With cornerback Marlon Humphrey off the field at least to start the season, the Ravens are looking for answers on the backside of the defense. Luke Jones and Nestor discuss ways that the Ravens will cope with the loss of the Pro Bowler and what that means for coordinator Mike Macdonald.
playing, dobbins, week, offense, marlon humphrey, ravens, defense, teams, year, game, humphrey, season, football, starters, ball, ronald darby, point, field, feels, deal
Luke Jones, Nestor Aparicio
Nestor Aparicio 00:01
Welcome back wn S T tested Baltimore and Baltimore positive I’m positively back from Ocean City just time to watch football. Ah, two football games this week a lot of baseball games this week. But more than that sort of some background here as we get ready for Pappus next week we’re doing the Maryland crab cake tour. So brought to you by our friends at the Maryland lottery beginning from scratch offs away. We were at Mako last Thursday and Friday a sitting down with both of our senators, both Senator Ben Cardin as well as Chris Van Hollen sat with us Mayor Brandon Scott, many others. You could check it all out out of the audio vault at Baltimore positive on our podcast, audio vault, and of course at am 1570 Luke Jones joins us now joins us now as you say to discuss, you know, things go wrong during training camp, you know, and this is why you don’t want a quarterback getting roughed around. This is why you don’t want any roughhouse in with visiting teams from Philadelphia. Luke joins us now. He’s been at Owings Mills and will be at both games this week. The Marlon Humphrey situation this this is not good. This is this is a bad wn St. Text brought to you by Koons Baltimore for Yeah, I mean,
Luke Jones 01:12
it’s it’s not the worst case scenario but it’s certainly not great, especially when we’ve been talking about Conor being one of those positions where you depth is lacking and question you know, surefire things are lacking. You know, the one shore thing you have in the secondary and specific not the secondary, but the quarterback pitch position specifically, is your three time Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey Well, one of the best corners in the AFC. He’s been that way for the last five or six years. And you know whether he’s playing on the outside at times, they’ve moved him inside to the nickel because they’ve had injuries with other guys. He’s the guy you count on. And we’ve seen it, I’ll be it not too much. But end of the 2021 season. We saw it in week two against Miami last year when Humphrey was a little banged up and suddenly to a tongue of Iowa’s throwing the ball over the heads of the guys in the secondary and we saw what the dolphins did in the fourth quarter of that game. Long story short, things have not gone well for the Ravens defense when mortal Humphrey is not out there. So when you find out this week, this past week that he’s going to have foot surgery and has already had it and is going to miss the beginning of the season. Now your John Harbaugh says he’s confident he’s going to be back very early in the season. Look, he’s not gonna be there for week one, I’d be surprised if he’s ready for week two, which is obviously a big trip to Cincinnati knowing where we expect the ravens and Bengals to be duking it out for the top of the AFC North this year. It’s not great. But at the same time with this foot issue, which is not a loose Frank injury. So that’s very good news in and of itself. But, you know, whatever the issue is, whether it’s, you know, crack, metatarsal, whatever, you know, people have speculated the Ravens haven’t said specifically, but you want to get it taken care of, and you don’t want to rush him back. You want to have a healthy Marlon Humphrey for the rest of the season. So if that means he’s not ready to week three, week four, week five, then so be it you have to deal with and the good news is you look at the early slate of quarterbacks, Houston, rookie quarterback, Indianapolis, rookie quarterback, you’re gonna have to deal with Joe burrow in the Bengals in week two, but Joe burrow has missed most of training camp with the calf issue. So he’s not necessarily going to be at the top of his game when he’s playing in week two. So but you’ve got to think in the big picture. And that’s what the Ravens did here. It was, it was the kind of issue that Humphrey had that one he was practicing with it. I mean, he spoke to the media the day before he got checked out. And they determined that he was going to have surgery. So he was practicing with it. But as John Harbaugh alluded to, he could have tried to play with it. But it’s one of those where it can get worse and probably would have gotten worse over the course of the season. And that’s no good for a team that’s leaning on him to be, you know, along with ro Quan Smith are two best players on the defensive side of the ball. So he’s out. They bring in Ronald Darby who is coming off of an ACL injury that he had in Denver, last October. He’s worked out for a number of teams, this offseason, a number of teams elected not to sign him. So I’m not going to sit here and say that Ronald