Part of the allure of the NFL season is mystery. Teams may be stacked to the gills with talent, but it doesn’t guarantee success. Just ask the 18-1 New England Patriots.
Last week, the SB Nation NFL Show offered 10 things they want to happen in 2022. Taking that concept, here are things Ravens fans would want want to guarantee for the pending season.
The Egregiously Obvious
All of the options listed below will be obvious. Great success for the Ravens and joy. But, three top the list among the rest.
The Ravens win the Super Bowl
Of course, this is the dream for all 32 franchises; to lift the coveted Lombardi trophy. But low-hanging fruit is still worth picking.
The Ravens get healthy, and stay that way
Once more, it’s something we all desire. In fact, I think this one stretches not only to the Ravens, but to all franchises. The NFL is at its best when all the stars are on the gridiron.
Going back strictly to the Ravens, we all want to see left tackle Ronnie Stanley back pancaking pass rushers and a star-filled secondary gets 17 games with Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey.
The Ravens may desire this more, seeing as their adjusted games lost (AGL) according to Football Outsiders was 191.2 games, the most ever in their database. It remained so when prorated to 16 games.
Lamar Jackson signs a long-term deal before the season
It’s been the most talked about storyline this offseason. When’s Jackson going to sign? Does he want to stay with the Ravens? What’s the holdup? All of that would be silenced if news broke before training camp that Jackson and the Ravens have agreed to a long-term contract. It would take all the punditry away from what will be a long season of speculation where each game would see every good play from Jackson be met with “pay that man” and each bad game would be labeled “this is why the Ravens are hesitant.” Locking in a deal would be welcomed by the team, Jackson, and selfishly, the media.
As mentioned, most, if not all, will be obvious. But here’s everything else on the list.
Rashod Bateman breaks the wide receiver franchise record for receiving records
Excluding talk about Jackson, the topic most talked about regarding the Ravens is their wide receiver unit. Bateman breaking out and becoming the bona fide receiver he can be would be a brilliant response.
It won’t be easy, seeing as the Ravens’ offense is run-centric, but it’s far from impossible. The franchise record for receiving yards from a wide receiver is 1,201 yards, set by Michael Jackson in 1996. Last season, eight players eclipsed that mark, with one of them being tight end Mark Andrews. To do so, Bateman would need to average 70.6 yards over 17 games.
Bateman has the size, speed, hands and route-running to break such a record. Now, it’s about putting it all together.
Ravens are Top 5 in takeaways
Last season, the Ravens produced a total of 15 takeaways. By virtue of Peters alone, that number is expected to rise, but there needs to be a greater impact. If they were to be in the top five of last season, their numbers would need to nearly double, as the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tied for fifth-most last season with 29. Takeaways are critical; they always have been. It stops the opponent from any scoring opportunity and more often than not puts your offense in a scoring position. With the Ravens, it’s almost a certainty that after a takeaway, the Ravens are in kicker Justin Tucker’s range. Getting another 14 opportunities for the offense would be a seismic change.
The Ravens make it to the AFC Championship due to Lamar Jackson
Part of the criticism pundits have against Jackson is his playoff record. Be it fair or unfair, Jackson is 1-3 in the post-season. If the Ravens were to make the post-season not as the No. 1 seed, they’d play two games. How great it would be to have Jackson go off for multiple touchdowns in both games, and lead the team to victory. That record would quickly be .500, with a chance to have a winning record come the AFC Championship.
Ravens beat Bengals Week 18 in prime time
The final week of the regular season could be outstanding for the Ravens. Though it would be great to have the No. 1 seed locked up, I’d much prefer to see the Ravens head to Cincinnati for a prime time affair against the Bengals. With the division or more on the line, a much-needed therapeutic victory would be a feather in the Ravens’ regular season cap.
Both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards have big games
With Dobbins and Edwards returning from ACL injuries, it would be exciting to watch both bulldoze the competition for a game this season. Imagining both going off for 150+ yards and two scores would be a great return for the one-two combo they are.
Calais Campbell notches 100 career sacks
The baritone-voiced behemoth is back in Baltimore and stands 6.5 sacks away from the centennial sack mark. It would take a dominant season from defensive end going into year 15, but it would be awesome to see Campbell’s finally break triple digits.