Posted in Complicated made simple: X's and O's and scouting for all fans

2022 NFL Draft: 3 things Ravens fans should know for round 1

Chris Schisler

The 2022 NFL Draft is tonight! What are the things that you have to understand before you wait for the Ravens’ picks (and all the other selections?) Let’s get into this.

1. This isn’t your typical NFL Draft

Every NFL Draft is different, but this one could get absolutely bonkers. There’s no hype for the quarterbacks. The premium talent is a little harder to come by and the middle is packed tightly together. This draft honestly feels harder to predict than any year in recent memory. There’s serious steam for Travon Walker going number one overall, but Aidan Hutchinson had that spot locked down for months. Either way, we think we’re starting out with an edge rusher.

There are good wide receivers, but nobody can seem to agree on any of them. Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Drake London, Treylon Burks, and even Jahan Dotson could all go in the first round. The order, who the heck knows. These should be the guys, though Christian Watson and Skyy Moore have been getting first-round love as well. The excitement really isn’t about the typical skill positions here. It’s edge rushers, offensive linemen, and cornerbacks. The biggest star power may actually belong to Kyle Hamilton, and he’s a safety.

If the NFL goes ga ga for quarterbacks tonight they really are forcing it. Malik Willis belongs in the first round – you want that first-year option. Outside of that quarterbacks should sit on the sideline and the NFL has a bad habit of manufacturing QB talent that isn’t there. If more than two quarterbacks are taken here, somebody reached hard.

2. Value is the name of the game (And that can be frustrating)

The number one thing you want in the draft is to walk out with the courage of your convictions. Eric DeCosta wants to leave this draft knowing he made the team better. The only way to do that is to trust the process and stay true to your team-specific board. You have to be a slave for value, you can’t get excited and do something that works against your process.

The 14th spot is a horrible place to be for the Ravens. It would actually behoove them to be six or seven spots down, where they normally are. Because the premium talent is all that they need (Edge rushers, Offensive tackles, and cornerbacks) and because there is a stiff drop-off after the first wave at these positions, 14 is kind of late to the party. It’s increasingly likely that the Ravens will either take the best player available or force themselves into a slight reach.

Here’s a perfect example. Say the top four edge rushers, the top two corners and both of the elite tackles are off the board at 14. Say the options are Tyler Linderbaum, Trevor Penning, Andrew Boothe Jr., or Jordan Davis. Now say, you don’t value any of them with the 14th spot but would have more comfort taking any of them at 20. Trading back becomes the most valuable option. even if you could live with one of those picks.

This is a draft where there are only so many sure thing home run picks. At 14 you have to get the value that makes a difference. If you can’t do that, make a trade. What if you want the Ravens to trade up though? Well, then do it. Just remember the heart of this class is in the middle rounds and that’s where the Ravens have the most draft picks.

3. Wide receiver isn’t off the table:

The NFL Draft has multiple approaches. The Ravens have always been cozy with the best player available model. Wide receiver may just be the position that offers them the best player available with the 14th pick. On my personal board, Chris Olave is the third-ranked player. I have Drake London at 12 and Garrett Wilson at 13. Should the Ravens take any of these players, I really don’t want to hear any whining. We just watched the Bengals have a surplus of wide receiver talent take them to the Super Bowl. I want some of that.

Next Post: 2022 NFL Draft Prospects that scream Ravens

Marquise Brown hasn’t really proven that he’s the number one, a core franchise player to build around. If Brown isn’t the future at the position, give Rashod Bateman an exciting partner in secondary crime. Why not. The Ravens don’t need to take a wide receiver in the first round but it would be hard to argue with, should they make that call at 14.


Posted in Ravens Thoughts

2022 NFL Draft Prospects that scream Ravens

By Chris Schisler

The 2022 NFL Draft is basically here. Soon I’ll be having my customary Peanut M&M’s and watching the draft with a few Bold Rocks and all is good with the world. While you may have your annual draft traditions, you’re probably not equipped with your big board and position rankings ready to go, That’s where guys like me come into the picture.

Today we’re going to take a look at the players that just scream Ravens. These are the prospects that would surprise not one soul in the Ravens Flock or in the football world if they ended up in Baltimore. The most talked-about player in this category has been Jordan Davis. Davis is an unbelievable prospect in the sense that almost nobody has ever been built like him.

At the NFL Combine, Davis measured as a 6-6 345 pound man. He’s massive. While he’s not quite the dancing bear that Haloti Ngata was, he has the unrefined explosiveness that gets results. Davis has a quick explosion out of his stance, he gets a lot done with each stride and rip. He needs to make more of himself as a pass rusher, but NFL teams are certainly wondering if he can have an Aaron Donald-like impact in the NFL.

