NFL quarterback rankings: PFF ranks for every team’s QB entering 2018 - Steve Palazzolo
30. JOE FLACCO, BALTIMORE RAVENS
2017 overall grade, rank: 68.9 (22nd)
Flacco has gone from mid-tier quarterback to ranking 22nd in PFF grade last year and 26th in both 2015 and 2016. He has lost some of his aggressiveness as he had the third-highest percentage of checkdowns last season while posting a career-low average depth of target of 6.9. That led to Flacco ranking only 37th out of 41 qualifiers in big-time throw percentage. At his best, Flacco is driving the ball down the field and giving his receivers a chance to make plays, and being saddled with one of the worst groups of playmakers in the league has hurt Flacco’s production in recent years.
ROOKIE QUARTERBACK RANKINGS
4. LAMAR JACKSON, BALTIMORE RAVENS
*2017 overall college grade, rank: 88.8 (7th)
Jackson is a spectacular athlete who did most of his damage in the designed-run game in college and an ideal NFL scenario will have the Ravens tapping into that athleticism in order to keep defenses off balance. He is willing to sit in the pocket and go through progressions, ranking fourth among 10 draft-class quarterbacks in accuracy percentage when hitting his second read, however his overall accuracy must improve in order to maximize his potential as he ranked ninth when factoring actual ball location on every pass last season.
Around the division, PFF ranks the Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 6th, the Browns Tyrod Taylor 21st and the Bengals Andy Dalton 23rd.
Predicting the 2019 Hall of Fame Class - Scott Kacsmar
Ed Reed: Football’s Genius
Ed Reed played safety for 12 seasons, but he had a mind for offense that could rival any defender. Some defenders get the “quarterback on the field” label, but Reed truly played that way. Even with quarterbacks always trying to be aware of where Reed was, he would read the play correctly and swoop in for the interception, sometimes with the grace of a wide receiver. With the ball in his hands, Reed’s intention was always to score, even if it meant trying an ill-advised lateral to a teammate.
Reed’s 64 interceptions are 13 more than any player who has entered the league in the 32-team era (since 2002). It could be a long time before that number is surpassed, if it ever is in this era of safer passing. Reed and Everson Walls are the only players ever to lead the league in interceptions three times. Reed is tied for the postseason record with nine interceptions, so he made his mark in January too. He won his only Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2012 and was voted first-team All-Pro five times in his 11 seasons in Baltimore.
We talked about tight ends being disrespected by the Hall of Fame, but Reed figures to only be the 10th pure safety in Canton. None have gone first ballot since Ken Houston in 1986. If Reed is not a first-ballot lock at safety, then no one is.
Football Outsiders predicts the 2019 Hall of Fame class will include first ballot inductees Ed Reed, Champ Bailey and Tony Gonzalez. Offensive lineman Tony Boselli and Steve Hutchinson are also expected in the class. Torry Holt, Alan Faneca and Ronde Barber should warrant strong consideration.
NFL predictions for 2018: Final standings, playoff projections, Super Bowl pick - Todd Haislop
AFC playoffs: results
— Wild-card playoffs: Patriots over Texans; Titans over Steelers
— Divisional playoffs: Jaguars over Patriots; Chargers over Titans
— AFC championship game: Chargers over Jaguars
The size of LA’s stadium does not matter; the team’s heart will be huge. The relentless competitiveness of Rivers and coach Anthony Lynn will pay off as the wild lightning ride ends with a trip to Atlanta.
The Sporting News projects the Ravens to finish with a 7-9 record, second in the AFC North.
Practice Report 8/7: Tight End Hayden Hurst Leads the Way for Improved Passing Game - Garrett Downing
[Hayden] Hurst made a pair of nice catches down the seam on passes just between the linebacker and safety.
”I think I’m just becoming comfortable with the playbook,” Hurst said. “The more comfortable I feel, the faster I’m going to be able to play. Me and Joe are starting to link up and get on the same page.”
On one of the catches, Hurst pulled down the pass in tight traffic, absorbed a hit from the safety and then ran into the end zone. He added some high steps for a little flair as he ran into the end zone.
Fellow rookie tight end Mark Andrews had a few nice grabs, including a pass down the middle from Jackson that would have gone for a 50-yard touchdown.
When facing defenses such as the Rams that couple penetrating fronts with press man corners, the Ravens will need their rookie tight ends to move the chains.