Harbaugh, Ravens Managing Expectations for Potential Huge Season - Todd Karpovich
“Mark [Andrews] said it coming off the field here, ‘Every game in the National Football League is a massive challenge,’” Harbaugh said “Every game, all teams bring everything they’ve got, and they’re all very talented teams. You have to be your best – and it’s not just being your best in terms of being fired up, or being emotionally ready or being tough – you have to be at your best execution-wise. You have to be on point, you have to be sharp in order to win the game.
“You have to play winning football, and that’s a challenge every single week. So, I think the guys understand the magnitude of the challenge every single week.”
“The openers are always different,” Harbaugh said. “The opener is the opener, and you never really know where you’re at until you play the first real game. You get a sense in the preseason a little bit, but until you line up against somebody for real, you don’t really know where you’re at. Then, you kind of go from there, and all of a sudden, things are going fast. So, they’ll be doing things that we haven’t practiced for that they’ve been practicing. We’ll be doing things for sure that they haven’t seen that we’ve been practicing.
“That’s just the way openers are. Really, the first few weeks of the season are like that, then everybody kind of settles down into what they are. So, we have our work cut out for us – so do they. It’s an opener.”
Center Tyler Linderbaum
Best-case scenario: Linderbaum has a Creed Humphrey-like rookie year and emerges as one of the NFL’s best centers. His quickness and technique open up the Ravens’ zone-running game. Despite his size, he holds his own against the bigger nose tackles on the Ravens’ schedule. And, maybe most importantly, every shotgun and pistol snap he delivers to quarterback Lamar Jackson is catchable.
Worst-case scenario: Linderbaum’s Lisfranc (foot) sprain limits his effectiveness or, worse, sidelines him for part of the season. His smaller frame and limited wingspan makes him an easy target for bull-rushing nose tackles. There are growing pains as he adjusts from Iowa’s traditional, under-center offense to the Ravens’ diverse playbook and shotgun-heavy approach.
Defensive tackle Travis Jones
Best-case scenario: Jones overcomes his preseason knee injury to play early and often on a deep defensive line. He’s stout enough against the run to stand in for Michael Pierce as a two-gap nose tackle and explosive enough to earn snaps on passing downs. Jones finishes the season with a handful of sacks, raising hopes that he could be the Ravens’ answer to Cameron Heyward. Teammates quit ribbing him about Connecticut football.
Worst-case scenario: Jones’ knee sprain lingers throughout the season, limiting his playing time and hurting his development. His strength can’t compensate for his inconsistent technique, and he gets stuck behind Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington in the competition for interior pass-rush snaps.
The Ringer’s 2022 QB Rankings - Steven Ruiz
8. LAMAR JACKSON
A ONE-MAN OFFENSE who needs a little more refinement as a pocket passer before we can call him elite.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: CREATIVITY
Lamar breaks the creativity scale. He is a one-man offensive starter pack. The Ravens haven’t surrounded him with a lot of star talent—the man won a unanimous MVP with Willie Snead as his top wideout—yet Baltimore’s offense has never been below average with no. 8 out on the field. Jackson’s running ability is a big reason why, but don’t sleep on his creativity as a passer. He knows how to manipulate a defender to open up a void in zone coverage, and he can throw from any arm angle. As long as Lamar is upright, he’s capable of creating a big play at any time.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: PRE-SNAP
Jackson is much harder to defend than some of these anonymous defensive coaches will have you believe, but there is one strategy that has consistently worked against the 25-year-old: blitzing the ever-loving shit out of him. Lamar doesn’t get much help from offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s play-calling, but he could help himself out by doing a better job of solving protection issues and finding exploitable matchups before the ball is snapped. Until then, he’ll have to deal with the all-out blitzes.
NFL team previews 2022 - Jamison Hensley
Preseason power ranking: No. 9
Breakout player: Odafe Oweh, OLB
A first-round pick from a year ago, Oweh was the Ravens’ best defensive player in training camp, using his quickness to repeatedly get into the backfield. He is coming off a rookie season in which he recorded five sacks in his first 11 games before a shoulder injury limited his effectiveness. Oweh is primed to become the first Ravens defender to record double-digit sacks since Terrell Suggs in 2017.
Injury to watch: Ronnie Stanley, OT
The most important comeback for Baltimore is Stanley, who was a first-team All-Pro left tackle in his last full season in 2019. He has missed 28 of the past 29 games because of an injured left ankle. When Lamar Jackson was the NFL MVP in 2019, he played behind one of the league’s best offensive lines. When Jackson threw a career-worst 13 interceptions last season, he received lackluster protection from his blockers up front. The success of the line hinges on Stanley, who was activated from the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 26.
Describe the QB situation in three words: Betting on himself
It looks like Lamar Jackson will decline the Ravens’ offers for a contract extension and play out the final year of his rookie contract. Ten years ago, Joe Flacco chose not to sign an extension with Baltimore entering his fifth season, just like Jackson. Flacco went on to win a Super Bowl and parlayed that championship into becoming the NFL’s highest-paid player. Could history repeat itself?
NFL picks, predictions for Week 1: Rams fend off Bills to begin Super Bowl defense; Raiders, Browns earn upsets - Bill Bender
Baltimore Ravens (-7) at New York Jets
The Joe Flacco revenge game is here. The Jets quarterback will get a shot at his old team, and New York has a few impressive rookies in Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner. Lamar Jackson, however, is in prove-it mode around an offense that has enough playmakers to make a run in the AFC. Baltimore has won nine of the last meetings against the Jets.
Pick: Ravens 30, Jets 22