Ravens

Quick Links

Sounds of the game include lots of fakery

201212201100396558768-p2.jpeg

Sounds of the game include lots of fakery

DENVER (AP) The best spies in the NFL these days aren't behind enemy lines but on the quarterback's own side of the ball.

Every game, two of his interior offensive linemen are miked up for network TV, bringing the sounds of the game to millions of viewers - and future opponents - who hear the signal-caller's cadence, codes and cues, all of which are enshrouded in an increasing amount of gibberish.

Just about every quarterback is doing his best Peyton Manning imitation at the line of scrimmage these days because of increasingly complex offenses and the league's seemingly innocuous decision to move the umpire for safety reasons in 2010.

Switching the umpire from the defensive backfield to the offensive backfield in 2010 posed a problem for the NFL: these officials wore microphones and essentially served as the networks' on-field boom operators. That was no longer possible with the umpire stationed deep behind the quarterback instead of in front of him, so last season the league put microphones on centers and guards.

Now, everybody can listen in on everything that's being said before the snap.

``Defensive guys appreciate that,'' Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said. ``You get all the quarterback's cadence. Quarterbacks and centers don't like it. Offensive coordinators don't like it. By miking the center and the guards, we're hearing the quarterback every snap. So, it's entertaining for the fans but it's also informative for the defenses.''

Still, before pass-happy offenses and miked-up O-linemen, it used to be a lot easier for defenders to figure out what the quarterback was up to.

``Yeah, because you'd have guys from another team that would come to your team and tell you stuff and most of it stayed true,'' Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. ``But you can't do that anymore because every week people are changing the terms. You've got to be a sharp guy to play in the league these days.''

Tune into any game and you'll see gesticulating QBs using frenetic hand signals and hollering a string of phrases, much of it outright hogwash - ``dummy'' calls designed to trick defenses and hide the offense's intentions. Teams change their code words week to week, even series to series.

While fans are all tuned in to this quarterback gobbledygook, many defenders are tuning it out, focusing on other signs like player movements and alignments to help them decipher play calls.

``I'm not really listening,'' Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. ``I'm just focusing on what I have to do and get off on the ball.''

Sometimes, you can't help but start to wonder, though, said his teammate, cornerback Corey Graham.

``When you've got guys like Peyton Manning, who's so smart, you kind of know that he might be talking garbage so you don't want to pay too much attention to that. But to be honest, it does catch your attention as a DB,'' Graham said. ``When you see a quarterback out there saying a bunch of gibberish and pointing at your receiver, you're like, `Aw shoot, what the heck is going on? I think I'm going to back up a little bit.' It does tend to make you think that they're up to something.''

The quarterback has been doing more talking anyway with so many teams spreading out their receivers and using the hurry-up or no-huddle offense and its check-with-me option to run or pass on just about every snap.

Linebacker Chad Greenway said that when the Vikings faced Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan last season, ``I don't know if he had any calls in the huddle. It seemed like everything was called at the line of scrimmage, an audible or he's checking between two and three different plays. Yeah, there's a lot of it.''

While coaching staffs study the TV broadcasts to pick up clues about a quarterback's calls and cadence, players find it harder to cut through the fluff and filler.

``I'm telling you, it's tough. You can't look into it,'' Bailey said. ``It's good for people at home to see what the quarterbacks say, but anymore it's hard to decode that.''

Younger players don't even try.

``When it's all said and done, they can only do two things: run or pass,'' Broncos second-year safety Rahim Moore said. ``They can talk as much as they want but at the same time, as a secondary, as a defense, we're talking, too. So, when you get caught up in what they're talking about, and vice versa, you're forgetting about your execution.''

Players coming out of college nowadays are accustomed to these copious amounts of chatter at the line of scrimmage where the multitalented quarterbacks have several variations of plays to choose from depending on what they read in the defense.

``Oh, that's all we've seen,'' said second-year cornerback Chris Harris, who starts opposite Bailey. ``Going against the spread in the NFL, the Big 12, that's all you get, really. It's always been check-with-me. So, you always try to disguise coverages, so that the offenses can't get a jump on you.''

Somewhere in all this trickery are bona fide checks and calls by quarterbacks trying to get defenses to give away their intentions while trying to camouflage their own. And sometimes the joke's on them.

``I think you're seeing more defenses kind of playing the game back,'' Broncos safety Jimmy Leonhard said. ``That's what we called it in New York: You've got to play the game back. You can't just sit back there and line up and let them make their checks and be at the mercy of what they're doing.''

---

AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell and AP Sports Writers Dennis Waszak Jr., Schuyler Dixon, Teresa M. Walker, Josh Dubow, Andrew Seligman, Tim Booth, Howard Ulman, David Ginsburg, Will Graves and Jon Krawczynski contributed.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Quick Links

The Future is Bright: How the Ravens' 2018 draft class performed

ravensrookies.png
USA TODAY Sports/AP Images

The Future is Bright: How the Ravens' 2018 draft class performed

Just like that, they're all grown up.

Ozzie Newsome put a bow on top of his 22-year career as general manager of the Ravens when he drafted 11 rookies in the 2018 NFL Draft.

He found the franchise a new quarterback, a couple tight ends and help along the offensive line.

Now that their rookie seasons are over, let's look at how the 2018 draft class performed.

Hayden Hurst

The 25th overall pick missed the first four games of the season after getting surgery on his broken foot during the preseason, and in 12 games never hit his full potential.

