Baltimore Ravens 2020 Team Previewby Dale Money August 27, 2020 0 comments
After starting the season 2-2 the Ravens would go on an incredible tear, winning their next 12 games. They would finish the regular season with their best record in club history along with a first-round bye. Coming into the playoffs Baltimore was already being dubbed as a Super Bowl favorite as is to be expected. However, they would not be prepared for the Cinderella story that was the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee would have a 28-6 lead after three quarters, before finally finishing the game out with a 28-12 result. Jackson to his credit would finish the game with 142 yards rushing.
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The Ravens would add two crucial defensive pieces in off-season free agency, having signed both 2019 Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell and defensive tackle Derek Wolfe. Now in his 12th season, Campbell has compiled 88 sacks, 696 combined tackles, and 14 forced fumbles over that time frame. In 2017 in fact, Campbell would break his record for sacks in a season with 14.5. He is set to make 15 million dollars in base salary over the next two seasons with Baltimore. Wolfe would be added to bolster the hole at defensive tackle. Wolfe was a core member of that Denver Broncos defense that helped lead Peyton Manning to his final Super Bowl victory just four years ago. He will get paid 3 million dollars for one season, all of which is guaranteed.
While Jackson’s passing numbers cooled off after his early outbreak, his rushing numbers were strong enough to continue balancing it out. In those last seven weeks of the regular season, Jackson would kick his passing game back into high gear, throwing for at least three touchdowns or more in five of those games and not a single interception. Jackson would finish the regular season, with 36 touchdowns along 1,206 rushing yards, breaking the single-season record. A fantastic sophomore campaign to be sure, It should be good enough to make him the runaway favorite for League MVP. The Jackson era in Baltimore looks to be around for a good long while. While the Ravens offense was strong in most facets, the wide receiving part of their game has continued to show that it is still a work in progress.
The addition of former Sooner Marquise Brown last season was a good first step to helping build the receiving core. However, his production did quite live up to the hype. Brown’s seven touchdowns would tie him with fellow rookies Terry McLaurin and D.K. Metcalf, however, he would hit the 100-yards-receiving target just twice. Looking towards Brown’s prospects for next year, it was great to see him come through with such a strong showing in his first postseason meeting. It was a game in which Hollywood put up 126 yards through the air, and included a marvelous one-hand grab for 38 yards on a 3rd and 14.
Mark Ingram signing on with the Ravens was much needed on both ends. For Baltimore, they needed a total revamp of their running game, after suffering through the three-headed running attack of Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon, and Gus Edwards. Ingram would make the most of his opportunity, contributing double-digit rushing touchdowns and over 1,000 yards on the ground. With the addition of J.K. Dobbins in this year’s NFL Draft, Ingram may potentially have that player behind him that can help carry the load at the running back position.
Mark Andrews would blossom in his sophomore campaign, developing a strong connection with Jackson. It would start in the week one pasting off Miami, adding over 100 yards through the air along with a touchdown. Andrews 10 touchdowns led all tight ends and were tied for second-most in the league. He would also lead the Ravens in yards receiving. With the trade of tight end Hayden Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons this off-season, it helps to greatly expand on Andrews’s snap count from a season ago. Now coming into his third year, Andrews should be able to take advantage of the increased opportunities that will be afforded to him.
Due to a scuffle with fellow safety Chuck Clark this past week at practice, Earl Thomas has since had his contract terminated by the Ravens. With Thomas now gone it will indeed cause a serious ripple effect to not only the Ravens secondary but the team defense in general. Besides Clark, there is not one current player at the Safety position that started more than five games with the club last season. Certainly, there are players on the roster that could step in, however, most of those players are in real danger of not making the 53 man roster.
The Ravens now turn to DeShon Elliott to take up that starting role at free safety. With very little real depth behind Elliott as it is currently, the Ravens will most likely need to go out and find another player to fill that backup role at free safety. Now in his sophomore season with Baltimore, Elliot will look to make his mark on the defensive secondary. He is not only quick but is also a very sound tackler. Elliott played six games in his rookie season with the Ravens, posting six tackles and one defended pass.
Jimmy Smith was brought back for another season, having signed a one-year extension at 6 million dollars. After being injured in the opening week versus the Miami Dolphins, he would return for the last nine games. Now in his eight-season with the Ravens Smith will continue to serve as that solid rotational player behind Marlon Humphrey.
