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Mailbag: What Should We Expect If Mark Andrews Returns?

TE Mark Andrews
TE Mark Andrews

Mink: First, we don't know for sure if Mark Andrews will return to the field this Sunday. He was a full practice participant on back-to-back days last week and we'll see how much he practices this week. Head Coach John Harbaugh said simply, "If he's ready to play, he'll play."

Now, to your question. I think part of the beauty of a potential Andrews return is that nobody knows how much he'll play – including the Chiefs. Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken would have the opportunity to throw some curveballs the Chiefs' way.

I agree that Likely has been playing so well that I don't want to see his snap count diminish considerably. Likely played 65% of the offensive action against the Texans and I expect it would stay around that number. Primarily, I think Andrews would cut into Charlie Kolar's snaps. Kolar played 51% of the offensive snaps against the Texans. He has played well too and would probably still see some action as the Ravens work Andrews back into the mix.

Let's not forget, Andrews is one of the best tight ends in football when healthy. If he's playing Sunday, it means he's ready to contribute. The Ravens didn't use a lot of two tight end formations before Andrews' injury but were effective when they did. On Saturday versus Houston, Likely and Kolar were on the field together for three of the Ravens' four touchdowns, including the 15-yard pass to Likely. Every game plan is of course matchup/opponent based, but Baltimore's offense may be moving more in the two tight end direction, which is perfect timing for Andrews' return.

Downing: Yes, I expect the Ravens to be ready if the Kansas City Chiefs decide to bring heavy pressure early in this game. Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken clearly figured out a solution in the second half Sunday as the Ravens put up 24 unanswered points, so I'm not sure the Chiefs will take the same approach as Houston. The Chiefs are not a heavy blitz team. They brought extra pressure only 24% of the time this year while the Ravens blitzed at a 34% clip.

If that changes, I do think the Ravens have shown to be a great halftime adjustment team. They've had big third quarters against the Texans, 49ers and Dolphins on their way to routing those teams, and I give Monken credit for making tweaks based on how the defense is playing his unit. Baltimore has a great coaching staff (more on that below) and their in-game adjustments are a big part of the reason they have advanced to this stage.

In terms of the blitz, I think quarterback Lamar Jackson is more than capable of handling a heavy pressure attack. He went 13-of-18 passing for 120 yards and two touchdowns last week against the blitz, so he's ready for that type of approach. The Chiefs have a great defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo, and he will dial up a variety of pressure packages. The chess match between Spagnuolo and Monken will be an interesting battle to watch within the game Sunday.

Mink: I don't have a good feel yet for whether Marlon Humphrey will return to game action this week. He didn't practice at all last week, as he's trying to come back from a calf injury suffered on Dec. 31 versus the Dolphins. Harbaugh didn't tip his hand on Humphrey's status and said we'll all get a better understanding this week when we see how much he practices. The first indication will be today.

The Ravens could of course use Humphrey because he's one of the league's best corners when healthy, which has been a struggle this season. Baltimore is fortunate to have Ronald Darby, who is playing well. If Humphrey could return, however, it would create more versatility in Baltimore's secondary.

Downing: Monken had interviews with the Los Angeles Chargers and the Carolina Panthers. The reports are that Mike Macdonald has interviewed for five jobs – the Panthers, Falcons, Commanders, Titans and Chargers. Defensive Line Coach and Assistant Head Coach Anthony Weaver has also reportedly interviewed with the Falcons and Commanders. The Falcons have reportedly requested second interviews with Macdonald and Weaver, and there is an expectation that the Commanders will as well. The Titans have hired former Bengals Offensive Coordinator Brian Callahan, so that job is off the table, and the Chargers are reportedly nearing a deal with Jim Harbaugh as their head coach. The Falcons have shown interest in Bill Belichick, and have done multiple interviews with him for the role.

It's hard to say where all of this lands. It's not a guarantee that Macdonald, Monken, or Weaver get any of the open jobs. Detroit Lions Offensive Coordinator Ben Johnson is a hot candidate who is expected to have his pick of jobs and Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator Bobby Slowik is a hot name with multiple interviews. Mike Vrabel is also still on the market and could land one of the remaining jobs. It's difficult to predict what teams will do, as the head coaching decision comes down to the opinion of the team owner, and we don't know what direction they will take.

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