Lessons Baltimore Ravens can take from Chiefs’ win in Super Bowl 54 - Aaron Kasinitz
Even the best young quarterbacks need to lean on playmakers. So maybe the Ravens should get more.
Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes and the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson enter the offseason as two faces of the NFL, and they’ll draw comparisons as young MVPs with unique influence over the future of their individual franchises and the league at large. They’re different quarterbacks with unique skills. But in many ways, they’re linked.
That makes it worthwhile to compare their supporting cast of playmakers, and the group surrounding Mahomes holds a definitive edge.
Mahomes will be tough to beat, especially without an uber talented Front 7, but he’s not invincible
So far, the Ravens haven’t been able to beat Mahomes. He’s 2-0 as a starter against Baltimore and he racked up 751 yards and five touchdowns in those two games.
San Francisco bothered the 24-year-old gunslinger thanks in part to imposing individual talent in the Front 7. Defensive linemen Nick Bose and DeForest Buckner each had sacks, and because they could supply pressure, the 49ers didn’t need to blitz regularly and dropped more defenders into coverage.
Baltimore uses an entirely different style of defense. The Ravens’ best players are in the secondary, and they make up for a lack of star power in the Front 7 by blitzing at a higher rate than any other NFL team.
In the past, Mahomes has ripped through their defense. But his uneven play through three quarters in the Super Bowls gives defensive coordinators — like the Ravens’ Don “Wink” Martindale — some hope that he isn’t unbeatable.
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Pass-Rusher: Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale likes to blitz more than any other team, but the Ravens had trouble bringing down opposing quarterbacks and were ranked 21st in the league with 27 sacks.
Wide Receiver: The Ravens finished the 2019 regular season with the league’s 26th passing attack, averaging 201.6 yards per game. Opposing teams will be focused on shutting down the Ravens’ record-setting running attack in 2020. So, Jackson could be forced to attempt more passes downfield.
Offensive Line: Almost every team in the NFL is looking for help on the offensive line and the Ravens are no exception.
There are several high-profile free agents the Ravens will consider this offseason. The team needs a dynamic pass rusher and some of the top names that might intrigue the Ravens include Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones, Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Buccaneers linebacker Shaq Barrett and Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Baltimore also wants to add a play-making wide receiver and both A.J. Green and Amari Cooper would fill the void.
The Ravens re-sign Judon at a reasonable price and are able to land another effective pass rusher in he NFL Draft. Lamar Jackson continues his development as a quarterback and is able to become more of a downfield threat to further support the running attack.
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3. JORDAN ELLIOTT, MISSOURI
Draft Board Rank: 21st
Elliott is one of the prospects that we’ve been banging the table for here at PFF for quite some time. The reason is fairly obvious: no defensive tackle graded higher in the FBS last season. Also, no defensive tackle graded higher in SEC play last season. Considering the top-four on our defensive tackle rankings all come from the SEC, that’s no small feat. Elliott finished with grades of 91.1 in both run defense and as a pass-rusher.
Elliott checks the size, length, strength, and athleticism boxes you want at the position, although not necessarily to the degree that the men above him on this list do. He made his presence felt from pretty much every alignment you could think of this past season and is versatile enough for any sort of front you want to play.
Teams will no doubt be worried about his one-year wonder status. Elliott had played all of 484 snaps in his career prior to this season. We saw this dominance kick in toward the end of 2018 though when he put up grades of 90.8 (Tennessee) and 96.2 (Arkansas) in the last two games of the regular season.