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Ravens News 6/30: Vulnerable Spots and more

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Baltimore Ravens Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Matthew Stafford to the Rams. Julio Jones to the Titans: The best offseason move for all 32 NFL teams - Jeff Zrebiec

Baltimore Ravens

It wasn’t a sexy move and it happened on the eve of the free-agent market opening, so it didn’t even draw a lot of attention. However, the signing of veteran guard Kevin Zeitler was a significant move. The Ravens failed to replace retired right guard Marshal Yanda with an accomplished veteran the previous offseason and it proved problematic. Zeitler is 31 now and he may not be the same player he was in Cincinnati and Cleveland, but he’s still a solid and reliable performer. He should stabilize the interior of the offensive line and benefit from the Ravens’ offensive line-friendly schemes.

The NFL’s most vulnerable spots: 16 teams that have depth issues behind their stars, including the Cowboys, Titans, Bucs - Bill Barnwell

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Next up: Trace McSorley, Tyler Huntley

The Ravens have had brief glimpses into life without Jackson over his first two-plus years as a starter; Robert Griffin was forced into overtime for a game against the Chiefs during Jackson’s rookie campaign, and we saw three different backups throw passes for the Ravens last season.

Griffin was the primary player off the bench for Baltimore, but if the Ravens lost Jackson this season, they would be forced to turn to McSorley as their new quarterback. The former Penn State QB was 3-for-10 last season. One of those passes was a 70-yard touchdown to Marquise Brown, although Brown did most of the work on the play.

2021 NFL season: Predicting each AFC team’s MVP - Dan Hanzus

Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson

QB · Year 4

Lamar Jackson’s “down” 2020 season would be a dream year for many other quarterbacks. He finished his third pro campaign with 33 total touchdowns, while becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. He didn’t reach the dizzying highs of his MVP campaign in 2019, but let’s not agonize over a falling star in Baltimore. Spinning forward, there’s reason to think Jackson will make the leap as a passer in 2021. The Ravens opened up their checkbook to import eternally 28-year-old veteran Sammy Watkins, then used their first-round pick on Minnesota standout Rashod Bateman. Both were wise moves that should also help Marquise Brown, miscast as a No. 1 receiver in 2020. With superior weapons, Jackson will be back in the league MVP conversation come December.

Wiggle while you work: Rashod Bateman turning heads with Ravens - Jamison Hensley

Then, Bateman showed why he was a first-round pick by hitting Humphrey with an impressive move and even more impressive trash talk. After catching the ball, Bateman ran out of bounds and tapped the Pro Bowl cornerback on the backside.

“I’ve got a little wiggle too,” Bateman told him.

Bateman’s don’t-back-down attitude in addition to his polish already has generated hope that he’ll become the first bona fide No. 1 receiver ever drafted by the Ravens, and it’s only been two months since Baltimore selected him No. 27 overall.

What jumps off the tape with Bateman is how pro-ready he is. The Ravens have drafted faster receivers. They’ve drafted bigger. But it looks like Bateman comes to Baltimore with the most savvy.

He’ll use a stab move off the line to gain separation and create a clear throwing window for the quarterback. He’ll use a stutter-step to freeze the defensive back before running a fade. He’ll constantly help his quarterback by working his way back to the ball.

“He runs just about every route at a professional level,” Ravens wide receiver Sammy Watkins said. “I think he’s a very special wide receiver; he just has to put it together.”

Lamar Jackson’s Top Five Career Wins With Ravens - Todd Karpovich

3. Oct. 20, 2019, Seattle Seahawks, CenturyLink Field, Seattle

Ravens 30, Seattle Seahawks 17

Summary: Jackson ran for 116 yards and a touchdown and even inspired a play call in a hard-fought, impressive win at Seattle. With 1:24 left in the third quarter and the game tied at 13, the Ravens faced a fourth-and-2 at the Seahawks’ 8-yard line. coach John Harbaugh then sent the field goal unit from the sideline. As he came off the field, Jackson told the coach, “Let’s go for it.” Harbaugh called a timeout, and Jackson rewarded the decision to “go for it” with an 8-yard touchdown run through the right side of the line for a 20-13 lead. Jackson then directed a 13-play, 86-yard, 9-minute drive that ended with a K Justin Tucker 22-yard field goal.

Ranking the NFL’s 10 best coaching matchups on the 2021 regular season schedule - John Breech

2. Reid vs. John Harbaugh (Week 2: Chiefs at Ravens)

You could make the argument that this matchup should be at the top of the list, but we’re not going to put it there until John Harbaugh can figure out how to beat Andy Reid. The Ravens and Chiefs have met a total of four times since Reid was hired by the Chiefs in 2013 and Harbaugh has come out on the losing end in each of those games. Having Lamar Jackson as his quarterback hasn’t even helped Harbaugh, who’s 0-3 against the Chiefs WITH Jackson. Harbaugh is absolutely one of the best coaches in the league, but Baltimore is going to have a tough time getting back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2012 if Harbaugh can’t figure out a way to beat the Chiefs. This matchup is especially juicy because Harbaugh actually coached for nine years under Reid. During Reid’s time in Philadelphia, Harbaugh served as the special teams coordinator from 1999 until 2007. Harbaugh finally left in 2008 when he was hired to become coach of the Ravens.