While drafting Davis isn’t my totally ideal scenario, the upside makes this in play. The Ravens have to look at defensive linemen quite seriously. It’s one position group that made one of the smallest impacts last season. A pick that makes perfect sense in the second round would be Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey. Winfrey is a 6-4 defensive lineman with a 290-pound build. He’s a bit more of a knife into the backfield kind of tackle but he gives you all the two-gap space-eating goodness to go with it.

Trench warfare needs to be improved on both sides of the ball. One center that I think would work incredibly well in Baltimore is Luke Fortner. This is a big-bodied Bradley Bozeman replacement that could come at a great value. I have Fortner as the 52nd best player in this draft class, but I bet in actuality he can be gotten in the third round.

There’s been a ton of talk about Trevor Penning being in play with the 14th overall selection. Penning is a small school product but a big-bodied bruiser. While he would add a mean streak to the offensive line, he’s never really been, my guy. This is a take I hold firmly at the 14th overall spot.  He’s a bit more of a project than most people seem to think and he’s not very polished. If the Ravens want an offensive tackle, the realistic fit I see most is Bernard Raimann. He’s a solid technician of an offensive tackle from Minnesota. This reminds me of the Le’Veon Bell vs. Mark Ingram thing. The Ravens typically go substance over flash. Either way, they’d have to trade back for either player to work for me.

Cornerback is a position that the Ravens can surely justify being aggressive with. Have you seen the passing attack of the Cincinnati Bengals? No corner screams Ravens more than Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. He’s an aggressive corner with a Marcus Peters-style swagger that would fit right in. If that doesn’t happen, Kyler Gordon out of Washington is a great option. He’s just so tough and scrappy that you get “Play Like a Raven” vibes.

Then there’s Quay Walker. Walker is a linebacker from Georgia who has never seen a hit he didn’t want to make. He’s tough and he’s a thumper but he has enough athleticism to be a starting linebacker next to Patrick Queen. That screams Ravens.

Finally on my list is Romeo Doubs, a wide receiver from Nevada. Doubs has that Anquan Boldin-like fight for the ball thing going that really works for Baltimore. Find me anything with more staying power than Ravens fans looking for that. You can’t.

I know it’s been a while guys. Thanks for hearing me out. Let’s get it Ravens Flock!

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens winning in NFL Free Agency: 3 big things

The Baltimore Ravens are building a monster. Free agency has lifted them in a big way:

Check out the pod!

The Baltimore Ravens have reportedly agreed to terms with Za’Darius Smith. This may be the best move in all of NFL Free Agency. The Ravens are getting a top-level pass rusher, the one that should have never gotten away. According to reports, it’s a four-year deal for $35 million. That’s a great deal for a player who had 12.5 sacks in 2020 and has recovered from the injury that took him out of all but one game in 2021.

Smith was an absolute hit for the Green Bay Packers. In his first season with the Packers, Smith had 13.5 sacks. It was the breakout season his play hinted at in the last year of his rookie contract with the Ravens. Even after an injury took him last season, Smith is still in the prime years of his career. The Ravens are in the rare situation where they get to invest in ascending homegrown talent while also giving that homegrown talent a second stint with the organization.

This is the best part of free agency for the Ravens, but they’ve had some certified master moves already this offseason. They reached a deal with Marcus Williams on the second day of NFL Free Agency. This gives them their starting free safety and should solidify the backend of the defense. Morgan Moses was another addition that filled a dire need for the purple and black. The Ravens basically got their replacement for Orlando Brown Jr. a year later. Moses is a huge offensive tackle that doesn’t give up a lot of pressure and fits into this offense.

The Ravens are a much better team than they were last season, already. Here are three big things to think about.

1. The value the Ravens got is hard to believe:

The Ravens’ deal with Morgan Moses is awesome. He doesn’t have a big cap hit at all on his three-year contract. He’s a starting tackle that didn’t break the bank. Za’Darius Smith was a lot cheaper than you’d think he’d be. Just look at the money that Chandler Jones got. Reports say that Jones got three years for $51 million from the Las Vegas Raiders. Baltimore gets Smith for a little under $9 million per season.

Smith’s injury and the fact that a reunion was so mutually beneficial obviously helped the Ravens get this deal. Smith didn’t get played, but you wonder if any other franchise could have made this deal with the Ravens. This has the potential to be one of the biggest signings in Ravens history. A combination of Za’Darius Smith and Odafe Oweh could bring an organic pass rush back to Baltimore. This is a position where a free agent of Smith’s caliber should cost more. The Ravens get to save at a premium position.

Marcus Williams got a big deal. The thing is he could have gotten more elsewhere. A five-year deal worth $70 million is very respectable for Williams. He gets most of his guaranteed money front-loaded into the deal. Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun tweeted that PFF and expected these players to get more lucrative deals in free agency.

That kind of says it all. The Ravens understood the assignment. Eric DeCosta managed to improve the team responsibly.

