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Why the run-first mentality won't last forever for Lamar Jackson

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Why the run-first mentality won't last forever for Lamar Jackson

The comparisons have been made since Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson dazzled opponents at the University of Louisville.

With the rare combination speed, athleticism and a cannon of an arm, the name that instantly came to mind of observers was Michael Vick. Vick, who starred at Virginia Tech, was an electrifying -- an controversial -- force during his time in the NFL, most notably the Atlanta Falcons. As Jackson made his third straight start for Baltimore (6-5), he’s playing against the team and in the city that the quarterback for whom many compare him to, made a name for himself. While Jackson has rushed for 190 yards in the Ravens last two games, the run-first mentality will not last forever.

If anyone knows that, it’s Vick. In a recent interview with ESPN, Vick warned Jackson about the long-term effects. “When we [run] it can either get you into the game or it can shake you up a little bit. It’s not like a guy sitting in the pocket, you run the risk of getting injured. I’m not saying that should deter Lamar or scare him; I’m just saying proceed with caution.”

Jackson didn't waste any time to make an impact on the ground as he scored on a 13-yard touchdown rush to give the Ravens an early 7-3 lead.

In the meantime, the Ravens will need Jackson to be his electrifying self against the Falcons (4-7) as they look to hold on to the final playoff spot in a close AFC race.

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The last team to make the Super Bowl without having a bye? The 2012 Ravens

The last team to make the Super Bowl without having a bye? The 2012 Ravens

The NFL announced on Tuesday that the league will have a new playoff format beginning in 2020, one where seven teams from each conference would make the league's postseason.

While the new format helps those teams that finish with eight, nine or 10 wins and had previously been on the outside looking it, the new system also has its drawbacks. Each conference will now only have one team that earns a bye week, as the conference's No. 2 seed will now play on Wild Card weekend hosting the No. 7 seed.

Over the past seven seasons, all 14 Super Bowl participants were either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in their respective conference, meaning they had bye weeks. For the teams that made a deep run in the postseason, the extra week of rest proved to be beneficial.

So, it was worth wondering: Who was the last team was to play in a Super Bowl without having a bye week?

That would be the 2012 Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens finished the regular season 10-6 and as AFC North division champs. But Baltimore had the worst record of any division winner, giving them the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.

After Baltimore dominated then-rookie Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round, the Ravens traveled to the Mile High City for a date with the Denver Broncos. The Ravens upset Denver in double overtime after quarterback Joe Flacco found Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard touchdown to tie the game with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

In the conference championship, Baltimore traveled to Gillette Stadium and cruised by the Patriots, winning 28-13 and clinching their first Super Bowl berth since 2000. In Super Bowl XLVII, Baltimore held off an epic San Francisco comeback and defeated the 49ers in a thriller, 34-31.

The Ravens proved that a team can win a Super Bowl without having a bye, but it hasn't happened in a long time. With the new playoff format, that will likely change.

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Why it doesn't make sense for the Ravens to trade up in the draft for a wide receiver

Why it doesn't make sense for the Ravens to trade up in the draft for a wide receiver

Despite the fact that the Ravens missed out on Michael Brockers, it’s hard not to look at the offseason and see modest levels of progress. 

The Ravens added two interior defensive linemen to help out with a pass rush that could use a boost on the inside and kept Matthew Judon around on a franchise tag. 

Even still, the Ravens and general manager Eric DeCosta still have a lot of work to do before next season begins. And they’ve got nine picks — and seven in the first four rounds — to fill out the roster. 

Meaning, the Ravens have the ammunition to trade up for a player in the top half of the first round, should they choose. But while that option might seem tantalizing to the fanbase, it doesn’t make sense to move up for certain positions. One of those positions is wide receiver. 

The Ravens’ team website answered this question from a fan a week ago about the prospect of moving up in the draft for another wideout for Lamar Jackson. While it’s true that adding Jerry Jeudy or Ceedee Lamb or even a Justin Jefferson or Henry Ruggs-type wideout would only further elevate the offense, it’s not the most sensical move for the roster. 

Baltimore picks 28th in the draft, so if it felt it needed to trade with Denver to get the 15th selection to pick one of Lamb or Jeudy, that’d cost them a chunk of their draft capital. 

According to a trade value chart, the Ravens’ 28th selection is currently worth about 660 “points.” Should they move up to 15th overall, which is worth 1,050 points, they’d have to make up a difference of 390 points. Meaning, a potential trade to 15th would cost the Ravens — approximately — the 28th pick, the 55th pick, and the 129th pick. 

Of course, that’s only speaking from a mathematical perspective. The Ravens would likely have to part with an additional pick in 2021 too, if past history is any future indicator. Should there be a bidding war for one of those wideouts, the price would only go up from there. 

The argument, of course, can be made that, when whoever that assortment of picks is stacked against Jeudy or Lamb, the newest wide receiver would outweigh those selections in the later rounds. 

But with a wide receiver class as loaded as this year’s class is, there will certainly be a wide receiver of value, both on the field and in the draft room, when the Ravens pick in the first, second and third rounds. 

Additionally, the Ravens would have to take a good look at the resources they’ve invested into the team if they’re sure about trading up for a wide receiver. Since 2016, the Ravens have picked five times in the first round. Four picks were offensive players — three of whom play skill positions (Jackson, Hayden Hurst and Marquise Brown). 

With the Ravens other, perhaps more pressing needs on the roster, which include interior offensive line, edge rusher and inside linebacker, making a trade to acquire a receiver and diminish the chances of filling the rest of the holes on the roster isn’t something the Ravens should entertain.

When you look at the investments the Ravens have made on offense in recent years, paired with the context of this year’s draft and other team needs across the board, it simply doesn’t make sense to invest even more top resources into more skill positions on the offense.

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