Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens battle with Bears won’t be easy: Pregame concerns

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens are playing the Chicago Bears on Sunday and it’s shaping up to be a harder day than Ravens fans want it to be. Lamar Jackson, who has been dealing with a non-Covid illness all week was listed on the injury report as questionable. Marquise Brown has been ruled out for the game. Chalk both of these Saturday developments as things you didn’t want to hear.

You have to expect that Lamar Jackson will suit up and play in this game. Jackson is the most important player on the field and if he can go, he will make it work. The fact that Tyler Huntley filling in is even a remote possibility makes this weekend tenser than it has to be.

Not having Marquise Brown doesn’t help an offense that needs to get back on track. In addition to Jackson being questionable so are 10 other Ravens players. The defense will be without Brandon Williams and Pernell McPhee. This is certainly is bad news for everyone except for David Montgomery and the Chicago run game.

The Ravens have played in close games all year long. They have only had three games that were decided by more than one score and they’ve lost two of them. When the Ravens win, it tends to be done the hard way. They also tend to start games out slow and without much rhythm. Jackson has missed practice time and has had a rough week. Today’s news with the injury report sounds like a slow start starter pack for the Ravens.

Not all bad news:

It’s not all bad news for the Ravens. Khalil Mack being on injured reserve doesn’t hurt. The Bears will be without one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. Chicago’s top receiver, Allen Robinson is listed on the injury report as doubtful. The Bears are a team that needs every ounce of star power they can get and they should be without a key player on both sides of the ball.

Patrick Mekari has returned to practice and is listed as questionable. If he can play at right tackle, that would be a huge help for the Ravens. That return to the starting lineup would be almost as important as the return of Nick Boyle. Boyle, who has been close to his return should be on the field on Sunday. He could spring some big run plays and should boost the overall battle in the trenches.

The absence of Marquise Brown makes for a big chance to see Rashod Bateman step up. Bateman had six receptions for 80 yards against the Miami Dolphins and has been a catch for a first down machine. The Ravens will need Sammy Watkins to return to form after a costly fumble against the Dolphins and all-around poor performance.

Justin Fields almost had a successful comeback attempt in Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fields had 291 yards in that game and hit on some big passes that made the game interesting. The Ravens have been giving up so many big plays, that Fields’s explosive arm and running ability must give everybody in Baltimore some pause.

Baltimore Ravens bottom line:

Is this a game the Ravens should win? Absolutely. The circumstances around this game create some doubt though, it isn’t an easy contest. The Ravens need to bring their A-game. What Lamar Jackson has in the tank is up in the air. This would be a good week for the team to pick him up with their play for a change. It would be nice if Jackson didn’t have to do the whole Superman act against the Bears, in a week where an illness has him listed as questionable.

I’m going about this game of the mind that Jackson will play. That being said, Tyler Huntley’s time to shine is not horribly unrealistic and Trace McSorley has been called up to the active roster. Not having Jackson would take this from being a difficult road game to a bad situation quickly.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears: 4 predictions and a score

Let’s see what happens tomorrow. One thing is for sure, the lead-up to this game is an anxious one. Baltimore must win this game regardless of their circumstances.

Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

Baltimore Ravens: 3 Big Questions as Ravens Travel to the Windy City

By: Ashley Anderson

Coming off an embarrassing 22-10 loss against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night football, the Baltimore Ravens had to do some soul searching this week. With a few extra days rest, they travel to Chicago on Sunday to take on the Bears. Led by rookie quarterback Justin Fields, the Bears are currently 3-6. Their record is deceiving though, as they have played a number of close games. Here are the big questions leading into Week 10.

3.) Can the Baltimore Ravens find a way to limit big plays defensively?

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” – Cool Hand Luke, 1967.

When people think of the Baltimore Ravens, they typically think of bruising defenses led by the likes of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Although there is plenty of talent on the 2021 squad, it seems like the Ravens are struggling to put them all together. Nearly every week, even if the defense plays well as a whole, they experience lapses. Big plays have become the norm rather than the unexpected.