Darby is going to solve all their problems that they’re going to have at that position, even though he has been a solid above average starter when he’s been healthy over the course of his career, but he’s older, and he’s coming off of an ACL. So I think you have to be realistic there. I think the reality of where the Ravens stand with their defense without Marlon Humphrey and we were talking about this, even with Marlon Humphrey is, cornerback is a concern right now. And that’s where you look at them going out and signing to Davey on clowny. To hopefully that helps their pass rush. They’re obviously leaning so heavily on OA and David a job oh two got to really pick up the slack there. But I look at where they are in the middle of the defense, they gave Marcus Williams the contract that they did last year, they have Kyle Hamilton at safety, you’re hoping your safeties are going to be a big plus for your defense, right? I mean, those resources are major that you invested there. And you have a $100 million, middle linebacker and row Quan Smith. So they’re leaning on their other stars on that defense, the other prominent players on that defense to pick up the slack. And on the flip side, you need your offense, which has had tons of resources used to beef up this passing game, they might need to score a few more points early in the year when you don’t have Humphrey out there. And you have some questions about whoever is going to be lining up at corner at this point. So you know, it’s not something that dramatically alters their season in the big picture sense. But it does open the door for them to have some a few more struggles early on. So that’s just the reality. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not, you know, it’s not a list, Frank, it’s not some season altering kind of injury, as hardball said, and we’ll take his word for it, at least on this point, is they think with him getting the surgery cleans up the issue, he’ll come back and it it isn’t something that’s going to linger. And that’s what you hope for right? So that’s why you don’t want to rush him back. If he has to Miss 234, maybe five games to start the year, you’ve got to deal with it. Because you want him to be right. You want him to be at his best for late October, November, December, January. So you know, you never want to deal with it. But as we’ve seen around the league, whether you’re talking about teams that are playing their starters, in the preseason, and there are still plenty of teams doing that, whether you’re talking about guys that get hurt during training camp practices, it’s part of the deal, you’re going to have some guys that get hurt and the Ravens, you know, they’ve managed to avoid any big time season ending injuries through the first three weeks of camp. But, you know, this is unfortunate, but it’s not that season altering season ending kind of variety of an injury where, you know, you’re just holding your breath. And that’s why we’re not seeing starters play. You know, we didn’t see it in Philadelphia, not gonna see it, you know, over the remainder of the preseason schedule other than your fringe, John Simpson types, you know, guys that are trying to carve out a starting role. You know, other than that, it’s gonna be backups and rookies playing and we’ve seen that, and that’s where the Ravens stand on that on that issue right now. So it’s definitely unfortunate, but you want to make sure Marlon Humphrey is right later in the season. And for him, that meant getting the surgery getting this foot, right. And unfortunately, the ravens are gonna have to figure it out. But they have plenty of players. They have plenty of talent in other areas of the roster that you hope you can make. Make up for it in the time, but for the time being,
Nestor Aparicio 07:50
you know, look, I chatted with Delegate Carl Anderton who’s on the Eastern Shore, he’s ever why comico county cornbread. And he and his buddies drive across the bridge for every game, right? So they come over tailgate, he, he wants to be down there at 815. They leave the Eastern Shore at 545, you know, every every Sunday for games. And he and I got into it about the team and Lamar and expectations and the Orioles. We did a little sports turn in addition to the stadium and bonds and money and John and we did all that. But I said to him sort of flippantly in the conversation, just getting down as you don’t want to. I think the defense on this team might be better than the offense. And it was like there’s still one ball and there’s six guys you think they’re gonna get it on offense. And I’m still unclear on the offensive side as far as what success would look like for them if they’re going to throw the ball more often. I think the RO Quan Smith thing is kind of genius in the part of Eric de Costa to sort of import that kind of leader. I know you’ve spoken to that leadership out on the field in Owens mills and him playing on a crappy team and being a really special guy and a guy that they would have loved to have drafted and they now they have them. They have in the prime of his career he signed, sealed delivered all that I