Welcome to lunchtime links, where we round up all the latest Ravens news from around the web for your convenient consumption. Today we find out how Joe Flacco drops in rankings (at ESPN anyway), the Ravens are one of the fastest teams in the NFL, discover one thing we learned about the team in the preseason so far, and why Juan Castillo has gone from villain to hero.
Joe Flacco drops in rankings
Joe Flacco has by and large had a pretty good preseason, and things are certainly looking up for his prospects in the regular season as well. He is part of an offense that currently leads the NFL in rushing, and he has lots of new toys to throw to.
But following his dismal season in 2013, he has dropped 40 spots in ESPN’s player rankings to number 80 for this year. To be fair, he did go from Super Bowl MVP to mediocrity from one season to the next. We anticipate a big rise after this season with a return to form, although perhaps not as significant.
Ravens among fastest teams in NFL
When you think of the Raven’s current roster, you think of toughness, talent, and grit. What you may not realize is that they are also among the fastest teams in the NFL. According to the ESPN site Grantland, the Ravens are the 9th fastest team in the NFL based on their criteria for measurement.
Grantland used each player’s 40 yard dash time, focusing on skill position players only, and took ten players from each team. Since players obviously slow down with age, two hundredths of a second were added for each year a player has been in the league. The lower the total time, the higher teams ranked. It’s a pretty good idea and an interesting list worth checking out.
One thing we’ve learned about the Ravens this offseason
Bleacher Report has a feature up highlighting the one thing we’ve learned about each NFL team this offseason. For the Ravens, it’s that the passing game is primed for a big year. We can certainly get behind this idea and we think that Joe Flacco will at least have the most efficient season of his career, bar none.
But I believe that the run game is an even bigger story. After lingering in the basement last season, the team is leading the NFL in rushing through two preseason games and has the league’s leading rusher in Lorenzo Taliaferro. While it may only be the preseason, there is a huge arrow pointing up for the offense as a whole. And I would argue that running the ball is more critical to success.
Juan Castillo: from villain to hero?
Speaking of the run game, a lot of people gave Juan Castillo a lot of fault for the failure of the offensive line in 2013. Castillo came to the team with a reputation as a offensive line guru, but it seemed like the coaches were at odds in regards to which scheme they ultimately wanted to run last season. Castillo is more of a zone blocking guy, while the team was trying to implement a power running scheme.
So the blame really falls on more than one guy. The good news is, Castillo’s preference for zone blocking vibes perfectly with Gary Kubiak’s scheme, so the coaching staff is operating in harmony this time around. And the results, so far, speak for themselves.