Posted in NFL News

Ravens win over the Chiefs: Processing all the emotions of the game

By Chris Schisler

What the Baltimore Ravens victory over the Kansas City Chiefs meant is hard to put into words. That’s kind of a pickle for me because that’s my job here. In a game where the Ravens were essentially counted out, they beat the top contender in the AFC. It may have been the greatest game M&T Bank Stadium has ever seen.

The game started with a pick-six, where Sammy Watkins slipped and the Chiefs got an easy score. If you would have told any Ravens fan that this is how the game would start, nobody would have seen this ending coming. This game made you feel all the feels and was a crazy rollercoaster.

The Ravens had to play without Ronnie Stanley at left tackle. The Ravens were already the most banged-up team in the NFL and they were coming off a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in week one. There were 100 reasons to think the Ravens weren’t going to pull away with this momentous victory, Heck, this game seemed over and lost a handful of times.

This game was crazy

Going into the fourth quarter the Chiefs held a commanding 35-24 point lead. Here’s what happened in that final quarter of play. The Ravens outscored the Chiefs 12-0. Odafe Oweh got heavily involved. He forced the Patrick Mahomes interception and then poked out the ball on the Chiefs’ final shot with the football. Lamar Jackson sealed the deal with a gutsy fourth-down conversion and M&T Bank Stadium came alive like never before.

The defense had given up a couple of touchdowns where they just couldn’t make a tackle. It was frustrating. The heart that the entire team showed, especially on defense down the stretch was unbelievable. This game was the biggest roller-coaster of emotions and nobody on the Ravens gave up, even when it seemed lost.

The effort and the will to win really came through. Baltimore was put in a tough spot in this game and the game wasn’t easy. Winning the way they did, it couldn’t be replicated. It couldn’t possibly be replicated in 1,000,000 tries. This was a special moment that you don’t see every year. Speaking as someone who was at the game, the emotional roller coaster was intense. This was an all-time classic. A moment nobody can ever forget.

Lamar had his big win against the Chiefs:

This may have been the greatest regular-season victory the Ravens have ever had. It was a comeback win with the most dramatic action you could imagine. There’s plenty of time to dive into the analysis of this game. Right now, Ravens fans have to process the emotions of this game.

This was such a validating win for Lamar Jackson. While Jackson didn’t play mistake-free football, he was an MVP on Sunday Night Football. He put the team on his back and made some of the most impressive plays you’ll see all season.

He rushed for over 100 yards and passed for just over 230 yards. Jackson finally beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. He had a comeback win where he took on all the pressure and carried the offense on his back. If one of your takeaways isn’t that Lamar Jackson is the MVP of the NFL, I don’t know how to help you.

What the win means:

While the season wouldn’t have been over at 0-2, it would have felt devastating. The Ravens, who weren’t at full strength yet, proved that they are still contenders in the AFC. The Ravens were able to do something the Browns couldn’t quite pull off. The Browns gave the Chiefs a run for their money, the Ravens actually claimed victory against the Chiefs.

Winning this game means that the Ravens can beat absolutely anybody. The Ravens were supposed to be getting right and turning things around after the Chiefs. Now they can stack up wins with games against the Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, and Los Angeles Chargers. This is a huge chance for a Ravens team that will get Ronnie Stanley back and is awaiting the return of Nick Boyle and Rashod Bateman.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Top 10 Offensive linemen in franchise history

We’ve got plenty of analysis coming for this game. For now, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the moment. This was a once-in-a-lifetime game and one of the best (if not the best) games the Ravens have ever treated their home crowd to. Wow. Just wow. This game will go down as an all-time great.


Posted in NFL News

NFL Week 2: Picks for every game on the NFL slate

By Chris Schisler

It’s time for the second week of the NFL season. Here is a look at my picks for the full slate. In week 1 my picks went 9-7. Like with all predictions, take it for whatever it’s worth. Each predicted NFL winner will be highlighted in Purple.

NFL Picks from PBN

Giants @ Washington

This is a game I would stay away from in terms of a betting perspective. That being said, Joe Judge and the Giants don’t inspire any confidence. I see Daniel Jones having a lot of problems in this Thursday Night Football game. Look for Chase Young and company to have a dominant performance against a Giants offensive line that seemingly can never get right.

Patriots @ Jets

The Patriots are a better football team than the Jets. The Patriots lost a close one to the Dolphins in the first week of the season. Mac Jones was very efficient in his debut as the Patriots quarterback. I think the Patriots play a rather conservative game offensively and it grinds out a win. Bill Bellichick wins this one and gives Zach Wilson a rough second game.