had higher hopes for the defense in making bigger steps this year. Because I think there’s a lot of hype on the offense. And I’m not trying to be a contrarian at all, but I believe the offense when I see it I’ll believe Lamar Jackson healthy for 18 games when I see it I’ll believe Peyton and when I see it, I’ll you know I believe the running game in this way and the new offense when I say because I’m not seeing it all told Houston and maybe even the test drives they’ll they’ll make against bad teams early in the year. But I I really held out thought that second year with the coordinator, he’s John’s guy, they’ve got their players. Eric made a huge decision to import this leader into the defense and signed him. Lamar is contract be damned all of that. I held that hope that the defense I will say special, but I thought they would be the better side of the ball. And that can sound outrageous with all Attention on the offense. But I think the defense as a your words, always with the lower floor, higher ceiling, whatever that one is, I think the defense has a better chance of not sucking. Fair enough up. I,
Luke Jones 10:14
I think it’s a really interesting proposition. I think when you look at the offense look, I’ll say this. And this is an even going off of what I’ve seen during training camp, because look, practices are practice, right? I can tell you so many guys that have looked great during training camp teams that I thought looked great on one side of the ball or the other and training camp, and then attitude after
Nestor Aparicio 10:37
doing this 15 years, you’re not some new to the rodeo, where like you fall in love with gym shorts on August 10. Like, that’s not who you I mean, you’re the most skeptical skeptic about all of this crap in August, and you devote more time to it than anybody?
Luke Jones 10:52
Well, it’s just, I think you’ve just you have so many examples over the years, guys that look great this time of year, and then end up not being great. And on the flip side, I have used this example with you before I can remember Mark Andrews, his first training camp, he didn’t look very good, he looks slow. I think he was a little banged up. And I had my questions, just how involved he was really going to be as a rookie. And we saw what he did as a rookie. And he was by the end of the year, you know, looking like market the market, Andrew is that he became over the last few years and you know, multiple time Pro Bowl tight ends. So you never really know on that front. I’ll say this with the offense and look. Odell Beckham has looked very good. He’s practiced way more than I thought he would this summer Nestor. So I think that one is a credit to him, too. It’s a credit to the ravens, at least so far, so good. On that front, and these look good. You know, I don’t know what that’s gonna mean. I’m not saying that’s going to be the Beckham of 2014. With the Giants, you know, I’m not saying he’s gonna be a 1300 yard receiver. But so far, so good. And he’s he’s played well say flowers. My goodness, everyone left and right in Baltimore, and around the NFL is hyping up. He’s got talent, he does believe me, I look at him. And I say, he looks the part of someone that’s going to help them. But again, until they kick it off for real until their game planning until everyone’s on the field and everyone’s healthy and everyone’s staying healthy, there is still some unknown, I’ll say this, just in a very simplistic level with the offense. I do think they have a higher ceiling now than they did at any point under Greg Roman since the 2019. Record breaking season, because they are doing things differently. And they’re not in this stagnant position that they found themselves in over the last few years where you just felt like they need a higher ceiling on the passing side. And Greg, Romans, not the guy to do that, you know, he’s never been that guy on the passing game side as a coordinator. So they have a higher ceiling. There’s no doubt about that with the talent that they have added. However, what I will say and this is where I’ll compliment Greg Roman, and you just mentioned talking about the running game, they were working from a position of having a very high floor. Now they knew that they were a team that just about every week could run for 200 yards. And you’re gonna beat a lot of teams playing that kind of style. Now not
Nestor Aparicio 13:10
screwing up, not that short. But look over five years, and I haven’t said this in eight months. I thought that kicking the ball around and sleight of hand and you and I’ve talked about this going back to Mark Ingram, right like that the ball would wind up getting fumbled more often than you want it to be. And that has not been and they have not been a fumble team. They have not been in reception team. They haven’t been an interception teams. They don’t throw a lot of passes. So I mean, and it’s in Lamar is safe with the football Lamar is a really safe, he takes care of the football that is a that out, I’ll put that in there overall from the beginning, that that is the kiss of death. If the ball starts getting it starts hitting the ground?