2. The 3 biggest needs for the Ravens have been addressed:

Baltimore had three problems that haunted them last season other than injuries. The Ravens gave up too many big plays down the field. They couldn’t get enough pass rush without blitzing, and the right tackle situation was deeply depressing. The Ravens just found three starters that improve the team in those specific areas.

Cole Jackson (From Two Guys Watching Football) tweeted this out about Moses. He’s one of the best and most consistent offensive line analysts in the Ravens Flock, and his opinion carries weight with me. Jackson’s take is that Moses is best described as steady. That’s the one thing the Ravens need at right tackle. I liked Moses coming out of Virginia, and he’s been good with Washington and the New York Jets. This looks like a win for the offensive line of the Ravens.

The Ravens’ defense is starting to come together. When they get Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey back, it won’t take much for them to get the secondary humming along. Williams gives the Ravens the deep safety they didn’t have. This was one position they couldn’t trust to a rookie and they couldn’t stay put at. They needed a proficient middle-of-the-field safety. Williams has had at least two picks every year of his career and has a PFF score of 80.1.

Smith should give the Ravens a more natural pass rush. Pairing him with Oweh could be a deadly one-two punch. The secondary is close to being where it needs to be as the Ravens head into the draft. The pressure that Smith can provide should work harmoniously with that fact.

3. The Ravens have a lot more work in front of them this offseason:

The Ravens have made their big moves but they are not necessarily done. The only glaring need for the Ravens now is to figure out who’s playing at the center position. It’s important to remember that the Ravens have a lot of draft capital. They have 10 draft picks to work with. The Ravens can do just about anything they want with the 14th pick. They’ve put themselves in a situation where taking the best player available is completely acceptable. Sauce Gardner anyone?

NEXT POST: Introducing PBN Radio: A Baltimore Ravens podcast

The offseason is off to a thrilling start. The Ravens didn’t just sit here and say “All it takes is us getting healthy next year.” The Ravens made a statement. They’re trying to build a monster, and so far the purple and black are winning NFL Free Agency.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Introducing PBN Radio: A Baltimore Ravens podcast

By Chris Schisler

Welcome back to the nest ladies and gents. I know, the content has been at a slower pace, I’m getting back on track though. Today, I wanted to share the new podcast, PBN Radio. PBN Radio is now going to be a staple of what I offer you. It’s a place for analysis of the Baltimore Ravens and fun takes on the game of football.

In the future, PBN Radio will have a rotation of co-hosts so it’s not just me rambling into a microphone. In today’s episode, I give my thoughts on the Super Bowl. and I got into the offseason for the Bengals, Ravens, Browns, and Steelers. This is essentially the exit interview for the season for the entire division, including the team that lasted the longest, the Cincinnati Bengals. The podcast is a major work in progress. Hopefully, I’ll figure out the podcast game for you all and it can be a main part of the blog. I humbly present my first shot at this, hopefully, you dig it.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Don Martindale out as Ravens defensive coordinator: Breaking it down

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have moved on from Don Martindale. It will go down in history as the Ravens mutually part ways with their defensive coordinator. This one comes as a surprise, so let’s unpack it.

Unpacking the Don Martindale news: 

Martindale clearly had his worst season as the Ravens defensive coordinator. In each season prior to this, he had a top 10 defense. This year the defense statistically ranked in the bottom tier. The Ravens gave up a lot of big plays down the field, with blown coverage being a common trend.

The injuries of the Ravens clearly gave Martindale some excuses. Not only did he lose Marcus Peters for the whole season, but by the end of the year, he was relying on raw corners like Keyvon Seymour and Robert Jackson.

You can make the argument that Martindale’s defense relies too heavily on personnel. When he doesn’t have a Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey combo, the defense doesn’t work. He needs great cornerbacks to lean on so his defense works.

You can also point to Za’Darius Smith and Matt Judon’s immediate success after leaving the Ravens. Don’t forget, Yannick Ngakoue had a comeback season with the Las Vegas Raiders. Did Martindale struggle to get the most out of his pass rushers? It’s a fair question.

Why it doesn’t feel right: 

Here is the catch. Here is why this doesn’t feel right. Martindale held the Steelers to 16 points in the finale. Martindale held down the Los Angeles Rams to just 20 points. In the back half of the schedule, only the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals scored over 24 points on the Ravens. The defense was just as hampered by injuries as the offense was and kept the Ravens competitive in games the offense didn’t do much in. 

All things considered, this wasn’t even that bad of a year for the Ravens’ defense. It could have been a lot worse. If the Ravens want to move in a different direction, this move may make some sense. In that case, it was more of a parting ways thing than a firing situation. If this is the sacrificial lamb of the Ravens missing the playoffs, the organization missed the mark. Why this happened matters more than anything else because it completely changes the context for everything. 

