
Clay also ranked the Brown trade to the Kansas City Chiefs as the eighth biggest position upgrade.
Ravens Who Could Make a Second-Year Leap
With all of the talk about the impact the Ravens' rookie class could make, they have a group of second-year players who could make a leap.
The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer looked at four players who could contribute more in Year 2.
"Madubuike had just seven quarterback pressures last season, according to Sports Info Solutions, fewer than Calais Campbell (28), Jihad Ward (12) and Derek Wolfe (nine) and barely more than Brandon Williams (six) had," Shaffer wrote. "The encouraging part? Madubuike registered two pressures in Week 14 against the Browns' NFL-best offensive line last season, then followed up with another two pressures in Week 15 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"... With his quickness, Madubuike could be a dangerous partner for stunts next season with rookie edge rusher Odafe Oweh. As an individual pass rusher, though, he'll have to earn respect by punishing guards left to handle him one-on-one."
"Duvernay doesn't need Davante Adams' footwork to find a role in the passing offense," Shaffer wrote. "In his final season at Texas, he was a frequent target on wide receiver screens, catching 42 for 250 yards, according to SIS. But he was also a weapon on slants (14 catches for 275 yards), corner routes (nine catches for 195 yards) and out routes (10 catches for 119 yards). Diversity in patterns can only help. The more predictable his usage is, the easier he'll be able to game-plan against."
"For a bigger role, Harrison has to build on the blitzing ability he showed at Ohio State or be more reliable in pass defense," Shaffer wrote. "He allowed 111 yards, 14 completions on 18 targets and a passer rating of 110.9 when targeted in coverage last season, according to PFR. Too often, Harrison was overaggressive against the run, costing him on play-action passes. He also could be a liability in space against shifty running backs."
"If Phillips has any shot at overtaking Alejandro Villanueva for the right tackle job, pass blocking has to be an offseason priority," Shaffer wrote. "Against the Browns in Week 14, he was fully or partly responsible on back-to-back second-quarter sacks, both times unable to stay in front of his man. In the postseason, he allowed a sack on a bull rush to an undersized Titans lineman, and appeared to flub his assignment on the promising drop-back before the Buffalo Bills picked off Jackson's goal-line pass.
"If Phillips' future is instead at guard, as the Ravens indicated it would be after they took him No. 106 overall, he has to consistently show he has the strength to displace tackles as a run blocker and the strength to anchor against them in pass protection. Phillips also struggled with his awareness, from picking up loopers on stunts and twists to coming out of his stance when the ball is snapped."
M&T Bank Stadium Too Low in Stadium Rankings
Pro Football Network recently ranked all 32 NFL stadiums, and M&T Bank Stadium came in at No. 20.
"While 23 years old, M&T Bank Stadium does not feel like it, thanks to the $120 million spent in renovations in 2019," PFN's Tommy Garrett wrote. "When the Ravens are rolling, few fanbases are more intense during home games than those wearing Purple and Black. Located in a great spot and by Camden Yards, this National Football League stadium has an energy that few can match."
Garrett is certainly right about the energy in the stadium. I can personally speak to the fact that a fully-packed home game in Baltimore provides an incredible experience.
Just ask any fan who's regularly attended games at M&T Bank Stadium and they'll reiterate that sentiment.
With the Ravens among teams planning on having stadiums back at full capacity for the 2021 season, you can expect Ravens Flock to show up in numbers.