Ravens Would Be 'Fantastic Landing Spot' if Derrick Henry Is on Trade Block
Three-time Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry is rumored to be on the trade block. Might the Ravens be interested in the Tennessee Titans star ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline?
It's a tantalizing thought, and the Ravens potentially targeting Henry is getting some buzz.
"It would be some story if Henry, a Ravens nemesis, wound up joining the team for its playoff push," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "Team officials have downplayed the need for an established No. 1 running back, but the thought of Henry lining up behind Lamar Jackson has to intrigue the Ravens and concern Baltimore opponents who would have to figure out a way to contain two of the league's most dynamic players. Henry is a pending free agent and has a decent chunk of change left on his 2023 contract, but the Ravens could make it work if they were motivated to do so."
CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan urged the Ravens to pursue Henry.
"The Ravens would be a fantastic landing spot for Henry as they have been starved for a running back of his caliber to complement quarterback Lamar Jackson's rushing ability," Sullivan wrote. "Not only would that take some of the pressure off of Jackson, but the two would make arguably the most electric QB-RB duos that the league has to offer."
Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay proposed a trade in which the Ravens would send wide receiver Devin Duvernay, a 2024 second-round pick and 2024 fifth-round pick to the Titans for Henry.
"The Ravens have a shade under $7 million in available cap space, making a trade relatively feasible — especially if they include someone like wideout/return man Devin Duvernay and his $4.3 million expiring contract," Kay wrote. "While taking on Henry's deal would give Baltimore little room to work with after ironing out all the details, there's no other available player who could have as much of a positive impact on this roster."
Henry, 29, has 425 rushing yards and three touchdowns in six games and is on pace for his fifth 1,000-yard season in six years. He ran for 937 yards in just eight games in 2021 before suffering a broken foot.
The Ravens are No. 3 in the league in rushing, with Jackson leading the team with 363 yards and five touchdowns. Gus Edwards (346 yards, two touchdowns) and Justice Hill (196 yards, three touchdowns) have carried the load at running back after J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1.
Undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell suffered a hamstring injury against the Lions and could miss some time. Veteran Melvin Gordon III is on the practice squad and would have to be added to the 53-man roster to see more game action in Baltimore.
Mike Macdonald, Todd Monken, and Ravens Position Coaches Are Making Their Mark
Much of the talk coming out of the Ravens' 38-6 victory over the Detroit Lions Sunday focused on the sensational performance of Lamar Jackson and the offense, and understandably so. But the Ravens defense was also outstanding, as it has been all season.
The Ringer’s Steven Ruiz praised Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald, saying the 36-year-old coach should be at the top of the list of head coaching candidates this offseason.
Ruiz noted that a subplot of the Ravens-Lions game was the matchup between Macdonald and Lions Offensive Coordinator Ben Johnson, 37, who also is regarded as a future head coach.
"It's just one game, and the success of a head coach isn't solely based on X's and O's, but this was about as one-sided a matchup as we've seen all season," Ruiz wrote. "The six points Detroit's offense managed came well after the game had been decided, and probably even make the unit's performance sound better than it was.
"When [Jared] Goff dropped back to pass, it almost seemed as if Macdonald was listening in on Johnson's calls. The Ravens were consistently positioned to defend whatever route combination the Lions had dialed up. Goff attempted 53 passes in the game and was sacked five times. He averaged just 5.4 yards per attempt and finished with a QBR of 14.9. It was easily his worst performance of the season, and one of the worst of his career. For Macdonald, it's just another line on what's becoming an awfully impressive résumé."
Meanwhile, Fox Sports' David Helman lauded both Macdonald and Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken in his weekly coaching spotlight on “The NFL on Fox Podcast.”
"The Lions were absolutely, relentlessly flustered by Mike Macdonald's guys," Helman said.
Regarding Monken, Helman said: "You're not always going to go five-of-six in the red zone, but if they can do that on even a remotely consistent basis, the Ravens are going to be incredibly hard to beat, and Todd Monken is going to be an even bigger storyline than he already is.
"Two very, very impressive performances from the Ravens coordinators."
It's not only the coordinators who are getting recognition. Zrebiec said that bringing in pass rush guru Chuck Smith to coach the outside linebackers (and other defenders) and Dennard Wilson to coach the defensive backs were under-the-radar moves that are paying dividends.
"It isn't hard to see the impact Smith and Wilson have had on their position groups," Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens lead the league with 29 sacks, the most through seven games in franchise history. They've done it despite not having an established double-digit sack guy on their roster, which the three other teams in the AFC North have. Plenty of players and coaches have their hand in it, including Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald and Associate Head Coach and Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver. Twelve different Ravens have sacks, too. But Smith's influence on the individual pass-rushing repertoires of Odafe Oweh, Justin Madubuike and others is obvious. He's also getting a lot out of Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, too.
"As for Wilson, just look at the improvement that guys such as Kyle Hamilton, Brandon Stephens and Geno Stone have made. Just look at how the Ravens' defensive backs have kept the ball in front of them and limited big plays. Just look at how they have pieced together their secondary despite just recently getting back their top cornerback, Marlon Humphrey, and missing starting safety Marcus Williams for most of the season. And to be clear, Ravens Defensive Pass Game Coordinator Chris Hewitt deserves plenty of credit, too."
Ravens Rise to No. 1 in Colin Cowherd's Rankings
Colin Cowherd was ahead of the curve on the Ravens. While the majority of power rankings had the Ravens near the bottom of the top 10 last week, the Fox Sports host ranked them at No. 3 in his weekly “Herd Hierarchy.”
This week, Cowherd moved the Ravens up to No. 1 after their rout of the Lions.
"I've been saying this for the last three weeks: Baltimore is great," Cowherd said. "Lamar Jackson, this is easily the best version of him. To me, he is the second-most dangerous quarterback to face beyond Patrick Mahomes."
ESPN analyst and former Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III also was singing the Ravens' praises before the rest of the national experts hopped on the bandwagon this week. In fact, Baltimore was his preseason pick to win the Super Bowl.
Yesterday morning on "Get Up", Griffin said: "This Ravens team that we saw on Sunday, they beat every team in the NFL."
Richard Sherman Not Convinced Ravens Are Best Team in AFC
Not everyone believes as strongly in the Ravens. Former All-Pro cornerback and Fox Sports 1's "Undisputed" co-host Richard Sherman said he still has doubts about Baltimore even after its dismantling of Detroit.
"I think there's still some concern about that loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where their offense scored 10 points," Sherman said. "You can't forget about that. There hasn't been enough time passed to let me forget about that. Now, how Lamar Jackson played the other day was outstanding, that was incredible.
"It's just that loss to the Colts, that loss to Pittsburgh, where they just did not look as impressive. Now, them beating a very good Detroit team and beating the brakes off of them, I got to give them that. It's a great win. It's just those other games are the reasons why I have a hard time saying this is the best team in the AFC."
According to DVOA advanced metrics, the Ravens are actually the best team in the NFL, not just the AFC, through seven weeks.