DMV NFL Update
A staggering 83 percent of Blake students are Ravens fans compared to a measly 17 percent of Washington Football Team fans. This stat shouldn’t surprise you due to the Raven’s electrifying success and the WFT’s continuity of immense disappointment. Watching the Ravens is exciting and fun while watching the WFT is often a dull and depressing experience for fans. However, the WFT still has bright spots and hope for the future, while the Ravens have some major holes they will have to fix if they want a shot at the Super Bowl this season.
MVP candidate Lamar Jackson has led the Ravens to a 6-3 record. Lamar has had a huge role in the Ravens success, boasting 2,441 passing yards and 14 touchdowns in nine games. Not counting his extra 639 yards on the ground, Lamar is on pace for his second MVP award. The most astonishing part about the Ravens’ prosperity is that they lost four running backs before the season even started. Regardless, they picked up free agent RBs Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and promoted rookie Tyson Williams to the active roster. Even through all this, the Ravens still have the 5th best rushing offense in the NFL.
On the other hand, the Ravens defense this year has been questionable and has raised questions about whether they would drag the team down to their demise. PFF (Pro Football Focus) ranks the Ravens defense 20th overall in the NFL, meaning going against high-powered offenses like the Packers or the Buccaneers will likely mean they get shredded. Before the season even started they lost key corner Marcus Peters, which may contribute to the fact that the Ravens give up 375 passing yards a game. The run defense has actually been very good this year ranking 4th in the NFL. While it has been good, they need their defensive backs like Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett to step up if they want success in the playoffs.
You can fault the Ravens’ defense forever, but at the end of the day, they are winning games. If the defense can stay solid, the star-studded offense should keep them in games. And if the defense can somehow turn it around, the Ravens’ Superbowl chances won’t be too far-fetched. Led by their captain Lamar Jackson and the greatest kicker of all time, who can stop them?
Following a 31-23 1st round playoff loss to the Buccaneers, the WFT had high hopes coming into this year. Coming off that competitive game with the Super Bowl Champs, expectations were high, and it was looking like a winning atmosphere was coming back to Washington. They signed veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick during the off-season and drafted linebacker Jamin Davis. The biggest signing of the off-season for the WFT was 26-year old WR Curtis Samuel. The D-line, consisting of all first-round picks, backed by an expensive secondary was called the best defense in the league before they took one snap.
Those high hopes didn’t last. Washington has come out to a disappointing 3-6 at the halfway mark. At this point many fans want Washington to tank for a QB, a lingering problem it seems they never have been able to fix. Ryan Fitzpatrick (the quarterback who the WFT paid this year $10 million) got injured at the beginning of the second quarter during their season-opener. Ever since then, former XFL QB Taylor Heinicke has filled in, and he has struggled. He has put up 15 touchdowns dimmed by his 9 interceptions, not counting his 4 fumbles. He has an atrocious 91 passer rating this season. To put that into context, the max passer rating you can have is 156. Heinicke ranks 26th in passer rating this year, putting him on the low-end of QBs. Although Heinicke just played a great game against the Buccaneers in a 29-19 win, his consistency is still in question. If Heinicke could play like that every week then there would be no “Tank for a QB” campaign. But the fact of the matter is Taylor Heinicke cannot keep up that level of play for even two weeks in a row. He might give you a great week against an amazing defense then the next throw two interceptions against a bottom 5 defense. Because of this problem, the quarterback position is still a big hole that the WFT needs to patch up.
The biggest letdown this season for the WFT is easily the defense. Last year there were many high hopes after second overall pick Chase Young broke out. Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen also had huge years, which led to many saying this was the best defensive line in football. That defensive line paired with more talent in the secondary could only mean good things. In the offseason, the WFT went out and signed cornerback William Jackson and safety Bobby Mccain to strengthen the secondary. But, the defense this year has been mediocre at best. They struggle to get stops which leads to many points getting scored. Now with Chase Young out for the rest of the year due to a torn ACL, despair looms over a wounded defense. However, there is a bright spot in all of this. The WFT roster has an average age of 25 years old. This team is extremely young in the right places and with more development, they could become an elite team.
While the Ravens are coasting and the WFT is struggling, football has been at a high level in the DMV. Fans of both teams have reasons to be happy and upset. At the end of the day, high-quality football is in the DMV, and that’s all you can ask for.