The Ohio State University has done it again!
In 1518, Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, first Marquess of the Valley of Oaxaca (thank you, Wikipedia) landed on the Yucatán Peninsula with roughly 500 men and a simple mission: win the Lombardi Trophy.
In an act of defiance against the Governor of Cuba (who demanded Cortés abandon his plight at the last minute), the young conquistador took all his ships and scuttled them; only by reaching SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles would his men achieve the glory they yearned for (I can’t guarantee this is historically accurate).
In any event, Baltimore, you’re now thick in the middle of the jungle with your roster as it stands today.
A quick piece of NFL history that is slightly more accurate: Lamar Jackson has been a regular-season Tezcatlipoca (Aztec central deity) but has regularly found himself a human sacrifice victim in January.
All of the Ravens’ post-season losses with Jackson to date (2018 versus Chargers; 2019 versus Titans; 2020 versus Bills) have highlighted the one-dimensional nature of Baltimore’s offence once the run game is shut down and Jackson is forced to play from the pocket.
Ravens football fires like a Spanish cannon when they blow out to an early lead and can sap the will out of an opposing defence with a myriad of run plays from similar alignments.
Absent those conditions, they are not built to rip off chunk plays in the air or score points in a hurry. Jackson himself is prone to trying to make something special happen every snap, and subsequently delivers some crushing turnovers.
Three seasons of data is enough to conclude that this roster will only go so far in the post-season, and if they want to condemn themselves to a similar fate this year, so be it.
But if Baltimore want to get serious about competing for a Super Bowl, they need to be bold.
Rarely is a team a wide receiver away; for the Ravens, however, a perfect storm of a falling salary cap, other teams’ recent draft additions, and previous trade relationships has come to fruition.
In drafting upstart unicorn Kyle Pitts, Atlanta might – might – make Julio Jones available for trade.
Well, Ravens, this is your once-in-a-decade opportunity. Julio Jones represents as close to Quetzalcoatl (Aztec god of life – keep up) as you’ll see in this lifetime.
He is a still-beating-heart-snatching alpha of a wide receiver.
His addition will force opposing defences to empty the box, will give Jackson an outlet to throw a 50:50 ball to, and will provide mentorship for their young wide receiver group which now includes recent draftees Rashod Bateman (first round) and Tylan Wallace (fourth round).
Who better to learn from than a slam-dunk first-ballot Hall of Fame player – a consummate professional still at the peak of his powers?
How will opposing defensive coordinators defend Jones, burner Hollywood Brown, Pro Bowl TE Mark Andrews, thunder-and-lightning duo J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, and also account for Jackson threatening to rip off a huge play when it all breaks down?
I have no idea what the draft compensation will look like. I suspect Atlanta will want picks and young rookie players given the salary cap Tlalocan (underworld) the Falcons currently reside in.
Julio is 32 and with three years left on his contract; the Ravens’ 2022 second-round pick and extras (a few lower picks or a player on a rookie contract such as WR Miles Boykin) given Jones has only a few seasons left would be there or thereabouts.
The Falcons and Ravens have recent trade history with Baltimore sending TE Hayden Hurst to Atlanta a few years ago for a second-round pick; one can only hope the two GMs remain ready to deal again.
Every team improved after this draft, and the AFC playoff picture looks ominous.
Cleveland are likely the team to beat in the AFC North; Buffalo will still be deep in the post-season, and Montezuma still lives in Kansas City.
This is the final year of Lamar Jackson’s rookie contract – the salary cap hits will be $23 million in 2022, then probably $40 million AAV going forward.
Jacksonville and New York have started the timer on their own rookie QB roster-building projects. It might be now or never for Baltimore.
Scuttle the ships. Sell your future lands and titles.
Trade for Julio Jones.
Put the NFL on notice: you’re coming for all the loot you can cart back to Maryland.