Somewhat astonishingly, Baltimore has allowed six plays of 50 or more yards in just the past three weeks. Their busted coverage on a 64-yard catch and run by Albert Wilson evaporated any chance of a comeback against Miami. Even in the win against Minnesota, they surrendered a 50-yard touchdown to Justin Jefferson.

Long-time fans are baffled by the overall performance of the unit, which is typically prideful and dominant. There are plenty of factors, including injury, that point to the down year. The biggest issue, however, seems to be a lack of communication within the group.

For some time, the Ravens were struggling with tackling, leading to explosive plays. They seemed to have that figured out a bit in recent games, but there have still been several big plays. Often, there appears to be a breakdown in pre-snap communication. Safety Chuck Clark wears the green dot on his helmet, so he is ultimately responsible for relaying the play calls. Marlon Humphrey has also taken responsibility for his part in the lapses.

All-in-all, chunk plays are a dagger for any defense. The Ravens know this is an area of weakness and one that must improve if they hope to make a playoff run this season. Facing a rookie quarterback in Justin Fields should help them get things right this week.

2.) Will the running game get back on track?

For years, the bread and butter of Baltimore’s offense was their rushing attack. It seemed they could run against any and every team in the NFL. However, there has never been another season where the Ravens lost all three of their top running backs prior to the start of the year.

The losses left the front office reeling as they searched for help. Ty’Son Williams made the 53-man roster out of camp, and Baltimore quickly added Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell. Since then, they also added Nate McCrary back to the practice squad.

Murray missed the past three games with an ankle injury, and the run game suffered as a result. Most weeks, quarterback Lamar Jackson is actually the leading rusher, and none of the backs separated from the pack. With Murray finally getting healthy, the Ravens made the surprise choice to part ways with Bell.

Much of the blame for the run game struggling can be placed on the offensive line. Without Ronnie Stanley, the unit was forced to shift Alejandro Villanueva to left tackle. Patrick Mekari had finally stabilized the right tackle role before he went down with an ankle injury. Second-year man Tyre Phillips is not built to be a tackle, but Baltimore was forced to use him there. Ben Powers and Ben Cleveland were rotating at left guard before Powers suffered a knee injury. Powers struggled in his absence.

Cleveland may be ready to return this week, and Mekari is also getting healthy. As the weather turns cold, Baltimore is certainly hopeful that someone or something can provide a spark on the ground. Could this be the week Nate McCrary finally gets a call-up?


1.) How will mid-week absences from Lamar Jackson and Bradley Bozeman affect the offense?

Both Lamar Jackson and Bradley Bozeman were sent home from practice Wednesday with non-Covid related illnesses. Jackson is virtually the only reason the Ravens are 6-3 at this point, but he has now missed practice time four separate weeks. Meanwhile, Bozeman has been the anchor of an offensive line that has faced a ton of adversity this season.

It is never a good thing when starters miss practice time for any reason. What makes matters worse is that Jackson and Bozeman are the most crucial pieces of an offense that would look dramatically different without them. At this point, there is no reason to believe either will miss Sunday’s game. The missed practice time, however, could throw off the rhythm of the entire offensive unit.

Jackson has shown an uncanny knack for building chemistry with his receivers despite the repeated absences. Still, there are moments when the timing seems just a touch off with this offense. For example, in his return from a three-game absence, Sammy Watkins was targeted early on a deep pass against the Dolphins. Unfortunately, he either believed the ball to be overthrown, or he lost it in the lights, and a would-be touchdown landed incomplete. Slightly better timing between Jackson and Watkins may have made a difference.

Losing Bozeman would be equally damaging. Last year, the Ravens struggled mightily with poor snaps, but Bozeman virtually eliminated the issue. He has been one of the top centers in the league and easily the best lineman in Baltimore. Without him, the Ravens would have to turn to Trystan Colon, who has primarily been used as an additional lineman in heavy packages. Colon would then have the responsibility of making pre-snap reads and trying to gel with a line that, as previously mentioned, already dealt with its fair share of change.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: A full examination of the Greg Roman situation

All-in-all, it is too early to panic here, but the situation bears watching (no pun intended). Jackson and Bozeman may both return tomorrow fine as fiddles, and this question becomes irrelevant. Any other scenario, however, could put the Ravens at a huge disadvantage.