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The Ravens mail from Mike Preston on the business value of Lamar Jackson, coach Ed Reed and more

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Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston will answer fan questions throughout the Ravens’ season. After Baltimore fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-13 on Sunday night, many questions remain ahead of a Week 18 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Here’s Preston’s take:

(Editor’s note: Questions have been edited for length and clarity.)

Mike, Seattle received two first-round picks (2022 and 2023), two second-round picks (2022 and 2023) and a fifth-round pick in 2022, plus three players for 34-year-old Russell Wilson and a fourth-round pick in 2022. take. Houston received three first-round picks, one third-round and two fourth-round picks for controversial 27-year-old Deshaun Watson, and one sixth-round pick. What do you think the Ravens might demand if (IF) they get offers for Lamar Jackson, soon to be 26?

— Bob in North Carolina

Bob, it all depends on the negotiations, with which team and what is the history of this team in trades. Some teams, like the Los Angeles Rams, are willing to part ways with draft picks and others, like the Ravens, believe you build through the draft. I’m sure after two years of negotiations with Jackson, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta has sent enough trial balloons to know what he can get for Jackson if the team decides to trade him.

Also remember that there may not be as many teams willing to trade for Jackson as some might think. He’s a great runner but only an average passer, so he has to play in a certain system or in a particular frame. At this point, it’s too early to predict what will happen, but I guess DeCosta has done enough homework to pull the trigger on a trade if necessary. I suspect there will be teams willing to give up multiple first-round picks for Jackson.

When it was recently announced that Ed Reed had been named Bethune-Cookman’s head coach, John Harbaugh praised the Ravens Hall of Famer and “on-court coach,” known for his cinematic study. Since Harbaugh thinks so highly of Reed, do you know if there’s ever been an effort to get him on the Ravens team? If not, what does this say about the leadership and dynamics of the coaching staff under Harbaugh? Thanks for all the ideas you provide.

—Don Truitt in Colesville

I’m not aware that Harbaugh ever offered Reed a position on his team. In fact, I’ve rarely seen Reed, Ray Lewis or Jonathan Ogden at the team’s training complex since their retirement. I think all three of them have strong relationships with Harbaugh, but it was Harbaugh who kicked out players with strong personalities after the team won the Super Bowl in 2012. As far as Lewis and Reed, I think that they respect Harbaugh, especially for what they have accomplished. to win the title, but I don’t think they’ll be having dinner anytime soon.

When it comes to his current team, and even the players, I think Harbaugh enjoys being the dominant personality, and that serves him well. But it’s hard to win titles without alpha males, and the Ravens haven’t come close since those guys left in 2012. Harbaugh believes in the team’s chemistry philosophy and he works it well, but the best coaches know how to handle high-maintenance players and engage them equally.

As for Reed as head coach, it’s going to be interesting. I had ups and downs with Reed but we share a mutual respect. I think there’s a soft side to the guy that he doesn’t like to show, but it will serve him well in his dealings with college players. No one can ever question their love for the game.

The Ravens tried to manage the salary cap by having a cheap rookie as a backup quarterback at various times (Troy Smith, Tyrod Taylor, Tyler Huntley/Anthony Brown). Given that Lamar will have missed multiple games in consecutive seasons, would it be in his interest to have a more useful backup next season? Or is it as simple as saying that no matter who your replacement is, if you have to rely on him for multiple games, you’re probably not going to do well anyway? For the record, if Lamar isn’t playing the Bengals, I think they should just go ahead and fire Anthony Brown at this point. Thank you.

— Paul in Orlando

I think the healthy quarterback will start. I don’t know how long Jackson will play if he’s healthy, but I believe the Ravens want him out on the field. As for a quarterback, I think the Ravens will pick one in the draft and there’s a definite need. When the Ravens drafted Jackson, some said his injury odds wouldn’t increase, but it was ridiculous then and even worse now. Just look at the system. Not only has Jackson missed substantial playing time over the past two years, but Huntley also has a bumped shoulder. You just can’t keep playing quarterbacks.

As for Brown, I thought he played well in the preseason, but the Ravens need to prepare for a playoff run, not downgrade. The key word here is balance. They don’t need to light up the field with a down passing game, but at least scare a defense. Also, finding a quarterback is not difficult, that’s why finding one is easy and inexpensive.

Our current offensive game plan is designed to restrict Huntley since he’s the backup, and our wide, not-so-good receivers. Keep running the ball. But that reduces our players to their weakest level. Why not open up the playbook a bit and see what they can do? We only throw the ball in passing situations, never in third-and-1s when the D-line is stacked, because they know it’s a running game. And when was the last time we saw a deep ball on the second and 4? Give recipients a chance to succeed before you write them off.

— Peter in Virginia

Peter, I understand why the Ravens turned conservative after the New York Giants game in which Jackson committed two costly turnovers. I agree, at least to a point, with the fact that they run so much because that’s their strength and they were going to beat a lot of the bad teams they faced by wearing them down in second period.

But it’s a different game in the playoffs, where they’ll face the league’s top quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City, Josh Allen of Buffalo and Joe Burrow of Cincinnati. So, I predict they’ll open it up more offensively in the playoffs, but I’d like to see more of that approach in Sunday’s game against the Bengals. They might as well prepare.

Hey Mike, John Harbaugh looks irritated and exhausted by Lamar Jackson’s excruciating losses and daily drama, which probably won’t end anytime soon. I’m sure he won’t like Steve Bisciotti telling him to fire Greg Roman and he must be tired of answering questions about the poor wide receivers Eric DeCosta gave him. He’s been in the league for a long time and it’s a mental and physical chore. Do you think he could stop with the Ravens after this season?

— Jesse Marr in Los Angeles

Harbaugh has a contract that carries him through the 2025 season and I don’t see him walking away. Harbaugh is old school, loyal and a fighter. Of course, he looks tired and exhausted. What coach doesn’t approach the end of a season, regardless of whether you have a winning or losing record? Coaching at almost any level is a chore, especially if you do it correctly and with care. It’s even harder at the college and NFL level because you have to deal with so many people and so many players.

I don’t see Harbaugh leaving unless it’s family and overall, despite recent criticism, I still think he’s a very good football manager. He has weaknesses, but all coaches have them. A major key is to compensate for weaknesses.

Mr. Preston, I believe Tom Brady used to take less than he could have demanded so the Patriots would have more money/salary cap to bring in other players (aka guns ) that could make the team more competitive. Is there any chance that Lamar Jackson plans to do something similar? Thank you for your excellent reporting in The Sun.

—Dawna Cobb

Dawna, no. If you believe this would happen, then you believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Thank you for the compliments.

I was wondering if you think Lamar would have more success in Kyle Shanahan’s zone attack which could play more to Lamar’s athleticism and strength as a passer in midfield? Also, is this an offense the Ravens coaching staff would consider going forward?

—Nate

I think any quarterback would be successful in Shanahan’s offense because he has one of the best offensive minds in the NFL. I don’t know how much Jackson would improve, but I’d love to see the Ravens move in a different direction as far as someone’s direction of offense goes. If you’re ever going to place the franchise tag on Jackson, then the team needs a new voice and a new direction. If it’s broken, fix it.


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