Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

3 big questions for Baltimore Ravens in battle with Browns

By: Ashley Anderson

As the 7-3 Baltimore Ravens prepare to host the 6-5 Browns, there are facing a number of pressing questions. Here’s a look at Baltimore’s top concerns heading into Sunday night.

3.) Can Baltimore Ravens contain Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt?

Despite a leaky secondary, the Ravens have been stout against the run. They are second in the league with 88.6 rush yards allowed per game. This week, they face their toughest challenge yet in the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb leads the NFL with 6-yards per carry, and Hunt is fresh after missing the last five games due to a thigh injury.

The Ravens have been missing nose tackle Brandon Williams due to a shoulder injury, but he may return this week. Unfortunately, things are a bit less certain about defensive end Calais Campbell. If one or both big men miss this matchup, it will leave Baltimore painfully thin upfront. Justin Ellis has done a fine job filling in for Williams, but this is a bigger stage than he has been on before.

With Baker Mayfield dealing with various injuries, there is no doubt the Browns plan to rely on their run game. The weather is also expected to turn frigid Sunday night, which favors the ground and pound approach. Baltimore must key in on Chubb and Hunt, especially on screen passes, if they expect to walk away victorious.

2.) Will Lamar Jackson deal with rustiness?

Somewhat surprisingly, Lamar Jackson missed last week’s game with an illness. He has also missed a great deal of practice time for various reasons this season. Although he practiced throughout this week, his last game action was all the way back on November 11th in Miami.

As previously noted, the weather conditions will be significantly different than the last time Jackson played. In Miami, the Ravens were dealing with extreme heat and humidity, and they were on a short week of rest. Tomorrow night, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-to-low ’30s.

Due to the time off, Jackson could be dealing with a bit of rust. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins said Jackson looked good in practice, but having your defense “pressure” you is nowhere near what Myles Garrett brings to the table. For the Ravens to be successful, Jackson must take good care of the ball and avoid turnovers. He needs to be on his A-game, so hopefully, he can get momentum early and stay hot.

1.) How will the Baltimore Ravens deal with their myriad of injuries?

Injuries are nothing new for the 2021 Baltimore Ravens. Before the season even began, starters were dropping like flies. To date, things have not improved.

This week, ten players are considered questionable, including several starters. Against the Bears, Baltimore only had three healthy corners, and they may be shorthanded again. Jimmy Smith is likely out, and Tavon Young, Anthony Averett, and Chris Westry all missed time this week. Although he played sparingly, safety Ar’Darius Washington was lost for the season when he broke his foot Wednesday.

On the defensive line, Pernell McPhee is out for at least three weeks after landing on IR. Without him, rookie Odafe Oweh has added responsibility with setting the edge. He will take on even more duties if Campbell cannot play. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale usually likes to rotate guys to keep them fresh, but these injuries simply do not allow for that.

NEXT POST: Ravens offense: Things we want to see against the Browns

If there is any consolation for Baltimore, it is that Cleveland has struggled to score of late. They cannot be overlooked, however, as Mayfield is smart enough to take advantage of broken plays. Chuck Clark and Marlon Humphrey have to get on the same page this week to overcome other absences and prevent the back-breaking plays Baltimore has been known to surrender this season.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: Top 10 positives at the bye

By Chris Schisler 

The Baltimore Ravens are 5-2 as they enter their bye week. When you think about all the injuries and problems the team has faced, this is impressive. Despite the leftover gloom from their loss to divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, there are a lot of positives. Let’s look at them today. Even after the Ravens lose, we have to see the positives. 

10. Rashod Bateman looks the part

Rashod Bateman looks like the first-round pick he’s supposed to be. Bateman has only gotten to play in two games due to a groin injury in training camp. Bateman is coming on strong and the pros outweigh the cons. When the Ravens drafted Bateman they took a stab at finding an explosive playmaker at the position with size.

The rookie wide receiver is playing silky smooth. He’s winning the battle and getting great separation. In two games he’s tallied a total of seven receptions and 109 yards. His biggest gain was a 35-yard strike. It’s not just that he’s contributing to the box score, but the fact that he looks ahead of his years that has the Ravens so excited.

9. The Hollywood Brown ascension:

Keeping with the wide receiver position, let’s talk about Marquise Brown. The Ravens got one bad game out of Brown – it was against the Detroit Lions. The rest of the season has been impeccable for Brown.

He has caught at least three passes in every game. He’s had a couple of monster Fantasy Football days. Against the Colts, he aided a historic comeback with nine receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He had six receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City. His touchdown grab against the Broncos may have been the top highlight of the season.

Brown has become a legitimate deep threat to say the very least. He’s had a play over 40 yards in three of the seven games this season. With 10 games left, if Brown only doubles his receptions and receiving yards, he’s going to blow past his career highs. Brown is simply a different player this year. Now we’re seeing why he was a first-round pick.

8. Bradley Bozeman is a bright spot on a struggling offensive line

The offensive line has a lot of problems. Ronnie Stanley is out for the year after rushing back too soon for the season opener. The Ravens are looking for their third option at right tackle with Alejandro Villanueva being on the left side and Pat Mekari hurt against the Cincinnati Bengals. Kevin Zeitler has been good as a pass blocker but the right guard hasn’t performed quite as well for the run game. Left guard has been a bit of everything with a surprising number of names getting involved: Tyre Phillips, Ben Powers, and Ben Cleveland. Do you know what hasn’t been a problem? Bradley Bozeman at the center position. 

