Let’s go on a little journey together, you and I.
Channel your inner Marty McFly, Terminator, Austin Powers, or whoever your favorite time traveler might be, and let’s take a trip to January 2022. The NFL regular season has wrapped, Pro Bowl invitees have been announced, and teams are getting ready to square off in the playoffs for a chance to ultimately take home the Lombardi Trophy.
Before the clock winds down on this foray into a new temporary reality of time and space, you’re able to grab a few newspapers, click on your favorite site (that’s russellstreetreport.com, if you’re scoring at home) and zip back to June 2021 with some insider knowledge about your favorite NFL team.
I mean, obviously, you’re going to be taking back some information from the stock exchange and some early-round NHL and NBA playoff action, as well, but that’s somebody else’s article. This one is mine.
So try to focus.
I picked six headlines from the future that would translate into the Ravens having a successful 2021 season. Obviously, I could have waited to visit February 2022 and gotten a final referendum on the year, but there would only be one headline that really mattered at that time, right?
“Ravens overcome 29-3 deficit to top Ryan, Falcons in Super Bowl.”
Bowser, Queen headline Ravens’ first-timers at Pro Bowl
These two making significant jumps this season would go a long way toward alleviating any concerns with the Ravens front seven, as well as putting up a strong signal for the future of the defense as the team certainly hopes some of these young players become cornerstones moving forward.
Both Tyus Bowser and Patrick Queen display tremendous athleticism and promise, and both have also shown a need to tighten up some things assignment-wise to get where they want to be. If both are proven to be standouts this season, well, a lot of long-term plans can start to fall in place.
Ravens’ passing production generates optimism for deep playoff run
A passing offense in 2021 that produces good vibes heading into the playoffs would most likely mean a good showing by the merry band of receivers the team has assembled this season, a solid performance by the re-worked offensive line, a new schematic approach and a step forward by star quarterback Lamar Jackson. All of these words are good words to Ravens fans.
A better passing offense can help the team compete if it falls behind a playoff-caliber team, and can also give defensive coordinators much more to worry about, forcing them to “pick their poison” on a snap-by-snap basis as the Ravens can seamlessly move between alignments.
Campbell’s impact felt in stats, locker room
Defensive lineman Calais Campbell did some nice things last season in his Ravens debut, but he also caught a bit of the injury bug, had a tough bout with COVID and basically faced a lot of uphill battles in his inaugural season. Sure, the sands of time are catching up to the lumbering defender, but he still has strength, size and know-how — leading me to be optimistic about his second season in the Ravens’ complicated defense.
If Campbell can impact opposing quarterbacks, help nullify running backs and swat several balls from every reaching a receiver, the defense could elevate to a whole new level. Campbell is a key component up front to everything the Ravens are trying to accomplish on defense.
Bateman on short list for Rookie of the Year finalists
Rashod Bateman was a Flock favorite for months before the draft, and his selection has ramped up the expectations from the Ravens faithful. A skilled-route runner who’s shown the ability to tuck away the ball and pick up yards after the catch, Bateman is in the mold of that prototypical “X” receiver the fanbase has been pining for since, well, a long time.
In a run-heavy offense, Bateman would truly have to shine to even be in consideration for the award, and that would seem to imply he did just that if he is a “short list” finalist for the recognition.
Ravens erecting statue of stunningly handsome blogger next to Lewis, Unitas
It’s me. I’m the stunningly handsome blogger. Just seeing if you were still reading this or not.
Roman, Martindale making the interview circuit again
If offensive coordinator Greg Roman and his defensive counterpart Don Martindale are getting head-coaching interviews again, it’s safe to say the Ravens turned some heads in the 2021 season. Martindale has shown to be both a good leader of men and strong in the strategic part of football, which obviously makes him an appealing candidate.
If Roman can make the changes to his offense to make the Ravens soar again, he will be getting some calls, as well. There are a few athletic quarterbacks who appear to be hitting next year’s draft cycle, and Roman has shown the ability to use those skills in his offense. But if he is truly getting attention in 2022, it means he has begun to adjust his offense to today’s league.
And that means the Ravens showed up offensively in 2021.