Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: Projecting Gus Edwards numbers for 2021

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens will have to lean a little bit more heavily on Gus Edwards now that J.K. Dobbins is out for the season with a torn ACL. Fans want to know- partly for Fantasy Football – partly for the love of Ravens football, what will change this season for Gus Edwards?

The honest answer is not a lot. Edwards has had three straight seasons over 700 yards rushing. In 2018, he had 144 carries. He’s had over 130 carries three seasons in a row. While J.K. Dobbins was technically slated to be the number one running back, Edwards offered little to no drop-off as running back two. Essentially the Ravens planned on having two lead backs. One is out for the year, the other will continue to be a workhorse for the offense.

Projection is tricky but doable for the Baltimore Ravens’ top back:

Projecting based on last season is a little tricky. There’s an extra game this year, and Dobbins is out of the equation. For the moment, the fill-in running back carries will be handled by Justice Hill and Ty’Son Williams. Last season it was a fairly even split. Edwards ran the rock 144 times and Dobbins got it 133 times.

The reason it won’t be a drastic change for Edwards is that the Ravens aren’t going to abuse him. The Ravens haven’t really had a running back who got around 25 rushing attempts a game since the days of Brian Billick and Jamal Lewis. John Harbaugh-coached teams have seldom had one back do all the heavy lifting. In 2019, Mark Ingram had 10-13 carries per game, proof that the number one guy doesn’t get a cruel workload.

The Ravens are going to want to maximize what they get out of Edwards. They don’t want to work him so hard that they have him running out of gas by the playoffs. Let’s say he averages 12 rushing attempts per game. This seems like a fair number. 12 x 17 = 204 rushing attempts. That is 60 more carries than last season. His workload is going to go up.

So we have Edwards down for 204 rushing attempts. On paper, it does sound like a lot. In a perfect world, the Ravens may be able to lean on their other running backs enough to make it more of a fair ask of Edwards. Nonetheless, 204 attempts is the projection we’re at. Edwards should be good for around five yards per carry. That average would track with the rest of his career. That would give Edwards 1,020 yards on the year.

Additional thing to think about here:

Keeping in mind that there is an extra game and that Ty’Son Williams and Justice Hill probably don’t add up to the impact of one J.K. Dobbins, overdoing it a little bit with Edwards is going to be hard to avoid. The Ravens may not want to add a veteran running back to the mix either because the roster math is still a limitation. Can moves happen? Yes. For the time being this is the unit the Ravens have for the backfield.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pat Ricard get a little more in the way of touches this season. His rushing totals will still look minimal, yet it’s another way to run the ball without asking the “Gus Bus” to do it all.

One area of concern is how the Ravens have their running backs produce as running backs out of the backfield. Last year, Edwards only caught nine passes. Edwards only has 18 career receptions. Justice Hill all of the sudden is probably Baltimore’s best receiving option out of the backfield. Dobbins was a more dynamic playmaker as a receiving option than Edwards. This could limit the offense a bit more than Greg Roman would like.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Early reasons for confidence vs. Las Vegas Raiders

It should be a great year for Edwards. If he stays healthy he’s going to be one of the best running backs in the NFL. You could argue he already is one of the top backs in football. He certainly is one of the most consistent.

Posted in Uncategorized

J.K. Dobbins out for the year: How the Ravens move forward

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens had one of the worst possible things happen in their preseason game against the Washington Football Team. They lost their star running back J.K. Dobbins for the season. According to reports, Dobbins tore his ACL and won’t play in the 2021 season. How do the Baltimore Ravens move forward? Let’s dive into that.

This obviously makes Gus Edwards the top running back in Baltimore. An outside signing isn’t out of the question. Todd Gurley talked to the Ravens this offseason. Frank Gore hasn’t retired yet and is available. With the regular season coming in just a couple of weeks, the timing for a move like this isn’t ideal.

The most likely scenario is that the Baltimore Ravens roll with the running backs on their roster. This probably means that on the 53 man roster, Gus Edwards, Ty’Son Williams, and Justice Hill will make up the running back spot. Dobbins is hard to replace, though there isn’t suddenly room for a fourth running back on the 53 man roster.

The Ravens didn’t just have two unproven running backs play amazing football to sign an older and staler player on a knee-jerk reaction. The roster is loaded but the Ravens should absolutely get Nate McCrary on the practice squad. He could be called up if needed. The running back position as a whole got a little less proven, but it’s not a completely disassembled unit.

Edwards is in a very interesting position. On one hand, he’s one of the most consistent running backs the Baltimore offense has ever had. Edwards has had three straight seasons over 700 yards. On the other hand, Edwards has never been the Jamal Lewis or the Ray Rice type of player. He’s been the compliment of the Ravens run game more than he’s been the bell cow. Edwards is looking at a bigger role.

Dobbins averaged six yards per carry in his rookie season. If Dobbins stayed healthy he more than likely would have had over 1,000 yards on the ground. Last year, Dobbins, Edwards and, Jackson totaled 2,533 total yards. To stay on track Edwards needs to have his best year ever and at least flirt with the 1,000-yard mark.

