Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun published an article earlier this week entitled “The Ravens still have a lot of holes to plug”. He wrote about the Ravens lacking a true playmaker on the roster.
I could not disagree more. No, the Ravens don’t have many big-name superstar players, but that doesn’t mean the team doesn’t have playmakers.
One of the Ravens best playmakers is Steve Smith Sr. In his stint with the Ravens, he has come through in the clutch countless times. One of the Ravens top plays this past season came in the Week 3 matchup against the Bengals, in which Smith broke multiple tackles on the way to a 50-yard touchdown late in the game that got the Ravens back in the game. Oh yeah, and it was on fourth down too.
Even at 37 years old, Smith is still a baller, a smash-mouth, in-your-face baller. When the Ravens need a play on offense, this is the guy you give the ball to. No, if’s, and’s, or but’s. Many teams wish they had a player to rely on like Smith. For example, the Redskins won its division last year but didn’t have a player that the team could count on to make a play. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is not a top tier quarterback capable of making the play himself and he would love to have a receiver like Smith to count on.
Secondly, the Ravens get wide Breshad Perriman back and healthy. Perriman will burn defenses with his blazing speed. In today’s NFL, a team needs to have a playmaking deep threat, and that’s just what Perriman is. No, there is not much sample size to judge Perriman off of, but all reports indicate that he is performing incredibly well in practice, and is ready to be the Ravens deep threat.
And if Perriman does not turn out to be what people thought he would be, the Ravens have Mike Wallace, as well as Chris Moore to fill the void. Wallace was an elite playmaker earlier in his career, and hopefully, still has the same potential. Moore, again with limited sample size, has the potential to be another speedy guy for the Ravens to utilize. The Ravens have nothing to worry about in terms of playmaking pass catchers.
Preston is right about the Ravens not having a true game changer bell cow back. But the running backs on the Ravens roster are not in the same mold. There is a clear difference between Justin Forsett and Terrance West. Forsett doesn’t have the powerful downhill running of West, and West doesn’t have the shiftiness and slipperiness of Forsett.
If the Ravens use the running backs by committee, to constantly make the defense have to prepare for a different type of back, each back could prove to be reliable in their own unique situations.
Preston also failed to mention 2016 fourth round draft pick, Kenneth Dixon. Dixon has a lot of hype going into this season. He may even have the most potential of the group. He undoubtedly is the playmaking Ravens running back of the future. All it comes down to is Dixon putting his skill set together, and that’s just a matter of when.
The Ravens also added safety, Eric Weddle, this offseason. While it improved dramatically in the second half of the year, the Ravens secondary was not very good this past season. The team totaled just six interceptions the whole year. No, Weddle didn’t have any interceptions during the 2015 season, but we all know that he is one of the top safeties in the NFL.
Weddle had seven interceptions in 2011, so we know that he is more than capable of helping the defense create turnovers. Plus, in Weddle’s nine-year career, he has only missed seven regular season games. For Weddle to make plays, he has to be a player that the team can rely on to be on the field, and he has proved to be such. Even without making an interception, Weddle can be a playmaker. His mere presence on the field can influence the quarterbacks decision of where to throw the ball, and possibly allow one of Weddle’s teammates to come up with a pick.
Speaking of Weddle’s teammates, cornerback Jerraud Powers joined the Ravens this offseason and has made his presence known. “Jerraud Powers is kind of dominating everyone,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said (via Ryan Mink of the Ravens official website). “I think he has like five or six picks.”
Now that is exactly what the Ravens are looking for. Five or six picks just in minicamp?! Talk about play making! The Ravens secondary added two pieces this offseason that will greatly help it make big plays at key moments. And that doesn’t even mean a turnover. Pass breakups can be just as big of a play as a pick, or covering receivers tightly enough to give the pass rush time to get to the QB. It all flows together.
So no, the Ravens don’t have a ton of big names, but the Ravens sure aren’t lacking for playmakers.