Did Ravens Prove They Can Win In Postseason With Their Style of Offense?
On Sunday night, the Ravens proved they can beat their nemesis, the Kansas City Chiefs. Now pundits are questioning: Can the Ravens make a deep playoff run with their unique brand of offense?
The jury is still out, according to NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner.
Warner said an offense that heavily relies on Lamar Jackson running the ball is sustainable "if a defense gives him that," but he wonders what will happen if the Ravens have to adjust.
"The question becomes: When you are so used to playing that brand of football and you get to the playoffs and you get against these good teams that have the ability to slow that part of football down, now can you win the other way? Can you win throwing the football and the consistency of throwing the football?" Warner said.
"Lamar is so elusive, and I do believe they can play this way, and I believe this offense is built for the regular season. What I want to see is: Is this offense built for the postseason? Or do they have the ability to adjust to win in the postseason playing a different way?'
Press Box's Glenn Clark said the verdict is already in as to whether the Ravens can win a Super Bowl with this offense because the win over the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes was such a convincing closing argument.
"The last bastion of 'proof' that this run-heavy, Lamar Jackson-led offense COULDN'T win a Super Bowl was the fact that they hadn't been able to beat the AFC's standard-bearers in their first three tries," Clark wrote. "The argument was that they couldn't beat good teams once upon a time. And then they started beating Russell Wilson's Seahawks and Tom Brady's Patriots. The next argument was that they couldn't come from behind down multiple scores to win a playoff game if they needed to. Then they did that.
"But no matter how much it might have bothered Ravens fans, the Chiefs issue was very much real. While it was never a certainty that the Ravens would have had to beat the Chiefs in order to win a Super Bowl, there was a preponderance of evidence that suggested they might. And it wasn't just that they had lost in their last two attempts at beating the Chiefs, it's that they inexplicably got away from their identity in doing so. This time they fell behind, yet stayed completely true to their identity and won anyway. That matters so much."
Clark's point about the Ravens beating good teams with Jackson as the starting quarterback is well-taken. In addition to the Seahawks, Patriots and now the Chiefs, Jackson has led the Ravens to wins over the Bills, Browns (twice), Titans, Colts, Texans and Chargers in seasons in which those teams made the playoffs.
The win over the Chiefs is just the latest bit of evidence. But as Clark asserted, it's the most compelling.
"The Ravens beat the Chiefs playing bully ball. They grinded it out, stole their opponents' hearts and rammed it down their throat when the game was on the line," Clark wrote. "They played their brand of football and the best team in the league couldn't stop them from winning. Lamar Jackson, contrary to the ABSOLUTELY BATSH*T OPINION that he should run the ball less and they should prioritize him throwing the ball 50 times a game or whatever stupid thing otherwise intelligent people have suggested in recent years, ran the hell out of the ball and beat the friggin' Kansas City Chiefs.
"So explain to me now why exactly they CAN'T win a Super Bowl. I'm all ears. If they can beat the Chiefs and come from multiple scores behind in the second half with a quarter of their roster on IR, there's absolutely no reason to think they can't find ways to beat other good teams in big situations."
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal expressed a similar sentiment.
"So, can we stop saying the Ravens can't play from behind?" Rosenthal wrote. "One of the greatest runners in football history is built to play in any type of game, especially in a season where his passing YPA and rushing yards per game are both out-pacing his career highs in the early going."
NFC Executive: Lamar Jackson Isn't a Franchise Player
It seems that no matter how many awards Jackson takes, records he breaks or highlight-reel plays he makes, he will always have his doubters.
An NFC personnel executive told FanSided's Matt Lombardo that the Ravens shouldn't make Jackson one of the highest-paid players in the league.
"I don't think he's a franchise guy," the executive said. "Because he's going to get hurt. He has an arm, but his best attribute is running the football. That's his go-to, and he is dynamic as a quarterback doing it, maybe the best ever. But he gets in the playoffs, because when you get to the postseason you're playing great defenses that are coached very well and can disguise things. He wins in Tennessee, and then couldn't function in an offense against Buffalo, playing a great defense."
Are we really still doing the whole "he's going to get hurt thing"? Every player in the NFL is at risk of getting injured, but Jackson has never missed a game with the Ravens due to injury (he couldn't play in one game last year because he had COVID-19), and only missed one game in three years at Louisville.
Jackson has proved to be adept at avoiding big hits. Even though he carried the ball 16 times against Kansas City Sunday night, the hardest hit he took was probably when he flipped into the end zone and landed on his buttocks.
Jackson and the Ravens have been in talks about a contract extension, and the consensus is that the deal will be worth in excess of $40 million annually. The Bills signed Josh Allen to a six-year, $258 million extension ($43 million per year) last month, making him the second-highest-paid player in the NFL, trailing only Mahomes.
A prominent agent told Lombardo that he believes if the Ravens extend Jackson, his deal would fall "somewhere similar to what they paid Marlon Humphrey ($97.5 million over five years), Ronnie Stanley ($98.75 million over five years), and Mark Andrews ($56 million over five years), with a lower APY but higher guaranteed money."
"If that's the case, Jackson could be looking at a deal somewhere in the area of $90 million, structured somewhere in the area of $18 million annually with $75 million guaranteed, which would make him the 14th-highest-paid quarterback in the league, but ensure him the fifth-highest fully guaranteed total," Lombardo wrote.
The NFC executive said: "They can take care of him, and be fine. There's restructuring, you can get all that stuff done … But, do you want to get it done? Do you want to make him the highest-paid player in your franchise's history, and think that he's going to take you to the Super Bowl and win it?
"Because, in my opinion, he's not. He's a great dude. I have nothing against him, but I'd hate to be in Eric DeCosta's position and have to pay him."
Yeah, why would any team want to lock up 24-year-old, record-setting, unanimous league MVP with a 31-8 record as a starter?
I think the colorful adjective used by Clark regarding certain opinions about Jackson applies here.
No Mirage: Ravens' Running Game Is Still Most Dominant in NFL
ESPN asked its reporters to identify the biggest surprise for the teams they cover and then conclude whether it's real or a mirage.
Jamison Hensley said the biggest surprise regarding the Ravens is that their running game is still the most dominant in the NFL despite losing J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to season-ending injuries before the start of the regular season.
Hensley's verdict: Real.
"This just shows that Baltimore will be able to run the ball at will as long as Lamar Jackson is in the lineup," Hensley wrote. "Defenses key in on Jackson so much that it has opened up lanes for Ty'Son Williams (a practice squad player a year ago) and Latavius Murray (who was signed four days before the season opener).
"Jackson remains the Ravens' most dangerous runner, ranking third in the NFL in rushing yards. This is why Baltimore has gained 136 more yards rushing than any other team in the league after two games."
Odafe Oweh Is Making a Name for Himself
It's been a big week for Odafe Oweh. Not only was the rookie outside linebacker named AFC Defensive Player of the Week, but "Good Morning Football's" Peter Schrager learned how to properly pronounce his name.
Schrager, who has struggled with his pronunciation of Oweh's first and last name, got them right during a segment on the show in which he ranked Oweh as the top rookie of the week.
The good-natured Oweh appeared in a pre-taped video to help Schrager with how to say his name. He also ribbed Schrager by intentionally mispronouncing his last name.
- Former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin reflected on his career and eligibility for the 2022 Hall of Fame class. Two other former Ravens — wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. and punt returner Devin Hester — also were among 10 first-year eligible players from the modern era that were nominated for the 2022 class.