The Ravens’ two best playmakers critiqued the other side of the ball following the recent OTAs.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson lauded the team’s defense for the challenges they bring every day in practice.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey already sees drastic improvement with the wide receivers.
Jackson knows the performance of Humphrey and the rest of the defense will have to play a key role if the Ravens want to win a championship. He also said the Ravens defenders make him a better player because he has to face them everyday in practice.
“We’ve got DeShon [Elliott], ‘Marlo’ [Marlon Humphrey], ‘MP’ [Marcus Peters]. We’ve got [Pernell] McPhee, Calais [Campbell] – those guys – Brandon [Williams],” Jackson said. “We’ve got a lot of vets [veterans] and stuff coming back, and we’ve got great young guys coming in. I just can’t wait to get after it. I’m tired of seeing our defense already because they’re flying around.
“They’re making us compete against them, and it’s going to be, I feel, easier during the game, a lot. But they’re doing a great job right now for us.”
The Ravens allowed the NFL’s second-fewest points (18.9) and seventh-fewest yards (329.8) per game. Baltimore also owned the No. 2 third-down defense (34.0%) and produced a league-high 25 forced fumbles.
Humphrey led the NFL with a Ravens’ single-season record eight forced fumbles, also registering a team-high 11 passes defended.
He was one of the NFL’s best lockdown defenders so he knows talent at wide receiver when he sees it.
Humphrey has already noticed a pair of new coaches — Tee Martin and Keith Williams — are already taking on the passing game. The wide receivers have been solid running their routes and catching the ball.
“Something I definitely have noticed differently with our receiving corps … I actually noticed it when I first got back,” Humphrey said. “I look over during warmups, and I’m seeing our wide receivers coaches doing some different things, and I’m seeing the wide receivers coaches acting like DBs, and I’m like, ‘They need to put on some cleats.’ So, I noticed the energy. I felt a major energy change with that wide receiver group, not only with the coaching, but just with the wide receivers that are there.”
The Ravens boosted their passing attack that ranked last in the NFL last year by adding Sammy Watkins in free agency and selecting Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace in this year’s draft. The Ravens also have Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Deon Cain in the mix fighting for roster spots.
“Even the ones that were there last year, I feel like everyone [who] has come back, stepped their game up a lot,” Humphrey said. “I thought Jaylon Moore was really good … I felt like he stepped up a lot – Proche II, ‘Duv’ [Devin Duvernay]. But with Bateman and Sammy, they’ve been really big as well. Bateman – I couldn’t really tell about him. I’m like, ‘Ehh, ehh,’ then he hit me with something, caught the ball, ran out of bounds and came up and tapped me on the butt, and was like, ‘I’ve got a little wiggle, too.’ So, I was like, ‘I like that.’ Really good guy right there.”
The Ravens’ success largely hinges on Jackson, who is looking to improve throwing outside the numbers and being more accurate with his downfield passes.
Jackson, however, is looking to the other side of the ball to pave the way for a Super Bowl victory.
“What did they used to always say? ‘Defense wins championships,” Jackson said. “We must protect this house.’ Stuff like that. Yes, you know the Ravens’ defense has always been one of the best defenses. I feel like ‘EDC’ [executive vice president & general manager Eric DeCosta] does a great job at bringing guys in, and we already had a lot of guys from last year.”