Broncos @ Jaguars

The Broncos were supposed to beat the Giants. They think they have something going. Their defense was smothering in week 1. Their offense has just enough going for them with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. None of that matters though. The Jaguars are awful and Urban Meyer will continue to show he’s not suited to be an NFL coach.

Bills @ Dolphins

The Bills looked awful in their opener against the Steelers, something we’re not very happy about at PBN. Look for the Bills to get right in this game. They need to find a little balance with their offense. Meanwhile, their defense should be able to keep the Dolphins under 20 points. That should do it.

49ers @ Eagles

The 49ers showed me something in week 1 and it wasn’t good. They should have cleaned the clock with the Detroit Lions. Instead, the Lions almost finished an amazing comeback. The Eagles looked good. Devonta Smith is the real deal, Jalen Hurts looks confident and most importantly should be a bigger difference-maker than Jared Goff.

Rams @ Colts

The Colts looked awful at home against the Seahawks, so home-field advantage doesn’t quite matter here. Matthew Stafford should have his way with the Colts defense. The Rams defense should stop a Colts offense that is searching for answers.

Raiders @ Steelers

A week ago, I probably would have rolled with the arch-enemy Steelers in this one. Now, I see the Raiders as the worst possible week 2 matchup for a Pittsburgh team that has similar issues on the offensive line as the Ravens. The Raiders defensive front is going to take over this game. Derek Carr will be ready to make some big plays off of Ben Roethlisberger turnovers. Plus, keep in mind the Steelers have a weird history of losing games they shouldn’t to the Raiders.

Bengals @ Bears

Joe Burrow will put up more points than Andy Dalton. Hopefully, one more loss pushes Justin Fields onto the field as the starter for the Bears. The Bears are not done being done, the Bengals are going to put up some points with a young quarterback with plenty of weapons.

Texans @ Browns

Next question. This doesn’t need much explanation. The Browns are contenders, the Texans beating up on Jacksonville proved nothing. The talent level isn’t even here. Browns win big.

Saints @ Panthers

Anything the Saints can do to the Packers, they can do better to the Panthers. Christian McCaffery can’t do everything, and Sean Payton and Jameis Winston seem to get each other. Give me the Saints. Who Dat!

Vikings @ Cardinals

Kyler Murray looked great last week. The Cardinals defense had their way against a Titans team that was supposed to be high-powered. Give me the Cardinals here. The Vikings lost a tight one to the Bengals last week, and they have to play much better to compete in this one.

Falcons @ Buccaneers

NEXT! I can’t take analyzing this one seriously. The Buccaneers are the defending champions. The Falcons just got embarrassed by the Eagles. NEXT!!!

Titans @ Seahawks

Even if Ryan Tannehill puts some points on the board, can the Titans stop Russell Wilson? Kyler Murray and Wilson have a lot in common. I think it’s going to be a very similar story two weeks in a row for the Titans.

Cowboys @ Chargers

Get ready for a shootout ladies and gentlemen. Get ready for a shootout. Justin Herbert vs. Dak Prescott. This should be fun, the Cowboys’ offense will just be too much for the Chargers.

Chiefs @ Ravens

The Chiefs are good. I’d absolutely love to be wrong. The Ravens have nothing going their way and now will be without Ronnie Stanley. Much more is on the way about this game. I can only be so confident after Monday Night Football. I can’t bet against the Chiefs here. That’s the pick that hurts the heart but makes sense to the mind.

Lions @ Packers finish the NFL week

Do the Packers get right on Monday night? Against the Lions, they better.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs: The psychology of the game

Have fun, bet responsibly and get your football on.

Posted in NFL News

Baltimore Ravens: Moving forward after Marcus Peters injury

By Michael Natelli

Apart from the Baltimore Ravens’ rookie class, there were two players I was particularly excited to watch this year: JK Dobbins and Marcus Peters. As both entered their second full seasons in Baltimore, each seemed poised to have a year that would start to truly etch them into team lore as one of the key cogs of this era of Raven football. Evidently, that’s not going to happen. At least not this year.

As if that weren’t enough, Gus Edwards, L.J. Fort, and Justice Hill are all set to miss the season with injuries as well, and several other key contributors enter the season injured or still working their way back from injury. 

It’s enough to make your head spin and your hope wane. But the growing IR list is no excuse for this Ravens team to phone it in and take their eyes off a postseason run. Not only is there still plenty of talent on this loaded roster, but as bumps in the road emerge, Baltimore may have more ways (and ammo) to address injuries and roster needs than ever before.