Predicting the 53 Man Roster
QB (3) Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin, Trace McSorley
Jackson had been dealing with a nagging groin injury, however, he has since rejoined his teammates at practice. Griffin continues to hold down the backup role behind Jackson. McSorley should beat out rookie Tyler Huntley for that last spot on the Ravens quarterback depth chart.
RB (5) Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Patrick Ricard
Ingram still controls the running back spot coming into this upcoming season, although Dobbins seems to be the next likely successor. Dobbins has reportedly been making great strides in Ravens’ practice and should be able to eat away at a portion of Ingram’s touches in 2020. Edwards was re-signed in the off-season and will hold that role behind Ingram and Dobbins. Edwards will continue to get touches and hold value as that useful backup.
Brown built up his frame quite a bit over the off-season. He went from 157 pounds in his rookie year to 180 pounds. He’s gonna be looking to greatly improve upon his rookie yardage, in which he produced just 584 yards on 71 targets. With the addition of Duvernay you’re getting a player, that is not only fast as a deer, but also possesses some of the surer hands among this cast of receivers.
TE (3) Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Charles Scarff
Andrews had a monster year in 2019 and will be given plenty more opportunities with the loss of Hurst. Boyle continues to be that strong blocking tight end and will not likely threaten Andrews’s offensive attention.
OL (9) Ronnie Stanley, Bradley Bozeman, Matt Skura, Orlando Brown, Ben Powers, Patrick Mekari, Will Holden, Randin Crecelius, Tyre Phillips
After 13 stellar seasons with the Ravens, Marshal Yanda retired from the league. Powers now in his sophomore season will have some pretty big shoes to fill at right guard. It was only nine months ago that Skura suffered a torn ACL and has since returned to practice, certainly will have to keep tabs on Skura’s progress as time moves on. Brown and Stanley will look after the right and left tackle positions respectively.
DL (6) Derek Wolfe, Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Patrick Ricard, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington
They invested a lot this off-season to secure the defensive line and it should pay off. They were able to plug up the left and right defensive end positions. With Michael Pierce now out of the picture, there is no one to challenge Williams for that defensive tackle spot. The draft additions of Madubuike and Washington should help create plenty of depth behind Wolfe and Williams.
EDGE (5) Pernell McPhee, Jaylon Ferguson, Chauncey Rivers, Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser
After coming off a 9.5 sack performance last season Judon was given the franchise tag after failing to agree on a new contract. Judon will start opposite McPhee as they will control the outside linebacker roles. Bowser is now on a contract year and will be looking to prove himself to potential suitors.
LB (4) Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, Chris Board, L.J. Fort
The Ravens have done a superb job at rebuilding this inside linebacker position for the future. Rookie additions Harrison and Queen will man the two inside linebacker roles in week one.
Corner (5) Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, Marcus Peters, Anthony Averett, Tavon Young
The Ravens had one of the best cornerback cores in the AFC and that hasn’t changed this year. They bring back a pair of Pro Bowl selections from last season in Humphrey and Peters. They get Young back after a year off to recover from a neck injury. The reintroduction of Young greatly strengthens this unit even further.
SAF (4) Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Jordan Richards, Anthony Levine
With Thomas gone and only two weeks left until opening week, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how the Ravens handle this. As it is now they will be looking to Clark and Elliott to help carry the can as the two leaders at the safety position. If they cannot find a suitable backup to serve behind Elliott at free safety it could be Smith that gets swapped out, so stay tuned.
ST (3) Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
Having finished with the second-highest field goal last season Tucker returns as arguably the top placekicker in the game. Koch returns for his 14th season with the club, having not missed a single game in that time.
I’m sure theirs many that feel the Baltimore Ravens blew their golden opportunity in the playoffs, after having such a monumental regular season. However, they have a lot to be happy about, first, the opportunities are still there. The AFC North is still very winnable, their biggest competition in the division next year will most likely be the Pittsburgh Steelers as Ben Roethlisberger returns from injury. However, the hourglass on Roethlisberger’s career is closing in fast. As for the Browns, its anyone guess as to whether or not Baker Mayfield can get it together after suffering such a sophomore jinx. When you consider the outlook on Baltimore’s competition, you can’t help but feel good about their chances of repeating as division winners in 2020.
I expect the AFC North to be a two-horse race between the Ravens and Steelers. The quarterback duels between Jackson and Big Ben will be quite entertaining in 2020. It all comes down to how the Ravens perform in those games against Pittsburgh. If they don’t manage to clinch the division they should at the very least finish with a wild card spot.
Season Prediction: 11-5 Wins AFC North
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