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Ravens Get The Right Player

Roquan Smith Patrick Queen
Photo Credit: Baltimore Ravens
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Roquan Smith screams, “Baltimore Raven”. His style of play fits the Ravens like a finely-tailored suit from HLK Custom. He will make a difference during the balance of the 2022 season.

Yet many fans are disappointed. They’re disappointed because a linebacker isn’t flashy. They’re disappointed because they prefer a stylish receiver – one who is regularly in the conversation amongst fantasy football enthusiasts. They’re disappointed because they are of the opinion that Lamar Jackson’s level of play would be elevated by the presence of a true No. 1 receiver who regularly dresses on Sunday. After all, look what A.J. Brown has done for Jalen Hurts.

But back to Roquan…

Smith doesn’t touch the football, but he is a versatile tackling machine. And he was arguably the best player available for the Ravens without being forced to give up an uncommon amount of draft capital or one who required GM Eric DeCosta and his trusty salary cap guru Pat Moriarty, to perform laser surgery on the team’s salary cap.

Let’s be honest, an A.J. Brown-caliber receiver was not available. Arguably the best receiver that may have been had in a trade is Jerry Jeudy, but apparently the Broncos wanted too much in return, otherwise Jeudy would probably be a Green Bay Packer.

Is Brandin Cooks THAT guy? Nice player but is his skill set complementary to the receiving corps or is it redundant – too much like the underutilized talents of Devin Duvernay? Maybe there’s a reason that Cooks has been with four teams (nearly 5) in 9 seasons. Plus there’s this $18M guaranteed salary to deal with that Houston was reluctant to assume part of, if traded.

Is the answer Kendrick Bourne and his 11 catches for 156 yards this season? Or Denzel Mims who has played in just 2 games in 2022, “racking up” three catches for 80 yards?

The point is, there wasn’t a real difference maker available without having to spend an inordinate amount of cap dollars and draft capital. And let’s keep in mind, that when going from one team to another, the position of wide receiver has challenges that other positions don’t. There’s a new playbook to master. Opponents can disguise coverages to add to the mental hurdles receivers must go through – hurdles that require a pass catcher and quarterback to be in synch, particularly pre-snap. How does a pitch-and-catch tandem get to where they need to be without the benefit of training camp and repetitions?

And while we’re at it, let’s address the white elephant in the room. The Ravens passing offense is a dinosaur. No matter what they do, whether it’s signing aging, accomplished vets or investing first-round picks in the position, they just never seem to get good results. One only needs to look at the first half of the game in Tampa when the Ravens threw it 30 times for 144 yards, dropped back 32 times for a net gain of 129 yards. That’s 4 yards per pass play. Comparatively speaking, when the Ravens gave up the commitment to the passing game in the second half, they ran it for 204 yards on 26 carries – 7.8 yards per carry.

You get my drift?

Roquan Smith allows the Ravens to finish games in different ways. He’ll lift the game of Patrick Queen. He’ll get to the edge to make tackles when Josh Bynes was a step too slow. He’ll drop in coverage more efficiently than his predecessors freeing up defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to unleash his developing and expanding array of pass rushers to wreak havoc on opposing signal callers.

Turnovers should increase. Complementing the upfront interior defenders ticks up. Down-and-distance sub-packages are less vulnerable given the greater versatility.

Simply put, Roquan Smith improves the Ravens in more ways than some other team’s discarded receiver who couldn’t do for their team what the Ravens hope he could do for them.

No Andrews or Bateman

As of this writing, we know that Rashod Bateman will miss the game in New Orleans. Bateman has been very disappointing due to his lack of availability. When we first learned that he had a mid-foot sprain, my first thought was, “this is a Lisfranc”. Although after Rashod missed just two games, I discarded the thought. He played against the Browns and had 4 catches for 42 yards. But against Tampa he had just 13 snaps before calling it a night. And then during John Harbaugh’s weekly presser we learned this:

“Bateman’s [injury is] more disappointing in the sense that after the game they thought it was kind of a tweak, but there’s a little more there from a strain standpoint. So, conversations will be had. It looks like it’s going to be a few weeks for him. We’ll have more to report on that later in the week.”

