THE RAVENS WERE THE BEST TEAM IN 2020, BUT REPLICATION IS HARD
First of all, the Ravens were absolutely dominant in 2019. We see 14 win-seasons every other year, but Baltimore’s point differential of +249 ranks second to only the 2007 New England Patriots since 2006.
However, just by using base rates, replicating a strong season is hard to begin with. Since 2006, there have been 60 teams that managed a record of 12-4 or better; 19 of them — not even a third — were able to win at least 12 games in the following season, and 14 of these were quarterbacked by either Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. So, if they’re not quarterbacked by maybe the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, the teams simply haven’t been able to win that many games over the course of two seasons.
The base rates don’t get any better when looking at an even higher win total in the prior season. Teams that won 13 games went on to win at least 12 games the next season only 26% of the time. For 14-win teams, the rate was 29%.
LAMAR JACKSON, BALTIMORE RAVENS
Key stats: Three career game-winning drives (fourth-quarter scoring drives resulting in final lead change), 323 career rushing attempts (10.4 per game), 2.92 average seconds to throw (tied third-highest in 2019)
If you’re looking to poke holes in Jackson’s resume, you’d start with limited sample size and the fact Jackson played with a smothering defense all season; the Ravens’ defense allowed over 500 yards of offense in two of their first four games on the season and then never again allowed more than 347 yards again. Baltimore allowed under 250 yards of offense in half of its final 12 games and allowed only 300 yards of offense (and 83 passing yards) in its home postseason loss to Tennessee.
So, can Jackson be the clutch player in crunch time when his team needs him to put them on his back? We need more close contests to say for certain. His three career game-winning drives all resulted in field goals by kicker Justin Tucker, and they all came in underwhelming performances passing the football.
2019 Week 13: 49-yard field goal with 0:03 left vs. San Francisco (Jackson passed for 105 yards on the day)
2019 Week 5: 46-yard field goal in overtime vs. Pittsburgh (Jackson was sacked five times and threw three interceptions)
2018 Week 11: 24-yard field goal with 8:12 left versus Cincinnati (Jackson’s first career start)
But, to Jackson’s credit, his growth as a player really took off over the final eight games in 2019, where he posted seven games with a passer rating over 100 (the lone exception was that Week 13 contest vs. San Francisco) and passed for 25 touchdowns to just one interception.
50 Words or Less - John Eisenberg
I was surprised to discover that Pro Football Focus graded D.J. Fluker higher as a right tackle, where he spent his first two NFL seasons, than as a right guard, where he has spent the past five seasons. He’ll be a guard here but probably could play anywhere but center.
Interesting that linebacker Otaro Alaka and linemen Daylon Mack and Justin Madubuike lined up together as starters on Texas A&M’s defense in 2018. That unit ranked No. 3 nationally against the run and No. 32 in overall defense (up from No. 78 the year before) during a nine-win season.
Report: NFL Proposing Incentives for Hiring Minority Head Coaches in New Rooney Rule Changes - Jenna West
The NFL plans to propose multiple resolutions to team owners next week that would incentivize teams to hire more minority candidates as head coaches or general managers, according to NFL.com’s Jim Trotter.
If a team hires a minority head coach, it would move up six spots in the third round of the NFL draft before the hired coach’s second season with the team, under the proposal. The team would also jump up 10 spots in the draft for hiring a minority general manager. According to Trotter, the proposal suggests any club that hires a minority candidate as its quarterbacks coach would receive a compensatory pick at the end of the fourth round if it keeps that coach past one season.