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Ravens News 7/17: Pass rush rankings, team for the ages and more

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Baltimore Ravens vs Tennessee Titans - November 12, 2006 Photo by Joe Murphy/NFLPhotoLibrary

NFL pass-rush rankings: All 32 team’s entering 2018 - Gordon McGuiness



Edge Defender: Terrell Suggs, 87.0 overall grade

Defensive Interior: Brandon Williams, 85.3

Defensive Interior: Michael Pierce, 84.2

Edge Defender: Matthew Judon, 68.3

Key Rotational Player: Za’Darius Smith, 66.4 / Willie Henry, 80.4 / Tyus Bowser, n/a

Pressure Percentage as a team, 2017: 34.3% (17th)

Such is the theme for a lot of teams down at this end of our rankings, but the Ravens have players who could make an impact in 2018, just a lot of questions. Suggs continues to make a big impact despite the fact that he’ll be 36 during the season, and had 12 sacks, eight hits and 57 hurries a year ago. But who steps up opposite him, and who helps complement him if he needs a breather? Judon had nine sacks a season ago, but just 35 total pressures (louder for the people in the back, sacks don’t predict future sacks, pressures predict future sacks). Smith has produced just 12 sacks, 17 hits and 54 hurries through three seasons, while 2017 rookies Bowser and Tim Williams combined for three sacks, three hits and 10 hurries.

Elsewhere in the AFC North, Pro Football Focus ranked the Bengals pass rush 10th best, the Steelers 14th and the Browns 28th. Nine of the Ravens 13 scheduled opponents, including the Chargers, Broncos, Saints, Titans, Raiders, Buccaneers and Falcons, are expected to field top half of the league pass rushes.

Key fantasy questions around the AFC North - Patrick Thorman

How likely is Joe Flacco to get benched, and what are the fantasy implications?

A half-decade removed from the Ravens’ Super Bowl victory and the farce of “elite,” Flacco has consistently been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. Over the last four seasons, only Blake Bortles, Josh McCown, and Jay Cutler have a worse touchdown-to-interception ratio among quarterbacks with at least 1,000 pass attempts.

While the Ravens have lapped the field by 47 total pass attempts the past three years, Flacco has graded as our 26th-, 27th-, and 29th-best quarterback. His PFF passer rating — which accounts for dropped passes, spiked balls, and air yards – has ranked 27th, 24th, and 30th during that time. The more often Flacco throws, the more obvious it is he’s a liability.

Only Drew Stanton had a lower yards-per-attempt average than Flacco last year among 40 qualifying quarterbacks. He rarely makes something (positive) happen when he drops back. At a time when turnovers are declining league-wide, and innovative coaches are scheming mediocre quarterbacks to viability, the main thing keeping Flacco in the lineup is a historically bad contract.

If John Harbaugh, whose seat is warming, has to watch his quarterback make mistakes, why not insert one who will also make some plays?

Lamar Jackson could take over as the starting quarterback following the Week 10 bye if Flacco continues to struggle.

Team for the Ages — Ray Lewis - Eric Edholm

“From the minute he arrived, he was just different. Never saw anything like him. We knew he was special from Day 1. [The Ravens veterans] recognized right away Ray’s ability. And they recognized his maturity, too — especially for a 20-year-old.”

Marvin Lewis, Ray Lewis’ first defensive coordinator

Key stat

Lewis became the first player in history with 40 sacks and 30 interceptions. Lewis’ 50 career takeaways (19 forced fumbles, 31 INTs) are second-most among NFL linebackers since the 1970 merger.

The franchise icon will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 4th.