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Ravens News 6/18: Outlier seasons and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Gus Edwards Stays Ready to Roll - Clifton Brown

When the Ravens drafted running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round, it made their talented backfield even deeper. Baltimore has four running backs capable of being featured in their offense – Mark Ingram II, Justice Hill, Edwards and Dobbins, along with the NFL’s best running quarterback in Lamar Jackson.

“I was surprised because I thought he was like the best back in the class,” Edwards said during a Wednesday video conference call. “We definitely got better. It’s going to be difficult to do better than what we did last year, breaking the rushing record. But I think it’s a step forward. It’s a definite step towards that because he’s a great back. He’s going to make the competition that much better at running back.”

“We’re bringing back a lot of guys in the offense,” Edwards said. “We added more weapons. We’re going to be more familiar with the system. It’s just so much going for us. Lamar’s going to come back better, I trust that because he’s a hard worker. Everybody on the team pretty much has the right mindset. Guys want to win. I think it will make it that much easier for us. We set the standard very high last year but I have full confidence that we can build off of it.”

AFC North: Ravens, Steelers corner the market - Dale Lolley

CORNERBACK UNIT RANKINGS

Ravens — Marlon Humphrey, Peters, [Tavon] Young, Jimmy Smith, Anthony Averett

Steelers — Haden, Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Layne

Bengals — Jackson, Alexander, Waynes, Greg Maybin, Darius Phillips

BrownsDenzel Ward, Williams, Terrance Mitchell, Donnie Lewis Jr., Kevin Johnson

The Ravens get the edge here. Humphrey is the best corner in the division, and while Peters is a bit overrated — he gives up as many big plays as he makes — he’s still solid. The Ravens get Young back as their nickel corner after he missed all of last season. They’re deep enough that Smith, a longtime starter, has been pushed to being the No. 4 corner.

INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS

Humphrey

Ward

Nelson

Peters

Haden

Predicting each AFC team’s MVP in 2020: Baker Mayfield’s revival? - Dan Hanzus

Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson

QB · Year 3

Last year in this same exercise, I promised “one of these 32 players will be the NFL MVP in 2019.” I then began with Baltimore and Lamar Jackson, which, while hardly a brave prediction for the Ravens last June, certainly wasn’t the no-brainer selection it is now. (I very nearly wrote about Earl Thomas, which would have been ... bad.) Jackson could play another 15 years and never reach the historic greatness of his 2019 campaign, but even a season with lesser numbers — say, 62 percent completion percentage, 3,000 yards passing, 800 yards rushing and 35 total touchdowns — would be All-Pro production worthy of MVP consideration. Long story short: This guy is great and picking anyone else from the Ravens would be trying too hard.

PFF’s One-Year Wonder Team: The NFL’s best single-season outlier performances since 2006 - Ben Linsey

WR: KAMAR AIKEN, BALTIMORE RAVENS (2015) AND TERRELLE PRYOR SR., CLEVELAND BROWNS (2016)

Aiken played for five teams from 2011 to 2018, but his best seasons came with the Ravens. Of those three seasons, his best year by far came in 2015 after injuries to several of Baltimore’s top pass-catchers. Serving as Joe Flacco’s top option with 121 targets, Aiken brought in 75 passes for 944 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Few players moved the chains quite like he did that year. Aiken’s 53 first down receptions were 14th at the wide receiver position. That season didn’t lead to anything, though, as he caught just 29 passes in 2016 and had little success in subsequent stops with the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles.

Ravens alternate history: What if the Ravens had lost to the Titans in the 2000 playoffs? - Andrew Gillis

Anthony Mitchell blocked a 37-yard field goal attempt and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown to give the Ravens a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. And with just under seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Ray Lewis intercepted a deflected pass that went off George’s arms and returned it for a touchdown. It was one of the most famous plays of the Ravens’ Super Bowl run that season and one of the highlights of Lewis’ Hall of Fame career.

But what if that game had swung the other way?

The easiest place to find the pivot point is Mitchell’s 90-yard return. If Al Del Greco, who was 7-of-8 from in-between 30 and 39 yards that season, had made that field goal, the Ravens would’ve trailed 13-10 and needed some quick points in the fourth quarter.

How likely that would’ve been is clearly lost to history, but it’s important to note that quarterback Trent Dilfer was 5-of-16 for 117-yards passing that day. Jamal Lewis had just 47 yards on 17 carries on the ground. Essentially, the Ravens weren’t going to score that game unless the defense or special teams put them in a position to do so, or simply did it themselves.