As good as Ty’Son Williams has looked in the preseason, the Ravens running back group took a huge hit. The Ravens lost one of the best one-two punches in the NFL. Whether the number two back becomes Williams or Justice Hill, it won’t pack the same dynamic. Edwards’s role was often to be the closer at the end of the game, who would run without mercy against a tired defense. Now he’s the starting pitcher.

One of the major concerns of training camp was how severely the injuries prevented the offense from gelling. Should Lamar Jackson and the now-injured Dobbins have been playing in the final preseason game? No. The motivation to play them though was to get as much of the starting offense rolling together as the Ravens could.

The Dobbins injury compounds the chemistry problem. The purple and black now have to go into the preseason without working out the kinks in a game with their real starting offense. They have to figure out the new rotation at running back and establish a new pecking order in the backfield.

The Ravens should still be one of the best running football teams. They even have a chance to remain the top running football operation in the NFL. Lamar Jackson will always boost the ground game. He does this not only by producing on the ground but by making the defense mindful that he can produce on the ground.

The Ravens aren’t going to go from being one of the best running teams in the history of football (maybe even the best) to struggling on the ground. The ground game should still be the core competency of this offense. The question isn’t even how many yards this will shave off their total production running the football, but how will it impact the crazy efficiency of the unit on the ground.

Jackson averaged 6.3 yards per rushing attempt last season. Dobbins averaged an even six. Edwards picked up five yards a pop. At the end of the year, if the Ravens don’t have their three top runners picking up five or more yards per attempt, it takes a bit of the bite out of the strength of the offense.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens 3 Big Questions About the Secondary

The Dobbins injury doesn’t sink the Ravens. It is however completely deflating to lose a potential superstar breakout year from a young running back. The Ravens lost star power and it’s awfully early to be turning to the next-man-up mentality. One way or another the Ravens needed to see gains from their passing attack in 2021. This surely reinforces that. If the Ravens don’t add an outside running back it shows you that they are still confident in their ability to be a dominant team running the football.


Posted in Uncategorized

Baltimore Ravens: Ty’Son Williams deserves a roster spot

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have had no position battle more compelling than the battle at running back. While J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards were mostly out of the spotlight, Ty’Son Williams and Nate McCrary have made a strong push for Justice Hill‘s job.

Is it Justice Hill’s job?

Justice Hill was the presumed running back number three. He was a fourth-round draft pick and he’s competing against two undrafted free agents. Hill may have entered training camp as the favorite for the third running back spot, but the competition has heated up.

Hill had 59 rushing attempts in his rookie season averaging just 3.9 yards a pop. In 2020, Hill only had 12 rushing attempts. The Ravens, by the way, are the most committed football team to the ground game. Hill hasn’t made much of an impression in the backfield. Assuming the job was his no matter what is a little foolish.

The job is certainly in fair play. Speaking of play, the Ravens have two running backs who are performing at a high level. Hill has reportedly been dealing with an ankle injury. Preseason games aren’t the full story, in fact, the practices probably tell a larger portion of the story. Preseason games are however the window we have for analyzing the players in a game setting. Being mindful that we can’t put too much stock in the preseason to be fair and realistic, the eye test has spoken. Ty’Son Williams has aced it.

Ty’Son Williams has traits:

Going into the preseason I had 10 preseason predictions. One of these predictions is that Nate McCrary would make a serious push for the third running back spot. I picked the right position battle but backed the wrong back. McCrary has had some impressive moments. Statistically, he’s right there with Williams. The traits Williams has put on display should give him the edge.

The first thing the Ravens need from a running back behind Dobbins and Edwards is the ability to catch the football out of the backfield. This trait is why the Ravens flirted with the idea of bringing in Todd Gurley this offseason. Williams has caught seven passes this preseason for 39 yards. He’s shown himself to be a natural hands catcher, it’s not awkward. He checks the box here, even if it’s not the main aspect of his game.

Williams has great leg strength and the ability to run through a crowded tackle box. His contact balance is almost on a Gus the Bus level of impressiveness. It’s hard to bring Williams down and he always fights for a couple of extra yards. Stylistically, Williams could be another bowling ball the Ravens use to tire out defenses. Edwards packs a little more thickness and weight, but they’re both freight trains.

The Baltimore Ravens play that showed it all:

Williams’s touchdown run against the Panthers showed everything. It’s one play that makes the whole argument. Five Panthers had a chance to take Williams down. Foster Sewell pulled on the play and got just enough of a Panthers linebacker. Williams ran behind the block he got to get to the second level. Vision and awareness made this run possible.

A Panthers’ safety failed to square up on Williams. Williams showed just enough shake to throw. The defender took a bad angle and hit Williams on the side. Williams brushed it off like it was nothing, for a lot of running backs that would have been just a seven-yard gain at that point. Then Williams managed to stave off a couple of shoestring tackle attempts. He started falling almost five yards before the goal line. It took balance, core strength, and determination to get in the end zone.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Projecting 53 man roster after 2 preseason games

Williams topped off his second impressive performance with a run that was the best possible pitch for a roster spot. The eye test really works in his favor. He’s got traits, he’s popped onto the scene and if the Ravens are smart he’s not going anywhere. He should be your running back number three.


Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: 3 most important facets of training camp

By Ronald Toothe

Editor’s note: A lot of news happened today at Baltimore Ravens training camp. We’re on it. In the meantime check out this awesome article

The Baltimore Ravens began training camp this week along with the rest of the NFL. Hopes are high as the team sets their sights on bringing a third Lombardi trophy to Charm City. Despite being one of the most talented rosters in football, however, there are still plenty of improvements to be made en route. Today, let’s break down some of the most important facets of this year’s training camp.

More consistency from Marquise Brown

The Ravens selected Marquise Brown in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and while you certainly can’t call him a bust, the team will be looking for that true breakout from him in year three. Hollywood finished last season incredibly strong down the stretch and will look to build on that in this year’s camp.

The additions of Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins will surely allow more 1-on-1 situations for Brown, which is where he thrives. Cincinnati Bengals safety Jesse Bates made headlines last year in saying

“We know where Lamar wants to go, either No. 15 or No. 89.”

Defenses no longer have the luxury of solely keying in on those two players in 2021. With threats like Bateman and Watkins on the outside, Brown will have ample opportunity to carve up defenses out of the slot. Knowing Lamar Jackson’s love of throwing down the middle of the field, Brown may be on track for his best season yet.


Odafe Oweh making an immediate impact for the Baltimore Ravens

The drafting of Odafe Oweh was a selection that initially divided the Ravens Flock. On one hand, Oweh is a physical freak with all the tools to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL. On the other, his stat line at Penn State didn’t necessarily reflect said physical tools. All reports out of Baltimore so far indicate that the Ravens are excited for Oweh to be an immediate presence. Pass rush is arguably the Ravens’ biggest question mark, so that presence will be needed.

Oweh will have his chance to prove the Ravens right in drafting him from day one. With Ronnie Stanley returning from injury, Oweh will have one of the best tackles in football to line up against. There’s no better way to make an immediate impact than to hold your own against the class of the league. If Oweh is to be a significant piece of the Ravens defense in 2021, it all starts now. This same premise can be applied to fellow rookie Daelin Hayes, albeit with much lower immediate expectations.


J.K. Dobbins becoming an elite NFL running back

It was announced just ahead of camp that running back Gus Edwards was placed on the Covid-19 list. This means that Edwards is forced to miss at least the first 10 days of camp. Behind Dobbins and Edwards is Justice Hill, who’s proven little so far in terms of being a consistent backup. All of this combined means that Dobbins will be the workhorse of the first-team offense in camp.

In 2020 Dobbins was a force down the stretch, averaging well over four YPC over the final eight games (with 8 touchdowns). The flashes have shown that he’s more than capable of being a three-down bell cow in this offense. Especially considering how much stronger Dobbins got as more carries came his way.

Gus Edwards will still play a major factor come the start of the season, but these preseason reps are valuable. In addition to those 10 days, he’ll also need adequate time to return to the proper conditioning before splitting carries. Dobbins may just show the coaching staff during that stretch that he’s the one deserving of the lion’s share of the workload. In this Ravens offense, that may only be 17-20 carries a game. However, Dobbins showed clearly last year that even in a limited role, he can be the best playmaker on the field not named Jackson.

Wrap up

The best time of the year is quickly approaching for us Ravens fans. The boys are back in the building, and we’ll be sipping pumpkin beers on Sundays before we know it. Despite these training camp “things to watch”, the Ravens will still be among the AFC elites in 2021.

NEXT POST: The NFL Covid-19 vaccine policy is a fair rule that makes sense

Lamar Jackson and company have said time and time again that it’s Super Bowl or bust, and the same can be said for the rest of the Ravens Flock. Buckle up guys and girls, the fun is just getting started.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

J.K. Dobbins: Predicting his production for the 2021 Ravens

By Chris Schisler

J.K. Dobbins is going to have a big season for the Baltimore Ravens. Dobbins was arguably the most exciting rookie last season. He looks much more poised for a second-year jump than a sophomore slump. Let’s take a look at the numbers from last season to help us with our projection.

Dobbins had 134 rushing attempts and averaged an even six yards per carry last season. That was good for 805 yards and nine touchdowns.

The most exciting thing about Dobbins is the potential for the big play. He had a 44-yard scamper against the Houston Texans. He liked facing the Cincinnati Bengals as he had a 34 yard run in one game against them and a 72-yard touchdown in the second battle. Dobbins showed flashes but he really only had two monster games.

Against the Steelers (In a game the Ravens found a way to lose somehow) Dobbins had 113 yards on just 15 rushing attempts. In the regular-season finale, the Ohio State product had 160 yards on just 13 attempts.

How much will Dobbins the football?

As a rookie, Dobbins averaged eight carries a game. This number is a bit misleading because, at the beginning of the season, Dobbins wasn’t getting the top billing at the running back position. Dobbins had 94 rushing attempts in the last nine games of the season. This equated to a little over 10 rushing attempts per game.

Gus Edwards had only 10 more rushing attempts during the 2020 season than Dobbins. It kind of evened out over the course of the season. It was basically as if the Ravens had two running backs carrying the mantle of the number one spot together.

When projecting Dobbins’s numbers, you have to think about the “Gus Bus”. Edwards is one of the Ravens’ best players and he’s going to split the workload with Dobbins. Dobbins should get a bit more touches, but it will be fairly balanced.

