Twelve Ravens thoughts during dead period in NFL offseason


With the powerful NFL machine in the midst of its quietest time of the offseason, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. We’re a month away from the start of full-team training camp with the organization able to host approximately 1,000 fans per day for Owings Mills workouts and holding a free and open stadium practice on July 31. It’s amazing to think what we used to take for granted, isn’t it?

2. Pass rush concerns have lingered for years, but it hasn’t contributed to the playoff exits. You need a more effective four-man rush against Kansas City, but Baltimore has also scored under 30 points in those defeats. I still believe in a strong secondary and scheming pressure before overpaying edge defenders.

3. Wink Martindale is the reason that philosophy works and was ranked as the league’s second-best defensive play caller by Pro Football Focus. The Ravens again leading the league in blitz rate should be one of the safest bets you could make after the departures of Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue.

4. Many didn’t like Lamar Jackson’s absence from PFF’s top 50 list, which was “a projection of what we think will happen and not necessarily a reaction to” 2020. Quantifying value can be challenging, but leaving off a quarterback whose athleticism alone makes his teammates better is a bridge too far.

5. Improving the passing game has been discussed all offseason and Greg Roman has indicated Jackson could work more from under center, but the Ravens ranked 30th in situation-neutral pace last year, according to Football Outsiders. If you’re pondering further offensive evolution, playing with quicker tempo is a logical starting point.

6. For all the talk about the newcomers and incumbents like Miles Boykin potentially being on the bubble, Devin Duvernay feels like the forgotten man in the wide receiver picture despite a perfectly fine spring. He’ll need to make the most of his opportunities, but his speed remains an interesting wildcard.

7. Pittsburgh’s decision to release six-time Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro leaves the Steelers with one returning offensive line starter. The Ravens haven’t experienced quite as much turnover, but they’re projected to have a different starter at every offensive line position from that Buffalo playoff loss. Gelling will take time.

8. We never know how draft picks are going to turn out, but a young man fulfilling his NFL dream and getting to buy his mother a house is a success no matter what happens on the field in the coming years. Good for Rashod Bateman.

9. Seeing Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, and Hayden Hurst attend the “Tight End University” summit reminds how much talent the Ravens have had at the position. The wide receiver position has improved on paper, but you’d still like to see a legitimate No. 3 option emerge behind Andrews and Nick Boyle.

10. Terrell Suggs is a few years away from eligibility for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but NFL writer Mike Tanier recently took a look at the upcoming logjam of edge rushers. My prediction is that Suggs eventually enters Canton, but he will need to wait a few additional years.

11. Unless you’re desperate to see a white or purple helmet, the news that the NFL will allow an alternate helmet likely won’t change anything for the Ravens. A messy legal history probably makes it a pipe dream, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the “flying B” logo resurface as a throwback.

12. This is the time of year in which little happens in the NFL, but the Chiefs did sign Patrick Mahomes to his record-setting extension last July 6. Short of something like that happening with Jackson, no news is good news between now and the start of camp for John Harbaugh.