Eric DeCosta has been just about as effective in the trade and free agency markets as any general manager in the NFL and should stand to capitalize from the wide range of options he has available.

The Free Agent Market

The Baltimore Ravens are a team that went 14-2 in 2019 in part thanks to their ability to get production out of off-the-street free agents like LJ Fort, Josh Bynes, Domata Peko, Justin Ellis, and a rejuvenated Pernell McPhee.

In 2020, it was signings like Trystan Colon-Castillo and Devontae Harris that helped the Ravens stay afloat as they weathered COVID issues and a depleted secondary. Time and time again, the Baltimore front office and coaching staff have made a living turning post-prime veterans and undrafted free agents into solid contributors, and this year’s free-agent market has them well-positioned to do it once again in addressing current and potential roster needs.

At corner, Richard Sherman, Quinton Dunbar, and former Raven Pierre Desir headline a shallow group of options. Sherman obviously offers the most star power and upside, though pending legal troubles make his status for the season somewhat unclear (to say nothing of his less-than-ideal fit in Wink Martindale’s defense). 

Desir is interesting because he comes with some level of familiarity with the defense having spent time with Baltimore late last year. Metrics didn’t like his play in limited action with the Ravens, but he was highly graded as recently as 2019 and could return to form given a longer stretch to get comfortable with regular reps. 

Dunbar has likely been asked too much of in recent stops and wasn’t up to the task. But at 6’2, the 29-year-old offers the kind of length the Ravens like in corners and could thrive (or at least reasonably contribute) in a more complementary role.

Early to start dealing with injuries: 

Perhaps the most unfortunate part about the injuries Baltimore has endured so far is the unknown of what’s still to come. Injuries come up throughout the course of a football season, so there will inevitably be a few roster holes that need to be plugged between now and January. Will the free-agent market be somewhere that gives the pieces the Ravens need to go win a Super Bowl without key players? Probably not. But does it offer savvy veterans that can help the team stay afloat and at least scrap their way to the postseason in a year with a seventh playoff spot? Absolutely.

Mitchell Schwartz and David DeCastro are out there as options along the offensive line. Geno Atkins and Kawann Short are available in the trenches, and Olivier Vernon is out there to rush the passer. John Brown is available to make his second tour through Baltimore if the receivers can’t get healthy, and Trey Burton is there if tight end depth becomes a problem. Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, and Frank Gore are all ready to go if the running back room hasn’t exorcised whatever continues to haunt it yet. 

Make your jokes about how those names all sound good as options in Madden 17, but while most are not what they used to be, enough talent is out there in a pinch that injuries at just about any position shouldn’t be the reason the Ravens aren’t a playoff team this year. 

The Trade Market:

If DeCosta (understandably) finds the free-agent market to have uninspiring options, he also has more than enough draft capital to fill a need or two via trade without putting the Ravens in a disadvantageous position come April.

Before even factoring in any compensation picks for departing free agents this coming offseason, the Ravens are slated to have 14 picks in their 2022 war chest. While such a loaded draft arsenal will come in handy next offseason with Mark Andrews and likely Lamar Jackson signed to new expensive contracts, it also gives the team more than enough ammo to comfortably part with a pick or two for midseason upgrades.

Whether that means swinging a trade for a corner Jacksonville’s C.J. Henderson or Denver’s Bryce Callahan, or star chasing at other spots around the roster, there’s no reason that the Week 1 roster has to be as good as it’s going to get in Baltimore this year. It may take until close to the Trade Deadline, but one would have to think DeCosta is already exploring options to make sure John Harbaugh and company can still be successful this year.

No Excuses

The Ravens are not a team that looks to make excuses. They say the right things because they believe the right things. “Next man up” is not just good coach speak in Baltimore, it’s a culture, and fans should expect nothing short of that attitude and that approach regardless of what the IR list looks like.

NEXT POST: More Ravens injuries are sobering: Next man up starts early

Even as more challenges emerge, the Ravens should be more than equipped enough to weather the storms that come their way and charge forward towards another postseason run.


Posted in NFL News

More Ravens injuries are sobering: Next man up starts early

By Chris Schisler

The bad news cloud that loomed over the Baltimore Ravens preseason isn’t done doing its thing. According to reports both Gus Edwards and Marcus Peters were injured in practice. We have to wait to see how bad it is for both players. What we do know is that it doesn’t look good. The whole “Next Man Up” thing is soberingly starting now.

