The Ravens are 1-3 in the postseason since Jackson, the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2019, became the starter. In those games, they have allowed 20 sacks and collected only five. That’s a difference-maker, too.
Oweh, a 2021 first-round pick out of Penn State, has done everything necessary to have a breakout season. He is bigger, stronger and faster and now has an assortment of moves to complement his explosive speed.
The ideal combination would be to have him on one side, and Ojabo, a 2022 second-round pick out of Michigan, on the other. Unlike Oweh, Ojabo already has a full arsenal of moves.
Houston, 33, has 102 career sacks, fourth-most among active players. He isn’t the game-wrecking force he used to be, finishing last season with just 4 1/2 sacks, but he’s usually one of the last guys leaving practice because of his work with Oweh.
Bowser, in his sixth season, is a late bloomer. The former Houston standout has never been flashy, but solid and dependable. The right term is “grinder.”
He’ll play solid technique on the outside and has excelled the past two seasons in pass coverage. Last year, he set single-season career highs in tackles (59), tackles for loss (eight), sacks (seven) and quarterback hits (15) and added two forced fumbles. The Ravens need his steady presence.
The Ravens had the league’s No. 1 run defense last year but only recorded 34 sacks, tied for seventh-fewest in the NFL.
Baltimore Ravens coach says J.K. Dobbins’ quickness ‘is kind of back’ - Jamison Hensley
“J.K. has looked better every day,” Harbaugh said. “His quickness is kind of back.”
Harbaugh said the addition of Drake improves the Ravens’ backfield and is not a reflection of Dobbins’ status.
“We’ve been known to run the ball a little bit,” Harbaugh said. “So you get a running back out there who fits what we do — a talented guy who wants to be here — we feel like it was a good move for us.”
Ranking the NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2022: Ravens top list, Panthers could surprise - John Breech
1. Baltimore Ravens
2021 record: 8-9
Odds to win AFC North: +140
In what might be an NFL first: The Ravens are actually FAVORED to win the AFC North one year after their last place finish. That reason alone made it easy to put the Ravens at the top of this list.
The thing about Baltimore is that their 8-9 record in 2021 was arguably impressive when you consider how many players they lost to injury. I could try and list them all here, but I don’t think there’s enough bandwidth on the entire internet to go through every name. Not only did they lose Lamar Jackson for five games, but they also lost key starters like cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, along with running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.
Now that everyone’s healthy, the oddsmakers like Baltimore’s chances of making the playoffs and I have to say, I agree with them
Fun fact: The Ravens have gone worst-to-first exactly once in franchise history. The lone occasion came in 2006 when they won the AFC North one year after a disastrous 2005 season where they went 6-10.
Super Bowl fun fact: Of the 27 teams that have gone worst-to-first since 2002, only four have made them have made the Super Bowl, so although it’s possible, it’s definitely not likely.
Votes: 10-11-3-4-3 | Avg: 6.2 | Median: 4
Look at that canyon between the highest (third) and lowest (11th) votes for the Ravens. There’s a feeling among some that Baltimore has peaked and could be losing ground in a difficult conference, without a means for expanding an offense that opponents increasingly have figured out. Baltimore’s median vote was much better than its average vote.
“They’ll win their division,” one of the voters predicted. “I don’t know where Joe Burrow is (health-wise). Deshaun Watson will miss the first 11 games, and I don’t know where he’s at overall after the layoff. I don’t know where the quarterback in Pittsburgh is. So I’m saying Baltimore may be the best team in that division with an easier schedule. Are the Ravens the third-best team in the conference? They are in better position than some of those AFC West teams even if they are not as good.”
If the Ravens cannot manufacture an elite rushing attack because of their line and/or running back situation, then what?
“They have no skill players at all other than Mark Andrews,” the voter who ranked the Ravens 11th in the AFC said. “Who is Lamar (Jackson) going to throw to? All right, you are going to be a running team. That’s great, except your line is not that good. That said, the 11th-best team in the AFC would probably be the fifth or sixth team in the NFC.”
How Russell Wilson’s Extension Affects Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, And Justin Herbert - Dallas Robinson
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
No one seems to know exactly what Lamar wants, and given that he’s acting as his own agent, there haven’t been any meaningful leaks to the media. Jackson intends to table extension talks if a deal isn’t worked out before Week 1.
Meanwhile, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is one of the few league executives to go on record about Watson’s contract with the Browns.
“I don’t know that he should’ve been the first guy to get a fully guaranteed contract,” Bisciotti said in March. “To me, that’s something that is groundbreaking, and it’ll make negotiations harder with others.”
Historically, the Ravens have been willing to offer significant guaranteed money in exchange for a reduced average annual value. However, there’s a line between “significant guarantees” and “fully guaranteed,” and Bisciotti didn’t sound like he’s ready to cross that barrier.
Wilson’s extension didn’t do Jackson any favors. While his $49 AAV is second in the league behind Aaron Rodgers, Wilson didn’t come anywhere near a fully guaranteed contract. If that’s what Jackson is aiming for, his argument just got a little weaker.