Bozeman may be pricing himself out of a second contract with the Baltimore Ravens, yet the move to center has been a positive one for him. He’s back in the position he played for the Alabama Crimson Tide and without him, the offensive line wouldn’t function at all. With Stanley out of the picture, Bozeman may be the best offensive lineman on the Baltimore Ravens. 

This is a huge win for Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh because Bozeman moving to center was a transparent part of the plan for the entire offseason. The Ravens would have paid a cost if it was a bad idea. 

7. Odafe Oweh has been an impact player

Odafe Oweh is going to be a dangerous pass rusher for a long time. The outside linebacker from Penn State is having a very noticeable and memorable start to his rookie season. Against the Chiefs, he was directly involved in the two defensive plays that let the Ravens win 36-35. He’s been a solid defender on the edge and it’s allowed him to play a lot of snaps. He has three sacks and two forced fumbles. When he wins off the edge he shows signs of being a special player. 

6. Calais Campbell is a consistent rock

The Baltimore Ravens don’t beat the Indianapolis Colts if Calais Campbell doesn’t block a field goal in the middle of the comeback attempt. Think about that for a second. One of the oldest players on the roster, who supposedly is hanging up the cleats after this season, made a special teams play for the ages with a pure effort play.

Campbell is playing consistently well on the defensive line. He is Pro Football Focus’s third highest-rated player this season. He may not be as flashy as he once was, yet Campbell is showing why he has future Hall of Fame inductee written all over him. He’s the hardest working player on a defense that needs more hard workers. 

5. Special Teams has been a strength

Special teams have been huge this season. The kickoff coverage has been surprisingly potent, while Devin Duvernay has become a very efficient return specialist. The Ravens’ special teams have been an underrated part of their 5-2 mark. Having the best kicker in NFL history doesn’t hurt either. 

4. Found a way in some close games

The number one thing you can say about a team is that they find a way to win. The Ravens have found a way to win in close games. They had an emotionally charged comeback against the Indianapolis Colts. They had a 66-yard field goal against the Detroit Lions and they got past the Chiefs in one of the best games M&T Bank Stadium will ever see. The Ravens could be 2-5 right now. They’re 5-2 because they have dug down deep and stepped up in the crucial moments much more often than not. 

3. The team has shown flashes of something greater

The talk about the Baltimore Ravens has shifted because of the humble pie they took before the bye week. Fine. Let’s not forget that the Ravens were getting glowing praise all over the place and from just about every outlet. The Ravens were a Super Bowl contender with an MVP quarterback and just because the hype got quiet doesn’t mean the Ravens can’t wake it back up.

When the Ravens won comfortably against the Los Angeles Chargers they showed a sign that something more was possible. They put everything together and it looked amazing. The offense rolled, the defense dominated and Baltimore was higher than cloud nine. We’ve seen some incredible moments out of this team. The negatives have the spotlight, yet the Ravens have every chance to have a great season.  

2. Lamar Jackson… Wow!

Lamar Jackson at his best is the most entertaining thing to watch in professional sports. Jackson has been incredible this season and is on pace to have the best year of his career to this point. The numbers that Jackson set in the 2019 season (Where he was the unanimous MVP) should be smashed. Jackson has led comebacks wins. He set the single-game passing yards record for the Baltimore Ravens franchise. He’s played MVP caliber football and his dual-threat ability is as jaw-dropping as it ever was. Has it been perfect? No. Has it been a once-in-a-lifetime viewing experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life? Absolutely. 

1. Playoff chances are still good: 

With 10 games left on the schedule, the Ravens have five wins. If the Ravens win six out of those 10 games they will probably end up in the playoffs. The Ravens continue their homestand after the bye week with a game against the Minnesota Vikings. They then take on the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. If the Ravens win those three games everything is back on track and the Ravens are halfway to where they want to be after this 10 game stretch. At that point, if they managed to only split with each of their division rivals they’d have 11 wins right there. 

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Ranking their top 10 problems after a tough loss

The Ravens’ two stumbles in the first seven games were about the best realistic outcome Baltimore could have expected. What the Ravene must do, is to take care of business and they should be heading to the playoffs for the fourth straight season. The Baltimore Ravens need to step up and realize their full potential. These positives set up a good foundation to make that positive. We will have more content for the bye week as well as some early coverage for the battle against the Vikings. When you need your Raven fix, we have you covered. 

Posted in Hot Take of the Week

The Baltimore Ravens and the year of incredible resilience

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens will be without Ronnie Stanley for the rest of the season. It has been reported that Stanley has had season-ending surgery. Let’s talk about this first, then let’s talk about why it just adds to the year of incredible resilience this team is having. First things first: Where does this leave the Baltimore Ravens on the offensive line?

First of all, this is heartbreaking news. Stanley is one of the leaders of the Baltimore Ravens. He’s one of the best left tackles in football and seeing him sidelined for an entire season is rough. As disappointing as this is for Stanley and the Ravens, this is Baltimore’s year of resilience. The show must go on.

The Status Quo stays intact

The bright side here is that the Ravens don’t have to change the status quo of the offensive line. Alejandro Villanueva can stay at left tackle where he is most comfortable. Pat Mekari can stay at right tackle. Would the Ravens be better with Ronnie Stanley at left tackle? Sure, his value can’t be truly replaced. The thing is that Villanueva would have a bit of a drop-off on the right side.

If Stanley was going to return the Ravens would have a tough decision to make. It would almost be more appealing to leave Mekari at the right tackle position and to have Villanueva be the swing tackle. We saw how much Villanueva struggled in the season opener, playing on the right side of the offensive line. While he hasn’t played at a Pro Bowl level at either position, at the left tackle spot Villanueva has been a stable presence.

