Through three-quarters of the 2019 season, we hand out some superlatives to the best performances from our Baltimore Ravens. Who’s caught our attention?
A 10-2 start — with wins over the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers — has all of Ravens world in a tizzy. Perhaps the most remarkable part of all of this success three-quarters of the way into the 2019 season is how the team has received significant contributions from its stars, role players, off-the-street pick-ups and coaching staff.
The Ravens have won this season as a team, through and through, and that’s probably what makes this special season appear to be so sustainable. If the defense struggles, the offense picks it up. If the offense is down, the defense keeps it tight. And, if it’s tight, Justin Tucker tends to be the difference.
Though the Ravens have shown they are capable of winning in a multitude of ways, there have been some standout performances along the way. Let’s get down to some superlatives for the 2019 Baltimore Ravens, with three-quarters of the season in the books.
MVP — Lamar Jackson
He is the frontrunner for the league award in what appears to be a two-man race at this time with Seattle’s Russell Wilson. The stats are there (a 5-1 touchdown-to-interception rate, closing in on the league’s all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback), the team success is there and the intangible effect he has had on the organization and its fans is undeniable. This was the easiest selection.
Offensive Player of the Year — Mark Ingram
Ingram came to the Ravens with a reputation as being a great north-and-south runner and a terrific locker-room presence. He has been better than advertised on both fronts. On pace for more than 1,110 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns — on an offense that also features a quarterback taking a lot of carries —, Ingram has been an absolute beast running the ball, and he appears to be right in the center of every team celebration and event that gets caught on camera. Ingram makes this team better.
Defensive Player of the Year — Marlon Humphrey
Humphrey has the splash plays, the rugged tackles and the “glamor” cornerback role of shadowing opposing team’s top receiving threat. He has played outside, in the slot and come crashing into the backfield on blitzes. Marcus Peters and Matt Judon have also made huge impacts, but I give it to Humphrey based on his consistent great play.
Rookie of the Year — Marquise Brown
Brown has been a little hit-and-miss from game to game, but 520 yards and six touchdowns, with a quarter of the season left is very good production for a rookie receiver — especially on a run-first team. Brown has an obvious connection with Jackson that should only grow in time and he has electric skills. A healthy offseason and full training camp could lead him to reach new heights next season.
Coach of the Year — Joe D’Allesandris
This is arguably the finest coaching staff ever assembled for the Baltimore Ravens, and a case could be made for head coach John Harbaugh, Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman. A good case, actually. I give the nod to D’Allesandris for two reasons: (1)The position group was loaded with questions at the start of the season and they are possibly the best line in the league; and, (2) Each individual on the line is playing at or above expectations. Each one. That is a terrific job.
Unsung hero — Nick Boyle
The Ravens three-headed monster at tight end is getting a lot of recognition because of the flexibility in formations the threesome allows. They can go big on run plays, spread out on pass plays and motion in and out of either to create defensive confusion. Mark Andrews is one of the league’s. bright young pass-catchers and Hayden Hurst is a former first-round pick with sure hands and improved blocking skills. Boyle is the nerve-center of it all. He lines up on the line as an extra tackle, leads pulling guards downfield to block linebackers and safeties and has developed into a nice receiver in his own right.
G.O.A.T. — Justin Tucker
Tucker is the greatest kicker in the history of professional football, and I’m not sure it’s even close anymore. The Ravens electric offense has caused tucker to kick more extra points than field goals these days, but when called upon, he still comes through in the clutch. The 49-yarder in driving rain to beat the 49ers was one of Tucker’s finest kicks and showed the world once again that he is the G.O.A.T., in case they forgot.