The New York Jets host the Baltimore Ravens to open the Jets’ 2022 season on Sunday. Previewing this matchup, Kyle Barber of Baltimore Beatdown was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the 2022 Ravens.
Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.
1. What’s going on with Lamar Jackson’s contract situation? Do you expect a long term extension to be announced shortly? If not, is there any realistic chance that the relationship becomes beyond repair and Jackson and the Ravens will part ways at some point over the next couple of years?
Lamar Jackson spoke with the media on Wednesday and announced Friday would be his cut-off date for contract negotiations. Unless something occurs within the next 12 hours, all expectations are Jackson will play out the fifth-year of option on his contract and attempt to maximize his contract a la Joe Flacco.
If the team and Jackson can’t agree to a deal, I don’t think this necessarily hurts the relationship between the two sides. I’m speculating here, but I assume Jackson likely wants more guaranteed money than the Ravens are willing to offer. Maybe Jackson sees the Deshaun Watson contract as his barometer while the Ravens view it as an outlier. After all, quarterbacks Derek Carr, Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson all signed deals after the Watson contract without the same kind of money or guarantees.
Jackson continues to say he loves being a Raven and plans on being a Raven for life. The Ravens want him as their quarterback. If a deal isn’t struck by Friday, they’ll reconvene after the season for another round of negotiations.
2. The Ravens missed the playoffs last year after three straight years in the post-season. Was that just a blip due to an injury-ravaged year, or are there reasons to be concerned going forward? What do you expect from this Ravens team this season?
Maybe it’s the purple-tinted glasses but I’d say it was the injuries holding them back. Hell, they were the No. 1 seed in the AFC North through 12 weeks of the season. That said, there are fair critiques of the Ravens. They’re relying on Ja’Waun James to play left tackle after missing two years due to an Achilles injury until Ronnie Stanley returns, who also has missed 25 games the past two years. Currently, there are two healthy outside linebackers on the 53-man roster in veteran Justin Houston and sophomore linebacker Odafe Oweh.
I feel the Ravens are boom-or-bust. They have incredible talents in Jackson, tight end Mark Andrews and stars among the secondary. They could go out and win 13 games and wreck teams. They could also suffer an injury to wide receiver Rashod Bateman and the wide receiver to replace him is James Proche, who was a healthy scratch at times last season. There is a lot to be positive about but there are valid concerns.
3. Could you let Jets fans know how you believe the Ravens’ rookies are looking? Isaiah Likely in particular has gotten rave reviews, but how about the rest of the class? Speaking of Likely, is he going to be a big part of this year’s Ravens’ offense notwithstanding the presence of Mark Andrews and his 1300+ receiving yards of a year ago?
Isaiah Likely is the real deal. Each training camp practice, I—along with every other media outlet, was writing about him. He is the tight end cliche of ‘too big to guard with a defensive back, too fast for a linebacker.’ Few stuck with him consistently. After all, on 15 snaps against the Cardinals in the second preseason game, he caught eight balls for 100 yards and a touchdown. He’s impressive.
As for the other rookies, of which there are many.
The No. 14 overall pick, safety Kyle Hamilton, has not won the starting job over incumbent Chuck Clark or big-name free agent Marcus Williams. Look for him to be involved in three-safety looks that new Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald utilizes frequently. He’s been good in training camp, but at No. 14 overall, it’s hard to not have higher ambitions for the safety deemed one of the best pure talents in the draft.
The second first-round pick in the Ravens’ class, center Tyler Linderbaum, looks great. He’s wildly fast and the Ravens desperately needed a guy like him at center after going through center after center.
Definitely keep an eye on punter Jordan Stout. His punts were interrupting training camp one-on-ones from the echoing booms and consistent precision to pin the ball inside the 10-yard line. Wild to consider the rookie punter being classified as a weapon, but his training camp and preseason were something to behold.
It’s a positive for the Jets that defensive tackle Travis Jones won’t be on the field. He was mauling offensive lineman consistently throughout camp and did the same in the preseason before suffering a knee injury that will sideline him for a few weeks.
As for the others, I’d say most are in depth situations. The secondary could see rookie Damarion “Pepe” Williams rotated in at slot, or possibly cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis.
4. Last year the Ravens uncharacteristically struggled on defense, particularly in the secondary. This year the Ravens have added some pieces in safeties Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams and presumably will have healthier cornerbacks than last year’s injury plagued lot. How has the revamped Ravens pass defense looked in preseason, and how good do you expect them to be this year?
The Ravens have made every defensive signing with the hopes of fixing their passing defense. They signed pass-rushing defensive linemen. The Ravens spent big money on Williams, and drafted a safety No. 14 overall. They drafted two defensive backs and added Macdonald as their defensive coordinator. They’re getting back All-Pro cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, and it just feels as though they’re going to be better by health alone.
5. Could you let Jets fans in on one player on offense and one on defense who Ravens fans know will create problems for opponents, but fans of other teams may not be so familiar with?
The Ravens love their fullbacks and maybe Patrick Ricard is a known name after earning three straight Pro Bowl nods, but he’ll be heavily involved in this game I suspect. I suspect the Ravens want their run game back in order and Ricard will be steam-rolling guys to the best of his ability if they’re on the wrong side of the tracks.
On defense, watch for Oweh. His rookie season was solid but he looks like a guy ready to take the stereotypical breakout. He’s been harrassing Jackson and Tyler Huntley in the backfield throughout training camp and without both Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton at the tackle spots, he could begin his bid for a double-digit sack season.