The Ravens are also starting the season with Rashod Bateman on injured reserve. They’re not only waiting for the return of their first-round pick at wide receiver, but also Nick Boyle and Jimmy Smith. The bad news cloud puts a ton of pressure on Lamar Jackson.

Without Dobbins and Edwards, the Ravens are completely improvising at the running back position. When Dobbins went down it elevated the importance of Edwards and created a plan B. After Justice Hill went down and three other running backs were signed, John Harbaugh and company are completely winging it at the running back position.

Running back improv for the Baltimore Ravens

The good news is that running back is the most replaceable position group and Greg Roman’s offense doesn’t require the best back in the business. The bad news is that a team that already had pressure to fix the passing attack, is going to have to get even more out of the passing game than they thought. Jackson has to carry this team, especially at the beginning of the season. There’s no getting around that.

The Ravens came into the preseason with the best one-two punch at the running back position. Now Ty’Son Williams is your starting running back. A 2020 undrafted free agent, who made the team after bouncing onto the scene in preseason play. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Devonta Freeman signed with the Ravens. Who had Williams, Bell, and Freeman as the running back trio in Baltimore this season?

Williams was supposed to compliment Edwards. Now he’s replacing him. Le’Veon Bell has to exceed expectations. What was a low-risk signing is now one with real stakes. This has to work out. With Freeman, the Ravens need to see how much is left in the tank. Bell might just have some of his prime to get back to, while Freeman is well past his.

Losing Marcus Peters is harder to deal with:

The Ravens may have enough to get by at the running back position. This isn’t a game, set, match situation for the offense. There’s actually plenty of room for optimism with an MVP quarterback. This is tough and yet survivable. The big problem is replacing Marcus Peters. That’s because nobody really “replaces” Peters.

A combination of Jimmy Smith (When healthy) and Anthony Averett will fill in for Peters on the outside opposite Marlon Humphrey. Chris Westry could also play boundary corner some as well. The Ravens just lost the best combo at cornerback in football. They have some options. None of them replace the most instinctive cornerback in the game. Peters was next level in anticipation and the Ravens surely lost some potential interceptions.

Now the injury histories of Smith and also of Tavon Young can start to make you nervous. The Ravens have the depth to deal with this kind of news better than most teams do. This is early to call on their depth. That’s an issue.

The safety play also has to be better now. Peters and Humphrey in tandem took a lot of the plate of the backend defenders. More could leak through now, and the safeties have to be ready for it. The Ravens lost an elite cornerback. They can put another player in his place, but losing Peters is bad. It changes the defensive game plan for Martindale.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens Three Big Questions About The Special Teams

If you’re bummed out just know that the whole Ravens Flock is. If you think the season is over, however, get a grip. There’s still plenty of positives. The Ravens have a game in just four days. Getting an impressive win over the Las Vegas Raiders can settle down the internal screaming and panic the Ravens Flock is going through. Adversity found the Ravens early. Now they have to deal with it and win.


Posted in NFL News

Le’Veon Bell signs with Ravens practice squad: Initial thoughts

By Chris Schisler

In news that I didn’t see coming, the Baltimore Ravens signed Le’Veon Bell to their practice squad. The former Pittsburgh Steelers star is now a contingency plan for a Ravens’ running back position hurt by injuries.

In a previous post I offered skepticism about the Ravens signing Bell. Working him out seemed like the very least they could do – it was due diligence.

Bell was linked to the Ravens in 2019 when he became a free agent. It turned out the Ravens weren’t all that interested. Before the Bell sweepstakes ended, Baltimore struck a deal with Mark Ingram.

Bell didn’t last long with the New York Jets. He had widely reported problems with Andy Reid in Kansas City. Long story short, the Ravens’ interest in Bell always seemed muted because they could have had him a couple of different times.

To the practice squad (For Now)

Now Bell goes to the practice squad. He can be called up from there, and most likely will be soon. Bell is no longer the Pro Bowl running back of his Pittsburgh days. He’s coming in as the third running back; he may not even be the only back the Ravens sign.

The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec noted on Twitter that the Ravens could also sign Trenton Cannon to the active roster. This makes sense, it’s doubtful Bell would provide a replacement for Justice Hill on special teams.

The Ravens worked out several running backs after Hill’s injury. None of them seemed like great options. Bell probably has the most upside left in the tank. At this point, it’s such a low-risk/high-reward situation that the move is understandable.

What Le’Veon Bell has been up to:

Bell has only had 82 rushing attempts last season for two different teams. In 2019 he averaged 3.2 yards per attempt and picked up only 789 yards on the ground. Bell still has great name recognition. In terms of football, the trajectory has been down.

