Q&A: Will The Ravens Win the AFC North in 2024?

Lamar Jackson and Derrick Henry

Last night I had the privilege of being the guest speaker for Ravens Nest 14 out of Eldersburg, MD. During the interactive discussion a few questions were presented, and I thought it would be appropriate to share it here as we look ahead to training camp and the coming 2024 NFL Season.

Here are some of those questions, paraphrased slightly…

Who has worked out with Lamar Jackson in Florida and what kind of impact might those sessions have on the team?

To my knowledge only Zay Flowers and Nelson Agholor have worked out with Lamar in South Florida. Noticeably not present – Rashod Bateman.

Now I don’t think that these workouts are the end-all, be-all for pitch and catch tandems. But I do believe they make a difference. Bonds emerge from these informal sessions. Camaraderie, rapport and unspoken communication are born. And of course, trust grows. All that shows up in small ways on the field during Sundays in the Fall.

Some will dismiss the importance of these sessions. They might suggest that these workouts are voluntary and that you can’t put all that much stock in their effectiveness. I disagree.

Think about your own work environment. Think about your colleagues. Now imagine you are asked to take on an important task that comes with a deadline. It requires a collaborative effort. The results will impact your evaluation as an employee. Naturally you will want to combine your efforts with someone you trust; someone with whom you share chemistry; someone that you’ve worked successfully with in the past, even in less formal conditions.

Why should professional football be any different?

[Related Article: Offseason Problems Represent Opportunity]

If John Harbaugh fails in the playoffs again this coming season, could there be a change at head coach for the Ravens in 2025?

We’ve all seen Harbaugh’s weaknesses on game day. Maybe it’s a poor challenge that has little hope of being overturned; maybe he calls a blitz during the game’s waning moments that backfires and costs the team a playoff berth (see Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd during the 2017 season); maybe he opts to throw the ball far too much during a very winnable AFC Championship Game.

It has been frustrating at times with John, but it’s important to look at the big picture; to consider the inviting culture that he’s largely responsible for; to remember that he’s guided the team to the postseason frequently. And those are the things that keep owner Steve Bisciotti atop the Harbaugh bandwagon.

That said, another postseason failure at home during a winnable game could put Bisciotti over the edge. I don’t think Steve is a lifer as an owner so that suggests he wants to win…and soon! The problem then becomes one of replacement. Who would fill John’s shoes? A great candidate just left for Seattle.

The Ravens have a few new coaches. How will they adjust?

First, let’s talk about the coaches the Ravens lost. Mike Macdonald, Dennard Wilson and Anthony Weaver. That’s a lot to lose on the defensive side of the football. The staff additions have their work cut out. Adjusting will take time and experience. But I think it’s safe to say that the team will need to lean on their offense early in the season. Borrowing a page from the 2019 season, maybe they can successfully get out to early leads, take the air out of the football via the run game and force opponents into becoming one-dimensional. A ball controlling offense could be the defense’s best friend.

The first five weeks on the schedule are not kind. Anything is possible but with all the losses and new additions to the staff, gaining traction will be a challenge early on. A (3-2) start might actually be an optimistic goal.

Ravens Nest 14
Members of Ravens Nest 14 (Photo Credit: Ravens Nest 14 Facebook Page)

What rookies do you think will make an impact this season?

The knee-jerk response is to say, “Nate Wiggins”. Wiggins has excellent cover skills, length and recovery speed. He has all the tools to be an extremely effective boundary corner. And if he can be that player from the jump, it allows Marlon Humphrey to move to slot corner where he’s been more of a playmaker. One guy, Wiggins, can make an impact at two positions.

Another rookie I like is Adisa Isaac. The former Nittany Lion DE can set the edge, drop into coverage and get after the passer. When healthy, he’s made strides in his game while at Penn State. But injuries are a concern.

If you’re looking for a sleeper, consider Dayton Wade, a UDFA WR out of Mississippi. Wade does a lot of things well, but he’s limited by size. At 5’9”, 176 pounds, he’s undersized, but his competitiveness commands attention. He has the skillset to become a competent return specialist and could push newcomer Deonte Harty.

Will the Ravens win the AFC North?

The Bengals with Joe Burrow are always formidable. If the Steelers figure out their quarterback position with Justin Fields and/or Russell Wilson, they could make a run at the title. The Browns are the Browns and I have no faith in Deshaun Watson’s ability to lead his team anywhere except to a massage parlor.

But back to the Ravens…

They have the talent to win the division again. But with all of the changes to the defensive staff, I don’t see them starting fast but I do see them building momentum towards the end of the season when it counts the most. I’ll call it an (11-6) season for the Ravens, but they’ll be a dangerous team come January when the chips are down.

Did you see Joe Burrow at that fashion show?

Admittedly, I did not until I searched for it on X. Thanks for the heads up Ravens Nest 14.

That’s an embarrassing stroll down the “cat walk”, don’t you think? Hopefully Burrows’ jersey looks the same in the back when the Bengals visit The Bank on October 6.

And lastly, I reminded the good folks of Ravens Nest 14 that the Ravens operate under a 12-year plan. Super Bowl 35 was in 2001; Super Bowl 47 in 2013; Super Bowl 59…

Enjoy your day everyone!

The post Q&A: Will The Ravens Win the AFC North in 2024? appeared first on Russell Street Report.

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Q&A: Will The Ravens Win the AFC North in 2024?

Author: Tony Lombardi

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