Baltimore Ravens 2021 Season Recapby Jack Gaffney January 13, 2022 1 comment
2021 was not the year Baltimore Ravens’ fans anticipated for a myriad of reasons. They missed the postseason for the first time since drafting Lamar Jackson, going 8-9 for fourth in the AFC North. Despite the under .500 record, the Ravens did better than they probably should have. Given that they suffered more key injuries than just about every other team in the NFL, it’s hard to fault them for the final record.
Additionally, the Ravens saw a couple of notable pieces leave town in the offseason. Those being tackle Orlando Brown Jr, who was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Along with edge rusher Matt Judon, who signed a big-money deal with the New England Patriots. However, as far as reasons the Ravens missed the postseason, effort was not one of them. John Harbaugh’s squad was competitive in just about every game this year.
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What Went Right
Before the regular season even began, the Ravens lost not one, not two, but all three of their top running backs. J.K. Dobbins tore his ACL in the final reason game against the Washington Football Team. Then Gus Edwards and Justice Hill both went down with season-ending injuries just a week and a half later. Despite these significant losses, the Ravens still managed to finish third in the NFL in terms of rushing offense.
The Ravens brought in a trio of veteran running backs over the course of the season to lead the run game. Le’Veon Bell was one of those three, but only saw carries in five games before being let go. The two key pickups were Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman. The duo combined for over 1000 yards and 11 touchdowns. To not much of a surprise, however, Jackson lead the team in rushing yards with 767 in 12 games. In any event, to end up top three in the league in rushing offense was an impressive feat for the Ravens.
What Went Wrong?
As far as the Ravens’ injuries go, it just depends on where you want to start. The three running backs were already mentioned, but Jackson missed five games, including the final four. Cornerback Marcus Peters never touched the field in the regular season due to an ACL tear. While his running mate Marlon Humphrey tore his pectoral muscle in early December. First-round receiver Rashod Bateman, who will we get to more in-depth with shortly, also missed a number of games to begin the year. For the Minnesota product, it was a groin issue that had him sidelined.
The big injuries did not stop there either for the Ravens. Former All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley played in just the opener vs the Las Vegas Raiders. He would undergo season-ending ankle surgery a little over a month later. Others who suffered significant injuries included a pair of safeties, DeShon Elliott, and UDFA Ar’Darius Washington. Both played in under a half dozen games this season. In total, the Ravens had a whopping 19 players on IR at the end of their season. To no surprise, that led the entire league. If any team can play the injury card, it’s Baltimore.
Team Award Winners
MVP – Mark Andrews
You would be hard-pressed to find a better tight end in the entire league this season than the fourth-year man out of Oklahoma. Andrews led, or was tied for the lead among all tight ends in the NFL in a number of key stats. Those being receptions, targets, yards, touchdowns, and games with 100-plus yards (five). Although the wideout situation in Baltimore has been in flux recently, Andrews continues to be the lifeblood of the Ravens’ passing attack. Him being anything short of First Team All-Pro would be an absolute shock.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Rashod Bateman
While Bateman didn’t have a year on par with Ja’Marr Chase or Jaylen Waddle, his rookie campaign was solid nonetheless. Despite playing in only 12 games, he trailed just Andrews and Marquise Brown for the team lead in receiving yards. His season highlight was a 108 yard game on seven grabs against the Cleveland Browns in Week 14. A good time for that performance as well, given his one target, zero reception outing against the Pittsburgh Steelers a week prior. With Hollywood Brown and Bateman now, the Ravens sit rather nicely in the receiver department moving forward.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Odafe Oweh
The Ravens wasted no time to fill the Judon hole in the front seven, taking the Penn State product in the first round of the 2021 draft. Playing in 64.6 percent of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in his 15 games, Oweh picked up five sacks in 2021. More impressively, he led Baltimore in pressures as well (defined as total sacks, hurries, and knockdowns), playing with Justin Houston and Calais Campbell. Like Bateman, the numbers were not mind-blowing compared to his peers, but Oweh was more than fine. If there’s one thing the Ravens do well, it’s evaluating and drafting talent. Look for Oweh to make a jump in year two.
Biggest Surprise – Tyler Huntley
The most important thing you can ask of a backup signal-caller is to give you a chance to win games. While Huntley ended up with a 1-3 record in four starts, those three losses were by a combined five points. Additionally, the loss to the Green Bay Packers came down to an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt. As far as the numbers go, the drop-off from Jackson to Huntley was not severe save for touchdown passing. The completion percentage, QBR, and passer rating were all in the same ballpark for the pair. As far as backup situations go, the Ravens should feel good about the Utah product. He performed well given the circumstances in front of him.
Biggest Disappointment – Marlon Humphrey
Despite his season-ending prematurely, Humphrey was not exactly locking down receivers in 2021. Among cornerbacks with 10 or more starts, he gave up the fourth-most yards per completion with 14.8. His 665 yards against also ranked as the 19th most in the league. In addition to six touchdowns allowed, good for a spot on a big tie for ninth-most. Despite the injury, this was not what we’ve come to expect from the former First Team All-Pro corner. Expect a bounceback year in 2022 for Humphrey.
One Burning Question
A Wink Goodbye?
It feels like there is a near-certain chance that at least one of the Ravens’ two coordinators will not return for next season. Wink Martindale has already been linked to the newly vacant New York Giants job. Big Blue passed him up for Joe Judge last go around, hard to think they’ll do that again. Regardless, he has done a great job for Baltimore ever since he took over for Dean Pees. Martindale would be a hard guy to replace, but Harbaugh probably has a number of people in mind in the event he walks.
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