The biggest plus for Baltimore is that they get a running back who can catch out of the backfield. At this point of his career that may be where he offers the most value. In 2019, Bell had 66 receptions with the Jets for 461 yards and a touchdown. That really wasn’t that long ago.

That’s the whole draw with Bell. He’s 29 years old, and theoretically has the same skills and traits that made him elite just three seasons ago. Bell went from one of the best play-makers in Steelers’ history to a guy getting a third chance with the Steelers’ top rival. It was a long road to it, but that’s where he is.

So let’s say hypothetically that Bell gets called up at some point early in the season. Does he fit into the Greg Roman offense? Yes and no.

The things Bell has going for him is good vision and the ability to help in the passing game. The thing Bell has working against him is his running style. Bell is a patient runner who likes to see it unfold before he attacks downfield. The Ravens could take him out of his element. It could be like asking Quentin Tarantino to direct Finding Nemo.

The Bottom Line

The best advice for Ravens fans is to temper expectations for Bell. Even if Bell is a player you always wanted to wear purple and black, you need to understand the context of this signing. He’s a veteran back with baggage, hoping to become part of the rotation with Gus Edwards and Ty’Son Williams. He’s not coming in as the star you remember, and he’s not taking the top spot away from Edwards.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: 3 keys for the defense vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Is he the running back I would have gone with? No. I certainly have reservations. After the New Orleans let go of Latavius Murray, he would have been a more drama-free option. The risk is low and the Ravens couldn’t wait to make a move. The signing was as inevitable as my mixed feelings for the signing were.




Posted in NFL News

Mark Andrews contract extension: Baltimore Ravens get it right

By Chris Schisler

You have to give a lot of credit to the Baltimore Ravens for getting a deal done with Mark Andrews. Andrews according to the report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $56 million.

This contract shows that Andrews is one of the core players for the Ravens. He’s the favorite target of Lamar Jackson and a top-five tight end in the NFL. The news was announced on Mark Andrews’s birthday. The timing of this news couldn’t be better. This is one less thing the Ravens have to worry about. Eric DeCosta chose not to let his star tight end even dream of touching the free-agent market.

This makes Andrews the third highest-paid tight end in the NFL. An average of $14 million per season may sound like a lot, though it’s a very fair deal for both parties. Andrews goes into the 2021 season without his contract on his mind. He essentially got paid his market value. While he could have gotten a bigger deal later (We’ve seen that happen before) signing the deal now avoids risking it all together.

The Ravens have a fully established group of core players. They’ve signed Marlon Humphrey, Ronnie Stanley and now Andrews to extensions. The Ravens even agreed to an extension with Gus Edwards over the offseason. The Ravens are taking care of their top talent and they’re putting young talent around it through the NFL Draft process. Signing Andrews to this deal is further proof that the Ravens understand team building.

Why Mark Andrews is a core player

In three years in the NFL, Andrews has 20 touchdowns and 2,105 yards. He’s been to the Pro Bowl once already, and he’s been statistically consistent. In 2019 he had a career year with 10 touchdowns and 852 yards. In 2020, he still put up seven touchdowns and 701 yards.

While the Ravens still have to come up with a contract extension for their MVP quarterback, this is a move that can’t hurt the franchise’s relationship with Jackson. When you boil it down to the most important fact, you see that Jackson and Andrews are one of the elite combinations in the NFL. Their chemistry is amazing.

Andrews is incredibly important to the Ravens. For a team that was last in the NFL in passing yards a year ago, he may just be the most important player not named Jackson. This year especially, Andrews is needed. The Baltimore Ravens have been banged up at the wide receiver position. As long as Andrews is on the field, Jackson has a receiving option that can make a big play.

Being in sync with Jackson gave him a huge advantage as a rookie in the 2018 season. Remember, Hayden Hurst was the first-round pick and Andrews was a third-round selection. Andrews exceeded expectations. In Jackson’s rookie year, almost all of his big throws down the field went to Andrews. These two stars have grown up in the NFL together.

The Bottom Line

Other than the occasional drop, Andrews is the perfect tight end for the Baltimore Ravens. He’s a huge target who is a matchup nightmare in the middle of the field. He’s the prototype player for his position in a lot of ways and he’s become a better blocker each season. What is the top quality of his game? It’s Andrews’s ability to feel through the defense and find the window.