The Ravens have gotten Tyre Phillips back from injured reserve. Phillips looks to be more of a guard than a tackle. According to reports the Ravens have signed James Carpenter, a 32-year-old guard with plenty of experience, to the practice squad. The Ravens also signed an offensive tackle off waivers, Brandon Knight. Knight was with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent from 2019 until he got released this season.

It is likely a wise move to take shots on extra reinforcement for the offensive line. Baltimore spent most of the season waiting for their Pro Bowl left tackle to return. Now that he’s not returning, every bit of help the offensive line can get could be helpful.

Unbelievable injury misfortune:

The list of players currently on injured reserve is almost shocking. The Ravens have the following notable players on the list:

  • Ronnie Stanley
  • Nick Boyle
  • Ben Cleveland
  • Derek Wolfe
  • Daelin Hayes
  • Marcus Peters
  • Gus Edwards
  • J.K. Dobbins
  • Justice Hill
  • L.J. Fort
  • Chris Westry

When you look at this list it’s almost easy to forget that the Ravens are currently the top team in the AFC Standings. The purple and black are 5-1. If you have the Ravens back just a healthy Ronnie Stanley, J.K. Dobbins, and Marcus Peters this achievement would have been massively easier. The Ravens may have had an undefeated 6-0 start to the year.

Lamar Jackson is currently an MVP candidate. He’s led two comebacks in the fourth quarter. He’s been on fire all season long. The Ravens just crushed the daylights out of the number two team in the AFC, the Los Angeles Chargers. While plenty of players have stepped up, life shouldn’t be this good. On paper, the Baltimore Ravens adversity should have had more of an impact on their record.

The Ravens aren’t just beating up on bad teams. Sure, they got wins against the winless Detroit Lions and the now slumping Denver Broncos; yet they also beat the reigning AFC Champions the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Chargers. Since falling in the season opener, every time it looked like a loss was coming, the Baltimore Ravens found a way to win the game.

Ravens are putting on a master class in leadership:

The Baltimore Ravens are a well-coached team. Without an experienced coach like John Harbaugh, several of these losses to injuries could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Harbaugh has gotten the Ravens ready for each test. The Ravens had the training camp from hell, with bad news piled up high before the opening kick-off. Pundits were saying that the Ravens were limping into the season and many fans had bad memories of 2015.

The Ravens are getting used to doing things that have never been done before. A lot of that has to do with Lamar Jackson being a special quarterback. This kind of a season couldn’t have been expected though, John Harbaugh has to be working towards his second AP NFL Coach of the Year Award. No coach has dealt with more this season and Harbaugh hasn’t allowed excuses any step of the way.

Speaking of Lamar Jackson, he’s an incredible leader. More than any other quarterback, Jackson carries it all on his shoulders. He knows that he has to not only be the best player on the field but the reason the Ravens win games. He’s a leader by example. When something goes bad he blames himself and puts the burden of overcoming those mistakes on himself. After the Colts game, he stated that he felt he owed it to the team. That’s the mindset we’re talking about here.

The team loves Jackson and Jackson gives nothing but positivity. He never points fingers and he never gets in anyone’s face. Jackson has a relationship with this team that makes the team better. There’s not one player who wouldn’t run through a wall for him, because they know Jackson would do anything for the team. Jackson is playing at an MVP level but he’s showing leadership and stewardship of this team. He’s the emotional battery charger of this team and the hardest worker.

The Ravens are leading the pack and getting better:

It’s important to remember that the leadership of this team extends past the head coach and the quarterback. Calais Campbell, Marlon Humphrey, and Chuck Clark are excellent leaders on the defense. Don Martindale fits in with the Ravens as the defensive coordinator perfectly, and he has a lot of influence on the players.

When you look at what the Ravens just did to the Los Angeles Chargers you have to be amazed. The Ravens who lost to the Raiders in the first week of the season couldn’t have done that. The Ravens are starting to figure everything out. They’ve gone through the wringer and they’ve done it while they’ve won all but six games. The Ravens are hot and they may not have even peaked yet.

It all started against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens got past some mental kryptonite when they won that game. They got a comeback win. They put up 36 on the Chiefs, staying true to themselves and never panicking. It was on that night that the year of resilience was born. That goes beyond the x’s and o’s of it all. That goes to the core of the team’s identity. They made a choice that they would be a good team this year no matter what.

NEXT POST: 7 Baltimore Ravens lessons from huge win over the Chargers

The Baltimore Ravens are the top team in the AFC. Somehow, someway, the Ravens have gotten there. Betting against the Ravens is starting to look like a foolish practice. The odds haven’t seemed to matter much to the Baltimore Ravens, the most resilient team in football.


Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: 4 lessons from comeback win over Colts

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens beat the Indianapolis Colts in overtime. It was a game that the Ravens were supposed to be the clear favorites in and it took a miracle of a comeback for them to walk away with a victory. What can be learned from this game? Here are four lessons from the Ravens Monday Night Football comeback for the ages.

1. Lamar Jackson is the comeback king

There was a time when people thought Lamar Jackson couldn’t make a come back. There was a time when people said “Lamar Jackson can’t throw,” and genuinely meant it. That wasn’t too long ago and now Jackson is the comeback king. Jackson led the Ravens in a comeback victory against the Chiefs. It took an almost miracle of a throw to get Justin Tucker in position for a history making field goal in Detroit. 22-3? No problem for Mr. Jackson.