This feels very much like a case of “They got the wrong guy.” If the point of this was to change things up after a tough season and to add some consequence to ending the year in a six-game slump, they got the wrong coordinator. If Greg Roman was told goodbye it wouldn’t have been surprising. It’s been near the front of our minds for months; whether or not you want Roman gone, you’ve thought about it. Martindale’s exit is a shocker. 

Change is coming post Don Martindale: 

This is a great chance for the Ravens to change directions and undergo a defensive youth movement. Moving on from Don Martindale allows the Ravens to start fresh defensively. The personnel could change as much as the philosophy if you think about it. 

Brandon Williams, Justin Houston, and Calais Campbell are all unrestricted free agents. The makings of a youth movement are already there for the Ravens with Odafe Oweh, Justin Madubuike and Tyus Bowser positioned to be key players in 2022.

Calais Campbell may retire, which would honestly help the Ravens if they’re moving in the younger direction. Justin Houston is a player you could go either way with. It’s very much like it was the last offseason, the Ravens should want Houston, but at a price, they’re comfortable paying. Houston was solid for the Ravens but he only had 4.5 sacks and he’s 32 years old.

The Ravens’ run defense has always been dependent on Brandon Williams. Williams is a space-eater who doesn’t; rush the passer much. He’s always been valuable because he’s been elite at what he does well- stopping the run and anchoring the defensive line. If the Ravens think he’s losing a step or it may be time to cut him loose before it’s too late, this is their chance to do so. Like Houston, Williams is also 32 years old.

What the Ravens lacked defensively were difference makers. Oweh had moments. He’s shown enough to make the franchise think he might be the next Terrell Suggs for them. The Ravens always want to be good at stopping the run, but what if they invest more in pass rush. What if the Ravens’ goals are to find the counter punch on the other side to Oweh and a defensive line that starts getting after the quarterback.

This is the Ravens’ chance to redo how they do things. They could theoretically switch to a 4-3 defense and commit to Oweh as a defensive end. Tyus Bowser, Patrick Queen and, maybe Josh Bynes (back at a cost-effective price) could be your three linebackers. The Ravens could draft some defensive linemen who could get into the backfield and play fewer two-gap responsibilities. Justin Madubuike may fit into this kind of defense a bit better anyway.

Martindale should be held in high esteem: 

Change is coming and thinking about that change is exciting. That doesn’t mean moving on from Martindale was the right decision. It just means that if the Ravens get the right hire in at defensive coordinator, this can be a positive when it’s all said and done. The Ravens need to get better at rushing the passer. Now a new coordinator will have to work towards that progress. 

Martindale was loved by the players. I’ve always respected his authenticity. Martindale’s stock as a defensive coordinator should still be high after all of this. He was with the Ravens organization since the 2012 season and when he supplanted Dean Pees it took the defense into a much better direction.

With Pees the Ravens died slowly. Soft zone coverage, typically a cover 3, allowed good quarterbacks to come back and put the final nail in the Ravens’ coffin too many times. Martindale went for it. Martindale would take chances in the situations Pees would sit back and fold his arms. I’ll always admire him for that. 

NEXT POST: Ravens NFL Draft spotlight: Evan Neal OT, Alabama

The Ravens defense did crumble and gave up late leads in the Ravens six-game losing streak. Ben Roethlisberger sent the Pittsburgh Steelers to the playoffs with an overtime drive that couldn’t have sat well with anybody in the organization. Moving on doesn’t feel right, but change is not unwarranted. It’s a sad day, Martindale was a huge part of this franchise for a long time. Change is hard, but if the Ravens do this right, it’s an opportunity to get back to dominant defense. 

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Ravens NFL Draft spotlight: Evan Neal OT, Alabama

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have the 14th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and the offensive line is at the forefront of their draft needs. It seems like a good place to start our draft coverage is with a look at one of the big guys coming into the NFL. Today we take a look at Evan Neal, the big left tackle from Alabama.

NFL Draft prospect: Evan Neal

Neal is 21 years old and he’s got a mammoth build. The first thing that pops into my head as I started studying him is how much he’s built like Orlando Brown Jr., and how perfect of a fit he could be with the Ravens. This is a 6’7 prospect weighing in at about 350 pounds. It’s safe to say that he has the things that you can’t coach.

Neal has very proactive hands as a pass protector, and his length gives defensive ends fits. His length and reach are elite traits and his hand placement is impressive. Getting inside leverage against Neal is an uphill battle. Neal does a tremendous job anchoring and sinking his hips. The only way through Neal is around him. Getting through him takes a bull rush few players possess, getting inside of him is a hard mission.

For the most part, Neal’s footwork is solid. It’s not elite footwork, he’s not Ronnie Stanley and he’s not an explosively quick prospect like Rashawn Slater was a year ago. This is an old fashion monster on the outside of the offensive line. He can swallow up pass rushers with his size and he has great mirroring skills, he’s hard to fool.

