Should Backup Quarterback Be a Concern?
Despite what some recent rankings might tell you, Lamar Jackson is one of the top players in the NFL.
But how concerned should the Ravens be with the depth behind him?
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell looked at the most vulnerable spots for NFL teams. For the Ravens, it was the backup quarterback position.
"The Ravens have had brief glimpses into life without Jackson over his first two-plus years as a starter; Robert Griffin was forced into overtime for a game against the Chiefs during Jackson's rookie campaign, and we saw three different backups throw passes for the Ravens last season," Barnwell wrote.
"Griffin was the primary player off the bench for Baltimore, but if the Ravens lost Jackson this season, they would be forced to turn to Trace McSorley as their new quarterback. The former Penn State player was 3-for-10 last season. One of those passes was a 70-yard touchdown to Marquise Brown, although Brown did most of the work on the play."
Griffin was the primary backup quarterback for the Ravens the last three years, but the team has opted to go with younger options this season.
McSorley and Tyler Huntley are competing for the No. 2 quarterback spot. Both had opportunities to step in for Jackson during crucial points last season. After Jackson went down in the third quarter of the playoff loss in Buffalo, Huntley stepped in and went 6-of-13 for 60 yards and ran three times for 32 yards.
Jackson is an irreplaceable talent no matter who is backing him up, but McSorley and Huntley have the athleticism to fit into Roman's offensive scheme.
While you never plan on losing your starting quarterback, the Ravens have expressed confidence in their other young signal callers.
"Both of those two young guys are smart, they're accurate passers, they're athletic, they're hungry," General Manager Eric DeCosta said. "They've been successful college players, and when they've played, they've shown the ability to really be a backup quarterback in the NFL and help us."
Pundits Believe Rashod Bateman Can Become 'First Bona Fide No. 1 WR'
No team has been more aggressive drafting wide receivers in recent years than the Ravens. It's been the Achilles heel in Baltimore, but there's excitement building around first-round pick Rashod Bateman.
"What jumps off the tape with Bateman is how pro-ready he is," ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote. "The Ravens have drafted faster receivers. They've drafted bigger. But it looks like Bateman comes to Baltimore with the most savvy.
"Bateman's don't-back-down attitude in addition to his polish already has generated hope that he'll become the first bona fide No. 1 receiver ever drafted by the Ravens, and it's only been two months since Baltimore selected him No. 27 overall."
Hensley noted that one of the biggest benefits for Bateman so far has been a normal offseason schedule.
"Bateman is already ahead of the game compared to Baltimore's previous two first-round wide receivers," Hensley wrote. "In 2015, Breshad Perriman was raw and struggled to line up correctly. In 2019, Brown didn't participate in any spring workouts as a rookie because he was still recovering from offseason foot surgery.
"There were times when Bateman didn't practice the past couple of months (muscle soreness and stomach virus). But, when he was on the field, Bateman practiced with such decisiveness that he appeared larger than his listed size (6-foot-1, 193 pounds)."
The Ravens have maintained they're a run-first offense, but have made moves this offseason to improve the passing attack. Bateman could be a big piece of that from the start.
"The Ravens need all the help they can get at WR as the offense ranked dead last in the NFL last year racking up just 2,919 receiving yards overall," FanDuel’s Larry Rupp wrote. "In fact, Baltimore is one of just two NFL teams to not draft a single Pro Bowl wide receiver since 1996, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
"Bateman spent three college seasons with the Minnesota Golden Gophers and proved he can be a No. 1 target. He posted 2,395 yards on 147 receptions and scored 19 touchdowns across 31 games played. Now, the young playmaker is looking to make his mark at the NFL level."
The Hall of Fame Case for Terrell Suggs Is Complicated by 'Bottleneck'
After Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in back-to-back years, the Ravens could have another defensive legend with a gold jacket soon.
Football Outsiders looked at the Hall of Fame case for a group of edge rush candidates, and among them is Terrell Suggs. However, there could be a hurdle (or few) in his way.
"The impending bottleneck of edge rushers illustrates just how high the Pro Football Hall of Fame bar is, and how the voting rules and practices inevitably force qualified candidates to wait years longer than they should," Football Outsiders' Mike Tanier wrote. "The order in which [Jared] Allen, [Dwight] Freeney, [James] Harrison, [Robert] Mathis, Suggs, and [Demarcus] Ware enter Canton (if all of them enter) will have less to do with their accomplishments, or even what year they retired in, than with who they share the ballot with and the vagaries of a voting procedure that's almost purposely designed to create split tickets."
Suggs hasn't officially retired from the NFL since he won a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019. When he does, he'll have a strong resume as the Ravens' all-time franchise sack leader (139).
But Tanier said it will be a challenge with a number of talented pass rushers in the same group.
"Suggs reminds me of Simeon Rice in many ways as a candidate," Tanier wrote. "By the time voters get around to him, the rest of the Sack Pack will be on the docket (or will have just cleared through), and voters may decide that Ray Lewis and Ed Reed tell the story of the great Ravens defenses without the need of a third voice.
"All of the awards and accomplishments beef up the portfolios of our Sack Pack, but no one tumbles into the 'overwhelmingly qualified' category. In fact, Super Bowl rings, forced fumbles, and awards just make Allen, Freeney, Mathis, Suggs, and Ware look more similar to one another. That's a problem, because it's very likely that five solid Hall of Fame-worthy edge rushers will get stuck Three Stooges-style while trying to walk through the door to Canton at the same time and end up keeping each other from being enshrined for years."
Kevin Zeitler Signing Ranked as Ravens Best Offseason Move
The Athletic asked its beat reporters to pick the best offseason move for the team they cover, and there's one that many continue to come back to.
"It wasn't a sexy move and it happened on the eve of the free-agent market opening, so it didn't even draw a lot of attention," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "However, the signing of veteran guard Kevin Zeitler was a significant move. The Ravens failed to replace retired right guard Marshal Yanda with an accomplished veteran the previous offseason and it proved problematic. Zeitler is 31 now and he may not be the same player he was in Cincinnati and Cleveland, but he's still a solid and reliable performer. He should stabilize the interior of the offensive line and benefit from the Ravens' offensive line-friendly schemes."
The offensive line-friendly scheme Zrebiec is referring to is the NFL's most efficient rushing offense. Pundits praised the Ravens for adding a veteran guard at an affordable price that didn't count against the compensatory formula.
At 31 years old, Zeitler brings a veteran presence to a young offensive line in Baltimore. The play is still there too, as he ranked 16th among guards with a 72.4 Pro Football Focus grade last season.
Touchdown Wire’s Mark Schofield ranked Zeitler as his ninth-best guard heading into the 2021 season.
"What helps get Zeitler onto this list is the scheme fit in Baltimore," Schofield wrote. "Greg Roman incorporates a number of different run schemes into the Baltimore playbook, among them Counter Bash, which generally tasks a pair of linemen pulling in front of a potential run from the QB. … This should work nicely."
- NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus predicted each AFC team's MVP this season. To no surprise, his choice for the Ravens was Jackson.
- Pro Football Focus named J.K. Dobbins among their second-year breakout candidates.
- John Harbaugh vs. Andy Reid is among the best coaching matchups this season.