Will there ever be another dominant NFL defense like the 2000 Ravens? Don’t count on it. - Mike Preston
“It’s an offensive-driven league and the league rules and how the game is officiated plays so much into the offense,” said [Marvin] Lewis. “You’ve got a defensive back running down the field for his life trying to cover this dude and he gets a little nudge by the receiver. People don’t realize how much that changes him in trying to defend. If it’s the same call on the other side, three flags are flown.”
“You coach defensive backs to run, stay on the top edge, use your athleticism and win the play,” said Lewis. “They’ve got to be able to run and jump, turn on them which is what [cornerbacks] Duane [Starks] and Chris [McAlister] did so well in our day. But they’ve got rules where you can’t put your hands on a receiver after a particular number of yards. They have penalties on roughing the passer, which has also changed the dynamics within a game.”
“The quarterback is the catalyst, there is no question,” said Lewis. “When you think of the quarterback run game, now it is 11-on-11 football, which has made a huge impact and the ability to stop it.”
“Seventy percent of what you are preparing for is against three wides [receivers],” said Lewis. “So, they changed the looks of the linebackers, guys who were smaller but faster and could cover. There was a need for guys who could play in substitute situations. There aren’t as many who can play every down like Micah Parsons in Dallas.
Anthony Levine Sr. On Former Ravens DC Wink Martindale: ‘He Embraced Us, We Embraced Him’ - Luke Jackson
Newly retired Ravens special teams ace and defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. loved playing for Don “Wink” Martindale, who was recently let go as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator, but Levine understands that movement is inevitable in the business of football.
“I think he’s one of the best coordinators in the league who deserves a head coaching job,” Levine said on Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 24. “… He let us be us, go out there and play ball. He’s aggressive. We love him. Unfortunately, the way this business is, things like that happen, maybe disagreements, whatever it may be. For us players, we love Wink. He was one of us. He embraced us, we embraced him.”
Regardless of any struggles in 2021, Martindale will be missed in the building. Levine compared Martindale leaving to Tony Jefferson, Matthew Judon and Eric Weddle moving on in past years.
“You make friends with these guys. We become family and then all the sudden the next chapter happens for them and for us,” said Levine, who is staying with the team in a scouting and coaching assistant role. “The roster’s not going to be the same next year as it was this year. It’s going to be new guys on the roster. There are going to be guys on the roster that made it last year that aren’t going to make it this year, so it’s the same thing. … Wink knows how much we love him, how much we care about him.”
“I know Baltimore has always been big on ‘next man up.’ So there’s no excuses when you lose people, you know, but those things do count,” Reed said on the Great Dane Nation podcast with Hall-of-Fame kicker Morten Andersen that appears on Vegas Insider. ”You do take a step back when you lose guys like Lamar Jackson, you know, that’s your motor. (Tyler) Huntley actually stepped in and did a decent job. The guys got to help him out, obviously catching the ball and stuff like that.
“Leadership matters. Look what Baltimore has done since Ray (Lewis) and I, Anquan (Bolding), Terrell Suggs and all those, Haloti Ngata, all of us left, maybe not left, but when we were not in the building after that, since 2013, I think they only won like one or two playoff games. Like the (Baltimore) Ravens haven’t done much,” Reed said. “I just know we were big pieces to that, you know, no matter what nobody says we were huge pieces to that. As much as people wanted us to be gone, you know, it takes the right guys in the locker room.
“The locker room is for the players. You know, the locker room is led by players. Coaches don’t lead grown men. It’s a partnership. You know, it’s truly a partnership when you get to the league.“
RB · Year 8
Baltimore lost running backs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill before the 2021 season even kicked off, requiring Ravens GM Eric DeCosta to comb the free-agent market for veteran replacements. In came Freeman, a running back who hadn’t done much to impress with the Giants in 2020 but found himself with an opportunity. Freeman capitalized, carrying the ball 133 times for 576 yards, posting his best per-carry average (4.3 yards) in a season with at least 100 attempts since 2017. Baltimore benefitted from Freeman’s relative resurgence, watching him gain 13 first downs against stacked boxes (per Next Gen Stats) and keeping its offense alive despite the losses. Freeman even scored a game-winning touchdown in Chicago that helped the Ravens stay in the playoff race at the time. Freeman’s far from the Pro Bowl talent he was in Atlanta, but he can still contribute, playing an important part in Baltimore’s banged-up offense in 2021.
Top prospect at every position at the 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl - Michael Renner
Diesch, ranked 70th overall on the PFF big board, is the top Shrine Bowl attendee on PFF’s board. He has some of the best feet in the tackle class with easy mirroring ability. He just needs to up his play strength, as he may not even tip the scales at 300 pounds.