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The Sky is Falling Over WR….Again?

Chill Pill out to lunch
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Today is Tuesday, May 17th.

I felt that it was necessary to start this piece with the date, because if you’ve looked at the general vibe around social media from Ravens fans, you’d think the season was starting tomorrow. I get that social media, especially revolving around a sports fanbase, is an insatiable monster clamoring for a million different things at once, but the last week or so has been a special brand of insufferable.

So, how did we get here? For some background, there were rumblings that wide receiver Jarvis Landry was in discussion with the Ravens as a potential free agent signing. These rumors came around the same time that tight end Nick Boyle restructured his contract to create some additional cap space, and while Jarvis was commenting on a Lamar Jackson workout video.

This was good enough for many Ravens fans to feel like signing Landry was a done deal. Unfortunately, we all know what happened next.

If you tried to guess solely from the reaction of Ravens fans on Twitter, you would never be able to parse if this was the first time a free agent wide receiver had passed on signing in Baltimore, or if it was the millionth time. Somehow fans were flabbergasted and jaded at the same time.

Now it’s one thing to have this situation generate some understandable frustration, but another thing entirely to generate what it did: this.

This incredibly tired take is circulating around Ravens social media for what feels like the thousandth time, and I’m not the only one who took notice.

Before I launch into a full-on rant, I will concede a few points: Yes, having a veteran presence in the locker room would be nice. No, Greg Roman’s track record as an OC does not inspire confidence that this passing offense will somehow evolve into the next Air Raid offense. No, I don’t believe that Marquise Brown’s departure will be addition by subtraction.

Beyond that, let me reiterate: it’s MAY. There are 117 days before the Ravens play their first regular season game. The cap space created by Boyle’s restructure isn’t going to magically disappear because the Ravens didn’t sign Landry. To act like the cupboards are completely bare in the receiver room and there’s nothing that can be done to beef up before September is a defeatist attitude.

If you’re like me, in the “shaken but not stirred” stage of concern about the receiver grouping, then I apologize if the tone comes across as adversarial. You are not my target audience. Unfortunately, my target audience likely won’t even read the article and will be too busy in the comment section screaming that the sky is falling. They’re the same folks who griped nonstop both about Marquise Brown not being a steady contributor on offense but also that somehow the offense is now irreparably flawed in his absence.

If those folks were here, I would implore them to peruse the preliminary depth charts around the league and see how many teams have multiple 2021 All-Pros as pass-catchers. I acknowledge that Devin Duvernay’s All-Pro selection was as a Special Teams player; my point remains the same. I hate to throw stones being in what I acknowledge is a bit of a glass house, but look at teams like Houston, Chicago and New England and tell me that they wouldn’t trade pass-catching groups with Baltimore in a heartbeat.

As a first-round pick returning from injury, Rashod Bateman averaged 11.2 yards per reception over the course of 12 games with each of his first 11 career receptions going for first downs. James Proche’s final game of the season saw him reel in seven of eight targets for 76 yards, finishing off the year with 12.6 yards per reception. Just because sample sizes are small doesn’t mean that they don’t have any validity. A commodity that is unproven as of yet doesn’t mean it can’t still be a commodity.

You remember in 2019 when the Ravens entered the season with an unproven first-year wide receiver coming off of injury, flanked by Willie Snead and Miles Boykin? Not exactly a murderer’s row entering the year.

The Ravens responded by leading the league in offensive yardage. Lamar Jackson recorded 36 passing touchdowns and won MVP. They employed heavy run-blocking schemes, involving their tight-end group, to the tune of over 200 yards per game on the ground. I’d argue that the Ravens are in a better position as contenders than we were then, but somehow the cacophony of the perpetually unsatisfied feels so much worse, even MONTHS away from the season.

As much as I have my personal grievances with Aaron Rodgers, I’m going to steal one of his quotes for a second: “R-E-L-A-X. Relax. We’re gonna be ok.” This is the time of the year for optimism as an NFL fan. Save some mental bandwidth for the year, and take a page from the First Lady of the Ravens Flock.

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