Minor Concerns:

He’s a typical first-round prospect from Alabama in the sense that while he’s not perfect you have a good idea of what you’re going to get. The knocks on Neal aren’t deal-breakers. He’s a heavy mover and while he’s decently athletic, it’s an awkward athleticism. Sometimes he misses his target as a run blocker and it would be nice to see him be more of a mauler in the run game.

Neal’s kick-slide is a bit stiff and could get him more ground. Neal plays at an inconsistent pad level, at times he’s a little too upright. Neal is kind of the opposite of Alex Leatherwood was last year coming into the draft from Alabama. Leatherwood was a very experienced and polished tackle prospect but could have used a little more length and things you can’t coach. Neal has unbelievable measurables but needs some polish.

Could the Ravens draft Neal?

The Ravens could be in play for Neal. It very much depends on the way the draft board breaks down and who picks up the most momentum at the tackle position. Last year two offensive tackles went before the 14th pick. Alex Leatherwood and Christian Darrisaw fell a bit later though. If Neal enters the draft considered the third best tackle (Which isn’t out of the realm of possibility) the Ravens could have a good shot at the Alabama product.

One thing to note is that every draft is different. In 2020 four offensive tackles were off the board before the 14th overall pick. In 2019 there was only one offensive tackle taken in the top 20 selections. It’s going to be fun to get to know the offensive tackles in the 2022 crop.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens coaching staff: 2021 exit assessment

Neal would be a common-sense replacement to Orlando Brown Jr.. a player Eric DeCosta didn’t skillfully replace for the 2021 season. Neal isn’t the same player. Brown was a more brutal run blocker coming into the league and Neal is a little more natural of a pass blocker. That’s the player comp I keep coming back to though, and if I’m right, the Ravens have to be interested in this prospect.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens coaching staff: 2021 exit assessment

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens didn’t make the playoffs. The season is over and it ended on a six-game losing streak. It was not an emotionally rewarding season and there are plenty of things to think about. The main conversation for the Ravens Flock is the fate of the coaching staff. Is John Harbaugh getting a pass? Should Greg Roman be canned? Is Don Martindale a head coaching candidate elsewhere? There’s a lot to sift through.

Greg Roman, should he stay or should he go?

Greg Roman has given the Ravens one of the most productive offenses in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens actually had the sixth-most yards per game in the NFL this season. The Ravens finished the season third in rushing yards per game. Even with Lamar Jackson missing the last portion of the season, the Ravens finished 13th in passing yards per game. These are numbers that make a strong case for Roman to come back in a year without Ronnie Stanley, Gus Edwards, and J.K. Dobbins.

That being said statistics could make a compelling argument either way. 22.8 points per game isn’t exactly where you set the bar in the NFL. A 36.4 percent conversion rate on third down isn’t exactly doing the trick either. Nobody wants me to get into the red zone stuff, Baltimore is scarred from their team’s inability to punch the ball in the end zone when it matters. There are numbers for both sides of the argument, but more and more, it feels like Roman deserves an exit.

Many people want to point to the Ravens’ postseason failures as a reason to avoid giving Lamar Jackson his big payday. Roman’s predictability and lack of flexibility have more to do with the Ravens’ missteps in 2019 and 2020. You actually don’t need a complicated answer here. Does it feel like the same old thing over and over again? Does it feel like Roman is hindering progress because you can only get to a certain point with his offense? It does.

Moving on from Roman would allow the Ravens to see if Jackson could do it with another coordinator. The results could go either way for Jackson, but if he shined with another coordinator it answers some questions before a big contract extension. A fresh start for Jackson could be what he needs to get back to playing at the insane video game like display of greatness we got way too used to. Giving Roman some leeway because of injuries is fair. Roman isn’t an awful coordinator.

That doesn’t mean he’s the right coordinator for next season. The Ravens don’t need a complete overhaul. They need to take the next step when their guys are back in action. If you feel deep down that Roman isn’t taking that next step moving on makes a lot of sense. It’s not going to happen but it would be a defendable action by the team.

Don Martindale: An undervalued treasure for the Baltimore Ravens

If you hold Don Martindale’s job on the chopping block because Kevon Seymour and Robert Jackson can’t cover to save their life, that’s a bit unfair. The Ravens’ defense was in a tough spot. The biggest difference-maker was also a rookie (Odafe Oweh) finding his footing in the NFL. Once Marlon Humphrey was hurt the Ravens’ secondary was basically a poorly stacked skid of freight with no shrink-wrap, if the truck hits a speed bump it’s all falling down.

The Ravens defense had some lumps and blown coverage was a big problem all year. But look at what pundits think is the Ravens’ draft needs. The Ravens need a true free safety, they need a better defensive line and as usual more pass rush. Martindale had the toughest assignment he ever had. The Ravens only allowed 23.1 points per game. The run defense was solid and with a little tinkering of responsibilities the Ravens were able to get Patrick Queen back to a very productive place. The defense wasn’t great. It also had no chance to be.

