Pundits Predict Ravens Offense Will Get Off to a Slow Start
The Ravens have had one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league the past two seasons, but some pundits don't believe the unit will be strong right out of the gate this year.
ESPN's Dan Graziano cited injuries to weapons in the passing game as the reason he won't be surprised if the offense sputters early.
"No, it's not because of the J.K. Dobbins injury, though that certainly doesn't help," Graziano wrote. "The Ravens will be able to run the ball with Gus Edwards, Ty'Son Williams and of course quarterback Lamar Jackson. The concern for the offense is that health issues have kept Baltimore from doing the work it planned to do on its passing game this offseason.
"Jackson missed time early in camp after a positive COVID-19 test, and just about every wide receiver has missed practice time because of injury (Marquise Brown returned to practice this week, but rookie first-round pick Rashod Bateman will miss more time)."
With Bateman going on injured reserve yesterday, he will miss at least three games. Miles Boykin also went on IR.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal expects the offense to get off to a slow start due to the health of the offensive line, as well as the receiving corps.
"Ronnie Stanley's coming back from a major injury. Alejandro Villanueva, banged up in camp. They really did not get to have their entire offensive line healthy and playing together in camp," Rosenthal said. "And you put that together with all the other injuries that they've had at wide receiver … and you just think this Ravens team is going to be much better in November and December than they are right now."
Graziano also expressed optimism that the Ravens offense ultimately will get in sync.
"You have to trust this coaching staff to get it together, as it did in the latter part of the 2020 regular season when the Ravens won their final five games," Graziano wrote. "But it could look rough out of the gate."
If Graziano and Rosenthal are correct about the offense getting off to a slow start, it would buck a recent trend. The Ravens have averaged 48 points in their past three season-openers.
This season, the Ravens open against the Las Vegas Raiders, who had the No. 30 scoring defense last year, and play the Detroit Lions (No. 32 in scoring defense last year) in Week 3.
No Love for Ravens in NFL.com's Individual Awards Predictions
The Ravens have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL and are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl. However, Baltimore received no love from NFL.com's panel of 29 analysts in their predictions for the winners of the league's most prestigious individual awards.
The Ravens didn't receive a single vote for MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year or Coach of the Year.
Here are the Ravens I believe should've at least received consideration for some of the awards:
MVP and Offensive Player of the Year: Jackson
Two years ago, Jackson was the second unanimous MVP in NFL history. He set the single-season rushing record for a quarterback that year and became the only quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons last year.
The fact that none of the analysts gave the 24-year old with a 30-7 regular-season record a vote for either of these awards is further evidence of what we wrote in yesterday's Late for Work about Jackson being unjustly criticized by pundits and social media trolls.
Six quarterbacks received votes for MVP by the panel: Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott all received votes for Offensive Player of the Year.
At least Good Morning Football's Kyle Brandt believes in Jackson. Brandt picked Jackson (over players such as Allen and Murray) as the quarterback under 25 who will have the best 2021 season.
Defensive Player of the Year: Marlon Humphrey
Only one cornerback (New England's Stephon Gilmore in 2019) has won this award in the past 11 years. The lone cornerback to receive a vote by the panel is the Los Angeles Rams' Jalen Ramsey. That said, Humphrey belongs in the conversation. He's the best player on one of the league's best defenses.
Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh
Nine coaches received at least one vote. The fact that Harbaugh wasn't among them is unfathomable. His record speaks for itself. Harbaugh, who won the award in 2019, has a .620 winning percentage, a Super Bowl title and just one losing season in 13 years in Baltimore.
"What is most impressive about Harbaugh is how much he's adapted to the needs of the NFL circa 2021," Pro Football Focus' Eric Eager wrote earlier this year. "Whether it's by building defenses from back to front, adapting his team to suit the needs of a once-in-a-generation talent at the quarterback position or listening to the math on fourth-down decision-making (he went for it 64% of the time when he should have in 2020, among the league's highest rates), Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the league currently and has a Hall of Fame case to make."
Ravens Reportedly Plan to Sign ILB Josh Bynes to Practice Squad
The Ravens reportedly are reuniting with veteran inside linebacker Josh Bynes — again.
According to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec, the Ravens plan to sign Bynes to the practice squad after he was cut by the Carolina Panthers. The Ravens have one inside linebacker, undrafted rookie Blake Gallagher, on their initial 14-man practice squad formed yesterday.
Bynes signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent and played with them from 2011-2013. He rejoined the team for one season in 2019. Last season, Bynes started all 16 games with the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Bynes will help soften the blow of losing inside linebacker L.J. Fort," Ravens Wire's Kevin Oestreicher wrote. "Unless there are other major injuries, the 10-year veteran won't be asked to do much, and might not even get called up on game day. However, having an experienced player like Bynes in a young inside linebacker room will certainly help."