submitted by Brad Drotar
We are officially less than 10 days away from football! Less than 10 days from slamming down beers (out of either excitement or drowning out agonizing frustration), losing our voices from screaming at the television, and breaking an obscene amount of random sh*t unlucky enough to be caught in our path. From my days in college, I have seen it all. Remotes, TVs, tables. Waking up hungover to broken dry wall and knuckles were a pretty common occurrence in the house. But who cares? FOOTBALL is back baby!
There is a ton of excitement across the league, but perhaps no fans are more excited than the #RavensFlock. Coming off a 14-2 season with a team that every Ravens fan expected to go to the Super Bowl, only for the team’s postseason run to end abruptly due to the man-child that is Derrick Henry.
Ok, enough dwelling on the heartbreaking 2019 season. 2020 might be the most exciting in recent history for Ravens fans. They have the reigning MVP quarterback entering his 3rd season in the league. Buzz from the team is that Lamar has only gotten better, especially with his deep ball. They have a fully healthy Hollywood Brown entering his second season, surrounded by a young receiver corps including a breakout tight end in Mark Andrews, reliable targets in Willie Snead & Miles Boykin, and two impressive rookies in Devin Duvernay and James Proche, who have been standout players in camp. On top of that, they have added a playmaking stud rookie running back in J.K. Dobbins to their already lethal (and record-setting) rushing game.
I think there is a strong case to be made here, and that is exactly what we are going to get into:
Do not be surprised if Dobbins is the NFL Offensive Rookie of the year.
Is it a long shot? Eh, maybe. I know, he has a loaded class of impressive rookies with whom to compete. Most notable is new division rival QB Joe Burrow, who is regarded by many analysts around the league as one of the greatest prospects we have seen since Andrew Luck. Still, we have seen rookie running backs win the award before, even without having the number of opportunities of a true bell cow running back.
Ravens flock, here is the case for Dobbins as the 2020 OROY…
I want to bring up two different running backs who were able to accomplish this daunting task that did not fit the typical role you would expect for OROY: current superstar Alvin Kamara and NFL legend Warrick Dunn.
First, Kamara. I know; there is no chance that Dobbins gets the amount of receiving work that Kamara did back in 2017. The dude had 100 targets (all Ravens RBs received a total of 51 combined in 2019). But is it possible for Dobbins to have a similar impact and do just as much with the opportunities he is given? Absolutely. I mean have you seen the highlights of this kid throughout camp? He is MOSSING defenders in the end zone. And in case you forgot, Kamara did it while working as the complementary piece to no other than… Mark Ingram.
Kamara only had 120 rushing attempts in his rookie season, fewer than Ravens #2 back Gus Edwards last season.
Even if Ravens hype man Ingram is healthy for all 16 games, I expect Dobbins to have a large role in the offense. He is just too talented to let him stand on the sidelines. In his last season playing for the Buckeyes, Dobbins ran for 2003 yards on 301 attempts (6.7 yds/carry) and scored 21 rushing touchdowns. Not only was he able to display why he is a top end talent (if you haven’t seen his tape yet, go YouTube it), but he was also able to prove that he can handle a large workload and Ingram isn’t getting any younger. I expect Dobbins to get about 150 carries minimum (the league average of total team carries was 340 last year; the Ravens had nearly 600) and if Ingram gets banged up, I don’t see Dobbins coming off the field very often.
With Baltimore’s record-setting rushing game and Dobbins’ elite athleticism, expect him to be hyper-efficient. Kamara rushed for 728 yards on 120 carries (6.1 Yds/Carry) in 2017. In 2019, Dobbins averaged 6.7 yds/carry. Even if Dobbins only gets 150 carries, do not be surprised if he cracks 1000 yards as a rusher.
How about touchdowns? Well, the kid has a nose for the end zone. On just 202 carries last season, Ingram scored 10 rushing touchdowns. On only 99 more touches than Ingram, in his final college season, Dobbins scored 11 more rushing touchdowns!
Yeah, but “it was in college.” Of course, “he wont be able to do that against NFL level defenders.”
If camp is any indication, Dobbins is unfazed by the level-up in competition.
Now obviously, there is no way that Dobbins can match Kamara’s 81 receptions when the Ravens running backs as a whole only received 51 targets. However, his relatively larger role in the rushing game should offset the low receiving volume. Ingram averaged 9.5 yds/rec on 26 catches in 2019. So there is no reason why a stud like Dobbins cannot attain or even increase his 2019 average of 10.7 yds/rec. In this offense, Dobbins can easily surpass Ingram’s five 2019 receiving touchdowns (on his 81 receptions in 2017, Kamara scored five receiving touchdowns).
All in all, Dobbins should be able to get close to or match Kamara’s 2017 workload and should surpass his efficiency in that season as well.
And that assuming a healthy Ingram. If the starter does go down, this kid is going to ball out.
Then, there is NFL legend Warrick Dunn. While I do not believe that Dobbins can match the workload that Dunn received back in 1997 when he won OROY, I am certain that he can match his statistical output and blow away his efficiency. Dunn toted the rock 224 times for 978 yards, averaging 4.4 YPC and scored four rushing touchdowns. As we talked about before, with fewer carries, Ingram accrued more yards and more than doubled Dunn’s rushing scores. While that speaks to Ingram’s ability as a rusher, it also speaks volumes about the Ravens’ potent rush game.
(Real quick…I keep referring to the team’s rush game. So, I just want to put the stats out there so you can fully understand why we the Ravens are the best at what they do.)
2019 NFL Average: Carries: 340 Yards: 1,496 TD: 12 Yards/Gm: 93.5
2019 Ravens: Carries: 596 Yards: 3,296 TD: 21 Yards/Gm: 206
So yeah… we are kinda good.
Dobbins will absolutely blow away Dunn’s rushing efficiency.
In 1997, Dunn also accrued 39 receptions for 462 yards and three scores. While Dobbins may reach receiving numbers in that ballpark, I absolutely believe he will score more than three receiving touchdowns.
So, there is the case. Even with a healthy RB room, Dobbins is going to put up some big boy numbers. Some numbers that were good enough for their owner to be crowned OROY in years past. If Ingram were to go down (please don’t), I expect some sort of combination of Kamara and Dunn’s numbers. Here is my reserved projection for Dobbins with a healthy Ingram:
170 carries, 935 yards, 8 TD
25 receptions, 250 yards, 4 TD
But again, Ingram isn’t getting any younger and I expect him to get a little banged up a time or two throughout the season. I consider these numbers to be Dobbins’ floor, with massive upside if Ingram goes down. He is going to have a lot of competition for OROY, but don’t count Dobbins out. The kid is special and eerily resembles Ray Rice, down to the number.
Anyway, that is it Ravens Flock. It’s Saturday and I need to embrace my inner degenerate and let the beer start flowing.
Dobbins is my man crush this season.
The Browns suck.
Get hype, because football is back!