After a successful season in 2020, the Baltimore Ravens knocked off the Tennessee Titans, but met the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the playoffs to end their season. This team has been pretty impressive, but the offense still lacks an established pass catcher, something they haven’t been able to solve in any meaningful way this season.
Led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens offense was very inconsistent and lacked firepower. Jackson led the team in his 20th career start. His receivers have produced just three plays with more than 100 yards, which shows they need more around Jackson.
The Ravens will have a hard time improving on their 11-5 record this season, especially considering how tough the AFC North division is. With the Pittsburgh Steelers expected to bring back big man Ben Roethlisberger for one last season, the Cincinnati Bengals expected to have healthy QB Joe Burrow return from a torn ACL, and the Cleveland Browns expected to make it to the postseason, this division is wide open.
There’s not much big money that will push the Ravens to the needle this season, so relying on their own talent next season seems to be the way to go. With that in mind, here are three Baltimore players who will likely play at a lower level than last season.
Marquise Hollywood brown
Even without that addition with the big offseason positions (Kenny Golladay, Allen Robinson or Juju Smith-Schuster), Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown will still be a likely candidate to return to Baltimore next season and for one reason: Sammy Watkins.
While Watkins is certainly no real threat to the WR1 role that Brown currently holds on this team, his goal share will certainly take a hit simply because Watkins is so useless in terms of goal collecting.
As a member of the Chiefs last season, Watkins didn’t reach the 500-yard mark, but he only appeared in 10 games, so his health remains a factor in his performance. The Ravens needed a solid supplemental option to keep Brown’s role in the offense, but the addition of Watkins to the mix complicates matters.
Unless the Ravens decide to go in a different direction and recruit some wideouts in this draft, Brown will see Watkins as his main competitor – expectations for the former Oklahoma Sooner have been too high since he came into the league, and while another year in the offense with Jackson will certainly help keep those expectations high, another disappointing season is expected for Brown.
The only other defensive option on this list is linebacker Patrick Quinn, who just finished his rookie season and is another exciting Oklahoma prospect the Ravens will acquire. As an option, do what you can, Queen enters the league with unending range, and his acclimation to the league has been pretty solid, though he has shown some beginner’s learning curves.
With just 106 tackles, combined with three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception, Queen was able to fill out the stats while handling the middle of the field for Baltimore. But while his rookie career has been solid and his first year in the NFL should accelerate his career in the NFL, things aren’t always so rosy.
In the last four games of the 20. Since the start of the Ravens’ season (including the postseason), Queen’s influence has disappeared, as he has had two games with two total tackles and two games with four total tackles, a far cry from what set him apart at the beginning of the season. That falls at the end of the year, combined with the return of almost every element of this team’s defense, and you get a result that doesn’t paint a picture of growth for Queen.
In addition to the wide receiver and offensive tackle, the Ravens may add a linebacker at or near the top, which will undoubtedly affect Queen’s role. While he likely wouldn’t have lost his spot on the depth chart, the emergence of players to solidify the ILB position shows that the defensive staff doesn’t necessarily have confidence in his ability to lead the defense (despite only being in the league for one full season), and with the BAL league window currently wide open, the core of LBs should currently match the promise of the offense.
Even with Ingram gone this season, Gus Edwards is a candidate for a running back in this backfield, as the team clearly has faith in rookie Dobbins.
For Edwards, his role came last year when the team discontinued Ingram – Edwards was then given a much larger role on the team, and even with Dobbins benefiting from his ever-growing snap count, Edwards was still a man.
In the final 11 games of the season (including the postseason), Dobbins has scored more than 10 points nine times, compared to five for Edwards in the same span. And even though Edwards scored 10 more yards than Dobbins (144 versus 134), Dobbins came out on top in the yards and touchdowns category: 805 yards and 9 TDs versus 723 yards and 5 TDs.
With Dobbins’ efficiency numbers already at the end of last season, Edwards’ role becomes a high upside RB2 as he takes over the third offensive line on the first drive. But beware of buyers: Dobbins has apparently done enough to gain the trust of the offensive coaching staff, which is bad news for Edwards’ established role in 2021 and beyond.
Dobbins will obviously make mistakes throughout the season, which will help Edwards stay relevant, and with the kind of running game their offense has, Edwards will certainly remain a factor, but the kind of installed workload he’ll get is hard to predict at this point, leading to likely regression.
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