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Ravens News 1/17: Pressures per Dropback and more

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NFL: DEC 05 Ravens at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Five things we learned from the Ravens’ 2021 season - Childs Walker

The defensive front needs fresh legs.

This is going to be an offseason of change for a defense that finished dead last against the pass and 28th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

They still finished first against the run, a testament to the enduring power of interior defenders Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams and the performance of younger edge setters such as Odafe Oweh and Tyus Bowser.

But the Ravens’ veteran-heavy plan for their defensive line did not pay off with anything resembling a healthy pass rush. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale called fewer blitzes (on 31.1% of dropbacks compared with 44.1% in 2020, per Pro Football Reference), seemingly to avoid placing too much burden on his inexperienced, injury-scrambled secondary. The Ravens, in turn, fell from fourth in pressures per dropback to 24th. They did not have the individual talent to make up for the lack of a schemed pass rush.

So what do the Ravens have going forward? A modestly priced one-year extension for Campbell would not be the worst idea, but he might retire. The Ravens cannot save much money by cutting Wolfe before June 1, but they might not want to deal with uncertainty he brought in 2021. They have little incentive to sign Williams, whose performance slipped at age 32. They will have to get Madubuike back on track, hope Broderick Washington builds on some promising moments from his second season and go shopping, both in the draft and free agency.

They cannot run it back for another season.

50 Words or Less - John Eisenberg

Why is cornerback above pass rusher on my list of needs for the Ravens? Due to injuries, their cornerbacks in overtime last Sunday were 33-year-old Jimmy Smith, rookie safety Brandon Stephens and Kevon Seymour, a practice-squad elevation. You always need way, way more cornerback depth than you think.

The need for cornerbacks doesn’t mean the need for pass rushers isn’t also pressing, especially after Tyus Bowser’s reported Achilles injury last Sunday. Adding that to the questions surrounding others at the position, it’s hard right now to pencil in anyone besides Odafe Oweh as a sure contributor in 2022.

Kevin Zeitler turns 32 in March and has 151 career starts, but the Ravens surely are thrilled he is under contract through 2023. He is durable, consistent, part of the O-line solution, loves it here. It’s too early to talk about an extension but I wouldn’t let him get away.

Clearly a point of focus, offensive holding penalties were up 36 percent across the league this season compared to 2020, according to the Associated Press. The Ravens exceeded that average spike by quite a bit, as their holding penalties rose by nearly 80 percent (from 14 to 25) this season.

Ravens Have Several Key Players That Are Unrestricted Free Agents - Todd Karpovich

Defensive end Calais Campbell

Outlook: Campbell was hindered by a thigh injury but consistently played at a high level. At age 35, he’s considering retirement.

Chance to Return: 50-50

Nose tackle Brandon Williams

Outlook: Williams was a key run-stopper and a stalwart on the defensive line. At age 32, the Ravens will like to get younger on the de-line.

Chance to Return: Not likely

Outside Linebacker Justin Houston

Outlook: Houston was a solid leader and produced 4.5 sacks, He’s 32 so his best football is behind him.

Chance to Return: Not Likely

Cornerback Anthony Averett

Outlook: He was placed on IR with a chest injury but is a solid player and Ravens need depth.

Chance to Return: Likely

Safety DeShon Eliott

Outlook: He has been plagued by injuries and the Ravens might look at other options at safety.

Chance to Return: Possible

Center Bradley Bozeman

Outlook: He made the effective switch from guard to center but might be able to find a more lucrative deal elsewhere.

Chance to Return: 50-50

3 Pivotal players the Ravens must re-sign in 2022 NFL free agency - Kendall Capps

FB Patrick Ricard

The fullback position in football has seemingly gone by the wayside. Well, outside of places like Baltimore and Philadelphia that is.

Patrick Ricard spent 13 games this season opening holes for whichever running back the Ravens had in there. That’s saying something, knowing the revolving door that was Baltimore’s backfield this season. Whether it was Latavius Murray, Ty’Son Williams, Devonta Freeman or Lamar Jackson, Ricard often led the way.

The Ravens finished the season 3rd in the NFL in rushing at just under 146 yards per game. That’s especially difficult when the passing game is not a significant threat. Ricard is not cheap for fullback standards, as he made almost $4 million in 2021, but he is well worth the price for this offense.

Ranking the top-10 NFL players to start a franchise with in 2022 - Anthony Treash

10. LAMAR JACKSON, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Jackson is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the game thanks to his athleticism: He has totaled 108 explosive runs of 10 or more yards since 2019 — 40 more than any other quarterback in that span. The dual-threat QB stresses defense and keeps them on their toes. Jackson hasn’t necessarily been a top-tier passer over the years, with passing grades of 82.5, 74.9 and 65.9 since 2019, but he has nailed the play-action concepts offensive coordinator Greg Roman dials up. He ranks eighth in passing grade with play-action since 2019 and owns the second-highest usage rate over that time at 35.1%.