Ravens’ new defensive ‘dynamic duo’ key to Super Bowl mission - Jamison Hensley
Since Lamar Jackson took over as the Ravens’ starting quarterback midway through the 2018 season, Baltimore has lost five of 24 games (including playoffs).
The only team to beat the Ravens twice over that span was the Chiefs, who totaled seven touchdowns, 945 yards and 60 points. Baltimore’s last loss came in the AFC divisional playoffs versus the Titans, who ran for 217 yards, the fourth-highest total allowed in Ravens history.
Baltimore’s offseason response: revamp the front seven. After adding defensive end Calais Campbell and defensive tackle Derek Wolfe in free agency, the Ravens then selected one of the fastest linebackers in the draft in the first round and one of the biggest in the third. With Queen and Harrison, Baltimore teams a new-age defender with an old-school one.
“You get the best of both worlds with both me and Patrick,” Harrison said. “He’s the lighter one [at 229 pounds], and I’m the heavy linebacker [at 247 pounds]. So, it’s like a one-two punch.”
Baltimore inked outside linebacker/defensive end Chauncey Rivers out of Mississippi State on Monday. The 6-foot-2, 262-pound Rivers went to the NFL Scouting Combine, which is a sign that he was considered a draftable prospect.
Rivers was a highly-touted high school recruit who stayed home with SEC powerhouse Georgia, but he spent only one season (2015) there before being dismissed for reported multiple marijuana arrests.
Rivers returned to the field in 2018, spent one year as a key reserve, then became a starter as a senior and led Mississippi State with eight tackles for loss and five sacks.
He has top-notch athleticism and plays with an edge. There is a good opportunity for him to be groomed into an intriguing pass rush option considering a lack of current depth at the position.
Christian McCaffrey, Michael Thomas on 2020 NFL All-Paid Team - Anthony Holzman-Escareno
Full contract: Four-year, $20 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $12.5 million (62.5 percent)
2020 cap hit: $5.1 million (2.6 percent) | 2020 cash: $3.5 million
Justin Tucker is the most accurate kicker in NFL history (90.8 percent) and has made the Pro Bowl in three of the last four seasons. The Ravens rightfully made him the NFL’s highest-paid player at his position.
Running backs: HB Jamal Lewis and FB Vonta Leach
Ray Rice might have been a more complete player, but Lewis was simply a beast. At 5 feet 11 and 245 pounds, he put fear into opposing tacklers. Not only could Lewis run through you, but he also had enough speed to turn the corner. Once he got his shoulder pads squared at the line of scrimmage, it was like tackling a runaway 18-wheeler going downhill. He rushed for 2,066 yards in 2003 and was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. Lewis rushed for 7,801 yards on 1,822 carries during his six years on the field (he missed 2001 because of a knee injury) with the Ravens and ran for a then-NFL-record 295 yards in a 2003 game against the Browns. He controlled the game and was a great finisher. Leach had tough competition from Sam Gash, but Leach liked to run through his blocks. It seemed like a pleasure to him.
Offensive line: LT Jonathan Ogden, LG Edwin Mulitalo, C Wally Williams, RG Marshal Yanda, RT Michael Oher
Because of size, speed and athleticism, Ogden has no peer and was more technically proficient than anyone he played against. It’s hard picking a left guard. Ben Grubbs was perhaps the best athlete to play that spot for the Ravens and could make blocks into the second level, but the nod goes to Mulitalo, who was a mauler. Matt Birk was a fan favorite at center, but Williams was better and certainly more powerful and agile. At right guard, it’s Yanda. He was a grinder who could beat opponents with finesse or physically knock them off the ball. The Ravens have struggled finding a right tackle, but the best and most consistent was Michael Oher.