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Ravens News 6/23: Flexible Defense and more

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Shannon Sharpe of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images

Ravens DC Mike Macdonald transitioning defensive philosophy with varied, flexible approach - Ted Nguyen

Martindale’s signature was heavy, aggressive blitzing with man coverage. At Michigan, Macdonald transitioned the defense from former defensive coordinator Don Brown’s man-heavy system to what was essentially a simpler version of Nick Saban’s and Kirby Smart’s man-match-heavy system, and as the season progressed, he added his own twists to it. However, he isn’t married to a particular scheme, and he has collaborated with the Ravens’ staff to develop a system that fits the strength of the players on the roster. Macdonald’s flexibility is likely one of the reasons he was chosen to replace Martindale, who stubbornly stuck with his aggressive scheme despite not having enough healthy corners to cover man-to-man at a high rate last season.

The Ravens will move away from playing so much man-to-man and will be more varied in their defensive approach. They’ll play more split safety (two-deep safety) coverages like quarters, Cover 6 (quarter, quarter, half) and Tampa 2 (two-deep zone). At Michigan, Macdonald didn’t blitz as much as Martindale, but there were games when he cranked up his aggression, like against Ohio State. But he used more simulated pressures, which are pressures in which the defense rushes four but with the fourth rusher coming from a second- or third-level defender instead of a defensive lineman, rather than bringing five or six at a high rate.

What Will Make 2022 Successful for Baltimore Ravens - Jack McKessy

Head coach John Harbaugh’s fifth AFC North title is well within reach, even in such a talented division. Given his strong reputation for developing players and maximizing their production, there’s plenty of reason to believe all of Baltimore’s incoming rookies will be successful this year and beyond.

There are so many reasons to be excited about the Ravens this season, which is why they’ll need to back up the hype once they take the field for 2022 to be successful. A strong return from Jackson and other injured players would set the Ravens up for both an impressive regular season and a sustained playoff run. Even after a rough 2021 season featuring a last-place finish, winning the AFC North and marking 2022 as a success in Baltimore is absolutely possible.

One burning question for all 32 NFL teams heading into the season - Jeff Zrebiec

With Marquise Brown traded to Arizona, how do you see the wide receiver targets and performance breaking down?

It always feels fruitless to predict a big fantasy season from a Ravens wide receiver, and this year is no different with tight end Mark Andrews still around and a run-oriented team expected to be healthier in the backfield. A 2021 first-round pick, Rashod Bateman figures to get the most wide receiver targets. The Ravens believe he’s ready to break out. Baltimore will likely add a veteran receiver at some point, but as of now, Devin Duvernay and James Proche are in line for increased opportunities. Proche has gotten limited playing time in his first two seasons. He’s a reliable slot target with good hands.

Re-drafting the 2020 NFL Draft: Justin Herbert joins the Commanders and the Detroit Lions take Justin Jefferson - Ben Linsey

28. BALTIMORE RAVENS: S XAVIER MCKINNEY

Original pick: LB PATRICK QUEEN

Queen was better in 2021 than he was as a rookie, and he brings the kind of range and athleticism that Baltimore wants at the position. However, there’s been enough negative plays through two seasons (30.2 PFF grade since 2020) to push him out of the first round in this re-draft.

At this point of the draft, Earl Thomas was still on the roster, but he wouldn’t make it to the start of the regular season. McKinney has shown himself to be a strong starting option at free safety for the Giants, ranking in the 75th percentile of all players at the position in PFF coverage grade from deep alignments. He would have been a quality addition to Baltimore’s secondary prior to the Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton additions this offseason.

All-time NFL tight end rankings: How Patriots, Buccaneers great Rob Gronkowski stacks up after retiring - Benjamin & Kerr

8. Ozzie Newsome

Teams: Cleveland Browns (1978-1990)

Before taking his football IQ to NFL front offices, where he led the Baltimore Ravens to two Super Bowl wins, Newsome was the total package at TE, both on and off the field.

7. John Mackey

Teams: Baltimore Colts (1963-1971), San Diego Chargers (1972)

5. Shannon Sharpe

Teams: Denver Broncos (1990-1999, 2002-2003), Baltimore Ravens (2000-2001)

Like a wide receiver playing tight end, Sharpe became the first player at his position to post more than 10,000 career receiving yards. He might also have the closest thing to Gronkowski’s postseason resume thanks to three Super Bowl rings and a pivotal role in each of those championship runs. Sharpe was productive until his retirement, recording at least 60 catches in nine of his final 10 NFL seasons, and he ranked among the league’s top pass catchers in his prime with three 1,000-yard campaigns.

Every NFL team’s best value draft picks since 2006 - Michael Renner

BALTIMORE RAVENS: OL MARSHAL YANDA, IOWA (86TH OVERALL IN 2007)

Look out for Yanda when PFF introduces its initial Hall of Fame class later this year. Hopefully, the Pro Football Hall of Fame follows suit in a few years, as he never earned a sub-80.5 overall grade during his 13-year career.