The Baltimore Ravens are set to take on former teammate Darren Waller in Las Vegas but before we tackle that subject, let’s zero in on another topic that has left many here in The Land of Pleasant Living a bit edgy.
John Harbaugh’s roster has been dealt a rough hand with injuries as of late and it’s got a lot of people throughout the league pressing the panic button. Some panic is warranted considering how devastating the injuries have been and to whom they’ve happened to, but I’m pleading for you to take a step back from that ledge. Hear me out.
I know I’m not alone in telling you to relax for a moment, either. Let’s take a moment to see what other people close to the Ravens think and then look at what some say about tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup vs. the Las Vegas Raiders.
We start with Clifton Brown of the Baltimore Ravens official team website giving some insight about the injuries going on in Baltimore. Brown also gives us some quotes from the players themselves and how they’re feeling more confident than ever despite the extreme amount of adversity ahead of them.
“I feel like that plays to our advantage more than anything, because I’ve always felt, even personally, I want people to underestimate me, in thinking that they’re not going to get something that they’re going to get. So, guys can think whatever they want. The Ravens are going to be the Ravens. We’re going to step up.” ~ All-Pro tackle Ronnie Stanley
You have to love Stanley’s attitude about the whole situation. Historically, the Ravens have always preferred to be the underdogs and seem to thrive when being disrespected. Being written off because of injuries will only add more fuel to that fire. We should expect Baltimore to be more determined than ever.
Even Brown himself adds, “The Ravens didn’t need any extra motivation for this season, and they certainly didn’t need more injuries. But by Friday’s practice, the Ravens had regrouped and returned their focus to a season they have anticipated for months.” Brown goes on to say, “…But the Ravens believe they still have more than enough. The season in front of them is their chance to prove it.”
If there’s one guy who will be keeping the Ravens on their toes for this Monday Night Football clash against the Raiders, it’s Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller. Once upon a time, Waller was a promising member of the Baltimore Ravens who couldn’t see the field due to substance abuse issues. The Ravens worked with Waller the best way they could and hoped to steer him through the off-the-field problems as a member of their practice squad. But as legend has it, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden saw Waller on the field prior to a November 25, 2018 contest against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium and was so impressed by his raw athleticism that he signed Waller off the Ravens practice squad the next day.
To his credit Waller eventually overcame his issues with substances and has since developed into one of the three-best tight ends in the league with Las Vegas.
Kevin Oestreicher of Yahoo! Sports highlights a press statement from Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale talking about Waller and what makes him so special:
“He’s a great athlete, and he was tough when he was here and taking the reps against the defense. There were some times [when] we’d just say, ‘That’s Waller.’ He’s everything that you knew he would be. I’m happy for him – not [on] Monday night, but any other time I’ll be happy for him – because he’s a good person, and he’s gone through a lot of things to get where he’s at, and we really respect that. I think last year he was second in the league, as far as the guy who was going to get the ball in the red zone, both in yards and everything else. So, he’s definitely a target and one of [Derek] Carr’s favorite targets.”
Oestreicher notes that with Jimmy Smith likely out of the lineup, that Baltimore will need to get creative with their approach to covering Waller. Containing Waller must be the top priority for the Ravens defense, especially if Josh Jacobs ends up out of the game with an illness.
And finally, let’s take a look at some bold predictions from the crew at Baltimore Beatdown.
The guys chipped in some crazy predictions that any Ravens fan would dream to come true. Joshua Reed predicts five touchdown passes from Lamar Jackson, while others like Spencer Schultz believes Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr finds similar success through the air to the tune of 300-yards and two touchdowns. Ultimately, Schultz believes in Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to stack over 30 points offensively and win a crucial road game to start an increasingly important 2021 season. The rest of the staff gives some equally exciting predictions.
As for myself, I could see Lamar Jackson having a dominant night as he usually does in opening weeks. Couple his historic week one dominance with Sammy Watkins historic week one dominance and I think this duo crosses the century mark and hooks up at least once in the endzone.
The Baltimore Ravens Monday Night Football showdown against the Las Vegas Raiders looks to be a pivotal game to start the season. There is a lot of pressure on the team to perform and silence its critics early, especially with a Sunday Night matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs less than a week away…