Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram II Ranked as NFL's No. 2 Rushing Tandem
Lamar Jackson was the leading rusher among quarterbacks last season, and Mark Ingram II was a member of one of the NFL's top running back duos, so it comes as no surprise that expectations are high for the two players in Baltimore this year.
Jackson and Ingram were named the league's No. 2 rushing tandem ahead of the 2019 season by Pro Football Focus’ Connor Price, behind only the Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey.
Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler also is all in on Jackson and Ingram. He asked fans to submit their bold predictions for the Ravens this season, several of which involved the Ravens' quarterback and running back, and he weighed in with his opinions.
On whether Jackson will be the second quarterback in NFL history to run for 1,000 yards in a season (Michael Vick ran for 1,039 yards with the Atlanta Falcons in 2006), Schisler wrote: "I've already discussed how I think Jackson will rush for 1,000 yards. To get this done, he just has to average 62.5 yards on the ground per game. There will be games with more than that and games with less than that. The point is he is capable of literally running up his numbers in any game. Jackson will continue to make this kind of history."
Schisler went on to write that he expects Jackson to amass 3,300 passing yards and 25 total touchdowns. As for Ingram, Schisler believes the former New Orleans Saint will lead AFC North running backs in yards from scrimmage.
"This is a prediction that I am buying 100 percent," Schisler wrote. "The Ravens will require more of their running backs than any team in the NFL, let alone the AFC North. Ben Roethlisberger is what makes the Steelers offense go, even though James Connor is an impressive running back. Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon may give Ingram a run for his money.
"The thing that makes this prediction so solid is the words 'from scrimmage.' Ingram is going to surprise people with how much he makes an impact as a receiver out of the backfield. He will have over 1,000 rushing yards. He might just rack up a good number of receiving yards as well."
ClutchPoint’s Hunter Noll made four bold predictions for the Ravens this season, including Jackson having 450-plus passing attempts and Ingram setting a career-high in rushing yards in his ninth season.
"If Baltimore wants to win, they'll need a multi-dimensional offense. That means Jackson's going to have to air it out every once in a while, and he can do that," Noll wrote. "Ingram is now in an offense without Alvin Kamara. He's the best running back on the team and should be treated as such. With that in mind, he should get a ton of carries.
"Ingram's career-high in carries is 230 (2016). He had just 138 last season – meaning he didn't get a ton of mileage on him. This season should see a new high for Ingram in carries, [and] with it will come 1,200-plus rushing yards."
Of course, not everyone is a firm believer in Jackson and Ingram. NFL.com analyst Maurice Jones-Drew ranked Ingram at No. 26 on his list of every team's No. 1 running back.
"There's no doubt Ingram will spearhead the Ravens' running back room, but with the ninth-year veteran turning 30 in December, expect [Head Coach] John Harbaugh to use a committee of backs," Jones-Drew wrote. "Not to mention, second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson is the most explosive runner on this team. Jackson had 556 rushing yards in seven starts in 2018, a pace that projects to 1,270 yards over the course of 16 starts. I don't expect Jackson to hit that number, but neither will Ingram."
Meanwhile, the phrase "boom or bust" continues to be one used to describe Jackson. Yesterday, Pro Football Talk’s Chris Simms and Mike Florio both named Jackson as one of the top boom-or-bust players this season on "PFT Live."
"He's at the top of the list for me," Simms said. "I could see, the Baltimore Ravens have added more run plays, more run-game design around Lamar Jackson, and he got better at the passing game and decision-making, and more accurate and big-time throws, and I go, 'Ooh, if that happens, the Baltimore Ravens are a Super Bowl contender.' But I can easily go, 'Man, what we saw last year was a lot of inconsistencies in throwing the football, and it could be just a total disaster."
Florio concurred with Simms' assessment.
"I agree with you, both on how good is he going to be and how healthy is he going to be," Florio said. "There's real boom-or-bust potential."
Ravens Reportedly Bolster Analytics Department
To that end, three analysts announced on Twitter this week that they're joining the Ravens' analytics department.
DeCosta wants to keep the Ravens ahead of the curve, and pundits see it that way too.
"Analytics is a way that I see of organizing information," DeCosta said. "We have all these different pieces of information – bullet points and different things. How do we organize that information effectively? And, how do we use that information to help us make decisions?
"So, is it a growing field? Yeah, I think it is. Is it something that we'll just rely on strictly, ever? No, I don't think that's the case. Is it something that will help us make decisions? I think it can be. We would be foolish as an organization to not look at that and consider that as a way of helping us be better.""Analytics is a way that I see of organizing information," DeCosta said. "We have all these different pieces of information – bullet points and different things. How do we organize that information effectively? And, how do we use that information to help us make decisions?
"So, is it a growing field? Yeah, I think it is. Is it something that we'll just rely on strictly, ever? No, I don't think that's the case. Is it something that will help us make decisions? I think it can be. We would be foolish as an organization to not look at that and consider that as a way of helping us be better."
Baltimore Beatdown’s Jacob Louque wrote that DeCosta's interest in analytics shows that he will tap into every available resource to build a winning franchise.
"The fact that Ravens are making hires like these as Eric DeCosta further makes his mark on the franchise shows they're very much serious about doing winning," Louque wrote.
Three Ravens Make All-25-and-Under Team
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and cornerback Marlon Humphrey were named to the All-25-and-Under Team by Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit.
Benoit was especially complimentary of Andrews. Benoit listed Andrews and the New York Giants' Evan Engram as reserves behind the San Francisco 49ers' George Kittle, but said he could see Andrews emerging as the starter on the hypothetical team.
"Andrews can block and catch," Benoit wrote. "Andrews is not as fast as Kittle or Engram, but he may wind up stealing the starting job if his run-blocking proves too valuable. It's not like Andrews is a road grader (an offensive lineman who is highly effective in driving a defender off the ball on a running play), but we can feel comfortable with him aligned on the line of scrimmage."
To put it more succinctly, in the words of Jackson, "Mark's a dog."
For Humphrey, it's the second time this offseason he's been recognized as one of the best young players in the league. Last month, he was named to Pro Football Focus' list of the top 25 players under the age of 25.
"Humphrey will enter his third year in the NFL as arguably the most important player on the Ravens' defense, but his play over the last two seasons has proved that he's more than up to that daunting title," PFF’s Mark Chichester wrote. "Humphrey has amassed 37 forced incompletions over the last two seasons — the seventh-most among cornerbacks in that timeframe — and his 65.7 passer rating allowed is the third-best mark among those with at least 500 coverage snaps."
Matthew Judon Predicted to Be Future Pro Bowl Player
NFL.com’s Marc Sessler predicted one future Pro Bowl player for each AFC team, and outside linebacker Matthew Judon was his pick for the Ravens.
Entering his fourth year, Judon has 15 total sacks over the past two seasons and is being counted on to step up for a defense that lost linebackers Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Za'Darius Smith.
"The table is set for upped snaps and double-digit takedowns with Judon, in a contract campaign, leading the charge ahead of Shane Ray, Pernell McPhee, Tim Williams and rookie Jaylon Ferguson," Sessler wrote. "Not bad for a guy drafted in the fifth round in 2016 out of Division II Grand Valley State."
During last week's mandatory minicamp, Judon certainly looked and sounded like a player who could be in line for a breakout season.
"I'm going to attack this season, this practice, this game, whatever I have to do, the next rep, like it's my last," said Judon, who appeared to be in top physical shape.
· Judon and Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr, who both played for Grand Valley State, donated money to the school for the building of its new football center, which was unveiled yesterday.