LAMAR JACKSON: RAVENS MAKING ALL THE RIGHT MOVES FOR QB1?
“We made a concerted effort to surround Jackson with more speed and playmakers,” said a Ravensexecutive. “The plan is to build the offense around his strengths as a player while surrounding him with enough weapons to help him succeed. ... He’s a really talented player but we need to make sure that we put him in the best situations to play to his strengths.”
“We play old-school, smashmouth football,” said the Ravens executive. “This is the way playoff teams were built back in the day, with a dominant running game complementing a stout defense. ... You control the clock and dictate the terms to the opponent. With more teams building their defenses specifically to defend the pass, the throwback approach gives us an advantage with No. 8 at quarterback.”
There’s no doubt the team has upgraded the talent around No. 8 at running back and on the perimeter this offseason. Free-agent addition Mark Ingram and fourth-round pick Justice Hill add more pop to the running game. Ingram gives the Ravens a rugged downhill runner with the strength and power to bully defenders between the tackles. The two-time Pro Bowl selectee has not only averaged at least 4.6 yards per carry in five of the past six seasons but he has scored 40 rushing touchdowns during that span. Moreover, he adds some more toughness to the unit. Hill is a burner with the potential to take it the distance whenever he touches the ball. The 5-foot-10, 198-pound dynamo with 4.40-second speed is well-versed in the spread offense and his experience finding creases on inside zone plays should make him dangerous with defenders eyeballing Jackson’s every move.
On the perimeter, the Ravens added first-round pick Marquise Brown to a lineup that features a pair of versatile tight ends (Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews) capable of sealing the edges in the running game or splitting the seams as pass catchers. Although Brown’s height (5-9) isn’t necessarily ideal for a passer who completed less than 60 percent of his throws last season, the rookie’s blazing speed will give the Ravens opportunities to exploit one-on-one coverage on the outside when opponents load the box to stop the run.
The Ravens add a much-needed pass-rush presence, sign Pernell McPhee and Shane Ray for 2019 - Mark Chichester
In eight years in the league, only once has McPhee failed to record a pass-rush win rate of more than 10.0%, and he’s coming off a 2018 season in which he won 17.1% of his pass-rushing snaps — a figure that tied with Brandon Graham and flat-out beat the likes of Demarcus Lawrence and Dee Ford.
And the good news for Ravens fans is that those numbers get all the more impressive when we take away blitzes, stunts, play-action dropbacks, trick plays and quick throws — all data points that can somewhat skew a pass-rusher’s pure numbers. Among the 42 outside linebackers with at 100 snaps on such plays since 2011, McPhee’s 90.1 pass-rushing grade is tied with Justin Houston and Demarcus Ware for seventh, and his 30.5% win rate and his 28.2% pressure rate are both only beaten by Von Miller.
It was in this 2016 season when he really took a step forward as a pass-rusher and showed the same glimpses as he regularly showed in college. After winning 11.6% of his pass-rushing snaps as a rookie, a mark good enough for 61st among qualifying edge defenders (Pernell McPhee actually ranked first with a 22.6% win rate that year), Ray drastically improved during his sophomore year and won 15.6% of his pass-rushing matchups on the year — a mark that ranked 18th among qualifying edge defenders and just one spot below the perennially productive Ryan Kerrigan. Ray ended the 2016 season with a pass-rushing grade of 71.2 that was good for 32nd among 122 qualifying players at the position.
Thoughts From Another Week of OTAs - John Eisenberg
It’s no secret the Ravens have used the draft and free agency to bolster their secondary. No NFL team is spending more on cornerbacks and safeties in 2019.
They’re so deep at those positions that a few players who belong on the field in the NFL will be hard-pressed to make the roster.
That’s one of my takeaways from watching them together on the practice field and doing a little math.
Let’s say the Ravens end up keeping six cornerbacks and four safeties, their usual allotment. Right now, it’s a good bet the safeties would be starters Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson and backups Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott; and the corners would be Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr and Tavon Young and recent draft picks Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall.
That leaves out Justin Bethel and Anthony Levine Sr., special-teams aces who also play defensive back; and veterans Maurice Canady, Cyrus Jones and Stanley Jean-Baptiste. But the Ravens like those guys. Levine is valuable in several roles. Bethel was a free agent signing. Jones was the team’s top punt returner in 2018. Canady has been on the field in crucial situations. Baptiste had the team made a year ago until he suffered an injury.