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The Ravens should trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick despite his poor season opener

The Ravens should trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick despite his poor season opener

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Minkah Fitzpatrick saw a lot of the Ravens' receivers last weekend. It didn’t end well for him. 

He was on the losing end of a 59-10 blowout in the Dolphins season opener as Lamar Jackson went wild and finished with 324 yards passing with five touchdowns. 

Fitzpatrick was beaten multiple times for touchdowns in the secondary and, like seemingly everyone on the Dolphins defense, looked completely lost. 

That shouldn’t dissuade the Ravens in attempting to acquire him. 

Fitzpatrick, the No. 11 overall pick in 2018, has been given permission to seek a trade this week from Miami, citing growing concerns over playing multiple positions. It also doesn’t hurt that the Dolphins are committing to tearing down the talent on the roster with the intention of rebuilding with draft picks. 

That’s where the Ravens should come in. 

At a position already thinned by injury, with Tavon Young out for the season and Jimmy Smith out for an unknown amount of time with an MCL sprain, the move for the Ravens makes sense from an on-field perspective. 

According to the Miami Herald, Fitzpatrick, who played cornerback, safety, and linebacker last week in Miami, played slot cornerback 40 percent of the time last season. In that role, he was the best among all slot cornerbacks with a 51.3 completion percentage and a 49.7 quarterback rating.

So while it’s true Fitzpatrick was torched last Sunday, it’s still true he’s an excellent young talent in search of a new start. 

Sure, it's easy to blame him for getting beat. But it’s also true that he’s one of the only league-wide starting-caliber players on his team. And on the 83-yard reception to Marquise Brown (who was one of the fastest players in the NFL last Sunday), Jackson could’ve taken a nap before he threw the ball over-the-top.

With Young and Smith’s injuries, and with two excellent safeties in the secondary, Fitzpatrick could come in right away and be carried by an already stellar unit until he finds his footing.

His cap number would fit in with the team, as he’s just in the second year of a four-year rookie contract. The Ravens would have the option to extend him for the fifth season. 

Baltimore, according to OverTheCap.com, is projected to have 10 picks next year after compensatory selections are finalized. That includes two third-round picks and three fourth-round selections. 

For now, the Dolphins are holding off on trading Fitzpatrick, according to reports, until they receive a trade that is for “significant compensation.” But it would be foolish to think the Dolphins will receive a first round pick in return for their former first-round pick. If the compensation is right, the Ravens should pounce.

Miami has a sticky situation on their hands. Fitzpatrick has this season, then two more, before he can move on. That might prove to be too long for Fitzpatrick to handle before he tries to force his way out of town. 

The Ravens shouldn’t let a poor showing from Fitzpatrick, where he played out of position in a game where teammates criticized the coaching staff for their lack of adjustments, discourage them from acquiring a still young, affordable talent in the secondary. 

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Lamar Jackson's dual-threat dominance earns him another record-setting award

Lamar Jackson's dual-threat dominance earns him another record-setting award

Another week, another Lamar Jackson performance for the ages.

The second-year quarterback has already set numerous records in Baltimore, just 13 starts into his professional career.

Most of his record-book entries have come thanks to his legs. The QB is a prodigious rusher, one of the most talented running signal-callers in NFL history.

That talent helped earn him more honors after his whopping 152 rushing yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6.

Jackson got started on the ground early, racking up 111 rushing yards in the first half alone. He became just the third quarterback in the modern era to finish with more than 150 rushing yards, and he was rewarded with the FedEx Ground Player of the Week award.

Jackson was the first quarterback in the 17-year history of the award to even be nominated, and now he becomes the first at his position to win it.

Of course, it hasn’t just been on the ground where Jackson has impressed.

He kicked off his 2019 with a bang, throwing for 324 yards and 5 touchdowns on just 20 pass attempts against the woeful Dolphins in Week 1. For his efforts, Jackson was named the Air Player of the Week.

Jackson becomes, you guessed it, the first player in NFL history to win both the Air and Ground versions of the award in the same season, and he managed it just five weeks apart.

He really is one of the most gifted, unique athletes in NFL history. As the Ravens’ tweet says, he is “one of a kind.”

At this rate, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t break a few more barriers the rest of this season and beyond.

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‘It’s like facing Steph Curry’: Ravens hope to slow down MVP candidate Russell Wilson

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‘It’s like facing Steph Curry’: Ravens hope to slow down MVP candidate Russell Wilson

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — If there’s one person in the Ravens locker room who knows Russell Wilson, it’s Earl Thomas. 

Thomas, who spent nine years in Seattle before he came to Baltimore this past offseason, had practiced against Wilson every day since he entered the league in 2012. 

Now, he’ll be one of the central figures on defense as Baltimore heads to Seattle to face Wilson and the Seahawks. And this year, Wilson has been better than ever. 

“Everything is predicated off the run game, and we also know that Russell can extend plays,” Thomas said. “That's when he kind of works his magic — when he plays backyard football. And his receivers do a great job of just melding with him and creating space, boxing guys out and creating leverages and coming up with big catches."

Through just six games, Wilson has thrown for 1,704 yards — a 4,544 yard pace — and 14 passing touchdowns with no interceptions. He’s also rushed for 151 yards and has three rushing scores. He’s also completing 72.5 percent of his passes. 

Despite being in an offense that runs the ball about 50 percent of the time, Wilson has excelled. Specifically, he’s been nearly untouchable outside the pocket. 

And when he’s under pressure and has to escape, he’s one of the league’s best. 

“It’s just like all the other quarterbacks we’ve played before,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “You can say, ‘Keep him in the pocket.’ There’s times you think you have him in the pocket and he shakes you and he gets out of the pocket. He’s extending plays better than he ever has.”

The Ravens, who blitz as much as anyone in the NFL, will have to make the decision to try and contain Wilson in the pocket where he can pick apart the Ravens defense, or sit back and defend against the pass. Either way, there’s no good option.

“It's sort of like playing against Steph Curry in basketball, if you will,” Martindale said. “You can pick him halfcourt and he's going to try to drive by you or you can slack off and he's going to pull up and hit a three." 

The Ravens have their own, different, version of Wilson in Lamar Jackson, who the Ravens are hoping can simulate Wilson’s ability. 

But there are only a select number of players in the league that can do what Jackson and Wilson can do with a football in their hands.

"I think he's the only guy that I've seen do it pretty effortlessly, like Lamar does,” Marlon Humphrey said. “We always say we don't want to play Lamar, so I guess we're kind of playing a polished-up, couple-years-down-the-line Lamar. So, we definitely better get ready, because he definitely can do it all."

Against Wilson, the Ravens will have one of the toughest tasks in the NFL this season. Through six weeks, there hasn’t been a team that’s been able to slow him down. 

“Defensively, I'm sitting there watching Lamar, and I'm like, 'Oh, wow,'” Humphrey said. “So, I'm hoping that's not happening when I'm out there on defense with him (Wilson). But Russell, he really can get it done. I'm not really saying I'm a fan, but he's Russell Wilson. He’s a pretty big deal.”

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