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Late for Work: Maurice Jones-Drew Wants Ravens to Trade for Jonathan Taylor

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor runs up field during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Minneapolis.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor runs up field during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Minneapolis.

Maurice Jones-Drew Wants Ravens to Trade for Jonathan Taylor

Head Coach John Harbaugh said earlier this week that he doesn't anticipate the team signing a running back from outside the organization in the wake of J.K. Dobbins' season-ending injury.

That hasn't stopped speculation, however. analyst Maurice Jones-Drew named the Ravens as one of five teams who should pursue a trade for Indianapolis Colts All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor.

"The Ravens have championship aspirations in 2023, and while they routinely boast one of the best rushing attacks league-wide no matter who shares the backfield with Lamar Jackson, I still feel like they need another dynamic player on offense," Jones-Drew wrote. "Imagine this rushing attack with Jackson and Taylor. Baltimore would dominate defenses on the ground, and that threat would help open up new OC Todd Monken's passing game. Come on, Baltimore — do it!"

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport also mentioned the Ravens as a potential fit for Taylor.

"It would be an expensive trade to do and he would need a contract extension, but the Ravens are at least the type of forward-thinking team that might say, 'You know what, this actually does make sense,' even though they have to pay him. They are a good team; it's gonna take a really good team to pull off this kind of move," Rapoport said.

Taylor, who led the NFL in rushing yards (1,811) and rushing touchdowns (18) in 2021, wants a new contract and was given permission by the Colts to seek a trade. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list prior to the start of the season after no deal was reached. Trade talks for the 24-year-old Taylor are expected to resume, Rapoport said.

Taylor, who underwent offseason ankle surgery, is planning to be ready to play as early as Week 5, when he is eligible to come off the PUP list, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It appears the Colts' asking price for Taylor is steep. Reportedly, the Colts asked the Miami Dolphins for wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and the Green Bay Packers for wide receiver Christian Watson in trade talks.

Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed believes the Ravens' in-house running backs can get the job done, so there is no need to pursue Taylor or any other veterans who might be available.

"As much as fantasy football owners and the national media would love to see the Ravens make a big move to find a replacement for Dobbins at the top of their depth chart, the team still already has talented ball carriers available on the roster," Reed wrote. "Justice Hill, Gus Edwards, and Melvin Gordon are more than capable of not just holding down the fort, but thriving, and Harbaugh believes as much.

"A potential secret weapon in the waiting is undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell, who was one of the brightest stars of the preseason and possesses blazing game-breaking speed. He is currently on injured reserve and isn't eligible to return until at least Week 5, but once he is back in the fold, expect to see the Ravens utilize his explosively dynamic skill set."

Pundit Says Joe Burrow vs. Mike Macdonald Is Main Event of Ravens-Bengals Game

Led by quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, the Cincinnati Bengals have one of the most talented offenses in the league. However, in three games against the Ravens last season, the Bengals offense performed well below its standard.

That's why The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer said Burrow versus Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald is the main event in Sunday's showdown between the Ravens and Bengals in Cincinnati.

"One year after lighting up former Ravens coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale's defenses, [Burrow] could not solve his successor's riddles," Shaffer wrote. "The Bengals won two of their three meetings last year, but Burrow's performances against Macdonald's defense were suboptimal: a 35.3 QBR in Week 5, a 26.2 QBR in Week 18 against a secondary missing some key contributors, and a 31.7 QBR in the wild-card round.

"Against the Ravens last season, including the playoffs, Burrow and the Bengals averaged just 4.4 yards per play and minus-0.08 expected points added per drop-back, according to TruMedia — about as inefficient as the 2022 Carolina Panthers. Against every opponent on Cincinnati's schedule, Burrow averaged 5.6 yards per play and an elite 0.14 EPA per drop-back."

Shaffer noted that the Ravens challenged Burrow by disguising their coverages.

"What they showed before the snap rarely aligned with what they did after the snap," Shaffer wrote.

ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky said: "The hardest thing is when we don't know what the coverage is. And I think Mike did such a good job of making coverage look muddy or cloudy. You get quarterbacks to play with just a moment of doubt: 'Is this Cover 3 or is it [Cover] 4?' …. When you get quarterbacks to play with a little bit of that doubt, holding the ball in the pocket for 2.2 seconds in comparison to 2.4 seconds is almost an eternity. …

"Joe was such a smart player and Joe was such an almost piston type of player, where [it's almost] like, 'I know what the coverage is. Ball goes here.' 'I know what the coverage is. Ball goes here.' ... When you're like, 'I don't know what the coverage is,' you just hold it for a little bit longer, and that allows a defender to drop just a step more or a rush to get a little bit closer to you. And so that was the most impressive thing."

Brian Baldinger: Roquan Smith Has Everything It Takes to Be As Good As Anyone at His Position

NFL Network's Brian Baldinger broke down film of Roquan Smith in last week's win over the Houston Texans and marveled over the All-Pro inside linebacker's performance.

The film confirmed what the stat sheet indicated: Smith had himself a day.

"The Ravens defense, I can't take my eyes off No. 0, Roquan," Baldinger said. "His movement is just so fast. His lateral speed is as fast as most people run straight ahead. Lateral speed is ridiculous. It shows up over and over again. … Roquan makes everybody better on the Ravens."

Smith finished the game with 16 tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss.

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