When a deal like this gets done, it’s a moment for a sigh of relief. It shows the Ravens are committed to building the future around Lamar Jackson. Andrews doesn’t have to worry about free agency and the Ravens don’t have to worry about the franchise tag.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens in need of another running back

The Ravens didn’t have to overpay Andrews, a player who may not have even reached his full potential. Andrews could have even bigger seasons on the horizon. It’s very possible that we’ll look back at this deal and think the Ravens got a bargain. However you think about it, the Ravens had to make this move. The Ravens absolutely understand that Mark Andrews is a core player.

Posted in NFL News

Baltimore Ravens in need of another running back

By Chris Schisler

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Justice Hill has been lost for the season with a torn Achilles. The Ravens are now in need of a running back, and there are under 10 days until they take on the Las Vegas Raiders to start the season.

If you’re thinking about Nate McCrary, the Ravens cut him and now he’s with the Denver Broncos. Baltimore went from having a surplus of talent at the running back position to just having two running backs they can turn to after the injuries of Dobbins and Hill. The good news is that Gus Edwards is one of those picks. The only other running back on the roster is an undrafted free agent from 2020.

We’ve spent all offseason talking about Todd Gurley. He’s obviously still on the table.

Logistically, the Ravens absolutely have to acquire a third running back. According to a tweet from The Athletics Jeff Zrebiec, the Ravens have worked out Le’Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman and, Elijah Holyfield.

Let’s take a look at these options for the Baltimore Ravens:

Bell has seemingly been linked to the Ravens forever. At this point, fans can be highly skeptical that this would be the time to bring in Bell. If the Ravens wanted Bell they could have had him twice. Bell had a disappointing stint with the New York Jets and didn’t work out well with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Is Bell even a scheme fit for the Ravens. Bell is known for a patient running style where he’ll dance around a bit and feel out his way through the offensive line. If there’s one thing, Gus Edwards, Ty’Son Williams and, Justice Hill all had in common it’s that they aggressively hit the point of attack. At this point, the Ravens could pay Bell like a number three running back, yet he’d have to be deemed a scheme fit. The Ravens would also need to decide if he’s worth the headache they’ve never seemed interested in having.

If this was 2016 or 2017, Freeman would look like a very appealing option. Freeman was with the Giants last year and only played in five games. He averaged 3.2 yards per rushing attempt. Back in the day, he was a reliable running back good for at least four yards per carry and a good showing as a pass-catcher. There’s just no reason to think the previous version of Freeman’s game lives in him.

With Holyfield, the Ravens would have to know something that I don’t. He’s only played in one game in the NFL, on top of that he has no stats to speak of. Could he work out? Sure. I’m not familiar enough with him to have much of an opinion one way or the other.

Frank Gore is still playing…

Frank Gore is another option. He’s 38 years old, and he should probably retire, yet he’s an option. Gore isn’t as explosive as he used to be. What you get is a versatile back who can block and catch passes. What you get is a dependable player who will at least give you a solid performance. Gore had 653 yards last year with the Jets and just under 600 yards with the Bills in 2019.

One thing to note about Gore is that he’s tough as nails and he’s a great source of veteran leadership. Gore had 12 straight seasons with over 200 rushing attempts in the NFL. He’s able to take more of a beating than most people on the planet. As a serviceable third running back, he wouldn’t have to do too much but would prevent Edwards from having to take on an unviable and unfair workload.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Las Vegas Raiders: 5 predictions and a score

The options at this point aren’t great for the Baltimore Ravens as they try to find a third running back for their roster. Running back has become the thinnest spot on the roster, and that’s a big deal for what is still expected to be the most run-oriented team in the NFL.

Posted in NFL News

Baltimore Ravens: Tyler Huntley “Wins” backup quarterback job

By Ashley Anderson

Throughout this offseason, one of Baltimore’s most closely contested position battles was for the backup quarterback role. Lamar Jackson is locked into the starting slot, and the Ravens released Robert Griffin III in favor of younger, cheaper options. Since drafting Jackson, Baltimore kept three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. This year, with more crucial roles to fill, they may opt to keep just two.

If you have been living under a rock, the backup QB competition has been neck-and-neck between Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley. McSorley is a third-year pro from Penn State who has the edge when it comes to in-game experience. The Ravens added Huntley last offseason as an undrafted free agent from Utah. Without the benefit of a normal offseason, he was at a disadvantage last year. However, at this point, Tyler Huntley looks like the man to beat.

Huntley has not outright won the job, but he is putting together some impressive performances. During training camp, he has frequently received praise for throwing an excellent deep ball. He also has an edge when it comes to mobility, more closely resembling what Jackson can do on the field. Given the complexities of Baltimore’s playbook, those similar abilities are priceless.

