Question 1: What have you seen out of Todd Monken’s offense this year compared to previous versions under Greg Roman?
A full, comprehensive passing attack. Lamar Jackson has been searching for a full complement of weapons and a coordinator to scheme up options downfield, rather than relying upon his running ability and tight end Mark Andrews. That’s been a big factor. The second is the offensive production in the red zone. Last season, the Ravens finished No. 29 in red zone TD rate, with 44%. This season, they’ve scored touchdowns on 62.75% of their red zone trips. Not settling for field goals is the difference in games and in the Ravens’ offense from last season to this season.
Q2: Who’s been the most impressive skill player since Mark Andrews went down: Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham Jr., Isaiah Likely, or someone else?
I think it has to be rookie Zay Flowers. He is leading the team in receiving yards (673), targets (90), catches (64) and first downs (33). He’s a dynamo and it feels like he’s only progressed since the season started. The Ravens needed to hit on a wide receiver in the draft and it would appear they’ve found their guy in Flowers.
Q3: Mike Macdonald is coordinating an elite defense despite unspectacular names at cornerback and edge rusher. How does he do it?
Well, they do have Marlon Humphrey, a former All-Pro. However, to your point, he’s been out for six games this season. On the other end is cornerback Brandon Stephens, who has developed from an uncertain cornerback/safety hybrid into a full-fledged cornerback who can hang with any Tier 2 wideout, and a couple of Tier 1 guys. He’s not a shutdown guy by any stretch, but Stephens’ development has been among the biggest improvements for this Ravens defense. From there, they just have solid depth in veterans Ronald Darby and Rock Ya-Sin.
As for edge rushers, they’re getting every ounce of play from veterans Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy. Two vets who were on the street late in the summer. Both showed up and have had incredible impact. It’s not often you can just bring guys in and they be immediate and consistent impacts, but both have been. This, combined with breakout performances from defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (11 sacks) and third-year outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (four sacks) are just getting things done.
Q4: Why will or won’t the Ravens reach the Super Bowl this year?
They’ll reach the Super Bowl because their roster has playmakers at every level.
Star quarterback with playmaking receivers and solid tight ends on offense, with a creative offensive coordinator who “gets it” in the red zone.
On defense, they have a mad-scientist defensive coordinator with a hearty pass rush from both the interior and edge rushers, with the best inside linebacker duo in football. Paired with a solid cornerback unit and arguably the best safety trio in Kyle Hamilton, Marcus WIlliams and Geno Stone, who despite being a backup was leading the NFL in interceptions up until the past two weeks.
Q5: The Ravens are 3.5-point favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Which side of the spread do you like, and do any game/player props fancy your interest?
I think being 3.5-point favorites is lofty for the Ravens, but they’ve just shown a knack for taking care of business when going against the better teams in the NFL. For that reason, I’m taking the Ravens. They are on a roll and they show out in prime time.
Thanks again to Kyle for taking the time to answer our questions!
What are your thoughts on this week’s matchup, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!