Luke Jones 13:53
Sure, sure. No question about it. So. So the point is, when you are opening things up, and you’re going to be spreading out more, you’re going to be throwing the ball more than you have in the past. And again, I’ll continue to say I don’t think that means they’re going to be past heavy team, but they’re going to be more aggressive. There’s no question about that. So inherently, whether you’re talking about Lamar Jackson, whether you’re talking about games, where Patrick mahomes is throwing the ball more than he normally does even, yeah, inherently you’re gonna have a little more risk for interceptions and turning the ball over. So, you know, my global point here, which I think is in line with what you’re saying is, I absolutely believe and feel that this offense has a higher ceiling because of I think they are going to throw the ball better than they have in the past or certainly gonna throw it more than they have in the past. But that also what comes with that is the unknown of are you taking care of the ball quite as well? Do you have a little bit of a lower floor is a Todd Monken running game not going to be quite as dynamic as a Greg Roman running game if we’re strictly talking about the rushing side of things. Now granted, Lamar Jackson is still there, whether he’s going to take off or whether it’s just the thread of him potentially taking off, that will continue to give their running game and advantage against opponents because so few other quarterbacks in this league other than Justin fields and a couple others have a situation where the defense truly has to play 11 on 11 football because you know, Lamar, whether he’s going to as often as not, or as often as he has in the past, he’s still a threat to take off on any play and can take it to the house. But yeah, they’re gonna have a higher ceiling. But there probably is a little bit of a lower floor, especially early in the season, as they’re trying to figure out how all these parts work, how it’s going to gel, all of those different factors. So, you know, on the flip side, as you mentioned with the defense, you know, there’s something to that, however, I’ll continue to say, even though yes, I liked the Ronald Darby edition, I liked the addition of Jadeveon Clowney, especially considering both of these guys are not, they’re not dramatic financial commitments that are going to drastically alter your salary cap. I mean, their one year deals, their one year deals with incentives. I mean, that’s just where they are right now with these two. But we’re talking about your secondary and specifically outside corner. And we’re talking about your pass rush, pretty important elements to a defense. So that’s where you do look at this and, and I get your point. But what I’ll say without Marlon Humphrey, especially here early in the season, I want the offense to be better than the defense in that bucket because I think it’s gonna be tough for the defense to play its absolute best football when you’re without Humphrey. I mean, it’s just it’s he’s a $20 million player I mean, if it’s not a big deal that he’s not out there then that’s when you start to say well, why are you paying them all that money? I mean, you know, next man up applies for average starters and guys of that nature, but you’re not replacing Marlon Humphrey. So that’s where I think there is a little more pressure on this offense early on to maybe be really good or great sooner rather than later especially when you look at that week to trip to Cincinnati now where you’re not going to Marlon Humphrey out there most likely, you know as rakia seen and Ronald Darby and Brandon Stevens, are they going to be up to the task of
Nestor Aparicio 17:12
it’s gonna be a four point dog already right in Cincinnati. Week two, right?
Luke Jones 17:15
I think they’re gonna be a dog anyway. I mean, even with Marlon Humphrey. Look, you tell me right now they go to Cincinnati, and we’re not gonna be shocked or anything like that. But that’s gonna be a tough match.
Nestor Aparicio 17:24
I’ll tell you that they’re better than you think they are.
