Ravens Season Outlook Roundtable
BSL’s Chris Stoner, Mike Randall, and Gabe Ferguson discuss all things Ravens. From expectations, revamped position groups, rookies, and team superlatives. Including our Super Bowl LIV picks ahead of the 2019 season. The 100th season of NFL football. 1pm Sunday can’t get here fast enough for us. Let’s prime the pump and get it started!
Discuss your thoughts on these points on our message board.
1. Let’s address the polarizing debate right off the bat. Lamar Jackson. He’s got the electrifying ability to revolutionize the position, maybe earn a Pro Bowl nod on his terms. He’s also not your traditional pocket passer which some people find as a long-term problem and will make sure to highlight every single incompletion. Baltimore quarterbacks are looked at under the microscope because we watch every play. But let’s look big picture. What kind of stats does Lamar Jackson have to put up for you to believe he can succeed, without being traditional?
Mike Randall: While not traditional, I think it is his skill set that can get the little things done in games that help you win games. His ability to make plays with his legs can keep you in manageable down and distances. Want to see him clean up the fumbles, but he took care of the ball in the passing game really well. Plus, you feel like a touchdown can happen at any moment given the incredible athleticism. The offense is just so much more efficient with the number of different looks they throw at defenses. Numbers, he gets better, but doesn’t have to be Drew Brees like to stack wins. 63% completion, total 4500 yards, total 35 TDs.
Chris Stoner – Guess I’m supposed to talk about Yards Per Attempt (YPA), or ESPN’s Total QBR, but I think we can keep things fairly simple. How about 16? As in starts. If he can stay on the field, I think he and the Ravens will be successful. Completion % numbers continue to go up league wide in this pass happy environment (especially with the current rules). I don’t think he has to be a 65% passer but would like to see him at above 60%. I expect he will be. I also think he needs to finish under 22 turnovers.
I’m excited for the Jackson era. I think he is going to be effective. I’m looking forward to seeing defenses try and stuff the box, and Jackson make defenses pay hitting receivers in single coverage.
Love the play action game. Think the TE’s in the seam are primed for big years. I don’t want to see him running 17 times a game, but do hope to see him have 10 or so carries per.
Gabe Ferguson – I would like to see completion percentage over 60% as a baseline that should be met. The fumbles need to go way down, I think anything over 8 fumbles would be a big problem. Accuracy needs to improve. This is a harder metric to quantify, but PFF does track % of throws that are on target/catchable/INT worthy etc…all of those areas have to improve. He doesn’t have to throw for 4,000 yards and 30 TDs, but he needs to be able to make the plays that matter with his arm while still providing explosive plays with his legs.
2. How do you think Lamar Jackson actually does this year? Let’s play over/under.
61% completion percentage: MR – Over. CS – Over. GF – I am optimistic so I will say over.
3400 passing yards: MR – Under, but because the Ravens will be ahead in games, in ball control mode more often than not. Y/A will be solid. CS – Over. GF – Under.
800 rushing yards: MR – Over CS – Over. GF – Over.
24 passing TDs: MR – Push? Just under then. CS – Under. GF – Under.
32 total TDs: MR – Over. CS – Under. GF – Under.
18 turnovers: MR – Under. CS – Over. GF – Under.
60.0 QBR: MR – Over. CS – Under. GF – Over, but that’s just because ESPN’s QBR heavily weights rushing.
3. Are you happy with the construction of the 53-man roster now that games that count are upon us? Do you have any areas of great concern?
MR – I’m happy with it from the standpoint of I’m not mad about any of the cuts that were made. I’m also happy that they went into free agency with a plan to sign guys that appear to be great fits in what the Ravens want to do. Also securing some guys before they can test free agency at seasons end. I would say I’m concerned with depth at inside linebacker, given that Chris Board already suffered a concussion in preseason. O-line of course is always one injury away from being a sieve. But every team has at least one or two groups that have question marks. Even the Patriots. So sure, have some concerns, but not enough to make me think the Ravens can’t navigate their way through just fine.
CS – I like the roster, and I’m more excited for this 2019 season than I have been for several years. Secondary is strong, though I am disappointed by the loss of Tavon Young. Love the TE’s. Excited about the RB’s potential as a unit. Like the infusion of youth and athleticism at WR. Feel good about the O-Line starters. Like the Defensive Front 7. There is a legitimate question about the ability to get a consistent pass rush, but there are legitimate possibilities there that could emerge.
GF – Yes. Overall, I think it was well constructed. I might have done a few things differently, but I like the roster as a whole. Depth at DT may be a concern if injuries crop up. I like the youth movement.
4. Give us your general thoughts on defense. No more Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, and Eric Weddle. Enter Earl Thomas. Welcome back Pernell McPhee. Step up to the plate Kenny Young. Last year’s unit was second in points allowed, fourth in rushing defense, and fifth in passing defense. Given the turnover, do you think the Ravens can post another banner year on defense?
MR – Don Martindale’s aggressive style will make any defenders look great. Kind of like when Dick LeBeau was running the Steelers defenses for over a decade. I love how he will send the house on 3rd downs, give offenses confusing fronts. Even with the turnover, they replaced Eric Weddle with a Hall of Famer. C.J. Mosley I thought was easily replaceable given that anyone can clean up (Zach Orr) behind the talented hog bodies up front. Suggs, I’ll miss him, but I’m okay with it. With the freelancing allowed by Martindale, I’m okay with Jaylen Ferguson being a raw talent and not quite refined. Turn him loose in those sub packages and see what he can do.
