Offense: QB Lamar Jackson, RB Mark Ingram II, FB Patrick Ricard, WR Marquise Brown, WR Willie Snead IV, WR Miles Boykin, TE Mark Andrews, LT Ronnie Stanley, LG Bradley Bozeman, C Matt Skura, RG D.J. Fluker, RT Orlando Brown Jr.
Defense: DL Brandon Williams, LDE Derek Wolfe, RDE: Calais Campbell, ROLB Matthew Judon, LOLB Jaylon Ferguson, LB Patrick Queen, CB Marlon Humphrey, CB Marcus Peters, CB Jimmy Smith, CB Tavon Young, SS Chuck Clark, FS Earl Thomas III
With all the doubt Lamar Jackson took the torch, won the MVP and became the NFL League MVP. This was the first time a Ravens player has won the League MVP and only the second time in Baltimore Football History behind Johnny Unitas. Jackson’s unique skill set was on full display as he broke angles and knees on his way to a 14-2 season, which was league best and franchise best. The major talking point of him taking his game to a new level was complete. There is now sportscasters that just last year were concern about who he was as a player now saying that this team could go 16-0 and he could be a great QB for years to come starting a new rivalry between Mahomes and Jackson just like Peyton and Brady. However, troubling talking points are still at play.
One, the mentality of Lamar when things don’t go right in a game is still a big issue. No better example was the divisional playoff game against Tennessee Titans in which on paper look like a game that Lamar and the Ravens should have handled. It was very noticeable throughout the game and has been throughout his time in HS, College and in the two years in the Pros. For Lamar to get to the promise land and win the Ravens their third Super Bowl this will have to change. Lamar will need to rise to the occasion, lead his team and become a great perennial all star QB. The best players to play this game have always said that it starts with the mental part of your game and then the physical. Second, it will be imperative for him to continue to develop as a passer. His numbers last year were incredible but are they sustainable probably not. This is something he will have to keep in mind as he comes into this year without a regular offseason to continue to work with his weapons like he wanted to. Finally, his physique is still a question. It is something that will plague him unlike Russel Wilson and Patrick Mahomes II has as he ages. This will be a huge determination on how much the Ravens are willing to give him next year as part of his extension. Lamar as he matures in this league will have to continue to work on the lower body and upper body without losing that elusiveness which is very hard to do. All he needs to do is ask Vick how hard it is. Although if he has focus on these parts of his game over the offseason and done the best he can with the circumstances we are in I think he can take the next step for his career; take the Ravens to the Superbowl and win it.
Now Lamar Jackson is important but what he has around him is just as important. The Ravens are deep on running back and tight ends. Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards is a dynamic due just like Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle. These are considered some of the best groups in all of the NFL. The offense is going to have to utilize these strength in critical moments to make a more unstoppable defense. I like the pick up of versatile Ohio State J.K Dobbins to back up Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards. However the big questions will be on WR and Offensive Line.Jackson must determine which of their young receivers are reliable. Marquise Brown is explosive and now he is fully healthy, Veteran Willie Sneed is great in the slot and Miles Boykin has the athleticism that is starting to show promise. It’s the unproven options Chris Moore, fourth round pick Devin Duvernay (could be steal of draft) and Fifth round James Proche and Jaleel Scott that will have to win the other WR spots. James or Devin could make it as returners as De’ Anthony Thomas opted out. On the Offensive Line everybody is lock in except for Matt Scura due to health and D.J due to being in a new system. The biggest challenge for this group is how is going to be the leader of the line that Marshal Yanda has held for years and help Lamar stay on his feet.
The defense is rebuilt and has incredible talent on all levels. The front of Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell, Matthew Judon, Patrick Queen (LSU 1st Round pick), Jaylon Ferguson should be one of the most tenacious in football. Patrick, Derek, and Calais might solidify some of the holes of a great defense that was already rank in the top five already. The backfield in my opinion is one of the best units assembled in along time with the likes of Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Chuck Clark, Earl Thomas and Jimmy Smith this will be a tough defense to crack. The battles for playing time at linebacker and pass-rusher will be critical and could play a major role in how far the Ravens go. Their performance across the entire rebuilt defense will be one to watch as the defense gets as many takeaways and sacks to get the ball back into the hands of Lamar Jacksons dangerous offense. Finally, the best special teams unit in the league comes back with Koch, Tucker and Cox and all that’s left is to find out is who the specialist are going to be. Ravens regardless of Covid is going to be a team that you wont want to miss but it begs to question will they come out of the gates running.