Luke Jones 17:27
I mean, it’s just they’re good. I think they’re good. I think this is I think this is gonna be a good and I think it’s has a great chance to be a really good football team. You know, I’ve already said I said this two months ago, I my expectation for them is they’re playing divisional round weekend, and then after that, we’ll see, you know, I mean, that’s what more can you ask for than that. But with Humphrey being out, I think there probably is a little more pressure on the offense early to maybe find that higher ceiling a little bit earlier than you would have expected. You know what, just knowing that you have so many players on your defense, Humphrey, you know, your your safeties inside linebacker, you’re hoping to Javo and adopt AOA take a step forward. But there’s still some unknown there with the pass rush and especially now at corner, which we were talking about a little bit anyway, but especially now so yeah, that’s where you look at this and say, you know, to win week two you’re gonna need your your big boy offense to show up against the Bengals. Because you know, is Mike MacDonald’s unit can be able to hold the Bengals to 17 or 20 points without Marlon Humphrey then that might be that’s gonna be a big ask, I think especially early in the season. So not saying this to be doom and gloom or to panic. I think it’s just the reality of where they are when they’re gonna be missing. Either their best or or, you know, along with ro Quan Smith, one of their two best players on the defensive side of the football. I mean, it’s, it’s a big loss for the time being. Good news is you’re going to have them back by October, I would assume so. You know, it’s just where they stand and Hey, you, you have a 250 million plus quarterback, you know, $260 million quarterback. You spent $15 million on Odell Beckham, you have to first round picks at the wide receiver position and zay flowers and Rashad Bateman, you have an All Pro tight end still in Mark Andrews, you have four of your five starters on the offensive line returning from last year. You have Todd Monken, who you’re really excited about and is going to run more 11 personnel and they’re going to spread out the field and force a defense to defend every blade of grass. Why can’t the offense step up with the defense missing one of its top players early on so you know I think the expectation needs to be there that Yeah, especially now they’ll be okay against Houston you know they’ll be fine against Houston they’ll be fine against Indianapolis and week three you know they’ll probably be Nope, they might be fine against going to Cleveland and week four who knows with what Deshaun Watson is going to look like this year you know after not looking very good last year in his suspended abbreviate Good season. But talking week two, knowing what we’re, you know our expectations of this being Bengals and ravens neck and neck in the AFC north as it’s been in the last couple years. Well, you’re gonna need your offense to put on its big boy pants for week two. And that’s okay to feel that way, given the expectations they have, but acknowledging what you said and what I just laid out that. Yeah. Is that all going to gel as quickly as you want it to? And then and that’s a fair question, at least as it pertains to playing the Bengals so early in the season.
Nestor Aparicio 20:30
Luke Jones is here. He will be in Owings Mills all week and it’s a short week between games, weird games backups. We’ll see how it goes. second string quarterback third string quarterback all that happened and JK Dobbins expected somebody to have to run the ball in these preseason games to run out the string year and getting him onto the field. And I’ve I hear JT the brick screaming about get Josh Jacobs on the field out in Las Vegas. Several teams have this issue right now having Oh, you’re my running back. Welcome to Camp nice to see it’s the end of August where you’ve been. But this is the time that we would say all right, it’s a ramp up. We’re two weeks out on the real thing. Thoughts on Dobbins thoughts on the offense and what you’re seeing on those back fields that we’re not seeing? Yeah,
Luke Jones 21:16
I think from a football standpoint with Dobbins having returned, what was it August 14, I think was his first day on the practice field, which by the way, it was exactly what I forecasted. As far as how I saw this playing out. He ended up ultimately, he mitigated a couple of weeks worth of practice injury risk, early training camp injury risk, and he felt that that was the right play for him. We can debate whether that did anything for him contractually. And it didn’t. He didn’t get his deal when he wasn’t going to get his deal by doing that. It was all always going to come down to him having his best possible season that he’s going to get paid by the ravens, or one of the 31 other teams next March. I mean, that’s just how it works. He needs to have a great season. And to his credit. He comes in. He’s going to when it’s all said and done assuming he stays healthy. He’s going to have four weeks of practice prior to kick off against the Texans on September 10. So he gives himself plenty of time. He looks like he’s in good shape. They ramped up his activity this past week. He’s not gonna play in the preseason, just like none other key starters are playing in the preseason. It’s just the way they’re approaching it now. Maybe it’ll change if you know, the next subpar season they have, they’ll probably go back to plan their starters. I mean, that’s how this kind of stuff works. You know, it’s funny to see, you know, Andy Reid plays Patrick mahomes and the Chiefs starters. But the ravens and there are other teams around the league. You know, we talked about this with the Rams the last few years, they didn’t play their starters. And they