When the Ravens won the coin toss in overtime you could see him mouth, “It’s over.” That’s ice water in your veins kind of stuff. Jackson never gets rattled. He fully experiences frustration in the moment, however he always keeps his cool on the next play. It’s amazing. Jackson has become the quarterback you want for a comeback win.

Jackson completed 86 percent of his passes and had 442 yards passing. The MVP quarterbck now moves up into the top five for passing yards this season. Everything that people said he couldn’t do, he’s doing better than anybody. He’s playing at a level that is so high, that you’re seeing history happen.

2. The inside linebacker play isn’t good enough:

The linebacker play for the Ravens as been problematic. It’s gotten to the point where the Baltimore Ravens almost have to consider benching Patrick Queen in favor of Chris Board. Board may be a special teams ace but this defense needs all the help it can get. Queen in particular struggles with tackles and is taking bad angles to the football. The Ravens may want to make Tyus Bowser an inside linebacker. Malik Harrison is doing a lot right but isn’t a great athlete. Queen is a great athlete who is out of position all the time and barely uses his shoulder pads.

3. Calais Campbell has a heart of a champion:

Calais Campbell made the game saving field goal block. One thing that I love about the play was the passion that he showed. After the blocked field goal you could tell how much this game means to him. Campbell may not have a Super Bowl ring, but he has the heart of a champion. This was a fantastic effort. He’s the best thing the defensive line has going for it. It feels like the Ravens have to win a Super Bowl for Campbell. He’s one of a kind and he willed that block kick into existence.

4. Mark Andrews was worth every penny:

The Indianapolis Colts didn’t have an answer for Mark Andrews. Andrews dominated the Colts for 11 receptions, 142 yards and two touchdowns. He had a monster game and the way he did it is huge. Andrews may be a matchup nightmare for the defense, but he’s also great at getting open. The tight end stepped up as a route runner on Monday Night Football.

The Ravens have one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He is such an important weapon for this offense. To have that kind of a quick strike ability just from throwing it to your tight end is almost unbelievable. Andrews is a game changer at his best. On Monday Night Football he was at his best and then some.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs Colts: The ugly and the glorious from 31-25 win

This game was something else, wasn’t it? There is still a lot to process and the Purple and Black Nest isn’t going anywhere.

Posted in The good bad and ugly

Baltimore Ravens vs Colts: The ugly and the glorious from 31-25 win

By Chris Schisler 

Baltimore Ravens fans…Wow! We’re doing this differently this week. Normally is the time for the good, bad, and ugly post recapping the Ravens game with some succinct analysis. This week we’re doing the glorious and the ugly. We’re also going to lead with the ugly just like the Ravens did themselves against the Colts. It was one of the most glorious come-from-behind wins in Ravens history. It was riddled with problematic football. Let’s get the ugly portion of this post out of the way. 

The ugly:

The Ravens gave up a long touchdown on the first drive for the Colts. On a third and what seemed like forever, a swing pass to Jonathan Taylor went 76 yards. It was absolutely unacceptable because the Ravens had to be ready for that type of play call. The Ravens saw their defenders run themselves out of the play.

The Ravens couldn’t stop the Colts at the beginning of this game. The Colts had a quick strike initially, then it was the Colts abusing the Ravens in time of possession. Tackling had been an issue all year long. Linebackers in coverage had been a problem all year long. All of this remained a problem on Monday night.

To start the second quarter, the Colts had a 3rd & 10. You guessed it, the Ravens gave it up on a Zach Pascal comeback route. How did the subsequent 3rd & 1 go? You guessed it. The Ravens gave it up, losing the battle at the line of scrimmage. It was a frustration you could feel. The Colts had the answers from the jump of this game. The Ravens looked unprepared on both sides of the ball. The effort of the players wasn’t the problem but mistake after mistake put the Ravens in a bad spot. 

The Ravens’ start to this game was certifiably horrible. A game in which they were heavy favorites started about as bad as it could get. 

Okay, let’s fast forward a bit because the first half was almost entirely the ugly section.

The Colts had a 4th & 11 in the final seconds of the first half. The Ravens gave up the fourth down attempt and allowed a field goal attempt. The Colts missed the kick but there was an offsides penalty. The Colts got a mulligan and Rodrigo Blankenship made the kick. At halftime, it was 10-3 and the Ravens were lucky to be in the game. 

Before the comeback could happen, the Ravens had an impossibly frustrating turnover. Lamar Jackson fumbled right near the goal-line. Instead of a much-needed touchdown, the Colts got the ball. Jackson forced a rushing attempt when he should have committed to the handoff. He then fumbled as he went down. The Ravens were lucky that in the review of the play the Colts’ touchdown for running back the fumble was taken away. 

The Ravens defense had a bad performance. There’s no getting around it. The Colts put up 513 total yards. Jonathan Taylor rushed for 53 yards and had 116 yards receiving. Marlon Mack had 47 yards on the ground with an insane average of 9.4 yards per attempt. Anthony Averett got worked hard in this game, though nobody on the defense had much to write home about. 

If it wasn’t for Calais Campbell blocking a field goal in the fourth quarter with a little over four minutes left, the Ravens win couldn’t have happened. We’re talking about a game where the Colts were averaging a bit over eight yards per play. The Colts had very little trouble moving the ball and had multiple chances to put the Ravens away for good. Remember the Ravens had to come back down 22-9 There is a lot to work on. 