Going back to the 2019 season, when Mark Ingram was the top running back in Baltimore, attempts were distributed in a fairly similar method. Ingram never had more than 19 rushing attempts and could expect to run the rock about 15 times.

The Baltimore Ravens may pass the ball more in the 2021 season, though the rushing numbers won’t be diminished in a very noticeable way. Expect Dobbins to get 12-15 rushing attempts per game. Edwards will get eight to 11 attempts on average. Dobbins will get more touches because he is the home run threat in the Ravens backfield not named Lamar Jackson.

Let’s say the second-year phenom averages 13 attempts per game over the course of a 17 game season. That would be 221 rushing attempts. For the sake of being realistic, let’s assume the added workload takes his average down from six yards to 5.5. That would give him around 1,215 yards. You may remember that Ingram had 1,018 rushing yards in 2019. In a 17 game season as the top back, Dobbins should be able to get to 1,200 yards.

Number 27 is expected to be more of a receiver out of the backfield in the 2021 season. We’ve seen little hype videos of him working on his receiving abilities, and we know that’s the one area his game can improve. Dobbins had 18 receptions for 120 yards in his rookie campaign.

That number could easily go up in 2021. I could see 30 receptions but let’s go with 25 to temper our expectations. That’s seven more receptions. He averaged 6.7 yards per reception last season. So at a minimum, we’re looking at 167 yards as a pass-catcher from the second year running back.

Let’s say he breaks two or three of those catches for a huge gain. Give Dobbins 250 yards as a receiver. Fantasy Football fans have to like what we’re talking about and we haven’t even started talking about touchdowns.

Dobbins has a nose for the goal line. He had nine touchdowns last season and when he got the ball inside the five, you almost knew he was going to breakthrough. Dobbins has that low center of gravity and a feel for the game that makes him so dangerous on the goal line. Let’s give Dobbins 14 total touchdowns. He’s going to break away for a few big ones and he’ll do some serious eating in the red zone.

NEXT POST: Lamar Jackson: Projecting his stats for 2021 Ravens

J.K. Dobbins is going to have a big year for the Baltimore Ravens. This is a good guideline of where his gains could come statistically over the course of the new 17 game season.

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

Baltimore Ravens red zone offense could be even better

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens offense could be better than ever in the red zone:

The Baltimore Ravens were very successful in the red zone last year. More often than not the Ravens walked away with a touchdown. The Ravens ranked second in red-zone efficiency last season. That’s amazing considering how back in the day Ravens fans joked to just bring Matt Stover out when they were in range, regardless of down and distance. Heck, we’ve made that joke in the Justin Tucker era too.

The Ravens’ offense mostly got the job done in the red zone, so it’s not a major complaint of the 2020 season. The Ravens converted for a touchdown on 67.2 percent of their red-zone trips. What if that number could be even higher though? The Ravens’ offense should be more equipped in the 2021 season.

One thing the Baltimore Ravens added to the roster this season was tough and reliable hands. Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins have a catch radius that was lacking in the offense last season. Tylan Wallace is a rookie with a lot of confidence when it comes to making the contested catch. Jackson can take more shots. Mark Andrews isn’t the only player he can trust to pull in the football.

Jackson’s connection with Andrews is proof that Jackson likes taking a shot when he believes in his receiver. There are numerous examples of Jackson slinging one up high for Andrews. Jackson isn’t afraid of taking shots, it’s just that his one target with an elite catch radius has been mostly facing bracket coverage.

When passing in the red zone, size, and toughness are important. Miles Boykin had the size, but that was about all he brought to the table. Marquise Brown is a play-maker but his size is always going to be a limitation in certain areas.

Baltimore Ravens that could be secret weapons

Nick Boyle went a long time without scoring an NFL touchdown. When Jackson finally got Boyle into the end zone in 2019, he didn’t stop. Boyle started to become a sneaky good threat in the red zone.

He had two touchdowns in 2019 and another two in nine games in 2020. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but he established himself as a legitimate threat inside the 20. It’s on the menu and if it’s there, Jackson is taking it. If Boyle hadn’t gotten injured against the New England Patriots, he could have scored two or three more touchdowns. Boyle being back will be helpful. He’s a player who has gotten better as a receiving option every year.

One expected improvement from the Ravens’ offense is the amount that J.K. Dobbins helps out as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Dobbins becoming a natural weapon for the passing game will help inside the 20-yard line. There aren’t a lot of linebackers that can keep up with Dobbins. This may be a way to create mismatches. If this becomes a strength for the offense, that equals more touchdowns.

One last thing:

Jackson will have more options. He’ll also have more protection as a passer. The interception in the playoff game against the Bills was a monument to Jackson’s frustration. He’ll never say it, but the team around him was not making life easy. Jackson forced a throw. A little more pass protection and it would have been a touchdown.

The Ravens’ offensive line will be better in the 2021 season. Kevin Zeitler and Alejandro Villanueva will stabilize the right side of the offensive line. Bradley Bozeman is going to give the Ravens a boost at center instead of the left guard spot. Ronnie Stanley being back makes a huge difference. Jackson has more options. He has better pass protection.

