Last season was supremely frustrating for the Baltimore Ravens and all of their fans. Before the regular season even began, cornerback Marcus Peters and running back Gus Edwards tore their ACLs on back-to-back plays in the preseason. They joined fellow running back J.K. Dobbins, who also tore his ACL in the preseason, on the injured reserve and remained there for the entirety of the 2021 season. Then during the regular season, quarterback Lamar Jackson and cornerback Marlon Humphrey both had their year shortened with injuries.
For the 2022 season, the Ravens not only expect all of their injured players back and healthy, but they’ve added some top talent on both sides of the ball as well. That’s why the 2022 season will only be a success if Baltimore wins the AFC North.
That could seem like a big ask for most teams that finished last in their division in 2021, but the Ravens aren’t most teams. Even despite all of the injuries to major contributors on both sides of the ball, Baltimore finished with an 8-9 record, just a couple of wins out of not only a playoff spot but a division title. They’re a very strong team at their core and just had a few breaks go the wrong way for them in 2021.
One of the worst breaks that went against the Ravens in 2021 was obviously the loss of their starting quarterback and former MVP, Lamar Jackson. Jackson wasn’t having his best season by any means—as he was asked to throw the ball more than ever, his interceptions and INT% rose significantly—but the team still felt his absence in a big way.
Baltimore lost all five of their last five games of the season after Jackson went down with his ankle injury. Of those five losses, four of them were by three points or fewer. It was an absolutely brutal end to their 2021 season.
There’s obviously no guarantee that Jackson would have won all of those games if he were healthy, but a 12-5 record would have been a significantly different outcome than the true 8-9 result. The Bengals won the AFC North and made it to the Super Bowl with just 10 wins in the regular season.
Jackson’s return, as significant as it is, might even pale in comparison to the additions—both internal and external—the Ravens will have on their 2022 roster.
Internally, all of the players that missed the entirety of last season—Edwards, Dobbins and Peters—have a chance to return to the team by the start of the regular season. Additionally, second-year receiver Rashod Bateman, who will likely have an increased role with Marquise Brown gone, should also be healthy to start the year. That’s in contrast with his delayed start in his rookie season thanks to his recovery from groin surgery.
The Ravens’ external additions are where the team really shines though. In free agency, they added safety Marcus Williams and offensive tackle Morgan Moses, each a strong addition to their respective units in the defensive secondary and offensive line. Then the draft came around, and with it came the team’s best additions since they knocked every selection out of the park.
Their two first-round picks, safety Kyle Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum, are not only the best at each of their positions but among the best athletes in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Edge rusher David Ojabo, their second-round pick, is an outstanding athlete as well and could have been a top-15 pick had he not ruptured his Achilles at Michigan Pro Day. Defensive tackle Travis Jones, their third-round pick, could end up being the best interior defensive lineman in his class.
That’s all without even mentioning their six fourth-rounders—Daniel Faalele, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Charlie Kolar, Jordan Stout, Isaiah Likely and Damarion Williams—that could all be long-term contributors in Baltimore. Even sixth-round running back Tyler Badie could carve out an early role in the offense this season.
Head coach John Harbaugh’s fifth AFC North title is well within reach, even in such a talented division. Given his strong reputation for developing players and maximizing their production, there’s plenty of reason to believe all of Baltimore’s incoming rookies will be successful this year and beyond.
There are so many reasons to be excited about the Ravens this season, which is why they’ll need to back up the hype once they take the field for 2022 to be successful. A strong return from Jackson and other injured players would set the Ravens up for both an impressive regular season and a sustained playoff run. Even after a rough 2021 season featuring a last-place finish, winning the AFC North and marking 2022 as a success in Baltimore is absolutely possible.
- Jun 23, 2022
- Jun 21, 2022