Ravens’ Offensive Playmakers Shown Little Respect in ESPN Rankings
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell said that defense no longer wins championships, offensive stars do. With that in mind, he ranked each team’s offensive playmakers (wide receivers, tight ends and running backs).
Given Barnwell’s stance on how championships are won, he probably doesn’t like Baltimore’s chances of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this season. He ranked the Ravens’ offensive playmakers at No. 25.
“Beyond [tight end Mark] Andrews, it’s not pretty,” Barnwell wrote. “Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards were both felled by torn ACLs, leaving Baltimore to spend the season relying on replacement-level veterans. Dobbins led the league in DVOA and averaged six yards per carry as a rookie in 2020, so there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, but Saquon Barkley is a reminder of how torn ACLs can be career-altering injuries.
“Unless (or until) the Ravens add a veteran, though, wide receiver is a problem. Rashod Bateman, a first-round pick last year, didn’t stand out as a rookie, as he averaged 1.4 yards per route run with a 19% target share. There’s obviously hope he’ll emerge as a No. 1, but the trade of Marquise Brown forces Bateman into that role with Devin Duvernay, James Proche and Tylan Wallace as supplemental wideouts. The Ravens might be moving back toward a run-heavy approach, but they desperately need to add a wideout such as Will Fuller or Julio Jones before the season begins.”
It’s possible that the Ravens will sign a veteran wide receiver before the start of the season, although team officials have expressed confidence in their young receivers. As for Bateman not standing out as a rookie, that needs some context.
Bateman showed flashes of his potential, but he missed most of the preseason and the first five games of the regular season after undergoing groin surgery. He only played six full games with Lamar Jackson under center.
Meanwhile, Ravens running backs didn’t fare much better in Sharp Football Analysis’ running back rankings by unit. They came in at No. 20, down from No. 8 in last year’s rankings. The rankings were determined by average ranks from Sharp Football staff voters.
“Opinions varied on Baltimore’s backfield with votes ranging from 16th to 24th,” Sharp Football Analysis’ Ryan McCrystal wrote. “If J.K. Dobbins returns to full strength and carries the unit, the high end of that spectrum is realistic. However, if he’s unable to regain his form, Gus Edwards and Mike Davis may not provide enough quality depth for the unit to succeed.”
Dobbins and Edwards have shown that when they’re healthy, the Ravens have a strong 1-2 punch. In 2020, when the duo shared backfield duties with Mark Ingram, Dobbins and Edwards combined for 1,528 yards and 15 touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.
Earlier this week, Dobbins disputed NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport’s report that it’s “no sure thing” he’ll be ready for Week 1.
The Ravens undoubtedly will proceed with caution with Dobbins and Edwards. In addition to the veteran Davis, the Ravens also have rookie Tyler Badie, who looked good in minicamp, and Justice Hill in the mix at running back.
The Case for Justin Tucker’s Inclusion in ‘Madden’ 99 Club
Last night’s ESPY awards included a rare miss for Justin Tucker, although this one was out of his control. He came up short in the Best Play category.
Tucker’s game-winning, record-breaking 66-yard field goal in Detroit lost out to Megan Rapinoe’s corner kick goal in the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s bronze-medal-winning match at the Tokyo Olympics.
While the ESPY eluded Tucker, NFL.com’s Adam Schein believes the All-Pro kicker is worthy of an honor that is arguably more prestigious: a spot in the exclusive “Madden” 99 club. A 99 rating is the highest number a player can achieve in the popular football video game.
Schein named nine players who he would give a 99 rating to and ranked them. Tucker came in at No. 3.
“A kicker at No. 3? A kicker at No. 3!” Schein wrote. “As the most accurate kicker in NFL history at 91.1 percent, Tucker is a legit weapon for Baltimore. You want clutch? How about booting an NFL-record 66-yard field goal as time expired in Detroit to lift the Ravens over the Lions, 19-17?
“This cat is different. Thunder in his foot, ice in his veins. Baltimore plays a lot of close games, so having an automatic kicker who can bank three points from basically anywhere on the plus-side of the 50-yard line is everything. Shoot, my colleague Dan Hanzus just welcomed Tucker beyond the velvet rope of the prestigious Superstar Club. This guy puts the ‘foot’ in football.”
Tucker actually did join the 99 club last year, at least momentarily. His original rating for “Madden” was 87, but he was boosted to 99 for a limited time after his 66-yard field goal, which went on to win NFL Moment of the Year.
