Super Bowl Defines 'Successful' Season for Ravens
What would a successful season look like for a team coming off an NFL-best 14-2 record?
That's the question Bleacher Report's Brag Gagnon looked at for the Ravens. He believes it's defined as reaching the Super Bowl and sustaining last season's success.
"At the very least, Baltimore—which won championships in 2000 and 2012—will be expected to overcome the AFC playoff field and make its third Super Bowl appearance," Gagnon wrote. "That could set us up for an AFC Championship tilt with the Kansas City Chiefs to determine if 2020 is a success or a failure. But first [Lamar] Jackson and Co. will have to prove nothing about their breakout campaign was a fluke.
"Can the youngest MVP quarterback in NFL history keep it up with a target on his back? If he can, a Super Bowl loss would be a lot easier to tolerate."
Every team's goal entering the season is to win a Super Bowl, but some are more realistic than others.
For the Ravens, the Super Bowl or bust mentality was present last year before falling in the divisional round to the Tennessee Titans. This offseason, it's growing even larger.
The Ravens have been a popular pick to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Others have penciled them in for a matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship.
Needless to say, there's a lot weighing on this season.
"The Ravens are loaded on both sides of the football, but they've been one-and-done in each of the last two postseasons despite hosting both playoff games," NFL.com's Bucky Brooks wrote. "Part of their failures could be pinned on No. 8 and his uneven play, but Baltimore seemingly melted down in each of those contests. The team hasn't exhibited the poise you would expect from a squad with key veterans and a Super Bowl-winning coaching staff.
"... Baltimore's decision to add Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe might've been about adding productive players with the right intangibles. Sure, the veterans are still disruptive pass rushers with solid resumes, but it is their character and work ethic that could really enhance the roster."
The Ravens certainly understand these expectations and Head Coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that the team isn't backing down from them.
"Are we capable of winning the whole thing next year? Absolutely, without question," Harbaugh said. "Now we have to go do it. And that's what we'll be working to do."
Ravens Have Second-Best Odds to Land Jamal Adams
Where Jamal Adams could be traded is pure speculation at this point, but oddsmakers believe the Ravens have a legitimate chance to land the New York Jets All-Pro safety.
According to SportsLine, the Ravens have the second-best odds behind the Dallas Cowboys (+350).
BetOnline has the Ravens as the favorites at 5/2 odds.
"[W]ith Adams and the Ravens the topic of frequent rumors and reports, this isn't likely the last we've heard about a potential trade," Ravens Wire's Matthew Stevens wrote.
It's not surprising to see the Ravens and Cowboys listed as the favorites. They were the two teams reportedly interested in Adams before the trade deadline last season.
"The Ravens, who are already low on salary-cap space, will soon have to pay Ronnie Stanley, Matt Judon and Jackson," Gagnon wrote. "Their draft capital is limited because they're a contender, and they probably shouldn't get wild and break up a team that won a league-high 14 games last year to add Adams … Put it all together and there's little reason to pursue a deal for [him]."
It looks like another team can also be added to the mix. Adams reportedly told ESPN's Ryan Clark that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on his list of preferred trade destinations, where Adams would reunite with his former defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles.
PFF: Geno Stone Landed In 'Favorable' Situation
We've yet to see any of the Ravens' rookies on the practice field, but there's plenty of anticipation building.
Safety Geno Stone was named one of the biggest draft steals in April, and Pro Football Focus believes the seventh-round pick landed in one of the most "favorable" situations.
"Stone will never be your classic do-it-all safety," PFF's Michael Renner wrote. "What he can do, though, is make plays when given a chance around the line of scrimmage. He goes to a franchise in Baltimore that routinely uses safeties at or around the line of scrimmage in a variety of creative ways."
With Earl Thomas III and Chuck Clark penciled in as the starting safeties, there's questions about how much Stone could see the field during his rookie season. But one the reasons why PFF is so confident in Stone's situation is because of Wink Martindale's scheme.
"The Ravens played dime personnel on 433 snaps last year (third-most in NFL) and brought defensive backs on blitzes on 156 of those snaps — more than double of any other team in the NFL," Renner added. "That's a role Stone was born to play, and even though there's a crowded safety room with Clark's emergence last season, expect Stone to see the field."
The Ravens were the NFL's most blitz-heavy team last season (54.9%) under Martindale, and Stone's ability in coverage gives pundits confidence he can make an impact.
Jimmy Smith Is Putting in the Offseason Work
The COVID-19 pandemic has kept players away from team facilities this offseason, but it hasn't stopped Jimmy Smith from putting in the work.
A video from performance coach Kyle Jakobe showed Smith running, lifting, and prepping for the 2020 season.
Smith was re-signed to a one-year deal in March and looks like he's in great shape ahead of his 10th season. He gives the Ravens top-notch depth at cornerback along with Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Tavon Young.
Smith's biggest challenge will be staying healthy and all indications are he's on track on to that.
"[T]here's plenty of reason to believe that Smith could be in store for one of his best seasons yet this year," Ebony Bird's Richard Bradshaw wrote. "The defense will allow him to flex all throughout the front and make an impact at nearly every level. Even if the box score doesn't fully express it, Smith will be huge for the Ravens in 2020."
- ESPN's Jamison Hensley detailed how Harbaugh is using extra time at home during the pandemic to help his daughter, Alison, prepare for her freshman season of lacrosse at Notre Dame.