There are almost too many things to hit on in the ugly section: 

Tavon Young almost cost the Ravens the game. After the comeback tied the game up, the Colts had the last crack with the football in regulation. It looked like the Colts were going to squander their chance to get into field goal range when Young committed a personal foul. Young clearly had his head knocked into the ground with force, yet he was the reacting party and his outburst got the penalty. The Colts moved into field goal range. Luckily for Baltimore, Blankenship missed the kick. 

The Ravens couldn’t run the ball very well. If you take out the 62 rushing yards of their quarterback, the Ravens would have had 24 yards on the ground. Some of that you have to think is because the Ravens were playing catch-up throughout the game. Still, the offensive line was not creating daylight for the running backs. Latavius Murray averaged 2.8 yards per attempt. Ty’Son Williams had an average of 1.5 yards per attempt. 

Ben Cleveland got hurt in this game and left the game. We have to wait and see what’s wrong with him yet he was carted off the field and didn’t return. Kevin Zeitler also left the game with an injury. It was the last thing a struggling offensive line needed to see. Injuries are always the ugliest part of this sport. 

The Glorious: Baltimore Ravens comeback

Lamar Jackson had over 500 yards of total offense. In his best day ever as a passer, Jackson had 442 passing yards, four touchdowns, and just six incomplete passes. Jackson put the Ravens team on his back and found a way to win. He showed toughness and poise to get the scores the Ravens needed late in the game. 

Jackson’s deep shot to Marquise Brown started everything off. The ball just launched out of his hand like a rocket. Jackson’s passing was historically good. It was the best completion percentage of a 400-yard passing performance in NFL history. Jackson never flinched. He went from having just over 100 yards in the first half to one of the most explosive finishes ever.

Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown were amazing in this game. Andrews and Brown scored on the two final two-point attempts. Andrews had 11 receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns, while Brown had nine receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns. When the Ravens opened up the offense and had Jackson show off his arm, these are the weapons that did most of the damage. 

Going into the fourth quarter, the Ravens trailed 22-9. Things had to go a very specific way for the Ravens to even have a chance. The Ravens took a weird and going to bed inspiring Monday Night Football game and they turned it into an instant classic. Baltimore outscored the Colts 16-3 in the fourth quarter. They tied things up and with some luck, the game went into overtime. 

Jackson marched the Ravens down the field for what seemed like an easy score in the extra period of play. As obvious as it felt that the Ravens were having a bad night at halftime, in overtime it was equally apparent that the Ravens weren’t getting stopped. 

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Analyzing third-down problems for the offense

In the end, the Ravens just found a way to get the job done. It’s what they’ve done all season. This will go down as one of the most memorable wins in the Baltimore Ravens lure. It took every little thing to go right. It took a forced fumble by Odafe Oweh in the first half that stopped the bleeding a little bit early. They needed Calais Campbell having the blocked field goal. Most importantly it took another MVP caliber performance from Lamar Jackson. 



Posted in Uncategorized

Baltimore Ravens 53 man roster: Key observations on cut day

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have trimmed their roster to 53 players. While the Ravens technically have reached their final round of roster cuts, there is nothing final about this 53 man roster. Several players will be going to Injured reserve tomorrow and a couple of players or even a handful could come back. The practice squad is another avenue for technically keeping cut and waived players.

There’s nothing horribly shocking about the 53 man roster that Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh have put on display today. The biggest surprise is that Miles Boykin survived roster cuts. Boykin, who was basically a non-factor in training camp due to injury could be heading for IR. One way or another the Ravens aren’t giving up on the 6’4″ receiver just yet.

It was debatable what the Ravens would do at inside linebacker. The Ravens chose to keep Kristian Welch. It’s still one of the thinnest position groups, though having a fourth inside linebacker means that Ravens don’t have to schematically and strategically make up for just having three interior linebackers.

Were there several position groups the Ravens could have gone a different way with? Sure. Were there any decisions that were big surprises? No. The Ravens cut Pernell McPhee. That almost counts as a big surprise, though it seems likely that he’ll end up back on the roster for the regular season.

Our roster projection at PBN came out before the Shaun Wade trade and the J.K. Dobbins injury. We still got 49 spots on the 53 man roster right. The main point is that the Ravens had a very defined group of players we knew mattered coming into training camp. Some players scratched their way onto the team during camp and preseason action, but Baltimore had less to figure out than a lot of teams.

9 offensive linemen + 11 defensive backs = Correct priorities

The Ravens knew what they absolutely needed when it came to depth. The Baltimore Ravens kept a high number of offensive linemen and defensive backs. This makes sense because of the importance of these position groups and the overall competition at these positions.

The starting left guard job is still arguably up for grabs. At the moment it looks like the nod is going to Ben Powers, though Ben Cleveland could end up with the job. The depth on the offensive line is strong. Tyre Phillips and Pat Mekari can play multiple positions. The tackle depth is a little shakey, however the number of viable interior linemen they have is truly impressive.

This preseason it was thought that the last defensive back spot could be a battle between Geno Stone and Ar’Darius Washington. Both made the 53 man roster. Each of the young safeties offer value and, keeping both players is a refreshing commitment to the backend of the defense. Both players should be able to chip in on special teams and offer more range than the starting safeties. Sub-packages have options in Baltimore.

Whether or not this is the year that Tavon Young finally stays healthy, cornerback is the strength of the roster. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters remain the best duo in the NFL. Jimmy Smith is a very trusted veteran in Don Martindale’s defense. Anthony Averett has grown up and become a solid corner. Chris Westry has very sound cover skills that round out the group. Ideally, the team stays healthy at their best position, though they clearly have a lot of good options.

