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Ravens News 1/4: Big Brother

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NFL: NOV 16 Bengals at Ravens Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How Ravens QB Lamar Jackson built an MVP-worthy season — as a passer

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

Extended drop-backs

Fourteen quarterbacks have attempted at least 20 passes this season on drop-backs of five-plus seconds, according to TruMedia. Jackson (58.6%) is the only one who’s completed more than 50% of those passes. He’s one of just four who’s completed even 40% of those passes.

Overall, Jackson is 17-for-29 for 285 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on extended drop-backs, averaging a stellar 0.20 expected points added per attempt. (The league-average EPA for quarterbacks on throws after at least five seconds is minus-0.08 per drop-back.)

Outside the numbers

As Jackson’s passing ability has evolved, so has his actual range as a passer. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson has thrown a career-high 44.4% of his passes outside the numbers this season. During his MVP season in 2019, when the Ravens’ passing offense relied heavily on passes over the middle of the field, just 36.9% of his attempts went there.

Under pressure

Under-pressure throws are not part of a recipe for offensive efficiency. But Jackson has handled them just fine this season. He’s fifth in the NFL among qualifying quarterbacks in EPA per pressured attempt, having completed 67 of 132 passes (50.8%) for seven touchdowns and one interception. He also leads the NFL in yards per attempt (8.7) on pressured throws.

Odell Beckham Jr.’s impact on Ravens transcends his show-stopping catches: ‘His leadership has been outstanding’

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

His locker is next to Zay Flowers, who said that Beckham has helped guide him through the rigors of NFL life, a benefit that’s helped him accumulate the fourth most yards (858) and catches (77) among rookie receivers along with five touchdowns. Inside linebacker Patrick Queen, meanwhile, has referred to him as a “big brother.” And while the Baltimore locker room is bursting with big personalities, no one sets the vibe and mood quite the way Beckham does, from corn hole games to dance moves to imparting the know-how to get where the rest of his teammates want to go.

“The leadership part is really good; his leadership has been outstanding,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a real relational-type leader. He’s been there, he’s done that. He’s been in these big games. He’s had great success. He knows what it takes, so I do think he’s with the guys, and he encourages guys really well. He’s [a] really encouraging kind of leader.

“The other part of it, though, is his ability to make plays. To me, he’s a major factor out there. People, they’re giving him attention. They’re making sure they cover him, and he’s coming up with the ball. He’s a guy that can break out and have 10 catches at any time in a game, or he has the one [catch] that makes a huge difference in the game that’s really kind of one of those great Odell Beckham-type of catches. I mean, wow. He’s a factor, a big factor.”

Grading all 31 first-round picks after Week 17 of the 2023 NFL season

Dalton Wasserman, PFF

PICK NO. 22: BALTIMORE RAVENS: WR ZAY FLOWERS

Overall Rookie Grade: 75.6 (Rank: 6/16)

Principal Opponent: Eli Apple

Week 17 Snaps: 32

Week 17 Grade: 84.7

Flowers displayed his trademark explosiveness on a 75-yard touchdown reception that changed the momentum in Baltimore’s victory over Miami. He also created an explosive play that set up the Ravens’ first touchdown. Flowers finished the day with a career-high 85.1 receiving grade and his first career 100-yard performance. His emergence could be the key to a Super Bowl run in Baltimore.

NFL Defense Rankings: Browns and Ravens Never Relinquished Top Spots

Dalton Miller, Pro Football Network

2) Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens’ defense remained incredibly impressive through an absolute gauntlet of offensive opponents late in the season. The Rams gave them a run, but the Jaguars couldn’t manage against Baltimore’s defensive onslaught, and the endlessly explosive 49ers and Dolphins offenses couldn’t muster a consistent attack either.

Through 17 weeks, Baltimore is second in defensive EPA and sixth in success rate. Jadeveon Clowney is finally living up to his draft status as a pass rusher instead of just as a run defender, and Kyle Hamilton has emerged as arguably the best safety in the NFL.

Ranking NFL head-coaching candidates for 2024: All eyes on Bill Belichick’s possible Patriots departure

Tyler Sullivan, CBS Sports

11. Mike Macdonald

Current position: Defensive coordinator, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens defense is having a historic season under Macdonald, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see him land inside a list of top head-coaching candidates. Baltimore’s defense is allowing a league-best 16.4 points per game this season, 57 sacks and 29 takeaways while allowing 4.6 yards per play (second best in the NFL). Macdonald is still green at just 36 years old, but has led a group that is arguably the top unit in the league on that side of the ball. His background coaching under both Harbaugh brothers will also help his candidacy.