Pundit Says Pendulum Will Swing Back to Ravens Offense
There's been a lot of talk this offseason about the Ravens patterning their offense after the 2019 unit that was No. 1 in the league, but Ben Solak of “The Ringer NFL Show” doesn't expect an exact replica.
Solak said some of the Ravens' moves on offense indicate schematic changes, as does the quarterback playing more under center in the preseason. He believes those changes will result in a resurgence for the offense.
"The Lamar offense arrived and everyone was like, 'We have no idea how to react to this…. And then the pendulum swings and defenses start to get an answer," Solak said. "I think this season is the season you start to see the pendulum swing back to the Ravens. Firstly, because they've had a couple seasons now to look at it. You get time to figure out what works for us and what doesn't. Secondly, they've made personnel changes that indicate schematic changes.
"All they did every single offseason was talk about, 'We have to throw the ball deep down the field. Lamar has to be a better deep passer.' And then they traded away Marquise Brown this offseason, which is not what you'd do if you were prioritizing that. They grabbed [center] Tyler Linderbaum [in the draft]. Great pick in terms of value. He does not make sense to the way they used to run the football. … I generally trust that coaching staff and I trust the talent of Lamar."
Sheil Kapadia of "The Ringer NFL Show" agreed that the Ravens will be a dangerous team if the offense is one of the league's best.
"If they're like a top 10 offense, if Lamar is even in the discussion for MVP, that's a Super Bowl contender," Kapadia said. "Because I think their defense is going to be really good. They have the best special teams in the NFL, and I think [John] Harbaugh in terms of game management is probably the best coach in the NFL."
ESPN's Booger McFarland also is high on the Ravens this season.
"If this team is healthy, no one is going to want to play the Baltimore Ravens because they're well-coached, they're physical and they have a dynamic playmaker at the quarterback position in Lamar Jackson that when he's in the open field, no matter what defense he's going against, he is that defense's kryptonite because he's elusive and he can make plays on the perimeter of their defense," McFarland said.
McFarland's colleague, Ryan Clark said: "You're also dealing with a proud organization. A very proud head coach and a quarterback that always has something to prove. … Every week you go against the Baltimore Ravens you're going to have to come with all the physicality that you can learn to muster for the six days that you are preparing for.
"Cincinnati Bengals Defensive Coordinator] Lou Anarumo told me in camp they have two days dedicated to the Baltimore Ravens because it's unlike playing any other team in the entire NFL. And this is a guy who coached the defense that played in the Super Bowl."
Lamar Jackson Snubbed From CBS Sports' All-AFC North Team
Jackson is a former unanimous league MVP and one of the most electrifying players in the NFL, but he isn't the best quarterback in his division, in the opinion of a CBS Sports pundit.
Joe Burrow of the Bengals got the nod at quarterback in CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin’s All-AFC North Team heading into the start of the regular season.
Dubin did make it clear that choosing Burrow was not a slight of Jackson.
"While Jackson's ceiling is as high or higher than any quarterback in the NFL (as evidenced by his winning MVP and dominating the league in 2019), Burrow is likely better positioned for success in 2022 due to the plethora of pass-catching options the Bengals have supplied him with, as well as an upgraded offensive line in front of him," Dubin wrote. "It's like splitting hairs when choosing between two of the game's best, but that's what you have to do when you can only pick one for a roster like this."
The Cleveland Browns had the most players on the team with eight, one more than the defending AFC champion Bengals. The Ravens and Steelers had six each.
For Baltimore, tight end Mark Andrews, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, interior defensive lineman Calais Campbell, cornerback Marlon Humphrey, safety Marcus Williams and kicker Justin Tucker made the team.
"Stanley has missed the better part of the past two seasons, but when last healthy, he was an All-Pro-caliber player. The bet here is on a healthy season," Dubin wrote.
Local Writer Says Ravens Look Fine at WR — for Now
The Ravens' young wide receiving corps gets virtually no love nationally, but Russell Street Report’s Darin McCann believes the maligned group is being undervalued. McCann contends that the wide receivers are a suitable fit for Baltimore's style of offense.
"Personnel-wise, no matter how much the Ravens open up the offense, they don't figure to become a team that lines up with four receivers unless there are extraordinary circumstances," McCann wrote. "A third-and-five situation would probably see [Rashod] Bateman, Andrews, Isaiah Likely and pick-your-poison on the field. That last guy could be [Demarcus] Robinson if they need a guy who can shake press coverage quickly, or [James] Proche if they need someone to find a soft spot in a zone, or [Devin] Duvernay if they are looking at crossers or four verts. There are options, and I think there are enough."
That said, McCann expressed concern about depth at the position.
"In football, it's probably wise to expect the expected. And injuries should fall under that label. If Bateman or Andrews or even Likely goes down, all of a sudden there is a problem," McCann wrote. " … Do the Ravens need another receiving option right now? I'm not sure they do. Could they need one by the end of the final preseason game, or after any practice session or game during the season? In the most-urgent of ways, yes."
McCann thinks the Ravens could trade for a wide receiver before the start of the regular season.
"Don't be surprised to see the Ravens make a move at that point, and jump on a receiver who offers something that's either different for this current group (pure speed or a physical presence on the outside) or a player who can at least offer something on all three levels if needed to step on the field," McCann wrote. "They look good right now at receiving options … until they don't."
Ravens Named a Top Landing Spot If Jets WR Denzel Mims Is Traded
One wide receiver who could be on the trade block — and already is being linked to the Ravens — is Denzel Mims of the New York Jets.
Mims has requested a trade, and the Ravens were named as one of the top landing spots for the 2020 second-round pick by CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan.
"The need for Baltimore to add a receiver isn't as dire as some other teams on this list, but it couldn't hurt to bring in a depth piece," Sullivan wrote. "Tight end Mark Andrews will arguably be the most targeted pass-catcher in this offense and second-year wideout Rashod Bateman is looked at as one of the breakout candidates for this season. Beyond those two, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II Ii, and Demarcus Robinson headline the receiver position, while tight end Isaiah Likely has been a preseason darling.
"Lamar Jackson has a rapport with some of these pass-catchers and this will be a team that leans heavily on the running game, but adding Mims could be a speculative add for Baltimore to see if he blossoms with a new club."
Mims has yet to live up to his draft position. He was limited to nine games as a rookie due to a hamstring issue, finishing with 23 catches for 357 yards. Last season, Mims had just eight catches for 133 yards in 11 games. He has yet to score a touchdown.
Marquise Brown Trade Was Ravens' Best Offseason Move
The Ravens made some sound moves this offseason, but none were better than the trade General Manager Eric DeCosta pulled off during the draft, according to Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay, who named every team's best offseason move.
"The Baltimore Ravens did a lot of things that are easy to like this offseason, but the value they got in trading Marquise Brown to the Cardinals is tough to beat," Kay wrote. "The 25-year-old was an important part of the Ravens offense last season. His speed and ability to stretch the field helped him draw 146 targets. Still, he didn't feel he was involved enough. Brown was 10th in the league in targets last season. If he didn't feel like that was enough involvement, it would have been hard to envision him staying in Baltimore long term.
"So the Ravens flipped him for a first-round pick to the Cardinals. Now, Arizona is locked into his fifth-year option at $13.4 million and is facing a contract extension that will be expensive based on the receiver market this year."
With the additional first-round pick, the Ravens selected Linderbaum.
"He projects as a long-term starter at center who the team will have for four years on the rookie wage scale," Kay wrote.