Thoughts of Lisfranc resurfaced.

So did my lingering doubts about the team’s training staff. But that’s another topic for another day.

As for Mark Andrews, the All Pro TE seems to scoff at the notion that he could miss time. The vibe is that his bumps and bruises are manageable. Time will tell but at the end of the day, these injuries provide opportunities for other players. These injuries are also not of the kind that will force players to IR.

If the Ravens use the time wisely, they’ll get other players in the mix and if they can continue to win while players heal, the experience in the offense gained by players such as Kenyan Drake, Demarcus Robinson, Justice Hill, James Proche, Isaiah Likely and even DeSean Jackson, could prove to be invaluable.

If the Ravens can steal a win in New Orleans and go into the bye at (6-3), they’ll have a host of players who will return at some point in the second half — players that will really shape up the team’s roster well, heading into December and January. Those players include: Bateman; J.K. Dobbins; Gus Edwards (assuming he’s out v. Saints); Tyus Bowser; David Ojabo and Marcus Williams.

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Skip, Skip

On our social media pages and even in some of the comments on our articles here at RSR, I’ve seen fans opine on the alleged Ravens sources that members of the national media enjoy – including Skip Bayless. Some fans conclude that given the wider scope of Bayless’ and Fox Sports’ reach, their sources must be better than that of the local beat reporters. The fact is, the opposite is true. The local beat guys know the Ravens better than any national media members. And Bayless’ insinuation that Lamar being aloof or not engaged in team meetings, somehow suggests that he’s frustrated with his contract situation – that he’s staging a “hold in” as a form of protest.

The beat guys, you know that dedicated and hard-working crew that spends their working hours camped out at The Castle, will tell you, probably to a man or woman, that Lamar has never been fully engaged in meetings and that he marches to the beat of his own drum, moves to and fro on his own time. This isn’t anything new. His teammates and the organization for that matter, view it as Lamar being Lamar.

But make no mistake about it. Jackson is loved because of his authenticity. He balls out on game day. His thirst to win is unparalleled. He accepts blame, distributes praise and support his teammates. Nothing that he does is disingenuous or malicious. So do yourself a favor and skip, Skip Bayless’ agenda.

As for Lamar’s agenda, who knows. I keep hearing that he wants a 100% guaranteed deal. I also keep hearing that the Ravens aren’t going to do that.

Where this ends is anyone’s guess.

One thing I am sure of. Winning cures many things.

Just win.

The rest will take care of itself.

 

Related Article: [Justin] Houston, We Have No Problem

6 Responses

  1. I have called him Skip Clueless for years. He is just another self-inflating balloon and should never be taken seriously. Consider him the comic relief . . .

  2. Another article that’s aged like milk…also, stop the nonsense with the “there were no guys worth getting this season” trope. The Ravens had four years to solidify the WR room and did it with one year signs of wash vets off the couch and 4th round lottery tickets that produce jack squat. Sad is an understatement

    1. In the past four drafts, the Ravens have picked two WR in the first round, two in the 3rd, and one in the 4th. That’s substantial investment. You could argue with the quality of some of those picks, but the investment is there. The Ravens have never been big spenders in free agency, if that’s what you’re looking for.

      Bateman is just bad luck. The guy was never injured in college.

  3. The Ravens need to change the whole culture of the team if we want to watch Lamar throwing to wide open receivers down field every week. They can’t just go out and get a speedy flyer who will only become disgruntled and ask to be traded because he isn’t getting enough action in a run heavy offense. Plus our culture doesn’t develop those type of players out of college. We keep going to that well and come up with an empty bucket.

    We should keep in mind that the Ravens have won 2 Superbowls without a flashy wide receiver. Yet the drumbeat continues “Oh our team needs to get one of those flashy guys “, yet every time we go out and get flash receiver, we come away disappointed.

    Besides that, gunslinger QBs and speedy sure handed receivers is not an easy culture to build and maintain and no guarantee of Superbowls. Who is going to block and tackle once we spend all our money on Lamar and Tyreek type receiver’s? That is a delicate balance. And KC is an anomaly.

Comments are closed.

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