NEXT POST: What the Indianapolis Colts don’t get about the Baltimore Colts

The Ravens have a built-in advantage in the red zone. They average over five yards per carry and their run game doesn’t stop working inside the 20-yard line. In fact, Dobbins appears to have a nose for the goal line. A very efficient offense has the tools to become more efficient where it counts.

Posted in Hot Take of the Week

Baltimore Ravens: You know what’s coming and you can’t stop it

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens run game is tried and true. Nothing is as consistently good as the Ravens run game. Since Lamar Jackson took over in 2018 it’s arguably been the best ground game the NFL has ever seen.

In 2018 the Ravens rushed for 2,441 yards and 19 touchdowns. They averaged 4.5 yards per rushing attempt. It’s worth noting that the run game in the Joe Flacco offense was not the same run game as with the Lamar Jackson offense. When Jackson took the job the offensive game plan switched on a dime.

In 2019 the Ravens rushed for 3,296 yards and 21 touchdowns. That was the most rushing yards any team had ever racked up in a single season. They averaged 5.5 yards per rushing attempt. Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram both had over 1,000 yards rushing. The big three (Jackson, Ingram, and Gus Edwards all averaged over five yards per carry).

In 2020 the Ravens rushed for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns. They averaged 5.5 yards per carry for the second season in a row, with J.K. Dobbins picking up six yards an attempt. Jackson had 1,005 rushing yards, making him the only quarterback to ever have two 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Edwards had 723 yards on the ground and Dobbins picked up 805.

No matter what happens in the 2021 season, it’s a safe bet that the run game will be superb. For all the talk about NFL defenses figuring out Jackson and the Ravens, the run game has been stunningly consistent.

The Baltimore Ravens run game is a constant, not a variable:

What’s amazing is that the 2020 season was a lot harder than the 2019 season and the Ravens weren’t far away from their own record. Ronnie Stanley and Nick Boyle went down with injuries and missed a huge chunk of the season. D.J. Fluker and Tyre Phillips were awful on the right side of the offensive line. The 2019 offensive line was mostly non-problematic. The 2020 offensive line was a disaster and they missed Marshal Yanda badly.

The Ravens run game is seemingly impervious to the problems that would sink the ground game of many NFL teams. The passing game was impacted by the injuries and the struggles on the offensive line. The running game didn’t miss much of a beat.

Kevin Zeitler and Alejandro Villanueva will now form a much stronger right side of the offensive line. Zeitler is a former Pro Bowl guard who fits perfectly in the Ravens’ offense. The Ravens don’t have Marshal Yanda back, though they suddenly have veteran leadership at the right guard position. If the Ravens could rush for nearly 3,000 yards last year, you know they can do it this year.

Better pass game, better run game

As long as Lamar Jackson and Greg Roman are in Baltimore it will stay this way. The ground game may not have reached its peak yet. A stronger passing game is only going to help the Ravens stay dominant running the rock.

The Ravens had the fewest passing attempts in the NFL last year. Everybody knew what was coming, a heavy dose of Baltimore running backs and the fastest quarterback alive. This was almost a singular focus for their opponents every week.

The Ravens’ offense isn’t going to adopt Peyton Manning’s Colts model. The run game will still be front and center. The run game is going to benefit though from more passing attempts and a more balanced offense. If you can’t stop it when you know it’s coming, how do you stop it when the Ravens have you guessing? If utilized correctly, Jackson is more equipped to make you guess than any other quarterback in NFL history.

In 2019, Jackson led the NFL in touchdown passes and had 3,127 passing yards. Jackson had 401 passing attempts in his MVP season. In 2020 Jackson’s passing attempts went down to 376 and his yards dipped under 2,800 as a passer.

Baltimore Ravens bottom line:

The Ravens are always going to tilt their balance more towards the ground game. Still, the difference between 2020 results and 2019 numbers shows you what 25 fewer passing attempts did for the offense.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Three Big Questions at the Wide Receiver Position

It’s a presumption that the Ravens are going to get the passing game going to a completely different level in 2021. They have a lot to prove there. With or without a new high-flying passing attack, the ground game is basically unstoppable. The NFL knows what’s coming. They’ve had this whole thing figured out a couple of times, remember? They can’t stop the Ravens’ run game from being historically good.

Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

Baltimore Ravens: 3 Big Questions at the Running Back Position

By: Ashley Anderson

Two years running (pun intended) the Baltimore Ravens have led the NFL in team rushing yardage. Quarterback Lamar Jackson plays a major role in that, having gained over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Still, the Ravens routinely feature premier running backs. This year, the Ravens seem committed to expanding their aerial attack, but their ground game is their bread and butter. Here are the burning questions regarding the running back core.

3.) Will J.K. Dobbins separate himself from Gus Edwards as the feature back?

When the Ravens selected J.K. Dobbins 55th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft despite having Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards on their roster, some fans scratched their heads. However, by the end of the season, Ingram was a healthy scratch, and Dobbins was on fire. The former Ohio State Buckeye finished on an absolute tear, scoring touchdowns in six straight games.