Against the New Orleans Saints, both Huntley and McSorley played a half while Jackson got the night off. Despite a red zone fumble, Huntley rallied to lead the Ravens on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. He finished the night going 12 of 16 passing for 78 yards. On the ground, he gained 43 yards and scored the winning touchdown.

McSorley also played fairly well, especially considering he was behind a patchwork offensive line. Against the Saints’ starters, his night ended after the first half. Although he did not score a touchdown, McSorley led the Ravens to nine points. He completed 11 of 18 pass attempts for 86 yards and an interception. Displaying some rushing prowess, he added 25 yards with his legs.

A curveball for the Baltimore Ravens positional battle:

However, Head Coach John Harbaugh announced Monday that McSorley will likely miss several weeks due to a back injury. McSorley played through the injury on Saturday, but it worsened, leading Baltimore to shut him down. The Ravens wasted no time re-signing Kenji Bahar to provide a camp arm and relief for Huntley in the next two preseason contests. With that, the door is wide open for Huntley to “win” the backup quarterback job.

There are a number of things that may happen with McSorley at this point. Baltimore may choose to place him on the short-term injured reserve list, which would allow them to activate him in as few as three weeks. Doing so could protect him from being scooped up by another team. Down the line, however, the Ravens would have to cut someone to make room for McSorley on the 53-man roster.

The Ravens could also opt to cut McSorley and hope he clears waivers. After that, they could put him on their practice squad in case something happens that forces both Jackson and Huntley out of action. That would potentially leave Baltimore vulnerable to another team signing McSorley to their 53-man roster.

Luckily, if he makes the practice squad, there was a new rule put in place last year that allows teams to protect up to four players per week. General Manager Eric DeCosta may roll the dice knowing there are other quarterbacks on the market who could ultimately fill the QB3 role.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens who popped onto the scene against the Saints

Baring an unforeseen meltdown, Tyler Huntley should see his name just below Lamar Jackson on the depth chart. Ultimately, the Ravens would likely prefer to retain both Huntley and McSorley, but it may not be possible. Fortunately, they have utilized Kenji Bahar multiple times this offseason, and he is familiar with their playbook. He could be the guy who lands on the practice squad as an emergency quarterback if the worst-case scenario happens.

Posted in NFL News

Rashod Bateman injury tempers excitement for Ravens preseason

By Chris Schisler

According to reports, Rashod Bateman suffered a groin injury at Ravens training camp today. It’s the latest wave of bad news from camp the Ravens have gotten. There is a lot about the injury that is unknown at this point. We don’t have a defined timetable for his return. We don’t know how bad it is going to be for the rookie from Minnesota.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the injury is not structural. Okay, I’m not a doctor but that at least sounds like it’s not the worst-case scenario. Bateman had already missed practices due to muscle tightness. His rookie camp hasn’t been picture-perfect even though he’s given us a couple of promising August highlights.

Pro Football Focus injury Mario Pilato reported some information via Twitter that looks into the potential timetable. According to Pilato, there are three grades of severity to this kind of injury. The best-case scenario he reports is two-three weeks. He hints that Grade 2 is possible which would keep Bateman out three to six weeks.

Grade 3 is something the Ravens don’t want to hear, that’s three to four months. On NFL Network,  Rapoport spoke about the injury as a soft tissue injury, which the reporter says could mean a less severe time away from the field.

That’s basically all we know at the moment. Ravens fans are probably having flashbacks to the injury of Breshad Perriman in 2015. Perriman was possibly the most disappointing receiver in franchise history. The Ravens made it seem as if it was a less serious injury at first, yet the injury took away Perriman’s season.

Rashod Bateman missing time is a tough pill for fans to swallow:

The Bateman injury probably won’t be as dramatic based on the current information. It still is impossible not to have that 2015 nightmare pop into your mind if you’re a Ravens fan. It also doesn’t stave away gloom that Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, and Deon Cain have all been reportedly dealing with injuries.

If you asked most Ravens fans, who they’d want to see most in preseason football, you’d get a lot of Rashod Bateman answers. When Bateman had a touchdown against Marlon Humphrey at the open stadium practice it piqued the interest of the fanbase. Bateman clearly has talent and the Ravens have been starving for a young wide receiver to be a superstar.

At the very least, this kills the mood. This is the first week of the 2021 season where the purple and black have a game. On top of injury troubles for other receivers, new right guard Kevin Zeitler and cornerback Jimmy Smith, Bateman’s injury is added to the pile.

