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Ravens News 6/25: NFL’s top roster and more

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NFL: NOV 25 Ravens at Rams Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2020 NFL roster rankings for all 32 teams: Ravens are first, and Jaguars are last - Ben Linsey

1. Baltimore Ravens

Biggest strength: The Ravens’ rushing attack was so good in 2019 that they were the most efficient offense in the NFL according to expected points added (EPA) per play while running the ball at a higher rate than any other offense. In the modern NFL, that just isn’t supposed to happen. Lamar Jackson’s unique skill set as both a runner and passer is what makes that possible. His 47 carries with 5 or more yards before contact was eight more than any other runner in 2019, and his 42 missed tackles forced was over double the next-closest quarterback. Simply getting a hand on Jackson is easier said than done.

Biggest weakness: Despite how well the offensive line played in 2019, the interior offensive line stands out as one of the Ravens’ biggest weaknesses heading into the 2020 season. Marshal Yanda’s retirement after 13 consecutive seasons with a PFF grade of 80.0 or higher leaves a battle between unproven options at right guard. Meanwhile, Bradley Bozeman and Matt Skura hold tenuous claims to the left guard and center positions, respectively. Outside of Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. at tackle, there are questions about this group this season.

X factor for 2020: Baltimore’s addition of Calais Campbell is one of the biggest moves this offseason that has flown under the radar for some reason. He has picked up overall grades of 90.0 or higher in each of the past four seasons, dominating against the run and consistently bringing pressure at an above-average rate whether lined up on the inside or on the edge. Bringing one of the better defensive linemen in the NFL into the fold is only going to make what was a strong defense last season even better.

Calais Campbell ‘best 5-technique player in NFL’ for Ravens - Todd Karpovich

“You’ve got Calais Campbell, who’s the best five-technique in the National Football League, and you’ve got Derek Wolfe,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “You can work a combination of those guys. It all depends on how fast the younger guys come along. I just think that we’re better upfront. I think with ‘Big Baby’ [Brandon Williams] getting moved back to the ‘Nose’ – but he’ll still play three-technique. You know how we do it; we’ll move them all around. It’s going to be fun to watch. I just can’t wait to get together.”

“If you’re a run player, a run-type player, we’re going to get you out there when it comes to those situations. As a pass rusher, I think that we’ve got some flexibility,” Martindale said. “You’ve got Derek Wolfe [who] you can move inside. You can move Calais [Campbell] inside [or] outside. There’s just different flexibility that you have with everybody.

“We’ll see what we have with Justin [Madubuike]. I’m looking forward to it. The rookie minicamps – guys, you know it – it’s like Christmas Day for coaches. You can’t wait to see the new toys you have, and what they can do and how much fun it would be to put them in the package. That’s just been pushed back.”

‘Chasing Greatness’ Series Made Ravens’ Zoom Meetings Must-See Events - Ryan Mink

“We really wanted champions from all walks of life. They all had a common message, and that was cool; different eras, different sports, different arenas, and I think they all knocked it out. … I think we hit a home run with the speakers we had.”

Former World Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes

“Larry Holmes was awesome – the champ. The biggest thing he hit on is that … I don’t know how many of you are boxing fans – he was [former world heavyweight champion] Muhammad Ali’s sparring partner for five years. I tied this with the practice squad guys and the undrafted free agents, and those types of guys. He didn’t care if he got paid or not, he was learning from the greatest. So, he took every day that he went to work as a lesson. You know what he did – he eventually beat Ali. And he was quick to say – for all you boxing fans – that Ali was past his prime.”

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Calipari

“He’s one of the great personalities in sports. He talked about servant leadership, selflessness in pursuit of a common goal, and he challenged players. He talked about individual plays. He’s a fan of ours. He watches the Ravens.”

Former NBA champion and MVP Julius Erving

“‘Dr. J’ was awesome. He was awesome, because he gave a great perspective during the Civil Rights era – when he played and how he handled it. I thought that was good for the guys at the time. And we all know ‘Dr. J’ was – as I introduced him to the players – he was Michael Jordan’s Michael Jordan, if you will.”

Ravens alternate history: What if the Ravens knocked off the unbeaten Patriots in 2007? - Andrew Gillis

On Monday Night Football, the Ravens jumped out ahead of the Patriots with a Derrick Mason touchdown late in the first quarter and maintained control over the game for nearly the rest of the way.

The Patriots tied the score twice, but couldn’t rally any further to take a lead over the Ravens.

New England moved to the 13-yard line, when again it was bailed out by another penalty flag on a 4th down. Brady threw for tight end Benjamin Watson in the end zone and the pass fell incomplete, but a holding penalty committed on Watson gave the Patriots another first down.

On the ensuing play, Brady found Jabar Gaffney for a touchdown in the back corner of the end zone to give the Patriots a 27-24 lead.

But the drive had more controversy, too.

Outside linebacker Bart Scott was penalized for berating an official on the field. He launched the penalty flag into the stands, and thus received a second unsportsmanlike foul.

“It’s hard to go out there and play the Patriots and the refs at the same time,” Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister said after the game. “They put the crown on top and they want them to win.”

After a near-successful Hail Mary attempt, the Ravens officially fell to 4-8 on the season.