© Tommy Gilligan - USA Today Sports

Tackling the Biggest Questions Surrounding the Ravens in Week 1

Vinny & Haynie
September 05, 2019 - 9:48 am
Categories: 

By Joe Schiller

If you’re reading this, you’ve made it to the 2019 NFL season. 

Week 1 officially kicks off tonight, but the Ravens won’t face the Dolphins until Sunday afternoon. But with the anticipation surrounding the defending AFC North champions, it’s hard to ignore. 

There are unknowns for every team heading into the start of the regular season. Here are some of the biggest questions I’ll be looking for on Sunday.

Who Starts at Left Guard and Can They Establish Themselves as the Stater? 

The Ravens’ first regular-season depth chart didn’t provide any clarity to who will start at left guard. It’s listed as Bradley Bozeman, Patrick Mekari, or Ben Powers. James Hurst is listed as a backup right guard, right tackle, and left tackle but he’s certainly an option to start at left guard. The most experienced of the group, Hurst started all 16 games at left guard during the 2017 season. 

Hurst’s veteran experience gives him the advantage in my opinion, but the Ravens like Powers’ ceiling as a fourth-round pick. Head Coach John Harbaugh told reporters last week that there’s a difference between a starter and an established starter. Not only should we be looking at who is starting on Sunday but if they can establish themselves as the starter moving forward. 

Can the Pass Rush Take Advantage of Laremy Tunsil’s Departure? 

Laremy Tunsil was traded to the Texans over the weekend and Julien Davenport, who was sent to Miami in the trade, is listed as the starting left tackle on the Dolphins’ depth chart. That’s a quick turn-around for a player entering a completely new offense and the Ravens’ pass rush will look to take advantage.

The pass rush in Baltimore is without Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, and Brent Urban. They’ll rely on an emerging Matt Judon, veteran Pernell McPhee, and young talents Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams, and Jaylon Ferguson. Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s ability to scheme up pressure may not be something we’re talking about enough. According to Football Outsiders, the Ravens sent four pass-rushers on blitzes the lowest of any team last season (53%) but sent five or more pass-rushers the highest of any team (39%).

How Much Will the Rookie Wide Receivers Contribute? 

The Ravens spent two of their first three picks in the 2019 NFL Draft on wide receivers. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Miles Boykin are expected to contribute to the passing game immediately this season, but how much will we see from the rookie duo? 

Harbaugh said Brown is a “full-go” for Week 1. He can be implemented in so many ways with his game-breaking speed. Boykin’s size gives him a matchup advantage against corners and safeties. But it’s important to note both will be playing their first NFL game that matters. 

What Will Lamar Jackson’s Run-Pass Ratio Look Like? 

By now, the questions surrounding Lamar Jackson in his second season are exhausting, but we will finally get to see him in a revamped offense on Sunday. After totaling an unprecedented 147 rushing attempts in seven regular-season games as a rookie, I’ll be looking to see Jackson’s true run-pass ratio. 

Jackson has improved as a passer this offseason, but he’s still the most dangerous with his legs. He has the ability to run like no other quarterback in the NFL can, and how much the Ravens will allow him to do that will be something to watch.