The Miami Dolphins meet the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow in a Week 2 showdown as part of the 2022 NFL season. The Ravens are one of the top rivals for the Dolphins outside the AFC East as a team they seem to meet fairly regularly and a team that regularly beats Miami. While the Dolphins won the game in 2021, in 2016, 2017, and 2019, the Ravens won each of the three meetings by a combined 137-16 score.
To get a closer look at the 2022 version of the Ravens, I turned to Kyle Barber from Baltimore Beatdown, SB Nation’s Ravens team site. I posed several questions to him about Baltimore and what the Dolphins can expect to see on Sunday. Though, I started with the consensus top question about the Ravens.
Lamar Jackson’s contract. What the ****?
Ahh yes, the contract. Rumors and reports are flew around last week that Lamar Jackson turned down a six-year, $290 million offer with $133 million fully guaranteed at signing. There were reports that the NFLPA suggested and believed Jackson was right to pursue a fully guaranteed contract, similar to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. However, rumors are believing the Ravens believe that contract is the outlier, not the norm, with the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals signing Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray, respectively, to deals that were not similar.
In the end, Jackson is willing to play out the final year of his contract and likely outplay what the team offered him and play into what he ultimately wants, which is a fully guaranteed contract.
I don’t think you can fault either side here. The Ravens don’t want to ink a deal with their quarterback that’s fully guaranteed and top-tier money after the Browns did so with Watson. That contract felt like an outlier when it was signed and has remained so after Wilson and Murray, among others, signed new contracts without similar guarantees.
You also can’t fault a player for wanting top-tier money as a top-tier quarterback and getting the money guaranteed. The AAV and salary and big numbers are great, but only if you’re going to get that money and that’s why they want guaranteed deals.
After a season in which the Ravens were decimated by injury, it seems like the 2022 season is not starting much better in that regard. The offensive line is especially banged up right. How much of a concern is this heading into Week 2 and will the Dolphins' pass rush find any advantage on the line?
It’s a concern and I don’t think there’s any hiding the worries. The Ravens made a significant effort to curtail injury this offseason, with ramped-up practices and not playing any of their starters for a significant amount of preseason if they even participated at all. But already, two starters at important positions left tackle Ja’Wuan James and cornerback Kyle Fuller are out for the season. With left tackle Ronnie Stanley still working back from injury, it puts the Ravens at a disadvantage and the Dolphins can definitely put some added pressure on expected starter Patrick Mekari on the left side.
The ground game seems suspect for the Ravens right now, in part because of the offensive line and in part because J.K. Dobbins may or may not be available for this game. It feels like he is ready to go, but if he is not, are the Ravens reliant on Kenyan Drake to lead the running game? Do you expect Dobbins back? What can we expect to see from former Dolphins runner Drake?
There are multiple factors as to why the Ravens struggled in their first contest, with the main factor being the New York Jets defensive line and their game plan heading into the match.
It was clear the Jets were wanting to force Jackson to air it out. They weren’t going to give him or his running backs lanes to work with. They stuffed the box with eight or nine guys and essentially told the Ravens if they were going to drive down the field and score, it would be on the backs of the receivers and Jackson’s arm.
After Jackson began to air it out and took the lead, the Jets began to spread out more and attempt to better defend the pass. It began to open up lanes for the Ravens.
Now, as for Dobbins, it’s certainly possible he plays on Sunday. He’s been a full participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He looks good in practice and is ready to hit the field. However, if he can’t go or the Ravens withhold him, look for Drake to lead the running game. He received the start last week and ultimately was the best of the group. But if another guy starts to get hot, the Ravens will go with the hot hand in the second half.
The defensive line for Baltimore appears to be a stout unit ready to create havoc on Miami’s offensive line. Where will Miami be in trouble and how can the Dolphins succeed against them?
The interior pass rush for the Ravens is what got the job done against the Jets in Week 1. Many assumed the edge rushers would be the greatest threat—especially with both tackles for the Jets out on Sunday, but the interior was what couldn’t hold up. Look out for the combination of third-year defensive lineman Justin Madubuike and nose tackle Michael Pierce. The two are a great combination of strength, size, and speed. Madubuike was on a tear last week and he could definitely generate that same impact on Sunday.
This early in the season, there are always players who fans of opposing teams just do not yet know. Who will be that surprise player for the Ravens on offense? On defense?
Wide receiver Devin Duvernay will be the guy to watch on offense. Many have hoped for a breakout year from Duvernay and on Sunday he hauled in two touchdowns from Jackson, including a rather impressive fade route touchdown.
On defense, I’ll go with outside linebacker Odafe Oweh. He was one of the Ravens’ first-round selections last season and is primed for a big year. He generated a fair bit of pressure against the Jets and I suspect he gets after the quarterback again here on Sunday.
What are your expectations for the Ravens this year? Would you go over or under the DraftKings Sportsbook total of 9.5 wins?
The problem is that 9.5 wins is a really fair number for the Ravens. They have the talent to go over that marker but play in a conference that could put them under. Their schedule is rather challenging but they have the means to deal with it and come out on top. The factor for the Ravens is—and until further notice will always be the health of their starters. If they can keep those guys healthy they can compete with the best of them. If they start losing more cornerbacks and then another guy or two on the offensive line goes down, they’re suddenly clawing for wins.
I think 10 wins makes sense for them and will take the over, but if injuries start mounting, the under will be disappointingly more realistic game by game.