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Late for Work 8/18: Marquise Brown 'Loves What Ravens Stand For' But 'They Really Didn't Need Me'

081822-LFW
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown reaches out to make a catch during the NFL football team's training camp Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz.

Marquise Brown 'Loves What Ravens Stand For' But 'They Really Didn't Need Me'

With the Ravens visiting the Arizona Cardinals for a preseason game Sunday night, wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown talked about his time in Baltimore after yesterday's practice.

Brown, who will not play in the game, said he "loves everything that the Ravens do and what they stand for," but he requested a trade because he wasn't satisfied with his role.

"It's about happiness," Brown said, via the Cardinals website. "I want to feel like I am a part of something to win. At the Ravens, I just felt like sometimes they really didn't need me. Regardless if I was there or not, they were going to win games. I love the game too much. I want to be involved."

Brown was certainly involved in Baltimore. He led the Ravens last season in targets-per-game average (9.1) and was 10th in the league in targets (146).

The Ravens also looked to Brown in the playoffs. In his three postseason games, Brown was targeted 27 times and had 18 catches for 322 yards.

General Manager Eric DeCosta granted Brown's trade request by sending him and a third-round compensatory pick to the Cardinals during the draft in April for the 23rd-overall pick, which turned into center Tyler Linderbaum.

Brown, selected 25th overall by the Ravens in 2019, is entering the final year on his rookie contract. The wide receiver market exploded this offseason, with 11 receivers getting megadeals. It was only a matter of time before the Ravens were going to have to make a decision on whether to give Brown a big deal.

Even though the Ravens threw the ball more times than the Cardinals last season (611 to 591), Arizona is known for being an "Air Raid" offense and Brown is reuniting with college teammate Kyler Murray. Brown will also have a big role in Arizona, especially early in the season, with DeAndre Hopkins suspended for the first six games. The Ravens have wished Brown best of luck with his new squad.

"Yes, 'Hollywood' [Marquise] Brown, that's my brother," wide receiver Rashod Bateman said Wednesday. "He will always be my brother; he's our brother. I'm definitely excited to see 'Hollywood' out in AZ."

Brown practiced fully this week for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury prior to the start of training camp and since he had been arrested for criminal speeding at the outset of camp.

"Very disappointed. I mean, I got a lot of kids that look up to me. So I want to set the right example at all times," Brown said.

Ravens Defense Ranked No. 1 Based on Advanced Metrics

As featured in yesterday's Late for Work, the Ravens offense was ranked as the 14th-best in the league by The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia ahead of the 2022 season. The defense fared much better.

Using advanced metrics and efficiency stats to rank the defenses of all 32 teams, Kapadia put the Ravens at No. 1.

Clearly, Kapadia believes injuries were largely responsible for the team's defensive performance last season, which fell well short of the unit's high standards.

"Explaining their struggles from last year — the Ravens ranked 28th in efficiency — is pretty simple: They were decimated by injuries, and they were schematically predictable," Kapadia wrote. "The defense finished 31st in AGL (adjusted games lost based on injuries), and the Ravens had the most-injured secondary in the NFL. That was a disastrous formula for a group whose identity was to blitz and play man coverage.

"This offseason, John Harbaugh replaced Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale with Mike Macdonald. The goal is to be more varied and be more flexible — essentially, to be able to find different answers for different problems."

In addition to Macdonald's fresh approach, a combination of new faces and returning veterans are key ingredients in the Ravens defense returning to dominance.

"The Ravens have talent," Kapadia wrote. "They finished in the top 10 in DVOA for five consecutive seasons prior to 2021. Baltimore signed safety Marcus Williams and nose tackle Michael Pierce in free agency; they brought back veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell and edge defender Justin Houston; and they used the 14th pick on safety Kyle Hamilton and the 76th pick on defensive tackle Travis Jones.

"Add it all up — better injury luck, better talent, more flexibility — and I see a defense that's likely to make the biggest leap of any on this list."

Even more cause for optimism: All-Pro cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are returning from injury and outside linebacker Odafe Oweh and inside linebacker Patrick Queen are expected to make big leaps in Years 2 and 3, respectively.

The Case Against Trading for Roquan Smith

One area of the defense where the Ravens are a bit thin is inside linebacker, which is why they've been named as a top landing spot for two-time second-team All-Pro Roquan Smith if the Bears grant his trade request.

However, as talented as the 25-year-old Smith is, Ebony Bird's Justin Fried believes trading for him would be an unwise investment for the Ravens because of the draft capital they'd have to give up and how expensive it would be to sign him to an extension.

"Smith put together an impressive rookie season, took a step back in 2019, played some of his best football in 2020, and was once again inconsistent in 2021," Fried wrote. "In fact, his 47.8 Pro Football Focus grade this past season ranked 62nd among 87 qualified linebackers. Of course, PFF grades aren't everything, and Smith is still a very good young player, but he's not Fred Warner. And that right there is the issue that many teams have encountered with big-money deals for off-ball linebackers in recent years.

"For the Ravens, it just wouldn't be a worthy gamble to trade away assets for Smith and make him one of the highest-paid players on their roster, especially given the impending Lamar Jackson extension."

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