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Ravens News 5/20: Bullish Pass Rush and more

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NFL: DEC 12 Jets at Ravens Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Marty Mornhinweg: How Ravens Can Become ‘Unstoppable’ On Offense - Luke Jackson

“It’s just a little bit of philosophical adjustment, that’s all,” Mornhinweg said on Glenn Clark Radio May 17. “And you’ve got to practice it in the offseason, going into the season, preseason and in league games throughout the year so you’re fully equipped to overcome that 10- or 12- or 14-point deficit late in the game like they will be in two or three games, I would suspect, and they’ll get into one down the stretch and into the playoffs like has happened in the past couple of years.”

“I learned this when I was young from Steve Young — if you haven’t practiced it in league games, then what are the odds that you can do it down the stretch and into the playoffs?” Mornhinweg asked. “I think it’s very simple, though. I don’t think it’s a big move. I know this. It’s just a touch of an adjustment philosophically — just a touch. It doesn’t take much to get that passing game rolling.”

“I’m not saying they can’t win a Super Bowl doing just as they’re doing, but I think it’s very, very rare that that will happen,” Mornhinweg said, “because typically you are going to run into a team that shuts down your run game just a little bit where you’re not popping the big plays and all 22 eyes are on Lamar Jackson, all those things.”

“We did a heck of a job Lamar’s rookie year and went right to a young quarterback’s strengths, right? Well, they’re still playing directly to his top strengths,” Mornhinweg said. “They’ve got to open it up just a little bit. If they get that thing going, now they’re unstoppable.”

PFF Quarterback Rankings: All 32 starters ahead of the 2021 NFL season - Bruce Gradkowski

8. LAMAR JACKSON, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Regression is likely when coming off an MVP campaign, and we saw that from Jackson. The Ravens’ offense was less effective in the run game and the offensive line struggled at times this past season.

Still, Jackson continued to prove he is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL, if not the most. If the Ravens can help him out with a more efficient and effective pass game tied into their run concepts, then I would expect Jackson to get back to MVP form. Baltimore has a tough schedule ahead compared to last year, so Jackson will have to shoulder the load to prove he can take the Ravens back to the promised land.

Ravens, Browns Need Help in Trenches; Steelers Need DBs - Rob Weintraub

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Biggest Need: Offensive Line

The Ravens knew it would be hard to replace Marshal Yanda; they didn’t expect to have to replace Orlando Brown. The big man’s trade demands made that a reality, however, leaving tackle—a position of unmatched strength just two seasons ago—a large “maybe.” Alejandro Villanueva, whom tackle-challenged Pittsburgh was quite content to let walk, was signed to take over on the right side, with Tyre (Fire) Phillips there as depth. And we still don’t know how long it will take All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who tore an ACL last season, to return to full strength. The situation is dire enough that Baltimore brought in Andre Smith, who opted out in 2020 and hasn’t been useful in at least half a decade, as insurance.

The interior also has question marks. Bradley Bozeman was a center at Alabama but has played only guard in the NFL. He’s being moved back into the middle. Kevin Zeitler is still a competent right guard, but the only thing certain about the left side is that a guy named Ben will be the starter; whether that is Bredeson, Powers, or Cleveland remains to be determined. The first two Bens are gentle young vets who have shown little thus far, while the latter is this year’s big third-rounder from Georgia, whom the team hopes will seize the spot.

Ravens’ offseason additions: Creating depth and placing several veterans on notice ahead of training camp - Jeff Zrebiec

Ben Bredeson, G

Bredeson was active for 10 games as a rookie fourth-round pick last year, but he played less than 50 offensive snaps. While he’s been mentioned as a starting left guard candidate along with rookie Ben Cleveland and Ben Powers, Bredeson seems to be a long shot to win that role. The more realistic scenario is Bredeson competing with Patrick Mekari, Trystan Colon, Greg Mancz, Tyre Phillips, Andre Smith and Powers for the three or four reserve offensive line spots. Bredeson has ground to make up.

Jaylon Ferguson, OLB

Even after the re-signings of Pernell McPhee and Tyus Bowser and the drafting of Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes, there are defensive snaps available for the third-year outside linebacker. McPhee and Bowser haven’t been every-down guys for the Ravens and the defense is pretty complex, meaning that it could take time before Oweh and Hayes are ready to be major contributors. If Ferguson shows up in good shape and looks like a much-improved player, he’ll have a role. Ferguson, a 2019 third-round pick who has 4.5 sacks in his first two seasons, wouldn’t be the first Ravens edge rusher to break out in his third or fourth season. However, if Ferguson doesn’t make a good impression in the various workouts, it will only give the organization more incentive to sign a veteran pass rusher or to earmark more snaps for Oweh and Hayes. This feels like a make-or-break year for Ferguson.

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale Bullish on Young Linebackers, Pass Rush - Todd Karpovich

Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale can’t hide his enthusiasm for new outside linebacker Odafe Oweh.

“He’s only played football for five years,” Martindale said in a conference call with season ticket holders. “That’s why I’m talking about him being raw. There are things he does right now in practice that are better than what our veterans can do. And he’s just learning it, too. He doesn’t even have the technique perfected. But there are things that he does that he’s better than some of the veterans can do.

“And that’s what’s exciting about him. And on top of that, he’s a great person. He wants to be great, and he checks all those boxes. And I guarantee, he’s going to be on the quarterback. He’s going to hit the quarterback, so don’t worry about that.”