John Harbaugh was given a lot of praise for his resilience. But Wink needs to get some praise for his work. The Ravens were in every single game down the stretch when circumstances gave them very little chance. Look at the scores for the second half of the season. The Browns scored 16 and 22 points against the Ravens. The Steelers scored 20 points in their first battle with Baltimore and 16 in the finale. The Bears scored 13. The Rams only got 20. The Bengals game was an outlier but the point is that the Ravens had done enough defensively (With very little help from the injury front and Covid-19) to win games down the stretch.

The Ravens gave their offense a chance. The offense didn’t deliver too many times. Martindale made the best-case scenario out of a bad spot. He now draws some interest for head coaching jobs with the New York Giants reportedly being his biggest chance at a promotion. That’s great to see because I’ll root for this man till the day he dies. If the Ravens lose Martindale, Ravens fans may miss what they had.

John Harbaugh: Praise him or put him on the hot seat?

If you want to fire John Harbaugh… stop, just stop. He’s been the Ravens coach since 2008. He has a Super Bowl ring and an NFL Coach of the Year award on his resume. The Ravens haven’t had the playoff success you’re looking for, I get it. Mike Tomlin is 8-8 in the playoffs and hasn’t gotten the Steelers close to a Super Bowl in a while, should the Steelers fire him?

Probably not. Andy Reid is just 17-15 in the playoffs. He took the Chiefs job in 2013 and it took him a while to get that Super Bowl ring. Sean Payton has one ring and a bunch of failures on his resume, should the New Orleans Saints fire him? Probably not. The point is great coaches have a hard time chasing the Lombardi Trophy, if you have a guy who’s proven he can do it, sticking with him is usually the right idea.

The Ravens had their chance to part with Harbaugh. 2015-2017 was about as miserable of a time in Ravens history as there ever was. The Ravens were mediocre and the Ravens missed the playoffs three years in a row. We know that Lamar Jackson saved Harbaugh’s job. It’s not a secret. It’s a widely accepted fact. Since his job got saved the Ravens’ records have been 14-2, 11-5, and 8-9. The 8-9 record came when the Ravens had the most injury-plagued year in franchise history. The Ravens were in almost every game down to the wire. Love him or hate him, he proved a lot this year and he isn’t going anywhere.

Does the question become what the bar will become for Harbaugh? What is an acceptable result in the 2022 season? Does it become Super Bowl or you’re out of here? Does it become to make a viable run at it and if you get close you’re fine? Harbaugh deserves praise this season. The franchise has a great culture. Everybody wants to be here, the fight and heart this team showed on a week-to-week basis make a strong case for Harbaugh. The Bottom Line:

At the end of the day, the Baltimore Ravens have a strong argument for bringing all three core coaches back. While it doesn’t make the big talking points, I’d like to mention that Chris Horton has proven to be a strong special teams coordinator.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Top 3 offseason needs ranked

I’d like to see the Ravens move on from Roman, and see if they can build off the ideas he started here. Roman has my respect, but it’s time to find out some things we can’t know if he stays on as the offensive coordinator. A little change is needed, a full overhaul of what the Ravens are doing is not.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens vs Steelers: 4 predictions and a score

By Chris Schisler

1. Ravens score a special teams touchdown:


I’m going to speak this info existence. Every week, I think Devin Duvernay is due for a kickoff return for a touchdown. The Texas product has been close to breaking one and is statistically an elite return man. We’re talking about a Pro Bowl return specialist here. For the last week of the season, I say it’s time Duvernay scores.

The Baltimore Ravens special teams have quietly been string all season. Duvernay, who had a lengthy return in the first battle with the Steelers, is just one example of special teams excellence. I’m calling a Duvernay touchdown, but don’t rule out a fake kick leading or resulting in a score. John Harbaugh is going to be aggressive in this game, because he knows this team needs to get points anyway they can take it.

2. Baltimore Ravens say goodbye to Big Ben with 4 sacks

Terrell Suggs is rightfully the legend of the game at M&T Bank Stadium, and he’ll get the crowd hyped. While you kind of wish he could play one more game against Ben Roethlisberger, the current Ravens will get the job done. A chance to say goodbye to Ben is a chance to get as many hits on him as possible. That’s how Don Martindale is going to look at this.

You may say that with a team spread thinly on defense Wink can only be so aggressive. Here’s the thing, it may be the only path to victory. The Steelers are going to attempt what they did in Pittsburgh. They want to tire out the defense and have the dam break in the critical moments. Martindale has to blitz. He has to force the issue. Put Patrick Queen and Tyus Bowser down for a sack each. Give Justin Houston one and Chuck Clark one as well. In the spirit of Sizzle, the sacks will come. 

