On Sunday against the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens fans watched a movie that they’ve seen many times before. The plot? Multiple injuries to key players overshadowing what otherwise would’ve been celebrated as a solid victory.
During the game, standout players J.K. Dobbins, Marcus Williams, Ronnie Stanley, and Tyler Linderbaum all had to leave the field. Dobbins, who appeared to be back to 100% after his gruesome preseason knee injury in 2021, tore his Achilles and will miss the remainder of the season. Per Head Coach John Harbaugh, safety Marcus Williams has a pectoral injury that might not cost him the season, but will keep him out for an extended period of time. To top it off, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum, two of Baltimore’s best linemen, are week-to-week with knee and ankle injuries, respectively.
While many fans and pundits took to the internet to express their pessimism over the remainder of the 2023 season, it is important to note three things:
- Stars Mark Andrews and Marlon Humphery should be returning soon from injuries that kept them sidelined in Week 1. Outside of Lamar Jackson, the argument could be made that Andrews and Humphery are Baltimore’s two best players and getting them back will be a huge boost to the team.
- The injuries to Stanley, Linderbaum, and Williams don’t appear to be season-ending. While losing these players certainly hurts, the first half of the Ravens’ schedule is noticeably easier than the second half. The team would much rather have those players healthy for key games against the 49ers, Dolphins, Bengals, and Chargers than games against the Cardinals, Colts, and Titans.
- Of all the teams in the NFL, the Ravens are more well-equipped to handle the loss of starters than any other. While the number of injuries the team has endured over the past few years compared to others seems unfair and bizarre, the Ravens have functioned without Dobbins, Stanley, and Williams for a majority of the last two years. The Ravens will certainly miss the production and talent that each of these players offer but in the meantime, their replacements have plenty of experience filling in. Justice Hill and Gus Edwards played very well filling in for Dobbins last year and the same can be said for safety Geno Stone and Patrick Mekari, who is one of the better swing linemen in the NFL.
Although the front half of the schedule seems more manageable, the Ravens still have key divisional games coming up and the pressure now falls on quarterback Lamar Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Every team loses players throughout the season, however, the ones with great quarterbacks are typically able to power through and find a way to win games. Fortunately for Baltimore, they just signed theirs to what was at the time, the largest contract in NFL history.
Although the injuries to the offensive line and running back position could hinder the offense, the Ravens still have a dangerous arsenal of receivers that should allow them to score points and keep games close. Mark Andrews will return and Zay Flowers is already looking like a star, even after one week. Wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman should also continue to get back into game form after both have missed extended time the last two years.
Jackson has carried far less talented teams to success before. Now it’s time for the former MVP and his new offensive coordinator to play and call their best games to put the team in a position to make a playoff run when injured players return.