GREG ROMAN, BALTIMORE RAVENS
Geg Roman was the architect of the success of Colin Kaepernick‘s 49ers, and his second prominent act has been even better than his first. Lamar Jackson’s 787 regular-season rushing yards on designed runs were twice as much as any other quarterback last year, and he has statistical support in terms of helping running backs gain yardage on their carries, as well. The Ravens used pre-snap motion on almost three-quarters of their plays in 2019, surpassed only by San Francisco, and their play-action rate was among the league’s highest, as well.
The Ravens ranked just 28th in the league in wins above replacement generated by wide receivers, but they were in the top 10 in net yards per pass attempt, mostly by leaning on the ultra-valuable targets inside of the hash marks to tight ends (Ravens tight ends were collectively the most valuable in the league).
There’s always going to be questions regarding the sustainability of an offense that relies on the running game for success. Given the Ravens’ relatively easy 2020 schedule, we may not get the answers to these questions this year. But if anyone is up to the task, it might be Roman with the aid of Jackson.
Ravens’ Martindale can’t wait to unleash big, fast defense - David Ginsburg
‘’With the changes that we’ve made up front and the additions that we’ve made, we’re big where we’re supposed to be big and fast where we’re supposed to be fast,’’ Martindale said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters. ‘’We’re really excited to see the product in this next month getting ready for (the opener against) Cleveland.’’
The Ravens finally got the opportunity to get together on the field Wednesday after spending the first couple of weeks of camp getting tested for coronavirus, working in small groups and going over the playbook. All of it was necessary, but served only to whet Martindale’s hunger for seeing what his defense will look like when fully assembled.
‘’August 12th was a day I had circled on my calendar because we’re all on the same schedule now,’’ he said. ‘’You’re seeing the energy build.’’
‘’We’ll have the best 11 out there,’’ Matindale said. ‘’The NFL, like the NBA, is all about matchups. And right now, with the talent that we have, it’s a lot of fun.’’
Top 10 offensive-defensive duos in the NFL in 2020 - Gil Brandt
5. Baltimore Ravens
Offense: QB Lamar Jackson · Defense: CB Marlon Humphrey
I hope Jackson begins to get more credit for the passer he’s turning into. He’s so spectacular running the ball that it’s easy to forget he also led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes in 2019, against just six picks. Jackson’s touchdown percentage of 9.0 (on 401 passes) tied for the second-best single-season mark of the Super Bowl era among those with 400-plus pass attempts. Humphrey, meanwhile, set new personal high-water marks in interceptions (three), passes defensed (14) and fumble recoveries (three), two of which were returned for scores, snagging Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors in his third professional season. Humphrey and Marcus Peters comprise the NFL’s best cornerback duo.
Pick-six: Ravens challenged with how to keep Pro Bowl players - Jamison Hensley
Baltimore has once again become the NFL’s gold standard in drafting by selecting a league-best six Pro Bowl players since 2016, a list that includes reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr., tight end Mark Andrews, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and outside linebacker Matthew Judon. Now, those half-dozen rising stars will be seeking new contracts over the next two years.
“It’s virtually impossible,” said Mike Tannenbaum, ESPN’s front-office insider and former NFL executive for the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. “You have to get creative. You have to see if they can be selfless. It’s a good problem to have.”
Tannenbaum believes teams have to think outside the box when faced with this type of predicament. When Tannenbaum was general manager, he would sometimes call in the group of pending free agents and let them know it would be difficult to pay them at the top of the market even though each deserved it.
“One thing we can consider is possibly if you all take a little bit less, we can keep more of you,” Tannenbaum remembers telling players.
Another option is trading someone before his contract expires to get value, Tannenbaum suggested.