3. Justin Tucker will make five field goals 

Sometimes predictions are formed by following the trends. The Ravens aren’t scoring a lot of points. In their five-game skid, they averaged 22,2 points per game. Last week, Tucker hit four field goals for 12 of the 19 points the Ravens scored. The Ravens keep moving the ball down the field and collapsing in the red zone. The inability to finish drives is arguably the most costly problem for the Ravens other than injuries. It’s hard to see the Ravens becoming a touchdown scoring machine all of the sudden. The Ravens could move the ball the last time they played the Steelers, they just didn’t score when they had their chances. The Ravens will take the points they can get in this game, meaning Tucker should be a busy man. 

4. Ravens win but don’t get the help they need

Winning is just one of four things the Ravens need in this finale weekend. Ultimately they’ll leave the 1:00 pm slate of games out of the playoffs. The Jacksonville Jaguars have to beat the Indianapolis Colts. Half the fun of being a sports fan is getting your hopes up. That being said that’s a lot not in the Ravens’ control to ask for. I’ll give the Ravens a win in a rainy slop fest of a game, but it may have to be solely for pride, not keeping the season alive. 

And now a score: Baltimore Ravens win 22-17 

Give me five Justin Tucker field goals that I predicted and a touchdown. Give me the Ravens defense making this finale for Roethlisberger a personal matter and stepping up to the plate. If you can keep the Rams down to 20 points, you can keep this Steelers team under 20. I’ll go with a win in the finale. What the heck. But help is needed and the Ravens don’t want to know the odds. 


Posted in Pregame Content

Ravens miracle? Here’s a look at what the Ravens need to happen Sunday

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens are in a position where they need help getting into the postseason. They need to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (though it’s Pittsburgh winning is a big deal regardless of record.  Then the Ravens need to start rooting for other teams. Yes, the scoreboard watching will be a definite thing.

The Ravens need three other games to go their way. They need the Patriots to beat the Dolphins. They need to hope the Jacksonville Jaguars can shock the world with a win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Las Vegas Raiders need to beat the Los Angeles Chargers. All three are possible in different degrees. Let’s take a look at the four things the Ravens must-have for postseason play.

A Win over Pittsburgh: A coin flip

Let’s be honest, with Ravens vs. Steelers anything is possible. The Ravens lost a heartbreaker to the Steelers earlier this season. To be honest, heartbreaker may be underselling that, quick give me an adjective that’s worse than that,,,

Anyway, the Ravens could very well win this. They could very well lose. Baltimore has been in every single game down the stretch outside of their trip to the Cincinnati Bengals. Tyler Huntley beat the Chicago Bears and keeps coming close against good teams like the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams.

There’s no reason to expect a blowout from either party. This game will go down to the wire. Truthfully, neither team is all that put together. The Ravens are hobbled to the point that elimination would almost be as merciful as it is painful. The Steelers have T.J. Watt going for a sack record and the Ben Roethlisberger tour, but they’ve been a middling 8-7-1 team.

The Steelers need the Colts to lose to the Jaguars as well. All they need is a win over the Ravens and that pesky Jaguars team to play spoiler for the Colts. Both teams need a win to make anything matter on Sunday. Expect a good game. If this game goes down to a two-point conversion attempt, I can safely say that the entire Ravens Flock is going to go crazy either way. It’s going to be a Ravens vs. Steelers game, so don’t forget your blood pressure medicine if you take it.

Jaguars vs. Colts: So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

The Jaguars actually have a track record of beating the Colts in Jacksonville. The last several trips down to Florida have gone very poorly for the Colts. That’s it. That’s about the only thing you can hang your hat on if you’re a Ravens fan. Trevor Lawrence has had a brutal rookie season with 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions on the year. Last week, the Patriots held him to 193 yards and picked him off three times. The Colts have been red hot. They’ve spent the last three weeks beating the Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and Raiders. This is by far the least likely outcome to go the Ravens’ way.

Patriots over the Dolphins: Oh this is so doable

The Patriots need a win because they are currently tied with the Buffalo Bills for the division lead. The Bills have the edge at the moment, but there’s plenty to play for as far as the Patriots are concerned. That division title feels better than a wild card spot which means no resting players despite already being in the dance. That’s good for Baltimore.

The Dolphins are the only team to ever lose seven straight games and then win seven straight to get back into the hunt. The Dolphins are a better team than we thought they were, and they started showing it on Thursday Night Football against the Dolphins. This will be an interesting chess match between Bill Belichick and his former assistant Brian Flores. The Dolphins just got spanked by the Tennessee Titans. The pressure is on the Dolphins because the Patriots ultimately have a wild card spot to fall back on. The momentum of the Patriots plus the advantage of Belichick wanting this one bad and being a master game planner make this very doable. If the Ravens survive the first slate of games on Sunday with a fighter’s chance, they have a very interesting evening of rooting to do. It’s okay to root for the Patriots (this once).

Raiders over the Chargers: Which Raiders team shows up? Which Chargers team shows up?

