Steelers Writer Declares Ravens’ Super Bowl Window Has Closed

While some pundits have stated they anticipate the Ravens to take a step again subsequent season, the prevailing opinion is that they’re going to proceed to be a championship contender. As famous in yesterday’s Late for Work, oddsmakers are projecting the Ravens, Chiefs, and 49ers to steer the league in wins subsequent season.

However, Touchdown Wire’s Jarrett Bailey contended that the Ravens’ Super Bowl window has closed. (Bailey can be the deputy editor of “Behind the Steel Curtain,” an SB Nation web site that covers the Steelers.)

Bailey cited the Ravens’ losses in free company from final season’s top-ranked protection as the principle purpose for his opinion, particularly mentioning inside linebacker Patrick Queen (Steelers) and security Geno Stone (Bengals) defecting to 2 of Baltimore’s AFC North rivals.

“The protection will nonetheless be good, in all chance, however anticipating them to repeat what they did final yr with the mastermind of all of it departed, in addition to two key defenders — that may be very naïve to say the least,” Bailey wrote. “That was one of the best protection they will have for the foreseeable future, and so they did not capitalize on it.”

Bailey additionally famous that the AFC is loaded with proficient groups.

“I perceive the fascination with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, however have a look at how stacked the convention is when it comes to groups and quarterback expertise,” Bailey wrote. “Teams just like the Texans are getting higher, and C.J. Stroud is a budding famous person. The Titans are going all in to construct a extremely good roster. The Jaguars have a particular quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. Justin Herbert now has Jim Harbaugh, and we’ll see how that goes. The Dolphins will likely be within the combine. The Jets could also be enjoyable with a wholesome Aaron Rodgers.

“In the Ravens’ personal division, the Steelers are a lot better on paper, and Jackson is 1-3 in opposition to Pittsburgh in his profession. The Browns had been only a playoff workforce, and the Bengals will get Joe Burrow again and be proper again within the thick of issues. And, after all, there may be Buffalo and Kansas City, who at all times appear to be taking part in deep into January. For how nice the quarterbacks and groups are on this convention, a few of them will not ever recover from that hump. And for as proficient as he could also be, Jackson fell quick in one of the best alternative to get to the Super Bowl that he could ever have. And in a crowded AFC, there isn’t any assure he’ll get that likelihood once more.”

There’s little doubt that competitors within the AFC is fierce. But even with important turnover on the roster, the Ravens nonetheless have an abundance of expertise on each side of the ball, together with the reigning and two-time NFL MVP at quarterback. They additionally made a big-time addition in four-time Pro Bowl operating again Derrick Henry, which Bailey uncared for to say.

Moreover, General Manager Eric DeCosta has a confirmed observe document within the draft and of constructing shrewd strikes in free company. The Ravens do not rebuild, they reload.

“Baltimore is plug and play,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote final month. “The Ravens have nearly all the things they should make one other run.”

Would Ravens Consider Having Henry Return Kicks?

The Baltimore Banner’s Jonas Shaffer checked out how the NFL’s new kickoff guidelines for the 2024 season, that are geared toward bringing extra returns into the sport whereas additionally addressing participant security, may have an effect on the Ravens.

One notably compelling concept raised by Shaffer is the potential of the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry returning kicks.

Shaffer famous that Eric Galko, a part of the XFL workforce that helped develop the NFL’s new kickoff guidelines, tweeted that the worth of kickoff returners “will likely be much less about prime finish pace and burst, and extra about imaginative and prescient and reacting. In quick, extra ‘operating again attacking the opening’-type will likely be extra invaluable than … ‘receivers navigating within the open subject’ sorts.”

“If blocking for kickoff returns begins to extra carefully resemble run-blocking schemes, with subtle pulls and opponent-tailored methods, may the Ravens’ checklist of returner candidates embody starters corresponding to broad receiver Zay Flowers or — gasp! — operating again Derrick Henry?” Shaffer wrote. “Henry hasn’t returned kicks since highschool, which presents an apparent drawback. Returners who cannot truly subject punts and kickoffs beneath [Head Coach John] Harbaugh usually do not play.

“But, if the Ravens need to maximize the worth of a star whose dashing workload will most likely fall in Baltimore, they may at the very least think about giving their unnaturally quick, sturdy and coordinated star the type of takeoff lanes (and comparatively secure situations) that he may have solely ever dreamed of.”