NFL record 66-yard FG is 9️⃣9️⃣ worthy 🤯
Congrats to @Ravens Kicker @jtuck9 #Madden22 pic.twitter.com/KZGga8n3tZ
Pro Football Focus’ Eric Eager: ‘No One Has Done What Lamar Jackson Has Done at the Level He’s Done It’
Jackson has been described as a unicorn and an anomaly. Pro Football Focus’ Eric Eager pointed out just how accurate those labels are and why Jackson’s impact is often underestimated and misunderstood.
“No one during the history of advanced player metrics (e.g. PFF, Next Gen Stats) has done what Lamar has done at the level he’s done it,” Eager wrote in a tweet. “For example, 73% of Mike Vick’s 1,039 rushing yards in 2006 were on scrambles. Only 38% of Lamar’s in 2019 were.
“So even Lamar Jackson’s closest comparable player — both athletically and from a production standpoint — was playing a different game than Jackson was. That is going to make every mathematical assessment of Jackson a ‘take with a grain of salt’-level one for me.”
To Eager’s point, Jackson’s uniqueness is what seems to diminish him in the eyes of his critics, who are comparing an unconventional player to the conventional. What cannot be diminished or debated is Jackson’s 37-12 record as a starter.
“That doesn’t mean we stop trying to understand him, but what it does mean is that we probably understand him and his impact less than we think we do,” Eager wrote. “Use his greatness — and he is great — as an opportunity to learn more about the game.”
A new approach for the #Ravens defense is forthcoming, and rookie Kyle Hamilton may have a big role in that (Should note new DC Mike MacDonald coached under old Baltimore DC Dean Pees…) pic.twitter.com/gQg1gBr8Hn
And here are the 10 teams tightest to the cap …
1) Ravens $732K
2) Patriots $1.27M
3) 49ers $4.38M
4) Giants $4.96M
5) Bills $5.23M
6) Rams $7.24M
7) Texans $7.29M
8) Jaguars $7.30M
9) Eagles $8.79M
10) Jets $8.91M
Five things we want to know about the AFC North as the Ravens prepare for training camp https://t.co/a1ShaulaMK
Twelve Ravens thoughts with players beginning to report for training camp: https://t.co/t3t4tiv9Ma
Baltimore Ravens projections
-Lamar pass attempts slightly down, PPG up
-Dobbins leads backfield in touches but near-even split with Gus. Badie looms for future
-Bateman high-end WR2
-Mark Andrews still very good pic.twitter.com/cLNlAoEzmA
Top position battles in #Ravens 2022 training camp: Outside Linebacker#RavensFlock https://t.co/y3fcBTknky
The Ravens are among the teams best set up for the next three seasons. A CBS Sports pundit believes Justin Tucker’s record for the longest field goal could fall in 2022.
Is Mark Andrews’ ‘Madden’ rating too low? Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh slip in CBS Sports’ Top 10 quarterback/head coach rankings. Rashod Bateman having a breakout season is a ‘necessity.’
Jeff Zrebiec sees notable roster improvements from beginning of the offseason. James Proche categorized as the Ravens’ “Best-Kept Secret.” Patrick Queen makes CBS Sports’ NFL All Under 25 Defensive Team.
Lamar Jackson and Bernard Pollard call a truce. Mark Andrews remains outside the top three in ESPN’s tight ends rankings. Ronnie Stanley is still ranked among the top 10 offensive tackles.
Watch for Lamar Jackson to be a fantasy star after the Ravens’ offseason moves. Takeaways from Warren Sharp’s 2022 football preview. Jackson gets into Twitter exchange with former Ravens safety Bernard Pollard.
Two free-agent edge defenders the Ravens could target. Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey has Lamar Jackson’s back. Orlando Brown Jr. is not close on an extension with the Chiefs and a holdout is expected.
Pundits call out voters who left Jackson out of top 10 quarterbacks rankings. Calais Campbell wants to be a champion in football and poker.
Justin Tucker enters ‘Superstar Club’ but Mark Andrews is denied. Marcus Williams and Patrick Queen are recognized in the survey. The Marquise Brown trade is lauded as the Ravens’ best offseason move. The Ravens make Sports Illustrated’s list of realistic Super Bowl contenders.
Reunion with Justin Houston is ‘an excellent move that should not fly under the radar.’ Mark Andrews is predicted to be the Ravens’ non-QB MVP. The Ravens are No. 10 in CBS Sports’ roster rankings. Baltimore’s 2017 draft class gets a B+ grade.
The cases for and against signing a veteran wide receiver. The Ravens get a B+ offseason grade. Marcus Williams and Chuck Clark are among the NFL’s most underrated players.
Is James Proche poised for a breakout season? Will Justin Tucker finally make the NFL Top 100 Players list? The Ravens select Davante Adams in a mock draft of active NFL players.
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