With a full season under his belt and a normal offseason to train, Dobbins is primed for a breakout sophomore campaign. Averaging a whopping six-yards per carry, Dobbins amassed 805 yards with just one start in 15 games. Given more totes this season, he could easily top 1,000 yards.

Not to be outdone, Gus Edwards averaged 5-yards per carry on his way to 732 yards. The model of consistency, Edwards has topped 700 yards in each of his three seasons in Baltimore. He was recently re-signed to a two-year, $8 million deal, signaling the Ravens’ belief in his abilities.

Baltimore could split carries evenly between the two, or they could choose to ride the hot hand. Towards the end of 2020, that looked to be Dobbins. Will he pull away from Edwards as the lead back?

2.) What will Justice Hill’s role look like this season for the Baltimore Ravens?

Last season, the running back room was crowded with Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and J.K. Dobbins all playing a major role at one point. The forgotten back seemed to be Justice Hill, who is entering his third season in Baltimore.

Hill was a prolific runner at Oklahoma State, racking up 3,539 ground yards and 30 touchdowns in three seasons. With the fastest 40-yard dash time in his draft class, he certainly had the look of a guy who could excel at the next level. When Hill was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, it appeared he may carve out a significant role on Baltimore’s offense. Thus far, however, special teams have been his niche.

With Mark Ingram gone, Hill moves up slightly in the pecking order. His largest workload to date came in his rookie year where he had 58 carries. Those translated to just 225 yards, though, for an average of 3.9 yards per carry. On the other hand, his skills as a receiver out of the backfield may be a bit sharper than those of Edwards and Dobbins. Could Hill expand his role as a receiving back this season?


1.) How involved will the running backs be in the passing game?

Speaking of an expanded role in the passing game, Ravens coaches have been frank about their desire to see their running backs get more involved. Oftentimes, when a play breaks down, Lamar Jackson relies on his own legs instead of throwing a check-down pass. While that works in many situations, Baltimore would prefer to see Jackson use his arm.

Joe Flacco achieved a great deal of success with check-down passes. No Ravens fan will soon forget the 4th-and-29 pass to Ray Rice that resulted in a first down conversion. That is often a QB’s best weapon to escape quick pressure. With a trio of talented backs, this is definitely an area with room for improvement.

Dobbins especially put on a show at minicamp, but he had a couple of awful drops in the playoffs last year. Edwards is known more for being a bruiser, yet he posted a career-high nine catches for 129 yards in 2020. As mentioned previously, Hill could also see a larger role due to his receiving ability.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens draft busts and what they were going for with them

One way or another, Baltimore is committed to improving its passing attack, and their running backs are an underutilized group. Could this be the year they all get more involved?

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

2020 NFL Draft: Ranking situation for Baltimore Ravens in year 2

By Chris Schisler

Which second-year Baltimore Ravens are set up the best?

The 2020 NFL Draft gave the Baltimore Ravens a good bit of talent. They found their next star at the running back position in J.K. Dobbins. Baltimore remixed the inside linebacker position with Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison. It was a solid draft class that made an impact in year one. Let’s look at year two though. Which second-year Ravens are in the best position?

1. J.K. Dobbins

J.K. Dobbins is in the best spot of all the second-year players for the Baltimore Ravens. Dobbins is the lead running back of the team that has rushed for more yards than any team since 2018. This is the right team to be a good running back on. Dobbins is in the perfect situation. He had a strong rookie showing. Gus Edwards will share the workload, and he’s the perfect fit for the offense the Baltimore Ravens operate.

Dobbins needs to increase the impact he makes as a receiver out of the backfield. That’s about the only concern you have with the Ohio State running back. This is a player who averaged six yards a carry in his rookie season. As a ball carrier, there’s very little to be desired. Dobbins gets the job done there with great power, vision, and contact balance to go along with speed.

All Dobbins has to do is catch more passes out of the backfield. If that becomes a prominent part of the Ravens’ offensive attack, Lamar Jackson will have the ultimate safety valve. This could be a security blanket in the passing game with edges that carve up opposing defenses. Dobbins is in the perfect situation and is clearly good at his job. He’s only getting better and in a more dynamic offense, he will be even more dangerous.

2. Patrick Queen

Patrick Queen is going to be on the field a lot in his second season. He has the chance to start taking a leadership role in Don Martindale’s defense. Queen is in a very similar situation as Dobbins. It’s very clear that he has the goods. Queen is an uber-athletic linebacker who can hit like a freight train. The one thing Queen needed when he came into the NFL was polishing.

Queen in year two can be a little more comfortable in the defense. There’s a little less thinking and hesitation and a little more flying around and finding flow. Queen played like a rookie linebacker in the 2020 season. That isn’t a knock on him, that was to be expected. A little more experience and Queen may be able to take the tools he has and produce an unbelievable career.

The good news for Queen is that he had moments of great production as a rookie. 106 total tackles and 66 solo tackles make for a solid start. He also had three sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown. Queen is on the right track. He’s on the expected track. If he keeps progressing he’s in a very comfortable spot.

3. Justin Madubuike

The exciting thing about Justin Madubuike is that he is such a needed second-year player. The Ravens have a lot of talent on the defensive line. Think about that talent though. It’s Derek Wolfe, Brandon Wiliams, and Calais Campbell. When healthy the starters are great but that’s the caveat.

