Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston will reply followers’ questions all through the Ravens season. After Baltimore’s season ended Sunday evening with a 24-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, loads of questions stay because the staff heads into an important offseason.
Here’s Preston’s take:
(Editor’s observe: Questions have been edited for size and readability.)
I used to be a Ray Lewis fan however principally keep in mind him in his later years. What are the similarities and variations between him and Roquan Smith when Ray was 25? Thanks.
— Bill Reid from North East
Both are every-down linebackers who can cowl operating backs or tight ends everywhere in the subject. I don’t know Smith nicely and have solely studied him for about half a season. I used to be a first-year NFL beat author when Lewis was a rookie, so I type of grew up with him within the NFL. You can examine a number of the bodily traits and the athleticism, however Ray’s work ethic and coaching routine had been unimaginable. I haven’t been capable of watch Smith observe but as a result of NFL guidelines restrict the time media can watch practices as soon as the common season begins.
Ray went onerous in observe on a regular basis, similar to it was a sport. Whenever he stepped on the sphere, he was so intense. I like Smith’s depth as nicely and he’s relentless in pursuit, however the one factor that made Ray actually particular was his potential to remove an opponent’s want to play in opposition to him. I’ll always remember when Bengals operating again Corey Dillon advised coach Bruce Coslet he wasn’t going again out on the sphere late in a sport through the 2000 season, and I imagine it was as a result of Ray was simply destroying him and the Bengals offense. The subsequent day, Coslett both resigned or was fired, relying on which report you believed.
Loads of Ravens followers wish to examine Smith with Lewis, nevertheless it’s means too early. As a teenager, I noticed center linebackers like Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke and Willie Lanier play, however none may run like Ray. Smith is in the identical mildew however when he was in his prime Ray had an additional gear. I’ve watched him run down operating backs from behind. I don’t suppose Smith is in that league so far as complete velocity.
Mike, the NFL “talking heads” at the moment are speaking in full drive. In your opinion, do you suppose Lamar Jackson is pulling a technique just like his buddy Marquise Brown to get traded out of Baltimore? Thank you.
— Bob in North Carolina
Bob, I’ve no clue as to what Jackson is pondering and might’t think about what goes on in his head. I’ve advocated that the Ravens attempt to commerce him if the worth is correct. Maybe the staff’s entrance workplace and Jackson suppose their relationship is salvageable nevertheless it looks as if it’s time to maneuver on. The five-year relationship didn’t work out and resulted in a single playoff win. The Ravens have waited for Jackson to develop up and it hasn’t occurred. He has waited for them to supply a profitable fully-guaranteed multi-year contract, and that hasn’t occurred, both.
The time is correct to half methods — if the commerce worth is correct.
What are your ideas on Lamar staying residence from the playoff in Cincinnati? Shouldn’t a quarterback be a staff chief on the sidelines, providing assist and encouragement to his staff? It appeared that he isn’t invested within the Ravens and he’s completed with Baltimore.
— Jane Riley
There have been experiences that the Ravens don’t require or need injured gamers to journey with the staff, which is comprehensible, however as a frontrunner, I feel he ought to have been there, even when he wanted to pay his personal bills. He may have been an enormous assist to backup Tyler Huntley and No. 3 Anthony Brown. You can have an damage or a disagreement with the entrance workplace over a contract, however these had been the identical guys that began coaching camp with Jackson in late July, the identical bunch who began out with the identical aim of successful a Super Bowl.
I’m old-school. I had a center faculty coach who as soon as advised me that the one group of individuals nearer than a soccer staff had been your loved ones and males at conflict. I nonetheless imagine in that philosophy.
The Ravens dominated Sunday evening’s sport in virtually each statistical class. Performed poorly within the crimson zone and misplaced the sport. Is this a training situation? Is it time to begin planning for all times after Lamar? Is it time to begin planning for all times after Harbaugh?
— Carl Wright
I’ve already written about Lamar. I really suppose it’s time to intestine this offensive system and use one which requires extra stability. The Ravens have had a robust operating sport for years however they aren’t productive throwing down the sphere. If they fall behind, they battle to win and we’ve seen that constantly by way of the years, together with Sunday in opposition to the Bengals. It’s a quarterback-driven league and signals-callers earn their greatness within the postseason. I feel this offensive system is nice sufficient to win 10 or 11 video games a 12 months as a result of the NFL is so mediocre, however this technique is counterproductive within the playoffs when most groups have a quick-strike offense led by big-armed quarterbacks.
One may take a look at the Ravens and the AFC and make the argument that there are solely three groups clearly superior — Kansas City, Cincinnati and Buffalo. On the opposite hand, playoff sport included, the Ravens went 10-8 this 12 months, basically a .500 staff, and the win-loss document of all of the groups they performed is available in at 117-118-1. Thus, they had been a .500 staff in opposition to groups that general performed at a .500 stage. Do you see the Ravens as one of many prime 3-4 groups within the AFC or not, and both means, as plans are made for subsequent season, what are the important thing two or three steps that you just really feel actually need to be taken to be elite subsequent 12 months, together with teaching and personnel modifications, the draft, free company, trades, and many others.?
— Mike Stefanek
I’ve written this earlier than, in all probability a few month in the past, that the Ravens are the very best of the common groups within the NFL. To get to the subsequent stage, or no less than try to get there, they should rent a brand new offensive coordinator, commerce Jackson if doable, discover a big-time receiver who can contribute instantly, get one other younger go rusher and discover a good cornerback or two. Don’t be fooled by the Ravens protection. The Bengals had been lacking two starters on the offensive line and a 3rd went down and needed to be eliminated within the first half Sunday. That compelled the Bengals to play small ball with the passing sport, and the Ravens took benefit.
Overall, it seems like quite a lot of work, nevertheless it’s the NFL. The Ravens must take these remaining steps to climb into the highest echelon.
If Lamar and the Ravens can’t get a deal completed and the franchise tag is used, however Lamar decides to carry out, would a commerce with the Bears for Justin Fields, Chase Claypool and a second-round choose (to get again the one used within the Roquan Smith commerce) be a possible possibility?
— Anthony Reeves
I don’t perceive why the Bears would surrender on Fields. They may commerce all the way down to get out of the No. 1 general place within the draft however that may be to get extra picks within the first spherical. The Jets are already speaking about their want for a franchise-caliber quarterback, and the Dolphins is likely to be in the identical state of affairs relying on the well being of beginning quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
As for Jackson, the Ravens aren’t going to say something detrimental about him right now as a result of it could solely damage his commerce worth. But there can be some coach who will suppose he can flip Jackson right into a top-notch thrower, and perhaps he can. This would be the Ravens’ most fascinating offseason since 2012 once they parted methods with Lewis, safeties Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard and receiver Anquan Boldin.
And, one final thing: Just a fast thanks to all of the followers who participated on this discussion board through the season.