NFL: hard knocks for the Ravens


The season has barely started and the Ravens are already in a difficult position. Their first three ball carriers are out of action, a real headache for a team whose ground game is bread and butter.

In preseason games, promising second-year forward JK Dobbins fell in battle for the season. Since then, those who were to support him, Justice Hill and Gus Edwards, have suffered the same fate.

It is now up to an unknown player, a little out of nowhere, that the task of showing off.

Ty’Son Williams, who was skipped in the 2020 draft and hired as a free agent, has spent much of the last season on the practice squad. This summer he was one of the revelations of training camp. The fact remains that with him, the Ravens are swimming in the unknown.

To make up for the losses, the team hired veteran Latavius ​​Murray, who has shared the fullback in Alvin Kamara’s shadow with the Saints for the past few seasons. Another veteran, Le’Veon Bell, has also been put on contract. His name still resonates for his good years in Pittsburgh, but the truth is that he is no longer the shadow of the player he once was, he who has not gained more than four yards per carry since 2016. At this stage of his career, he is likely to be used especially in a situation of third downs.

Race to the limit

Since 2018, not a team has eaten more rushing yards than the Ravens. Last season, the team ran with the ball 57.8% of their games, a league high.

Only the Patriots and Titans, other than them, bet more on the run than the pass. The percentage was similar (57.5%) in 2019, demonstrating that, despite the aerial trends that multiply across the league, the Ravens are apart and their backers are key players.

The Lamar factor

Of course, quarterback Lamar Jackson’s style helps boost the stats on the floor. Several of his races are marked as such in the playbook, in comparison to other mobile quarterbacks who improvise a race when the cover explodes.

In fact, during the last two campaigns, Jackson has led the Ravens by the race. With their carriers, the Ravens have favored a committee approach. In each of those same two seasons, two forwarders gained at least 700 yards.

If there is therefore a positive that emerges from the current slaughter among the Ravens, it is that Lamar Jackson makes the opposing defenses play so much on the heels that it is not necessarily necessary to give the ball to a carrier star to produce.

In today’s environment, however, the Ravens are not betting, until proven guilty, on an intimidating forward capable of winning both on the ground and receiving a pass.

This means that Jackson finds himself with even more pressure on his shoulders so that the train does not derail. Already, the Ravens have to hope he becomes a more consistent passer and makes better use of his wide wingers. He must now get there with a visibly reduced contribution from his backfield.

Jackson is an exceptional athlete, but he can’t do it all on his own. In a division that pits the Ravens against the Browns and the Steelers, every soldier who falls in battle can make a difference.

Five things to watch out for …

1. THE BEGINNINGS OF ST-JUSTE

At the stroke of 1 p.m., another Quebecer will make his NFL debut. Washington cornerback Benjamin St-Juste will be in action against the Chargers receivers and should see plenty of ground, having played with the starters all summer. Facing Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jelen Guyton and Josh Palmer, watch number 25, formerly of the Old Montreal Spartans!

2. THE ALABAMA BOWL

The game between the Dolphins and the Patriots will feature two quarterbacks in Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones, who were teammates at the University of Alabama. The two joined the prestigious program in 2017. During their stint with the Crimson Tide, the team reached the national final three times in four years. Both are 23 years old, and for that matter, the East Division with the Jets (Zach Wilson, 22) and Bills (Josh Allen, 25) has been the Premier League since 1985 with four 25-year-old starting quarterbacks. and less.

3. OTHER REUNION

It’s not just the college quarterbacks who are here today. The Bengals-Vikings duel will pit two receivers who broke everything together at LSU, NCAA, in 2019. The Tigers won the National Championship with Justin Jefferson (Vikings) who caught nine passes for 106 yards and Ja’Marr Chase (Bengals), who had nine receptions for 221 yards and two touchdowns. The two became first-round picks in the NFL in 2020 and 2021, and their quarterback was none other than Joe Burrow, current Bengals hub.

4. DOMINANT DEPARTURES

For the past few years during the opening weekend of the NFL, there have been dominant teams. The Chiefs, who will face the Browns, have won their last six opening games, the longest active streak in the league with the Packers, who face the Saints. The Ravens also dominate with five straight wins in which they registered 177 points against just 26. The Ravens have allowed no more than 10 points in those five wins. Let the Raiders take it for granted tomorrow night!

5. HOPE FOR ALL

It’s the start of the season and it’s the time of the year when everyone has the right to believe in their chances of qualifying for the playoffs. Over the last 18 seasons, there are an average of 3.3 division champions who were not playoffs the previous season, which shows that the comebacks are often rapid. No less than 24 of the 32 teams have made the playoffs at least once in the past four seasons.



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