The age of the starters requires the second wave of impact players on the defensive line. Madubuike is a young player with a high motor.

Madubuike is a player who has a chance to see an increased workload in the 2021 season. He can show himself to be a big part of the plan for the future. If Campbell does indeed retire at the end of the year, Madubuike could theoretically take his starting job. He’s a 6-3 293 pound defensive tackle with a good first step and some explosion. Things are just getting going for Madubuike.

4. Malik Harrison

Malik Harrison is going to be a really solid Ravens linebacker. He had a strong showing in his rookie season. Harrison is in a near-perfect position. He was a third-round pick who was asked to contribute on a rotational basis. It went fairly well. In fact, Harrison showed he was a more complete linebacker than many thought he was coming into the 2020 NFL Draft.

Things should stay mostly the same for Harrison in his second season. He could get more playing time in year two. The important thing to remember is that he is a solid contributor to an inside linebacker corps that is collectively as good as any in the NFL.

5. Devin Duvernay

It stands to reason that Devin Duvernay is looking at a starting job. It may not be at wide receiver after Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins were added to the offense, though he should be the kick return specialist. Duvernay has a natural feel for returning kicks and is a dangerous player in the open field. That works to his advantage.

Duvernay’s challenge is fitting himself into the offense. It’s hard to really predict what the Baltimore offense will really look like. It’s hard to figure out who’s going to be getting the increased work with an elevated number of pass attempts. Duvernay is coming off a 20 reception season. They never let him fully establish himself as a rookie receiver.

If the Ravens didn’t add so much to the wide receiver group he would be in a much more comfortable year two position. We’ve seen nothing but good from Duvernay. I think I actually conduct the Duvernay fan club train, but he’s in the middle of the pack in terms of rookie situations.

6. Broderick Washington

The Ravens need their young defensive linemen. Washington didn’t help himself by getting into a little bit of trouble off the field. It’s too early to know what to think about Washington. He hasn’t made a huge impression. While pass rush is probably never going to be his thing, becoming a serviceable space-eater and a solid understudy to Brandon Williams is on the table.

7. Ben Bredeson

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is that the left guard position is still up for grabs technically. The bad news is that is really the only position Bredeson can compete for a starting job and there is a big logjam at the position. There is a lot of hype for Ben Cleveland. Ben Powers has some positive tape to build off of. Bredeson is essentially an unknown and he could get lost in the shuffle.

8. Tyre Phillips

Tyre Phillips showed the Ravens why it was so important to add to the offensive line this offseason. The Ravens may have traded Orlando Brown Jr., but their main additions of Kevin Zeitler, Alejandro Villanueva, and Ben Cleveland show the Ravens aren’t into the idea of keeping the offensive line the same.

Phillips got a ton of experience in his rookie season. A lot of it wasn’t good. He’s got traits and he could be a swing tackle kind of a backup. Phillips went from a starter in year one to a player who may not even see the field in year two.

9. James Proche

It’s official. The Ravens Flock has always like James Proche more than the Ravens did. Proche didn’t get much of an opportunity in the 2020 season. Now the Ravens have added Rashod Bateman, Sammy Watkins, and Tylan Wallace. Proche is in a very bleak year two predicament

10. Geno Stone

The Ravens have an on-and-off relationship with Stone. Let’s see if he sticks around before we get excited again for Stone. The Ravens added Ar’Darius Washington, an undrafted free agent out of TCU. It’s hard to see it all coming into fruition for Stone.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens started taking chances for star power in NFL Draft

Thanks for checking out PBN! Keep coming back for more. We have plenty of in-depth analysis for the Ravens Flock.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: Ranking Depth at each position group

By Ashley Anderson

Baltimore Ravens Strengths and Weaknesses Heading Into 2021

Each year, Eric DeCosta and Company work to assemble a Baltimore Ravens roster with premier talent and excellent depth. However, with only 55 spots available, some areas are thinner than others. Here is a ranking of each position group from thinnest to thickest going into 2021 for the Baltimore Ravens.

11.) Safety

Projected starters: Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott

Backups: Jordan Richards, Geno Stone, Nigel Warrior, Ar’Darius Washington

Analysis: Chuck Clark is the leader of the pack, having signed a $15.3 million deal last February that will keep him in Baltimore through 2023. DeShon Elliott emerged last year after injuries derailed his first two seasons, but he is a free agent at year’s end. Behind them, things get dicey. Entering his eight-season, Jordan Richards has primarily been a special teamer. Undrafted out of Tennessee, Nigel Warrior spent 2020 on the practice squad, not seeing regular-season action.

After not adding a safety in this year’s draft, Baltimore quickly snatched up Ar’Darius Washington, who appears to be a steal. However, when the top backup is a special teams guy, and everyone else lacks experience, concerns about depth are legitimate.

10.) Outside Linebacker

Starters: Pernell McPhee and Tyus Bowser

Backups: Odafe Oweh, Jaylon Ferguson, and Daelin Hayes

Analysis: Many experts believe this is the biggest weakness on Baltimore’s roster. Pernell McPhee is getting up there in age, while Tyus Bowser is just rounding into form. Behind them, Jaylon Ferguson is entering his third year, still looking to duplicate his college success. After that, it is a young man’s game with two unproven rookies in Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes. It would not hurt to add another veteran to maximize depth.

