Is Baltimore a Landing Spot for Recently-Cut Cam Newton?
Arguably the most shocking cut on Tuesday was quarterback Cam Newton being released by the New England Patriots.
According to ESPN, some believe Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick cut Newton after giving the former MVP "the option to be the backup or be released outright, out of respect." If true, Newton took the latter, ending his stint with the Patriots.
Now, As Newton looks for a new franchise to sign with, and some outlets are linking see the Ravens as a possible destination for the 32-year-old. Boston.com's Tom Westerholm is one writer who sees Baltimore as a good fit for Newton.
"The Ravens have a run-first offense tailored for Lamar Jackson, which could benefit Newton if Jackson suffers an injury," Westerholm wrote. "Newton averaged 4.3 yards per carry and nearly 40 yards per game last season with the Patriots — down from his career average of 5.0 yards per carry but still productive."
While some think Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman's scheme fits well for Newton, Vegas does not see the Ravens as the most likely landing spot.
It's rather unlikely the Ravens are interested in Newton, as backup quarterback Tyler Huntley has impressed coaches this preseason and is a more dangerous runner at this point of his career. He also costs less, is familiar with the scheme, and four days ago scored five touchdowns against the Washington Football Team.
EbonyBird's Justin Fried argues for the Ravens to avoid signing Newton as their backup quarterback, citing Huntley's performance this offseason and also Newton's unvaccinated status.
"Huntley excelled this summer and more than looked the part of an NFL backup," Fried wrote. "For starters, the Ravens don't need to add another quarterback to their room. Huntley, while unproven, showed that he can handle the role this summer."
Why Is Lamar Jackson Talked About Differently Than Everybody Else?
In his three seasons with the Ravens, quarterback Lamar Jackson has established himself as one of the premier signal callers in the NFL. He's broken numerous NFL records and was the second player to ever be unanimously voted as League MVP.
And yet, discussions surrounding Jackson involve discrediting his passing, his accomplishments and mislabeling him a running back or going so far as to say he'll be "figured out."
Not only does Jackson receive such criticism in the news; he also catches tens of thousands of troll posts on social media. According to Action Network, Jackson is one of the most trolled players on Instagram, with nearly 10.8% of Instagram posts about Jackson being troll posts.
First Things First's Nick Wright came out swinging in support for Jackson.
"Here's a thought exercise," Wright said. "Has any player in NFL history ever accomplished more and been respected less than Lamar Jackson? Is he a perfect player? No. Has he struggled in the playoffs early in his career like the vast majority of quarterbacks? Yes. Does he deserve to be ranked behind [Cardinals quarterback] Kyler Murray? You've got to be bleeping kidding me. Lamar Jackson, I am not a huge quarterback wins guy, but it is a part of the equation. He is 30 and seven as a starter. That's remarkable. It's even more remarkable when you think of the fact if you just remove the games he's played against the guy in the number one spot [Patrick Mahomes] he's 30-4 as a starter."
First Things First's Chris Broussard joined the discussion and blamed some of the criticism Jackson receives on the weapons he's been surrounded with. He also noted that the ones brought in for the 2021 season have had injuries.
"He declined as a passer," Broussard said. "I think he's a better passer than people give him credit for, but this year already [Marquise] Hollywood Brown just returns from injury. Sammy Watkins is already banged up and the rookie [wide receiver] Rashod Bateman that [the Ravens] are expecting a lot from is out for a few weeks so who is he going to throw to? If he just continues to throw to the tight ends, then people are going to underrate him and the league is going to get closer and closer to figuring him out, so I think, Nick, that's where this stems from."
This commentary is along the same vein as a discussion from The SB Nation NFL Show, in which hosts Rob "Stats" Guerrera and R.J. Ochoa asked why Jackson is treated differently than any other quarterback.
"It's his ability," Guerrera said. "That's why [Jackson's] good. Not because people are mystified as to what he's doing out there."
"I don't want to compare Lamar to anything, because a lot of people do that and get away from what makes him who he is and how great he is as a quarterback, but to me it is kind of like a great basketball player," Ochoa said. "Like you could be the best defensive player in the NBA, but if somebody is great—you can only get in LeBron [James] way so many times. The greatness of who he is is going to overpower and going to shine through eventually and that's Lamar."
Two 100-Yard Rushers for the Ravens in Week 1?
With Gus Edwards the new starting running back for the Ravens, NFL Network's Mike Rob sees Edwards as a top five tailback in Week 1.
He also has Jackson as a top-five running back, with expectations of both players breaking triple-digit rushing yards against the Las Vegas Raiders.
"I got Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards," Rob said. "Lamar Jackson, I think this guy has been waiting to get back in the game to show everybody what he can do. He's going to be fresh, he's going to be excited. I think both of these guys have over 100-yards rushing. Gus Edwards [is] one of my favorite running backs."
Edwards hasn't cracked 100 yards rushing frequently, doing so in only six of his 43 career games played. But now, he'll be getting the ball more frequently and in all down-and-distance situations.
As for Jackson, he's rushed for over 100 yards eight times in his NFL career.
Ravens Suffering From "The Michigan Curse?"
During Head Coach John Harbaugh's tenure, there have been four University of Michigan players drafted, yet none have played out their rookie contract with the Ravens.
This includes fullback Ben Mason and offensive lineman Ben Bredeson, who were not a part of the Ravens' 53-man roster yesterday. Mason was waived, though the expectation is he will be re-signed to the practice squad if he clears waivers, and Bredeson was a part of a trade package sent to the New York Giants.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec called it the "Michigan Curse."
"When it comes to players from the University of Michigan, coached by Harbaugh's brother, Jim, there's been a pattern of swings and misses that culminated with Tuesday's release of Mason and trade of Bredeson," Zrebiec wrote. "In the last six drafts, the Ravens drafted four Wolverines and none of them have made it through their rookie contracts."
Luke Jones of WNST concurred but added none of the four were taken especially high in their respective drafts.
"They weren't exactly first- or second-round selections, but Bredeson, Ben Mason, Chris Wormley, and Willie Henry are recent Michigan draft picks not to do much in their time with the Ravens," Jones wrote. "Mason could still develop on the practice squad if he clears waivers, but that fifth-round choice always felt strange."
The trade of Bredeson was also mentioned by Jones, who was impressed by General Manager Eric DeCosta getting value back from former draft picks.
"Good for DeCosta not falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy and recovering the rough equivalent of draft pick mulligans for 2020 fourth-round pick Ben Bredeson and 2021 fifth-round pick Shaun Wade," Jones wrote. "Still, you'd like to see a little more promise from relatively early Day 3 picks."
- Baltimore Colts Legend Johnny Unitas ranks No. 9 in The Athletic's 100 best players in football history: "John Mackey was not given to hyperbole, but he once said being in a huddle with John was like being in a huddle with God," former Colts center Bill Curry said. "I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, but he wasn't completely wrong. Johnny U. was different. He was special."