won a Super Bowl a couple years ago. So, you know, it’s it’s one of those things that I think we probably put a little too much stock into it, but it is a new offense. I think there is at least an argument to be made about the unknown and not putting these guys out there for a live game setting. I’m okay with it. I have no problem with them not playing in the preseason, but there it leaves a little more unknown. But as it pertains to Dobbins, whatever Fallout is there, from a business standpoint, in terms of how he feels, how the organization feels toward him, as it pertains to football. I think it’s water under the bridge from a football standpoint, because I think he’s in shape, assuming he doesn’t suffer an injury, which by the way, he could have suffered on July 28. If he gets injured, it’s football, you get hurt. You know, that’s just kind of how this works. But he appears to be in good shape. He’s going to be their lead back. I am intrigued to see what JK Dobbins looks like in a Todd Monken offense, which I think we’re gonna see more throws to the backs, certainly going to see throw more runs from 11 personnel, which I think is something that can be advantageous with a lighter Runbox you know, going up against so, I think Dobbins is going to have a really strong year. How much are they going to ride him? Well, we asked that same question under Greg Roman so I think you still have other backs. Gus Edwards. I think they I think they like justice hill a little bit. I think you might see him involved in a third down capacity from time to time as it Give, give Dobbins or arrest every, every three series, something like that. So we’ll see how that plays out. But as it pertains to Dobbins, he looks like JK Dobbins out there. You know, he’s looked healthy. You know, I haven’t seen him do a ton of full team stuff just yet because they are still ramping him up. So you know, can’t I don’t want to make too much of an assumption there. But what we’ve seen at this point, I don’t think his little hauled in, you know, him missing the first three weeks of Camp roughly. He gave himself plenty of time if he had come in and hadn’t started practicing until September 3. Then I think this would be a different discussion, I think, then you’d be asking, you know, is he really far behind as you know, the offense? Is he going to be in football shape. He’s given himself enough time here. And this has played out about how I thought it would wasn’t going to be a long term contract now, but he’s back on the field, and
Nestor Aparicio 25:17
nonstory now, after being a story, the story now is, how to run the ball and how well you’re gonna run it.
Luke Jones 25:22
Exactly, exactly. And by the way, that was still going to be the story for him anyway, whether he started practicing on August 14, or whether it was gonna be September 28, there was going to be nothing he did, over the first three weeks of practice, that was going to change his fate as it pertained to getting the big, lucrative long term deal that he seeks, which, by the way, who knows if he’s gonna get it from anyone, even if he has a great year, because that’s just the reality of the position right now. But as, as we said, and I respect this to a point, but also I understand there are ramifications for this, from how the organization feels, how his teammates feel, who knows, but from a football standpoint, him mitigating his early training camp injury risk, he was able to accomplish that, and he’s back on the field, and he’s got plenty of time still to get ready. And we’re not gonna see him in the preseason games, just like, we’re not going to see any of the notable starters, but he has kept himself in good shape. And however, the season is gonna play out for him, you know, I think he’s going to be ready to maximize whatever he can do. And the key for that is, you know, we’ve seen JK Dobbins play at a high level, he’s played at a high level. And his, you know, whenever he’s been on the field, he’s been that good for the Ravens other than early last year before he ended up getting the knee scoped. You know, he’s been a guy who’s average, close to six yards a carry, I mean, I don’t need to tell you, that’s really darn good. But the big question for him is, can you do that? For 17 games? Can you do that for at least 15 or 16? Games, let’s say and more importantly for him, and more importantly for the ravens, can you do that come January, which is really when you can make your money if you’re looking like one of the best running backs in the NFL and Dobbins feels he is that and I think the Ravens feel he has the potential to be that but he’s got to go out and do it if he’s going to get paid either here in Baltimore or elsewhere in the NFL.
Nestor Aparicio 27:20
He’s Luke Jones. He is Baltimore Luke, he’s gonna be in Owings Mills all week as well as up late with them. 30 games over 500 Blue Jays in town the Rockies, the lowly Rockies coming to town before the lowly Chicago White Sox. It feels fun to be like wait, you tweeted that on such winnings fun, baseball’s fun footballs on the back burner until Marlin Humphrey gets hurt. We got football two weeks out. We got football on the brain baseball with a brain. I was at Mako last week in Ocean City with many of the electeds here in Maryland, including our governor Westmoreland clinic Governor Runa Miller had Ben Cardin as well as Chris Van Hollen and Mayor Brandon Scott on next week, next Tuesday. The 29th will be at Pappas in Glen Burnie with Anna Rondo county executive Steuart Pittman. Get ready for the kids going back to school getting ready for football and getting ready for October. Baseball. Wow, get the bunting out. On Nestor. He’s Luke we are wn st am 1570, Towson Baltimore. And we never stopped talking fake football at least until the real stuff begins. Stay with us.