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Ravens News 7/18: Next Step and more

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Ranking NFL’s top 10 quarterback-coach duos for 2022: Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid retake No. 1 spot - Jeff Kerr

6. Lamar Jackson/John Harbaugh — Baltimore Ravens

Easy to forget what Jackson and Harbaugh accomplished heading into December last season. The Ravens were 8-3 and atop the AFC before not winning another game and missing the postseason entirely. Jackson only missed one game in that stretch (non-COVID illness) and played the next two games with a bone bruise in his ankle before he was unable to play the rest of the year. The Ravens were 8-5 and leading the AFC North as the No. 4 seed when Jackson was shut down.

The Jackson-Harbaugh combination is one of the best in the NFL, regardless if the pair has just one playoff win together in their three-and-a-half seasons.

All Baltimore has done is win since Jackson became the starting quarterback in Week 11 of the 2018 season, as the Ravens are 37-12 during that stretch. Jackson is also the first quarterback in NFL history to reach 35 regular season wins before the age of 25.

Jackson recorded at least 200 passing yards and 50 rushing yards in seven games in 2021, tying Randall Cunningham (1990) for the most such performances in NFL single-season history (he also accomplished the feat in 2019).

Harbaugh has an impressive resume as a head coach, going 137-88 (.609 win percentage) in his 14 seasons — the third-longest tenure in the league with one team. His eight playoff wins on the road are the most in NFL history, and his 11 playoff victories are tied for fifth-most in NFL history through a coach’s first 14 seasons. The 11 playoff wins since 2008 trail only New England for the most in the NFL.

Last season was Harbaugh’s first losing campaign since 2015, but don’t bank on that again. With a healthy Jackson, the Ravens should be Super Bowl contenders. Jackson and Harbaugh need to take that next step.

The Chip on Lamar Jackson’s Shoulder Seems to Be Growing - Ryan Mink

I like Jackson playing with a chip. He’s never been lacking drive, but Jackson has played some of his best football when his critics have been their loudest. I’ll never forget him kicking off the 2019 season by shredding the Dolphins and proclaiming “not bad for a running back.”

One of the most interesting notes in Warren Sharp’s 2022 Football Preview is the Ravens’ strength of schedule compared to last year. It’s significantly easier in terms of passing offenses that Baltimore’s defense will face. A loaded secondary could feast. Baltimore’s offense, however, will face much stiffer passing defenses.

I’m not convinced that the Ravens are done adding pieces to their defensive front. Bringing back Justin Houston seemed almost like a formality, but the Ravens still reportedly worked out Jason Pierre-Paul and he remains unsigned. Baltimore could still use another pass-rushing defensive end but doesn’t have much cap space.

Baltimore’s offensive line has excess, however. Assuming Ronnie Stanley is healthy, it has a chance to return to near 2019 levels of dominance. Plus, the much improved depth will leave the Ravens in much better position if/when (knock on wood) they suffer injuries, because they always happen on the line.

Good, Bad, and Ugly of Ravens 2022 Schedule - Todd Karpovich

The Good

In addition to their division schedule, Baltimore gets to play the AFC East and NFC South, which is a mixed bag with talent. The Ravens also avoid the Kansas City Chiefs for the first time in four years. As a result, Baltimore should have a good opportunity to get back into the playoffs.

The Bad

The Ravens face some stern tests in late September through October with games against the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, just two of those games are on the road — Patriots and Buccaneers. The Ravens also have to play Tom Brady and Tampa Bay on a short week. It’s not an ideal scenario. If the Ravens can get through that stretch successfully, they’ll be in good shape for the postseason.

4 scapegoats if things go wrong for the Ravens in 2022 - Kristen Wong

Rashod Bateman, WR, Ravens

Rashod Bateman’s 2022 season will either be labeled as a massive success or massive disappointment, and there is no in-between.

As the current No. 1 wideout, Bateman shares the weight of the team’s passing offense on his shoulders with Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews and will be expected to finish, at the very least, as the leader of the Ravens’ wide receiver corps.

With Jackson starting under center again, Bateman has no excuse not to break out. If he doesn’t experience a major improvement in production and consistency from 2021, he’s an obvious scapegoat for Baltimore’s offensive woes.

Of course, the finger could also bend towards Eric DeCosta and the front office for not securing extra wide receiver help this offseason, but nonetheless, Bateman needs to find success in his second year or else creep closer and closer to the cliff that’s labeled “mega draft bust.”

Browns rivals: 3 most dangerous non-quarterbacks on Ravens - Jacob Roach

Baltimore Ravens’ most dangerous player No. 1- Marlon Humphrey, cornerback

The Ravens’ secondary was one of the most hard-hit positions in 2021 as far as injuries go which really made the unit struggle at times. When healthy and on the field cornerback Marlon Humphrey is one of the best corners in the entire NFL not just in the AFC North. Last season Humphrey allowed just a 53.6 completion percentage when he was targeted in coverage.

He is an in-your-face physical corner that just frustrates wide receivers and often shuts them down all game long. He isn’t a one-trick pony either, he is a good factor in the run game as well, making him a really well-rounded player for Baltimore.

Humphrey has the luxury of playing on a defense that has help around him and allows him to focus on his assignment. Having added Kyle Hamilton behind him I think that Humphrey will likely play freer and have his best season so far in his career.