The offensive line needs to be supported by numbers and competition. The defensive backs are where the Ravens have the most surplus talent. Baltimore chose to keep that surplus as strong as possible.

The defensive line is the only questionably thin area on the Baltimore Ravens roster:

The Baltimore Ravens didn’t keep Aaron Crawford or Justin Ellis. This leaves the Ravens with only five defensive linemen on the roster. Brandon Williams is 32 years old and Calais Campbell turns 35 tomorrow (HAPPY BIRTHDAY Calais). Justin Madubiuke and Broderick Washington are young players but five players are thin even for a 3-4 defense. This is why it wouldn’t be shocking if Justin Ellis came back to the team after some roster juggling.

The pass defense has been prioritized with this 53 man roster. The Ravens didn’t keep Pernell McPhee who is strongest against the run and is one of their best defenders against the run. Justin Ellis is a notable cut for sure, though he didn’t contribute much as somebody who could push the pocket. One thing is for sure, young Ravens defensive players are going to have to do a lot this year.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Top 5 preseason performers

There’s plenty more coverage headed your way on the Ravens 53 man roster. These are the key initial thoughts and observations on the roster as it stands after cut day.



Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

Baltimore Ravens: Three Big Questions About the Defensive Line

By: Ashley Anderson

After spending the last several weeks talking about the offense, it is time to tackle (pun intended) the defense. The Baltimore Ravens have been synonymous with bruising defenses since their inception. Their most notable former players include Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed among countless others. This season, pundits are already saying the Ravens could be among the top in the league, but there are still questions to be answered. Here are the top questions facing the defensive line.

3.) Will Derek Wolfe notch more sacks in 2021?

When the Ravens signed Derek Wolfe to a one-year, $6 million deal in the 2020 offseason, they were looking for him to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Although his 2019 season was cut short by injury, he registered seven sacks with the Broncos. In a year clearly marred by the Covid-19 pandemic, that number dropped to one last season.

The numbers do not tell the full story though as Wolfe became a leader on the defensive line. When Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams missed time, Wolfe was the one who stepped up to fill the void. He earned a three-year, $12 million deal as a result. Now more comfortable in the Ravens’ defense, they are hopeful he can up his statistics.

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is a master at scheming up pressure. If Wolfe can tally five or more sacks, it would be a major boost for the defense as a whole. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility as he has done so in four of his nine seasons.


2.) Will Justin Madubuike live up to the hype?

At nearly every press conference during training camp, someone has brought up the name Justin Madubuike. His teammates and coaches are positively raving about his ability and his performance so far. In fact, Madubuike is even receiving attention nationally from publications such as Sports Illustrated regarding his breakout potential.

As a second-year pro, things could go one of two ways for Madubuike. The first, and most preferable for the Ravens, is he makes good on the hype and has a monster season. Although he is not considered a starter at the moment, he will get his fair share of reps. By year’s end, he could be on the field for the lion’s share of snaps.

There is also the alternative possibility of a sophomore slump. Sometimes, players get too much attention, and it gets in their heads. The Ravens usually do well to nurture their young talent, but in the age of social media, you can be sure Madubuike has heard the chatter.

When the spotlight is on athletes, it brings intense scrutiny to everything they do. All eyes are on Madubuike this year, and it remains to be seen how he will handle it.

1.) Can Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams stay healthy?

The saying goes, “Age is nothing but a number,” and for some, that may be true. However, playing in the trenches in the NFL takes a toll on the body. Calais Campbell turns 35 on September 1st, and Brandon Williams is not far behind at 32.

Campbell was exceptionally healthy heading into the 2020 season. After missing just six games in 12 years, Campbell battled Covid-19 and a calf strain that cost him four games. Sitting eight sacks shy of the century mark, he has been outspoken about his desire for a big year. Campbell has hinted at possibly retiring after this year, so he would love nothing more than to finish strong.

On the other hand, Williams has missed time periodically throughout his career. Last season, he missed a total of three games, and his shoes were tough to fill. The Ravens’ run defense is noticeably worse without Williams manning the middle of the line.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. New Orleans Saints: Preseason preview (Offense)

If one or both veterans miss time, the depth behind them is shaky at best. Baltimore is relying on Justin Ellis, and second-year man Broderick Washington to plug sizeable holes. Madubuike is set to be more of a rotational player than a backup, and the Ravens hope their aging vets can stay healthy.

Posted in Hot Take of the Week

Baltimore Ravens: Why Brandon Williams shouldn’t be a cap casualty

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens may want more cap space, but parting with Brandon Williams would be an unwise approach. The Ravens have already restructured the deal with Williams and the reason they’re so invested in him is his importance to the defense.

Cutting Williams for cap space has been a conversation that’s been going lately. It’s a conversation it seems we’ll always have to go through once in a while. This time it was sparked by Patrick Wilson of CBS Sports. Wilson wrote an article about veteran players who could be on the chopping block. Since then Ebony Bird (my old stomping ground) and Kevin Oestreicher of USA Today’s Ravens Wire have written about it. It seems like it’s time for my two cents on the subject.

The Baltimore Ravens defensive line needs Brandon Williams

Cutting Williams would be solving one problem by creating another. If it allowed the Ravens the flexibility to sign Justin Houston, the temptation is at least understandable. That would leave the Ravens thinner on the defensive line. It’s already one of the Ravens’ most questionable areas of the depth chart.

