With the successive injuries to JK Dobbins, Justice Hill, & Gus Edwards, the Ravens were left scrambling to fill their backfield. Eric DeCosta immediately got busy, adding several backs, most notably veterans Le’Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman, and Latavius Murray.
RSR staff react to the whirlwind of news here…
The Ravens’ resolve was tested in 2020 with the COVID-related setbacks. It is being tested again in 2021 with the devastating losses of JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and Marcus Peters. They’ve proven that they can overcome odds. They’ll get another opportunity to prove it this season, one day, one practice, one game, one acquisition at a time.
Give EDC a ton of credit for the emergency reconstructive surgery he’s done to the RB room. Le’Veon Bell could be the change-of-pace back that Justice Hill was. He’s a threat as a receiver and holds up very well in pass protection. Devonta Freeman could provide a boost to the passing game as well but I have a gut feel that he’ll stay on the practice squad and only get a call up to the active 53 if there’s another injury.
As for Latavius Murray, he is an ideal fit for Greg Roman’s offense. Some have asked me why the Ravens didn’t go after Murray to begin with. It could be a few factors. Money is one; being a complementary player is another. Murray’s style is similar to Gus’. With Gus out, Murray’s higher cost became more acceptable. Plus Murray may have said no to the practice squad.
Less than a day ago, I felt as if the Ravens season was unraveling before it even started. EDC put a tourniquet on the hemorrhaging and stopped the bleeding. There will be an adjustment period and it may not look all that promising to start, but I believe this team is rich in character and their collective resolve will shine through.
A few months from now I think we’ll look back upon these trying times and view them as the beginning of a great story, particularly if Anthony Averett is the player Wink Martindale believes him to be.
The Ravens are adjusting on the fly, and showing they are willing to go all-in on this season by not holding back on finding replacements at the running back position. Murray appears to be a better fit schematically with his straight-line style, and Bell is obviously a multi-down threat, if he is in a good place physically and mentally.
The global thought is that both backs have seen better days in their careers, but a competitive team with a good atmosphere has the potential to coax one more gallant run out of a motivated veteran — or at least it has in the past.
I admire the Ravens brass for taking multiple swings here to try to keep this train on the tracks.
Murray is the best replacement you can hope for. Big banger on inside runs, good in the red zone. He’s got some tread left on his tires. Bell’s pass-catching skills are advanced, even if he’s lost a step. He runs precise routes. Both backs bring a veteran presence to the pass pro side, which is highly critical given that passing game should expand some.
Ultimately, this is as good of a Plan B as you can expect when your entire backfield goes down.
Here’s how I assume this played out.
*adjusts tin foil hat*
Bell wanted a shot, so the Ravens gave him a shot to earn a spot. Murray didn’t hit the market until after Bell signed, and quite frankly was a bit more expensive than the Ravens could afford… until Gus went down and an immediate need popped up. A little money shuffle and the Ravens add both Murray and Freeman to the fold.
Ultimately, it’s going to be Ty’Son Williams show early on with Latavius Murray heavily involved with a style of running that’s conducive with the Ravens offense. Cannon stays the RB3 early on but I expect Freeman to be shuffled in soon.
As for Bell? I’m much lower than most. He still has talent to contribute but his patient running style doesn’t jell with this Ravens rushing attack, especially behind an offensive line that’s lacking. Yes, he can move around and catch passes… but so can Murray and Freeman, whose all around games fit Roman’s offense better, which is why I think Williams-Murray-Freeman will be the norm by Week 4.
A friend asked me a couple days ago if I thought the Ravens would sign Murray after the Hill injury. I told him that I doubt it since Murray’s issue with the Saints was that he refused a pay cut. After yesterday’s double injuries I then told him I wouldn’t be surprised if both Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray were signed. This is after both Trenton Cannon and Le’veon Bell were already signed.
Eric DeCosta is leaving no stone unturned. With Bell, Freeman and Murray all being veteran backs with some wear and age it’s best to see who emerges from the pile. The Ravens scheme will allow running backs to shine where they might not in other places. I have a feeling the running game will look as good as it had been before. Yes those injuries hurt but it’s a position where the Ravens can overcome.