Entertaining Zay Flowers Videos Exemplify Ravens' Culture and Chemistry
Not only have the Ravens assembled one of the most talented rosters in the league, they also have brought together a group of guys who have bonded and enjoy being around one another.
That was evident from the video that made the rounds on social media of rookie Zay Flowers bringing the house down with his rendition of "No Flockin" at the Ravens' rookie talent show this week.
In another video, the first-round wide receiver also elicited a boisterous reaction — especially from teammate Odell Beckham Jr. — when he revealed what his signing bonus was at a team meeting.
If chemistry is crucial to a team's success, the Ravens should win a lot of games this season. In that regard, Pat McAfee likened the Ravens to the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.
"This is the type of video, you saw it with the Eagles right before the NFC Championship game, the video hit the internet that this is what the team meeting looks like, and there were offensive line coaches in the whole room dancing," McAfee said on “The Pat McAfee Show.” "It's like, 'Oh, that team's gonna win. That is a team that's together, that is a team that is loose. That team likes each other it appears.' That is a weapon. If you have the talent and you like each other, I feel like you're going to play harder and better. That's what I'm seeing on this Ravens team [in] every video that surfaces from them. We need to start talking more about the Baltimore Ravens.
"Who are we talking about? Cincinnati Bengals. Joe Burrow's back at practice, here we go. Let's talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers, they look a lot better. Nobody's talking about the Baltimore Ravens right now. I see these videos, I get very excited about the Baltimore Ravens and what their season could look like."
CBS Sports' Josina Anderson also mentioned the Ravens' chemistry and made the comparison to the Eagles.
McAfee also noted the impact Flowers is having on the team.
"Zay Flowers is a lightning rod on the field, and from what I'm watching, a lightning rod behind the scenes," McAfee said. "What you see [in the videos] is a rookie who's clearly beloved by his teammates. The way they reacted when he said what he said, you can tell there's a lot of respect, especially Odell Beckham Jr., who is in the same wide receiver room with him. What a perfect environment for a guy who's a playmaker."
Former NFL cornerback Darius Butler appeared on McAfee's show and expressed a similar sentiment about Flowers.
"They love him," Butler said. "He's one of those young players, every time you see him he's smiling, he's out there doing his job. He's grinding. … Zay's fitting right in. I love every second of that."
Butler, who picked the Ravens to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, said the team's cohesiveness comes as no surprise.
"We've all either covered or played in the league for a while, and we've all heard good things about the Ravens' culture, whether you hate them or love them on the football field," Butler said. "Their culture has always been highly respected and talked about. John Harbaugh has done a great job with that. Drafting the right guys, bringing the right guys in, trading the right guys. … I love everything that I'm seeing out of Baltimore right now."
Sports Illustrated Writer Not High on Ravens' Skill Position Players
Despite the abundance of talent the Ravens have on offense, Baltimore was just No. 21 in Sports Illustrated’s Gilberto Manzano’s skill position rankings.
"[Tight end Mark] Andrews probably doesn't get enough credit for how valuable he's been for the Ravens as a pass catcher and blocker — expect him to remain one of the best tight ends in the league. But there's uncertainty surrounding Baltimore's talented receivers," Manzano wrote.
"Beckham will need to prove he can stay healthy, as will [Rashod] Bateman, a 2021 first-round pick. Flowers, this year's first-round pick, is off to a fast start and could be a vital piece in helping Lamar Jackson push the ball downfield in '23. The Ravens are counting on [J.K.] Dobbins as the lead back, despite his lengthy injury history."
The injury concern is a fair point. However, Jackson is fully healthy and the Ravens have depth at wide receiver, running back and tight end. I have a strong feeling the No. 21 ranking won't age well.
Beckham Will Be Another 'Security Blanket' for Jackson
Andrews has often been aptly described as Jackson's security blanket, but ESPN’s Bill Barnwell believes Beckham can complement Andrews in that role.
"It's going to be a lot of throws over the middle of the field. It's going to be about getting the ball to Odell in tight spaces and a guy who [Jackson] can trust is going to win those balls where there's tight coverage," Barnwell said. "It's about getting Lamar Jackson a guy besides Mark Andrews who he trusts in the intermediate range, over the middle part of the field, and in tight windows."
ESPN's Mina Kimes said the Ravens' potent rushing attack will allow Beckham to flourish in the middle of the field.
"Because the Ravens' rushing attack is so hard to stop because defenses' second-level defenders are so concerned about Lamar Jackson carrying the football or giving it to one of the Ravens' several good backs, there are often wide-open zones in that part of the field," Kimes said. "Mark Andrews has benefited from this at times. Lamar Jackson is comfortable throwing there as a result.
"And if defenses decide to put a bunch of bodies there – we've seen that approach sometimes – well, then you have Zay Flowers on the outside now, so I really love this pairing. I love OBJ's skill set. I love that he can flourish where Lamar already likes to throw."
Kyle Hamilton Named Ravens' Leading Candidate to Make First Pro Bowl
NFL.com’s Kevin Patra identified one potential first-time Pro Bowler from each AFC team. For the Ravens, it was second-year safety Kyle Hamilton.
"Hamilton struggled out of the gate in Year 1 before the Ravens moved him closer to the line of scrimmage as a slot corner and box safety. He flourished in that role, flashing ability as a short-area cover man, thriving against the run and showing a knack as a pass rusher," Patra wrote. "In Year 2, the Ravens could use Hamilton as a Derwin James-type defender, aligning him all over the formation to provide ample opportunity for game-changing plays."
Patra noted that Hamilton stepping up this season is especially important considering the current lack of depth at cornerback due to injuries.
"An already-banged-up Ravens secondary needs playmakers, and Hamilton owns the athleticism and ability to break out in 2023," Patra wrote.
- The Ravens were well-represented on CBS Sports’ preseason All-AFC North team.