Behind Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, and Derek Wolfe, the Ravens defensive line is mostly an area of question. Justin Madubuike is an exciting young player, though this is just year two for him. Justin Ellis is okay. Who else is there to get excited about? Aaron Crawford? Meh.

One of the biggest concerns for the Ravens is how their starters will hold up on the defensive line. Williams and Campbell had patches of injury problems last season. Baltimore needs their starters to do the heavy lifting and have Madubuike come on strong. That’s not a want. That’s something the Ravens need if it’s going to work in 2021.

Run Defense:

Even if cutting Williams would allow the Baltimore Ravens to sign Justin Houston, this would be fixing a problem and causing another. Williams is an essential part of the Ravens’ run defense. What happens when Williams is hurt? What happens when he isn’t there to stop the run? Exactly.

The Baltimore Ravens play in the AFC North. That means they have to deal with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt twice per season. Nick Chubb is one of the best running backs in the NFL. He’s a back who is basically guaranteed 1,000 yards rushing if he’s healthy. Chubb is a back that averages over five yards per rushing attempt. If the AFC North crown is going to be fought for between the Ravens and the Browns, Baltimore doesn’t want to let go of Williams.

Brandon Williams is one of the best space eaters. He clogs up rushing lanes and is hard to move out of the way. The Ravens have quick and athletic linebackers, they need Williams to do his job in front of them. Williams makes everybody better around him. He’s the central piece, in the middle of the defense. If the Ravens lose Williams, the Ravens will give up 40-50 more yards on the ground a game. It would be very noticeable.

Williams often forces the running back to bounce outside. This allows the linebackers to flow to the football and make the tackle before the back sees too much daylight.

The Bottom Line:

The bottom line is that Williams is too essential to what the Ravens want to do on defense, to even consider letting him go. The Raven needs more pass rush, and that’s not something Williams typically provides. That’s also not what he’s getting paid for. He’s getting paid to be the anchor of the Ravens’ defense and to make running up the gut an impossibility.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Don’t count out the pass rush just yet

Williams is never going to be one of the flashiest Ravens. Fine. If the Ravens parted with him though, it would be a mistake.

Posted in Uncategorized

Baltimore Ravens: Don’t count out the pass rush just yet

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens’ biggest concern on defense is whether or not they can produce enough pass rush to be a dominant defense in a passing league. The Ravens haven’t made that big move for an outside linebacker. Justin Houston is still a free agent and it’s hard to understand why the Ravens haven’t found a way to get that done.

How effective can the Baltimore Ravens be in the pass-rushing department? If they go into the season in “as-is” condition, can they get the job done? It really depends on the definition of getting the job done. Will they lead the NFL in sacks? No. It’s not happening. Can they have a solid pass rush that completes an otherwise equipped defensive unit? Yes, that’s likely.

Baltimore Ravens pass rush department: Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh

The one advantage that Tyus Bowser has as a pass rusher is that he’s never been asked to be the main ingredient of the pass rush pie. The Baltimore Ravens lost Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue this offseason. That’s how that has been framed too, the Ravens lost their top two pass rushers. Here’s the thing, the Ravens barely tried to keep either player.

The Ravens must feel some level of comfort with the personnel that they have. Saying that Bowser will have a double-digit sack season would be an irresponsible prediction. The idea of him having seven or eight sacks in a year where the Ravens need him to be “The Guy” isn’t extremely unlikely. Judon leaves, Bowser becomes Judon and, that’s the circle of life.

Odafe Oweh is a rookie. He’s raw and his pass rush moves list is a short playlist. He’s still a first-round athlete. Oweh has the kind of talent that could get him sacks as an unrefined rookie. I could see Oweh getting five to six sacks. It also seems likely that Oweh is going to have more pressures than actual sacks. When he puts everything together it’s going to be deadly good, in the meantime, he can rack up some QB pressures.

Baltimore Ravens pass rush department: Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe

Calais Campbell wasn’t healthy last season. Injuries hurt his season. It’s not a secret and you could tell that he wasn’t even close to 100 percent. Campbell strikes me as the kind of player who wants to finish his career on a high note. He announced that he was considering retirement after the season. That doesn’t mean his tank is running out, that means he has one last burst in him. A healthy Campbell is a disruptive Campbell. Baker Mayfield wants nothing to do with Calais Campbell at full strength.

What if Campbell got back to double-digit sacks? If Campbell has his typical season he’s going to at least flirt with double-digit sacks. 6-8 sacks is probably a safe prediction. 11 sacks is the optimistic view. Campbell started the 2020 season as such a dominant force. We might see that again in 2021.

Derek Wolfe has been known to have strong seasons as a pass rusher. He’s not a sack artist but he’s not a novice either. Wolfe had seven sacks in the 2019 season. Chances are you’re getting double-digit sacks from the combination of Campbell and Wolfe. The Baltimore Ravens may even get double-digit sacks from Campbell. Don’t forget about Justin Madubuike either ladies and gentlemen.

Don Martindale and his blitzes:

One thing that doesn’t make sense is that there is a lack of faith in the Ravens defense while just about everyone believes in Don Martindale. Do the Ravens have the most exciting pass-rushing talent? Nope, they really don’t. Do you think Martindale is going to let that stop him and his defense from having a great season?

Martindale may be the best defensive coordinator in the NFL. He has a great secondary and a very athletic linebacker corps to work with. He calls a great game and coverage sacks are going to have to be a reality. Martindale is also known for generating pressure and for manipulating the opposing offense with the movement and looks of his defense. Martindale will make up for a lot, especially with a good defensive line and a great secondary.