Hurst finished the 2018 season with 13 receptions for 163 yards, averaging 12.54 yards per reception and one touchdown. With Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams both free agents, Hurst's 2019 could be huge.

"I really don’t think I was at my best," Hurst said on if fans have seen his potential . "The surgery set me back a good ways. But like I said, the offseason will be huge for me. I’ll be able to get healthy, get stronger and come back ready next year.”

Lamar Jackson

We all know how the 32nd overall pick's season went.

Completing 99 of 170 passes for 1,201 yards and six touchdowns in 2018 on top of 695 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns, Jackson will enter the 2019 season as the Ravens' quarterback of the future. En route to leading the team to their first postseason appearance in three seasons, the QB finished the 2018 season with a 84,5 QB rating.

The Ravens have begun shaping their offense around Jackson's run-heavy style of play, while they'll look to improve his ball security and accuracy.

Orlando Brown Jr.

Brown Jr.  ended up becoming a vital piece of the Ravens' O-line. 

Appearing in all 16 regular season games and starting 10 for an injured James Hurst, the third-round pick didn't allow a single sack in those starts and helped the offense rank second in the league in rushing at 152.6 yards per game. 

 “It’s really been hard-fought," Brown Jr. said on his rookie season performance. "I played against a lot of great players. I think I played well for a rookie, not for a sophomore. I want to be one of the greats in this league. It’s going to take a lot of work to get where I want to be – obviously, that’s All-Pro and being as consistent as I can be for as long as I can be.”

Mark Andrews

Andrews ended up being the tight end to make the biggest impact for the Ravens this season.

Finishing 2018 with 34 receptions for 552 yards, averaging 16.24 yards per carry and three touchdowns, Andrews' 68-yard touchdown Week 16 against the Chargers was the teams longest offensive score of the season. The rookie out of Oklahoma also finished the season ranked as Pro Football Focus' 13th overall tight end in the league.

Anthony Averett

The cornerback out of Alabama served as a backup in 11 games this season, finishing with five tackles.

If the Ravens decide to move on from veterans Jimmy Smith or Brandon Carr in the offseason, Averett could find a more prominent role in 2019.

Kenny Young

The rookie made his presence known early in the season after filling in for an injured C.J. Mosley during the Ravens' Weeks 2 and 3 matchups. 

Young played in all 16 games in 2018, finishing the season with 40 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble. If the Ravens part ways with Mosley, their future still looks bright with Young on the come up. 

Jaleel Scott

The fourth-round pick was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the season after suffering a hamstring injury.

Jordan Lasley

The fifth-round pick was a gameday inactive since Week 1.

DeShon Elliott

The sixth-round pick was placed on injured reserve at the start of the season with a fractured forearm suffered in the Ravens' preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. 

Greg Senat

The sixth-round pick was also placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the season with a foot injury.

Bradley Bozeman

Bozeman proved his value as a backup offensive lineman appearing in 14 games for the Ravens, including their Wild Card playoff loss.

Zach Sieler

Newsome's final draft pick appeared in two games for the Ravens this season. Inactive most gamedays, Sieler posted a tackle against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9. 

MORE RAVENS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Ravens' Lamar Jackson aspiring to become the Tom Brady of Baltimore

jackson-fire-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Ravens' Lamar Jackson aspiring to become the Tom Brady of Baltimore

It only took Lamar Jackson seven weeks to get the city of Baltimore behind him. 

Since becoming the Ravens' starter in Week 11, Jackson pulled his team out of a three-game losing streak, going 6-1 down the stretch, and earned the franchise their first playoff appearance in three season.

That's quite impressive for a rookie, but the 22-year-old wants his time in Baltimore to resemble arguably the greatest to ever do it. 

"Ain't no ceiling," Jackson said on his limitations in an interview with Ray Lewis for Showtime's 'Inside the NFL.' "I already said it, when I got drafted, I want to bring a Super Bowl to Baltimore, so I'm going to try to bring as much as I can. I want to bring a Super Bowl here. I want to be the Brady. Bring multiple if I could."

Through 19 seasons, Tom Brady has brought five Lombardi Trophy's to the city of Boston and is currently in the race for a sixth. It's a feat that may never be repeated, but Jackson sure wants to try.

The young quarterback's speed is something that separates him from the 41-year-old veteran. In just seven games, Jackson rushed for more yards (695) than every other quarterback in 2018, and his 119 rushing yards against the Cincinnati Bengals was the most ever by a QB in their starting debut. 

“Probably when, like, I'm playing football with my older cousins,” Jackson told Lewis on when he realized he was the fastest kid on the block. “I used to play with all the older guys. I never played with, really, my age group when I was younger. ... There would be a new kid come on the block, and they'd be like, 'Oh, this kid, he's good,' this and that. So I get jealous, because I'm like, 'Man, I'm the best kid over here,' so I'm going to outperform him.”

His speed is such a threat that the Ravens have already begun shaping their future around it, while accuracy and ball security remain a work in progress. Jackson finished his rookie campaign completing 99 of 170 passes for 1,201 yards and six touchdowns. 

While reaching Brady-type success will be an uphill battle, the good news is he's got 18 or more seasons to hit his goal. Jackson will get his first taste of Brady in 2019 when the Ravens host the Patriots. 

You can watch Jackson and Lewis' full interview Tuesday at 9 p.m..

MORE RAVENS NEWS: