Ravens Hot Takes
As Baltimore aims to win its 10th straight game this Thursday against the New York Jets and advance to (12-2) on the season, here are a few Ravens hot takes to stew on…
There are many who believe that Lamar Jackson’s quad injury sustained against the Buffalo Bills, is reason enough to sit him against the Jets tomorrow night. Such an opinion is swayed by the belief that Robert Griffin, III can secure the win over the (5-8) Jets.
It’s an opinion that has no merit!
The Ravens are riding a 9-game winning streak and are currently the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Why risk that position? Yes, the Ravens technically hold a two game advantage at the moment over the New England Patriots but a loss against the Jets and a Patriots win over the (1-12) Bengals would even their records. That would mean the Ravens would be forced to beat the Browns on the road and the gritty Steelers at home to retain the top seed in the conference.
Plus, Lamar himself made it perfectly clear on Tuesday that he’s good to go tomorrow.
“I feel great. I feel good. I’m 100 [percent]. I’m going to be out there Thursday night.”
It is interesting how several talking heads, both local and national, put stock in the sustainability of Lamar’s success. They say he places himself in harm’s way with all of the designed QB runs yet the quad injury was the result of making a throw against the Bills from the pocket.
— D Brown (@DBrownFF88) December 8, 2019
Kudos to Harbs
Even the staunch John Harbaugh detractors must admit that the Ravens skipper is as much on his game as his 22-year-old signal caller. Harbaugh has reinvented himself. Seemingly overnight he has guided the transformation of the Ravens offense from a stodgy, pragmatic and overly conventional one to an exciting, wide-open one.
Harbaugh has set aside the stigma that he’s loyal to a fault and a practitioner of escalation of commitment. He’s embraced the necessary changes to align with the talents of his skilled positions and has not only jumped on board with the drastic mutations of Greg Roman’s offense, he’s enabled it with claims that the Ravens would revolutionize offense in the NFL.
There will be plenty of talk about why the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin should be head coach of the year, and with good reason. That said, John Harbaugh belongs in that same conversation.
Since the arrival of Marcus Peters, the Ravens are (7-0) and they’ve given up just 96 points, an average of just 13.7. Making the feat even more impressive is that the Ravens stinginess has taken place against formidable opponents that includes Seattle, New England, Houston, LA Rams, San Francisco and Buffalo.
Prior to Peters’ arrival, the Ravens were the 13th-ranked defense as measured by yards, yielding 23.3 points per game (17th). The pass defense was ranked 25th, their third-down defense was 15th, the red zone D was tied for 17th and they were tied for 16th in turnover ratio at an even mark.
Today the Ravens defense ranks 6th in the league, giving up a seasonal average of 18.2 ppg (5th-best), as the pass defense has climbed to the NFL’s 9th best while improving on third down (14th), in the red zone (2nd), and in turnovers (6th with +8).
The Ravens will have to make some tough decisions during the offseason, among them big contracts for Peters and Matt Judon. But if it comes down to one over the other (hopefully they sign both), Peters should be the favorite.
Jimmy Smith carries a team-high cap figure of $15.85M in 2019. In 2020 he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. Word is that Smith is willing to accept a team-friendly deal but what that actually means, remains to be seen. Currently, Smith grades out as the 53rd-ranked CB in the league according to Pro Football Focus (“PFF”). With the return of Tavon Young in 2020, Marlon Humphrey will see more time on the edge v. slot. Unless the hometown discount is significant, Jimmy is unlikely to be a Raven in 2020.
Another player unlikely to make a return in 2020 is Tony Jefferson. The defense has improved markedly without Jefferson who prior to his season-ending injury in Pittsburgh, had an overall grade of 49.4 per PFF which ranks 145th among safeties. With the expected return of DeShon Elliott and the growth of Chuck Clark as the defensive signal caller, it will be extremely difficult for Eric DeCosta to ignore the $7M cap savings the team will realize through Jefferson’s release.
During the five games prior to the Ravens battle in Buffalo at New Era Field, Sam Koch had a total of six punts. Against the Bills he punted 7 times! On the season Koch has punted a total of 31 times which is the fewest among punters that have played in 12 games. Sam has averaged 46.2 yards, which ties him for 9th in the league and he has netted 41.7 (11th). Sixteen of Koch’s 31 punts have been downed inside the 20.
Koch’s consistency is impressive and he’s arguably the best holder in the game. But he will turn 38 during the 2020 season and he’ll carry a cap figure of $3.25M. That will make him the 3rd highest paid punter. Currently he has the second highest cap figure of $3.95M. The Ravens might take a close look at that number next season but the bet here is that Sam will play for the team in the last year of the 5-year extension that he signed in 2015 that was worth a total of $18.75M.
I’ve been estimating a $200M Cap for 2020. With a $200M Cap, the Ravens have $48.5M in Cap space, but w/ only 40 players under contract for 2020. Once RFAs/ERFAs are added & they get the roster above 51, that number will be around $40M (pending any other re-signings & cuts). https://t.co/0PYethkTWj
— Brian McFarland (@RavensSalaryCap) December 11, 2019
Thursday Night Football
The Ravens remain 14 ½ point favorites over the Jets with the over/under number set at 45. If I were a betting man I’d lay the points and bet the under. The staff at RSR will have Bold Predictions ready for tomorrow morning but until then, my sneak peek sees the Ravens taking a commanding 24-3 lead by half, cruising to 34-10 by the end of the third quarter (when Lamar takes the night off) while the teams exchange punts and turnovers on downs in a scoreless fourth quarter that proves to be a sleep aid to all those tuning in to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
Brace Yourself Ravens Fans!!!
And finally, this just in…
John Hussey will be the referee on Thursday Night and if you aren’t familiar with him, check out this article from week 3 following the Ravens 33-28 loss to the Chiefs. Hussey’s crew was absolutely horrific!