Would it be shocking if Patrick Queen had five sacks as a blitzing linebacker? He had three in his rookie campaign. Would it be shocking if the Ravens got five or six sacks out of the combination of L.J. Fort, Malik Harrison, Chris Board, Chuck Clark, and Tavon Young? There are sacks to be had and any second or third-level player could blitz their way into one or two takedowns of the quarterback. Those sacks can add up to make up for whatever shortcomings the organic pass rush has.

The Bottom Line:

The pass rush of the Ravens is uncertain. It’s irresponsible to tell you that they’ll rock the league in 2021. It’s not unthinkable that they can get by and lean on their other strengths defensively. That’s the point. Don’t write off the Ravens pass rush just yet.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: 3 big questions at the quarterback position

Notice that I didn’t even mention Pernell McPhee or Jaylon Ferguson who could also factor into the equation. I only focused on the main cast here. There’s a lot to think about here.


Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Ask the Nest: Is Baltimore Ravens defensive line enough?

By Chris Schisler

Welcome to another edition of Ask The Nest! In these posts, I answer questions submitted by the Baltimore Ravens’ faithful via Twitter. We had some great questions come in so let’s get to it.

The lead off question:

@ravensfan86 asks: What’re the chances of the Ravens adding another interior (younger) defensive lineman with decent pass-rushing skills to the rotation via trade? Looking at our roster, I worry most about that group. With a smallish MLB behind them.

Answer: I genuinely doubt the Ravens would make a trade for a defensive tackle or a defensive end at this point of the offseason. Remember, the Ravens love their draft picks. Will Eric DeCosta part with a fifth-round pick to bring in a star? Sure. Will he trade a pick to get a little extra help for the defensive line? Probably not.

I could see the Ravens signing a player like Geno Atkins. That would make some sense. I could see them going after a defensive tackle in free agency, maybe one off the radar even. For the most part, the Ravens roster should be set. When it comes to the defensive linemen Baltimore likes what they have.

Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, and Derek Wolfe together make up a hefty investment. Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington are upcoming players and Justin Ellis offers solid play as well. If Campbell stays healthy and Madubuike picks it up in his second season, the Ravens should get enough pass rush from the unit.

Depth is the biggest issue. Washington will rotate in for Williams. Madubuike can come in for any of the starting three. The Ravens have to find one more player in this mix. Free agency seems like the only viable option here. This is why you shouldn’t count out Aaron Crawford to make the 53 man roster.

The Ravens linebackers don’t concern me though. L.J. Fort and Malik Harrison are legitimate thumpers. Patrick Queen may not be bulky but his athleticism is off the charts. The Ravens still may be too dependent on Brandon Williams in the run game, but that’s nothing new in Baltimore.

Baltimore Ravens Question 2

@DJ_MORE asks: With us being a little thin on the DLine do you foresee Pat getting a few snaps back on the defensive side?

Answer: You almost have to wonder if this is why the Ravens drafted Ben Mason. Mason seemed like a throwaway kind of a pick because the Ravens already had Pat Ricard as a great fullback. In fact, Ben Mason coming out of Michigan looks an awful lot like Pat Ricard coming out of Maine. If the Ravens plan to get Ricard more involved on the defensive side of the ball, having two fullbacks could make more sense.

The real question is what would you get out of Ricard at defensive tackle? He’s primarily played on the offense for a while now. I’m down for some Project Pat, but I really wonder if he’s fully transitioned into Pancake Pat.

Baltimore Ravens Question 3

@cancelpennies asks: How are you feeling about our front 7 on defense? I feel like it has been getting the least amount of attention this off-season.

Answer: The front seven is fairly solid overall. The starting three defensive linemen are some of the best players on the roster. The young talent at inside linebacker with Patrick Queen, Chris Board, and Malik Harrison is exciting. Bringing back L.J. Fort solidifies the whole group and really makes me think this is going to be the best year the position group has had since Daryl Smith was a Raven.

So I look at a front seven like this and I like it for run defense. You get the big defensive linemen with length and reach with those quick hard-hitting linebackers in the second level. There is a lot of gaps being clogged and there are linebackers to flow to the football.

The questions all come at outside linebacker. Do the Ravens have enough pass rush? That remains to be seen. Losing Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue didn’t seem that bad because they weren’t exactly killing it off the edge. It wasn’t like losing Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.

The versatility of the outside linebackers should be a strength though. Pernell McPhee will help, especially on run-downs. Tyus Bowser is a complete linebacker who plays on the edge. The Ravens need to get just enough from Odafe Oweh in his rookie season to make things click enough from a pass rush perspective. It starting to look more and more like this is the grouping they are going with and it’s solid. They could use more star power and a healthy Calais Campbell could definitely bring that.

Baltimore Ravens Question 4

@Bij_Sadoughi asks: How would Todd Gurley fit into the Baltimore Ravens offense if signed?

Answer: The Baltimore Ravens could use a Mark Ingram replacement. Ingram became a third fiddle but offered a good bit in the passing game when he was used. That’s something the Ravens want to get more out of with J.K. Dobbins, but it could be Gurley’s specialty.

It’s not that Gurley is done or washed up. Gurley is still a great athlete. He just can’t sustain those crazy bursts of explosive running any more. Give him five to 10 touches a game with a good percentage of those touches coming as a receiver out of the backfield and I think you have a nice three headed monster there.

NEXT POST: Rashod Bateman: Baltimore Ravens rookie scouting report

Hopefully that answers your questions. This is the second Ask the Nest where we’ve focused on the defensive front. This is an area of the roster that has some proving to do when games start.