The Chargers are a different team all the time. They were able to beat the Kansas City Chiefs and crush the AFC North crowned Cincinnati Bengals and they also were able to get steamrolled by the Ravens and crushed by the Denver Broncos.

The Raiders started the season as world-beaters. They beat the Ravens and Steelers with Derek Carr being hot and their pass rush being lethal. The Raiders are also 9-7 and have lost to the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears. I seriously don’t know what to expect here, which makes this a very interesting nightcap. If the Ravens need this to get in it could happen. The last time the Chargers won 28-14 in a weird night game that was delayed due to lightning. It all depends on which teams show up. The Ravens are hoping for the Good Raiders and the Bad Chargers.

Baltimore Ravens: Top 3 offseason needs ranked

Time to see what happens.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: Top 3 offseason needs ranked

By Chris Schisler

Technically, the Baltimore Ravens season isn’t over. If you can’t start looking to the offseason and turn a bit to free agency and the NFL Draft though, you’re not living in reality. The Ravens are in a better situation than many teams faced with a likely elimination from a postseason berth. They have their quarterback (stay off the dark corners of Ravens Facebook – they have their quarterback and he wears number eight). The Ravens have their head coach and are looking at a 2022 season where they’ll get back key pieces to the puzzle.

The Ravens are going to miss the playoffs in all likelihood though, so let’s get ready. The first step for any problem solving is admitting you have a problem. What are the Ravens’ team-building problems? Let’s talk about where they need to get better.

1. The Baltimore Ravens need the offensive line fixed

One could say that the secondary is the biggest area of need. It’s a close second. But when the ravens get Marcus Peters back (assuming he returns next season), and Marlon Humphrey is back, a lot of the secondary problems will go away or at least be severely muted. There is no quick fix to the offensive line. The return of Ronnie Stanley will be a great boost, but the unit isn’t set the second he returns.

In the 2020 season, the Ravens were plagued by that awful combination that is Tyre Phillips and D.J. Fluker. In 2021, the offensive tackle was a mess for the Ravens. Alejandro Villanueva made it pretty clear that he’s only comfortable on the left side and he’s not a great left tackle. Villanueva was somewhat solid and on the offensive line’s most important position group that will never fly for long.

The real problem was on the right side though. Patrick Mekari did admirably in fill-in duty but he’s not who you want starting at tackle. Mekari will be back, rightfully so after signing a nice extension with the team. Ideally, he’s your most valuable fill-in who can play every offensive line position.

When Mekari wasn’t at right tackle it was ugly. One goal of the offseason has to be never seeing Tyre Phillips play right tackle again. The Ravens can’t go into next season with Phillips even a plan B at right tackle. The Ravens would be wise to load up on tackles. Maybe Villanueva stays as a backup to Stanley- there are worse situations in the world – but the Ravens need to address this position. From the NFL Draft or maybe even free agency, they need a starting right tackle and a plan B, that doesn’t make Ravens fans cover their eyes.

The Ravens have Stanley, Bradley Bozeman, and Kevin Zeitler. That’s what works for the starting offensive line for next season as of now. Adding two starters and filling out the depth chart for the big guys up front is essential. The Ravens have to win the line of scrimmage before they can worry about anything else. It’s that simple.

2. The Secondary

What the Baltimore Ravens need more than anything is a free safety. The Ravens need a defensive back who can play the middle of the field, who has the range to take away big plays and make some in the process. Think about how different this defense would be with a player like Ed Reed. Then find a player who gives you the closest possible match to that. You’ll never find another Reed but the idea is getting a ballhawk, with range and football instincts you can’t coach. A play-making free safety who takes the ball away would make Don Martindale a more dangerous defensive coordinator.

If this season taught us anything it’s that you can never have enough cornerbacks. Anthony Averett is a free agent and I could see him getting paid elsewhere more than the Ravens should pay him. The Ravens have to add a bit to the cornerback position. Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Tavon Young, and Brandon Stephens make a nice start. You need to draft a guy who can chip in right away and has a chance to develop. You could make an argument that the Ravens should go with a defensive back in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but with many picks, they need to address the secondary with a couple of players.

3. Defensive Line/ Pass Rushers:

The Ravens added a piece to the puzzle with Odafe Oweh in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Ravens need to add another young edge rusher to the mix. They need to find a complementary talent that will grow up with Oweh in this defense. You always need pass rushers. You always need more pass rushers. We already know that. With Justin Houston being a free agent, an edge rusher could be a bigger need.

Let’s look at this defensive line though. Calais Campbell may call it quits after this season, and if he does continue his career he’s a free agent. Brandon Williams is getting up there and even if he’s solid we’re seeing diminishing returns. Justin Madubuike’s okay but he didn’t have the year two breakout we were looking for. The defensive line is not a high-impact group right now. The Ravens may have needs in front of this one, but they have to fix that.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens fall to Rams: Good, bad, ugly