Orlando Brown Jr. Named Ravens' 'Most Promising' Building Block
The bulk of the offseason conversation has centered around Ronnie Stanley and his long-term contract talks, but the Ravens also have another bright young offensive tackle.
Heading into his third season, Orlando Brown Jr. has developed into a force on the ride side of the offensive line. Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport named Brown the Ravens' most promising building block.
"This is one of the rare exceptions in this piece wherein a team's most promising building block has already been named to a Pro Bowl," Davenport wrote. "... The 6'3", 355-pounder made the most of the opportunity—per Pro Football Focus, in 1,105 snaps, Brown committed just three penalties, allowed three sacks and helped pave the way for the best rushing attack in league history. That got Brown a trip to Orlando, albeit as an injury alternate. Still, as good as Brown (the son of longtime Ravens stalwart Orlando Brown Sr.) already is, there's room for him to get better—much to the chagrin of edge-rushers in the AFC North."
Brown weathered criticisms and concerns from his Combine performance to become an immediate impact player for the Ravens. The former third-round pick started all 16 games last season and played every offensive snap during the regular season.
"Brown's value to the Ravens, specifically from the draft class in which he came that also included Jackson and Hayden Hurst, cannot be overstated," NBC Sports' Andrew Gillis wrote. "Brown is one of two offensive linemen from the 2018 class to be named to a Pro Bowl — the other being guard Quenton Nelson — and the only tackle in any round to be given Pro Bowl honors."
Just as important as it is to have an elite left tackle, the Ravens are comfortable knowing they've got two bookend tackles protecting Jackson.
History Isn't Kind to Quarterbacks Who Start 0-2 in the Playoffs
In just two seasons, Lamar Jackson has taken the league by storm, but the most glaring omission in his young resume is a playoff win.
Jackson has overcome criticisms about his ability to play the quarterback position at the NFL level. Now his next challenge is getting over the postseason hump.
"Thirty-one quarterbacks have gone 0-2 in their first two playoffs starts since 1950 and only Peyton Manning and Eli Manning went on to win a Super Bowl thereafter, per NFL Research," NFL.com's Grant Gordon wrote. "Following the top-seeded Ravens' stunning loss to the Titans in the AFC Divisional Round last season, it's a statistic that no doubt should prove worrisome for Baltimore and the dynamic Jackson."
As Gordon noted, Peyton started 0-3 and Eli 0-2 in the postseason before eventually winning multiple Super Bowls each. Early struggles shouldn't be over-exaggerated, but it doesn't mean the pressure is going away.
Jackson is coming off an MVP season where he helped lead the Ravens to a franchise-best 14-2 record. The goal for every team is a Super Bowl, but that's now the expectation outside of Baltimore.
"Going into our season last year, we were the iceberg," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Ninety percent of what we were going to be capable of was still under water and people hadn't seen it yet. Starting next year, we're not going to be the iceberg. People are going to see us. We're going to be everybody's most important game."
Jackson's still got history on his side. Five quarterbacks have won Super Bowls following MVP seasons. Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes have done it the last two years, and there's plenty of reason to believe Jackson can follow in their footsteps.
The Advantage of Logging the Fewest Air Miles
The Ravens have the easiest strength of schedule based on their opponent's winning percentage from last season. They also have the advantage of not needing to pack for any long trips.
Touchdown Wire's Barry Werner calculated the air miles all 32 teams will log on road games during the 2020 season. The Ravens will travel the fewest of any team in the last four years with 6,420.
"The obvious takeaway here is that the Ravens gain mild advantages over other teams due to their light travel schedule: (1) they avoid the challenges teams face when traveling extended distances, and (2) they enjoy the benefits of having short road trips that provide more time to rest, recuperate, or game plan for the following week," Baltimore Beatdown's Evan Burns wrote.
The farthest the Ravens will have to travel is Houston. There aren't any west coast trips or international games.
If you don't think travel distance during a season makes a difference, statistics say otherwise.
"The team that travels the fewest miles has averaged 9.8 wins per season over the past six years, which is how long we've been tallying travel miles," CBS Sports' John Breech wrote. "On the other hand, the team that travels the most miles has averaged just 4.8 wins per season over the past six years. Also, the team that travels the most miles hasn't made the playoffs a single time over that span, which isn't great news for the Seahawks."
Breech also noted that road teams traveling under 2,000 miles for a game between 2014 and 2018 had an overall winning percentage of .427, compared to .415 for teams traveling over 2,000 miles.
Tony Jefferson, Brandon Carr Still on Free Agent Market
The free agent market has slowed down considerably since the beginning of March, but a few former Ravens are still looking for new homes. Safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Brandon Carr remain unsigned.
"Nearly three months into this NFL's offseason, Carr and Jefferson no longer represent stabilizing presences in Baltimore," Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz wrote. "And neither defensive back has joined a roster elsewhere, either — the two revered veterans remain free agents. So what's next?"
Carr hasn't missed a single regular season start in 12 seasons and was a durable, versatile part of the secondary for three years in Baltimore.
Jefferson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the team's Week 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's been recovering since, and recently posted a picture of his progress on Twitter.
Other former Ravens still on the market include defensive tackle Domata Peko, guard Parker Ehinger, safety Brynden Trawick and center Hroniss Grasu.
- Jackson and Calais Campbell made NFL.com's All-Analytics team.