9.) Defensive Line

Starters: Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell

Backups: Justin Madubuike, Justin Ellis, and Broderick Washington

Analysis: Things would be looking grim for this group if not for the return of Derek Wolfe. He and Campbell are listed as the only true defensive ends on the Ravens’ current roster, which could be of concern. However, players and coaches alike are raving about youngster Justin Madubuike, who figures to apply more pressure to opposing quarterbacks in his second campaign. Justin Ellis is serviceable if not flashy depth piece behind stalwart Brandon Williams. If Broderick Washington keeps his nose clean, he could see increased playing time, but he may still see league discipline.

8.) Tight End

Starters: Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle

Analysis: Beyond Mark Andrews, things are a bit worrisome here. Nick Boyle is trying to come back from his first major injury, so nothing with him is guaranteed. Josh Oliver has looked the part of the number three tight end in minicamps, but he is very new to the offense. Eli Wolf and Tony Poljan may not make the active roster, yet they are competing for the final TE slot.

7.) Quarterback

Starter: Lamar Jackson

Backups: Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley

Analysis: It would be a stretch to say a position is thin when you have a unanimous MVP leading the pack, but beyond Lamar Jackson, there are question marks. The Baltimore Ravens obviously feel confident that either Trace McSorley or Tyler Huntley will emerge as a solid backup to Jackson, which is why they released Robert Griffin III. However, neither has a ton of in-game experience, so it is fair to wonder how well they would perform if forced into regular action.

6.) Inside Linebackers

Starters: Patrick Queen and L.J. Fort

Backups: Malik Harrison and Chris Board

Analysis: Baltimore made a wise move re-signing L.J. Fort this offseason to be the veteran leader in a young core. A bit of a journeyman, Fort found his niche in purple and black, and he is known to have a nose for the ball. The Ravens have high hopes for sophomores Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, the later of whom could overtake Fort as a starter at some point soon. Chris Board has been a solid presence on special teams throughout his career, and he is adequate when called upon defensively.

5.) Wide Receiver

Starters: Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman

Backups: Devin Duvernay, Miles Boykin, James Proche, Tylan Wallace

RELATED POST: Rashod Bateman: Baltimore Ravens rookie scouting report

Analysis: Youth is the name of the game with this group. Sammy Watkins is the elder statesman at 27, but he is new to the offense. Marquise Brown, on the other hand, is hoping to truly blossom in his third season, especially now the Ravens have added more talent. Rookies Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace come in with tons of potential, but they are still rookies. Second year pros Devin Duvernay and James Proche are hoping to see their roles expand, as is third-year man Miles Boykin. This group is deep but inexperienced.

4.) Offensive Line

Starters: Ronnie Stanley, Ben Cleveland, Bradley Bozeman, Alejandro Villanueva, and Kevin Zeitler

Backups: Tyre Phillips, Ben Bredeson, Ben Powers, Patrick Mekari, Michael Schofield

Analysis: This group got some major upgrades this offseason with the additions of Alejandro Villanueva and Kevin Zeitler. Drafting Ben Cleveland allows Baltimore to move Bradley Bozeman to center, his natural position. Baring a setback, Ronnie Stanley is expected to resume his role as blindside protector for Lamar Jackson. Behind them, tackle depth is a bit concerning, but Tyre Phillips and Patrick Mekari are versatile enough to play guard and tackle. Michael Schofield is more veteran depth, and Ben Bredeson and Ben Powers are still duking it out to start at left guard.

3.) Fullback

Starter: Patrick Ricard

Backup: Ben Mason

Analysis: Fullback is not a key position on most teams, but in the Ravens run-heavy offense, it certainly is. Fortunately, they have one of the best in Patrick Ricard, and Ben Mason appears to be cut from the same cloth. No concerns with this group. 

2.) Running Back

Starter: J.K. Dobbins

Backups: Gus Edwards and Justice Hill

Analysis: Dobbins enters his second season as the 1A running back with Edwards providing a 1B role. Both emphasize yards per carry, and Dobbins was a touchdown machine at the end of 2020. Coaches are emphasizing Dobbins getting more involved in the passing, which is also an area where Hill contributes. This group will likely lead the NFL in rushing again along with Lamar Jackson.

1.) The Baltimore Ravens top position: Cornerback

Projected Starters: Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Tavon Young

Backups: Jimmy Smith, Anthony Averett, Shaun Wade, Brandon Stephens, Davonte Harris, Khalil Dorsey, Iman Marshall, Chris Westry

NEXT POST: Lamar Jackson: 3 Common misconceptions about the MVP quarterback

Analysis: Holy cow, this group is LOADED! It isn’t very often that your backup corner is a Pro Bowl-caliber former first-round pick, and your top guys are the best turnover machines in the NFL. Tavon Young is a top slot corner when healthy, and the Ravens added Shaun Wade as a contingency plan in case that doesn’t happen. Anthony Averett could easily be a starter on another team, and Dorsey and Harris have flashed at times. As Ozzie Newsome always said, you can never have enough healthy corners, and Baltimore is living by that mantra.