Even before the first game of the season, the Baltimore Ravens’ injury misery is immense. A failure is particularly serious and threatens the standing of the team in the AFC. An inventory before the start on Monday evening at the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Baltimore Ravens should go into the 2021 season as one of the top favorites of the AFC and continue to shine with their running game and bring new impulses to the passing game through targeted reinforcements in this area.
In the weeks before their first game of the season with the Las Vegas Raiders (on Tuesday night from 2.15 a.m. live on DAZN) However, the starting position deteriorated rapidly.
After running back JK Dobbins and linebacker LJ Fort both tore their cruciate ligaments during the preseason, the second running back was caught shortly afterwards in training – Justice Hill tore his Achilles tendon. Last Thursday the next low blow: both replacement starter running back Gus Edwards and cornerback Marcus Peters also tore their cruciate ligaments a few minutes one after the other during training.
For everyone, the season is over before it even begins.
Also missing from the start are the new hopefuls for wide receivers, rookie Rashod Bateman, who will miss at least the first three games – probably more – with a groin injury, as well as his colleague Miles Boykin, who is plagued by his rear thigh. In addition, defensive lineman Derek Wolfe should also be absent from training after a two-week absence from training.
In the first instance, the Ravens reacted to the failures in the backfield with short-term obligations. While last year’s Undrafted Rookie and Practice Squad player Ty’Son Williams is starting the season, Free Agent Trenton Cannon (48 Carries in the NFL) was brought in as possible number 3.
In addition, Baltimore added the veterans Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman to its Practice Squad, although the latter is likely to be ahead of the game because he was preparing for the Saints, while Bell is more or less off the road. In addition, ex-Saints running back Latavius Murray received a one-year contract on Friday.
But how serious are these failures?
Baltimore Ravens: Three of the top four rushers are missing
Based on last year’s numbers, the Ravens lost three of their top 4 rushers from last year – team leader Lamar Jackson (1005 YDS) is still there, but Dobbins (805 YDS) and Edwards (723 YDS) are now injured while Mark Ingram (299 YDS) was let go. For a team that has led the league in rushing yards for the past two years, this means that significant production is lost.
However, the fact remains that running back is the position that is most likely to be replaced. Dobbins in particular may fit in well with Greg Roman’s offense, but ultimately, average substitutes should be able to run efficiently in this scheme and behind the Ravens’ offensive line. According to ESPN The Ravens ranked fourth in the NFL with a run block win rate of 73 percent. And loud Football Outsiders this line came to 4.58 adjusted line yards, which was good enough for rank 8.
Now said line may have changed to four positions, but it cannot be assumed that this will affect the basic philosophy of the Ravens. And in general it should also continue to apply that this offense only goes as far as Jackson ultimately carries.
It looks more problematic on Cornerback, where Peters has been a real asset to this secondary since his arrival in 2019. In general, he is primarily considered a dangerous ballhawk and has had 31 interceptions and seven defensive touchdowns since his rookie season in 2015. He’s also a good cover player.
This year in particular, he should also take on a kind of mentor role for the very young colleagues in the secondary. Now, however, this gap must first be closed. As far as the depth of the squad is concerned, the loss can at least be absorbed. It is still unclear who will replace Peters across from Marlon Humphrey, but it should come down to Anthony Averett (26), whom defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale has repeatedly praised.
Another option could be experienced Jimmy Smith, who has only recently returned to training after an ankle injury.
Baltimore Ravens: Peters failure threatens entire defense
Peters’ failure is particularly serious because the Ravens Defense is based on tight man coverage. This gives them the security of being more aggressive than any other team. If, on the other hand, this security gradually disappears in the secondary, the house of cards threatens to collapse little by little. It’s not that far yet, but one or two other injuries could put this unit in dire straits.
At the start of the Las Vegas Raiders this should probably not lead to too big problems, especially since Jon Gruden’s team still has some question marks after another extremely active offseason. But what happens after that?
Already in week 2 there is the annual showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs, which the Ravens have always lost in previous years. And even if the decisive duels with the Cleveland Browns in the fight for the crown of the AFC North do not start until the end of November, with the already precarious personnel situation it is to be feared that they could have rushed away by then.
The same applies to the Chiefs who are once again strong as a bear. And even the Los Angeles Chargers with their dazzling new offensive line in front of Justin Herbert could establish themselves as a new force in the conference and pose a threat to the Ravens.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson’s contract remains an issue
All against the background that Jackson has still not received a new long-term contract. With all the failures in the backfield, his individual class will have to focus even more in order to keep the team on course in the long term. And that harbors several dangers.
For the team, if the quarterback performs well, the upcoming new contract could be a lot more expensive than expected anyway – Josh Allen from the same 2018 draft year signed weeks ago for six years and $ 258 million, of which 150 million are fully guaranteed .
And if Jackson does not perform well enough to keep the team afloat, he is threatened with a difficult negotiating position that could potentially lead to a row between the two parties.
All in all, it can be said that the starting position for the Ravens has changed significantly. The biggest evil, however, is the failure of Peters, while the running backs can be replaced more or less adequately.
Rather, this team will no longer be able to cope with failures.