The Ravens’ path to a possible Super Bowl appearance became more difficult with reports Thursday that starting running back Gus Edwards and cornerback Marcus Peters suffered season-ending knee injuries, but there is no need to panic or sell your season tickets.
Injuries are as much a part of football as blocking and tackling, and teams like the Ravens, with an abundance of depth, can absorb more than most in the NFL. So, if you want to cry in your beer, curl up in a fetal position or play slow music in a tavern, then go ahead.
It’s way too early for that type of stuff. Actually, save the emotion for game day.
It’s a long season and there are 17 regular-season games to be played. A lot of things can happen, and injuries can be a great equalizer. If Kansas City loses quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a season-ending knee injury, the Chiefs become only a slightly better than average team. The same can be said about the Cleveland Browns if they lose quarterback Baker Mayfield, or the Pittsburgh Steelers if they lose veteran signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger.
The Ravens’ saving grace is that they have a quarterback in Lamar Jackson who also happens to be the team’s best ball carrier. Jackson, in his fourth season, isn’t a one-man team, but he is pretty much a one-man offense, which is why the Ravens surrounded the 2019 NFL MVP with more talent during the offseason.
Now, if Jackson’s season were cut short, it might be the time to cancel Christmas. But even in that situation, the Ravens have a capable backup in Tyler Huntley, a second-year player who performed well during the preseason.
The good teams adjust, they just don’t roll over.
The Ravens have been hit hard at the running back position. They lost starter J.K. Dobbins to an ACL tear in the preseason finale Aug. 28, then backup Justice Hill to a torn Achilles tendon during practice Sept. 2. Edwards was going to be the featured back and he was the only pure downhill rusher on the roster.
The Ravens will miss him, especially in the fourth quarter, because he was one of the best closers in the game. They will miss Hill as a weapon in passing situations. But Ty’Son Williams played well in the preseason and gives the Ravens speed on the perimeter. Few know whether recently signed veteran running backs Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman can still play at high levels, but now they have that proverbial carrot dangling in front of them.
They’ll get a chance to prove they can still play, and that’s a bonus for the Ravens in a tough situation. This isn’t to say the Ravens won’t miss Edwards and Dobbins, but there isn’t much of an alternative other than to quit. That’s not football. That’s not the NFL. This league is about survival.
The Ravens still have Jackson. They still have a good blocking scheme, which can make average running backs look better.
Peters’ absence will hurt, too. He is 28 and has slowed a little, but is still one of the best cover corners in the league. Ever since joining the Ravens in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams in October 2019, the team has had one of the best defenses in the NFL because Peters and fellow cornerback Marlon Humphrey allow coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale to devise effective blitzes and packages.
Peters will probably be replaced by Anthony Averett, who had a strong training camp and preseason. If needed, the Ravens could always move Tavon Young or Jimmy Smith to replace Peters on the outside, as long as Smith stays healthy.
The loss of Peters decreases the team’s depth at the position, but the Ravens have options.
This isn’t to say that getting to a Super Bowl, winning the AFC North or just gaining a wild-card berth won’t be more difficult, but this is football. Injuries are a part of the game. In September 2018, the New England Patriots had nine players on injured reserve. A few months later, they won the Super Bowl.
Good teams can survive. They don’t know any other way.