CS – The only defensive loss I’m concerned about is Young. Wish there was a bit more depth at ILB. There is depth and athleticism at all 3 levels. This is the Baltimore Ravens. The defense is going to be good. They’ll be elite if they can get off the field on 3rd down and find ways to create turnovers.
GF – Yes, I think the defense is going to be quite good this year. The secondary may be even better than last season with the addition of Earl Thomas. I think the pass-rush was largely scheme driven last year and will continue to be this year with Martindale pulling the strings. There may even be more upside with this group of defenders if young pass-rushers Tim Williams, Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson are given sizable roles and play up to their potential.
5. Though possessing very different skill sets, which rookie wide receiver do you think has the best season? Marquise Brown, or Miles Boykin? What are your expectations of each? Also, the Ravens team site lists the rookies at the bottom of the depth chart. WRs 5 and 6. Are you buying that?
MR – This is a tough one. Boykin could be a possession type who moves the chains and figures to be a threat in the red zone. On the other had Marquise Brown could have a ceiling as high as Tyreek Hill. But I don’t expect him to win the contested balls. Boykin could be a 60 catch, 800-yard guy while Brown could be 40 catches but 900 yards. I’ll say Brown because speed kills. And no. I’m not buying these guys at WR 5 and 6. Neither should be game day scratches.
CS – I’m looking forward to seeing the Rookie WR’s, and I like that they have differing skill sets. I think Boykin emerging as someone that can own a sideline and be counted on to make contested catches for 1st downs (and factor in the end zone) will be important. I think this offense takes off if Brown comes on and starts making people hurt in space. Defenses are going to have to pick their poison at some point. If Jackson and Brown start connecting on crossing routes, I think things really open up overall. Wouldn’t think the Ravens have all 6 WR’s active on Gameday. So, it would definitely surprise me if they were 5th and 6th on the depth. (Maybe Week 1 and 2 for Brown as he catches up on the time he missed.) Seems to me you are counting on both to develop during the season, so you’d want them playing as much early on, getting reps, gaining confidence. Maybe the Ravens are thinking they want to ease them in, and try keep their legs fresh throughout the year (to avoid the ‘wall’ many Rookies seem to hit)?
GF – I am definitely not buying the depth chart. Regarding which rookie WR will have the best season? This is a tough one. I think Boykin will end up having the better statistical season because I trust him being more available, especially early on. I also think the big body and large catch radius will make him a favorite target of Jackson’s. I could see 40-50 catches for 600-700 yards for Boykin. I think Brown may be used more as a gadget player early on, but may eventually work his way onto the field as a starter. He should be more of a big play threat so I will project him for 35 catches and 500 yards.
6. Prognosticators have this team anywhere from as low as 7-9, to division champs. Finish these sentences:
The Ravens went 7-9 (or worse) because…_____.
MR – … Lamar Jackson suffered a season ending injury.
CS – … Jackson made 13 or less starts. Or he stayed available but couldn’t hold on to the ball.
GF – … of injuries.
The Ravens won the division because… _____.
MR – … Lamar Jackson stepped his game up a bit, defense did what they usually do and dominate, and as a whole the team remained relatively healthy.
CS – … their quality defense, and unconventional NFL offense made them a difficult match-up for opposing teams.
GF – … the defense had another great season and Lamar Jackson developed into a reliable dual-threat QB.
I think the Ravens will end the season… _____.
MR – … 11-5, winning the division, winning a home playoff game. Odds are going to New England or Kansas City for round two. Both of whom they play in the regular season and could possibly beat.
CS – … 10-6 and return to the playoffs.
GF – … 10-6 and make the playoffs.
7. Hand out these superlatives.
Ravens Offensive POY:
MR – Lamar Jackson. Revolutionary.
CS – Lamar Jackson.
GF – Mark Andrews.
Ravens Defensive POY:
MR – Marlon Humphrey. Shutdown corner.
CS – Marlon Humphrey.
GF – Marlon Humphrey.
Raven with the most to prove:
MR – Tim Williams. It’s time bro.
CS – Jackson is the logical answer here, but I’m going to go with Tim Williams / Tyus Bowser. They have talent, it’s year 3, and they need to produce.
GF – Patrick Onwuasor.
Raven poised to breakout:
MR – Mark Andrews. Chance to be the best TE here since Heap.
CS – Hayden Hurst. Andrews might be the ‘guy’ at TE at this point, but Hurst has been forgot about, in my opinion. I think he also has a big year. My next choice would be Justice Hill.
GF – Tim Williams.
Ravens unsung hero:
MR – Brandon Williams. Big guys who fill up gaps instead of stat sheets get no love.
CS – Brandon Williams. People hate the contract and wish he could push the pocket more; but he helps make teams one dimensional.
GF – Ronnie Stanley.
NFL Off. POY: MR – Patrick Mahomes. CS – Patrick Mahomes . GF – Saquan Barkley.
NFL Def. POY: MR – Leighton Vander Esch. CS – Aaron Donald. GF – Myles Garrett.
Super Bowl LIV:
MR – Patriots vs. Cowboys. As long as #12 and BB are up to their cheating ways, which they always are, I’ll never pick against them. Even though I’ve laughed at the media every year for about 20 years now when they overhype the Cowboys, I think Dallas finally has what it takes. Superstar RB, O-line, and superstars on all levels of defense. Dak Prescott just needs to relax and mange games.
Ravens, prove me wrong!
CS – Chiefs vs. Eagles
GF – Saints over Chiefs
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]