Fans spent another draft season pleading with the Ravens to take one of the top prospects at wide receiver. Bateman getting drafted, a player that I believe to be the real deal (so do many analysts), was a huge win for the fans. Every drill, every snap, every up and down for Bateman is going to be a huge focus.

Rashod Bateman injury affects a lot of different things:

It’s very likely that Bateman won’t play a single snap until the Ravens are underway in the regular season. That’s not ideal for a rookie. While mental reps are important, young players make the jump from college to the NFL ranks mostly by doing. Between injuries and Lamar Jackson being in Covid-19 quarantine, Bateman hasn’t had much of a chance to build chemistry with his starting quarterback.

The Ravens have some wide receivers who could take advantage of the practice absences of Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman. Devin Duvernay and James Proche are almost becoming the top two targets not named Sammy Watkins, just by default. Binjimen Victor and Jaylon Moore are likely getting more chances to fight for a roster spot. This is bad news for the Ravens and good news for young receivers with something to prove.

NEXT POST: Should Baltimore Ravens play Lamar Jackson in preseason

At the moment there isn’t a ton of information to go off of. One thing is for sure, any injury is hard to see in training camp. This is especially true when it’s the first-round pick that the Ravens Flock is absolutely buzzed for.


Posted in NFL News

Baltimore Ravens (Finally!) Ink Justin Houston

By: Ashley Anderson

Good morning, and happy Saturday, Ravens fans! This is not a drill. I repeat this is not a drill! Justin Houston is on his way to Baltimore.

After being linked to the Ravens since the start of free agency, Adam Schefter reported this morning that veteran edge rusher Justin Houston has agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal. This is the news we have all been waiting for, as pass rush seemed to be the only area of glaring weakness on the roster. Schefter also noted that Houston took significantly less money than he was offered from other clubs due to his preference to play for the purple and black.

Immediate Impact

Although the Ravens repeatedly stated they felt good about the guys they had, Houston represents at least a moderate upgrade. Tyus Bowser recently re-signed with Baltimore on a four-year, $22 million deal, but he is more of a coverage linebacker than a pass rusher. His versatility is extremely useful, but he only has 10.5 career sacks. Wily veteran Pernell McPhee is much the same, with a career high 7.5 sacks coming back in 2014 during his first stint in Baltimore.

Beyond them, the Ravens were counting on a breakout from third-year man Jaylon Ferguson. Although he holds the FBS record for sacks, he has yet to emerge in the NFL. Baltimore also drafted Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes to bolster the unit. Unfortunately, relying on rookies can be dangerous. Oweh has all the talent and athleticism in the world yet failed to record a sack in 2020. Hayes, although he has flashed in practice, lasted till the fifth round for a reason.

Bottom line, the Ravens pass rush group was a mix of versatile, talented guys, but not one of them is known for being a sack artist. That is where Houston makes a difference.

Career Stats

Justin Houston was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He played in all 16 games his rookie season, starting ten, and recorded 5.5 sacks. His best season came in 2014 when he racked up an astonishing 22 QB takedowns with the Chiefs.

Twice in his career, including recently in 2019, Houston recorded 11 sacks in a season. His lowest output came in 2016 when he was limited to five games and had just one sack. However, Houston has been fairly healthy for the most part, and the Ravens are hoping that using him as part of a rotation will keep his tank full this year.

A four-time Pro Bowler and 2014 All-Pro selection, Houston is looking to win a Super Bowl before he calls it a career. He may have been considering a return to Kansas City, recently teasing fans by working out in a Chiefs helmet. However, he ultimately decided on Baltimore.

Low Risk, High Reward

For the Ravens, this scenario could not be more perfect. Houston’s deal only carries a base salary of $1.075 million with a signing bonus of $1 million. To get to the possible $4 million total, Houston will have to hit other incentives.

If Houston does indeed hit those incentives, it can only be good news for Baltimore. That means he is doing his job by recording sacks and reaching the Pro Bowl. If not, the team saves money, and they are not on the hook heading into 2022.

Given the fact that Houston will turn 33 during the season, Baltimore was wise to limit the deal to a single season. That way, if he falls off in production, they can let him walk without a financial burden. If he plays great, they will have the option to try to re-sign him during the year, or let him test the open market and attempt to keep him in free agency.

Final Thoughts

It was a rough week for Ravens fans seeing Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson land on the Covid-19 list. Many of us were looking for good news, and it was finally delivered to us this morning.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Looking at offensive line depth

Houston could be the missing piece to win a Super Bowl, which is the ultimate goal every year. After what feels like an eternity, it is finally Houston to Baltimore!