Posted in Ravens Thoughts

State of the Baltimore Ravens: 13 thoughts after loss to Browns

By Chris Schisler

1. John Harbaugh can frustrate like no other but he’s not the problem and shouldn’t be on the hot seat.

Rational thinking Baltimore Ravens fans can understand that John Harbaugh should be safe going into the next season of Baltimore Ravens football. In a game where the Baltimore Ravens had everything go wrong from the start, where their injury problems extended to their quarterback, and where the NFL officials helped their opponent out a lot, the Ravens almost won the game. The Ravens didn’t give up, showed resilience, and that Harbaugh had the train on the tracks.

Do the tracks lead to the playoffs? We’ll find out later. The thing is that the head coach hasn’t lost the team. The Ravens have an unprecedented amount of injuries and it’s starting to be too much. One thing is for sure, Harbaugh has done an admirable job with this beaten-up roster. The Ravens shouldn’t have eight wins. They shouldn’t have been able to give the Browns a scare down 24-6.

John Harbaugh is not mistake-proof. Because Harbaugh went for the two-point conversion at a questionable time, the Ravens needed one more possession than they would have needed. Harbaugh was being aggressive and not rational in that stretch. He’s not perfect. My question is this: What would this team be without him? I don’t want to know the answer to that question.

2. It’s troubling that Tyler Huntley looked better than Lamar Jackson in the past several weeks:

Is Tyler Huntley better than the 2019 NFL MVP? Absolutely not. The ceiling for Huntley is never going to be as high as it will be for Jackson, who is a truly generational talent. The floor for Jackson has been on display for the past handful of weeks and it’s relatively unbearable. Jackson is the quarterback of the now, and the quarterback of the future. There is no reality where Huntley replaces Jackson as the starter. That shouldn’t have to be explained, yet you know how the internet works, don’t you?

With that preface, we can get into the real conversation. Why did Tyler Huntley play better football than Jackson did in this game? If Jackson stayed in this game, it’s hard to see this comeback happening, and that’s hard to type into the keyboard. The difference is that Huntley was distributing the football and making quick decisions. Whether they were the right call or not, Huntley wasn’t hesitant and the offense stayed mostly on schedule. This highlighted the problems that Jackson is having. That’s something to be aware of moving forward.

3. The officials were unbelievably bad, especially with pass interference:

In the first half, the Baltimore Ravens were playing so poorly that it almost didn’t matter how bad the refs had been. Now that we almost saw the comeback nobody saw coming, let’s look into the refs. The Ravens were flagged 10 times for 125 yards, while the Browns only had four penalties. Early in the game, it seemed like the Ravens couldn’t have a play without a defensive pass interference call. Late in the game, Huntley missed Marquise Brown deep down the field, and the Browns more than probably got away with pass interference on the play.

Pass interference is always questionable. The NFL has made it complicated and reasonable fans just want it to be called consistently and as fairly as possible. The NFL officials have a built-in leeway on these calls, but several of them question the intelligence of the players, coaches, and the viewing audience. When Chris Westry got penalized for interference on a play where he played the ball and was in textbook perfect position, and the calls kept coming just like it, the integrity of the game was affected.

4. This offensive line is bad:

The offensive line is bad. Last week, there had to be a clear focus in my writing that the quarterback wasn’t immune from criticism. This game doesn’t allow me to cover anybody from the smear of blame. The offensive line was horrible. Alejandro Villanueva and Tyre Phillips struggled in a big way. Tyre Phillips should never be the plan at right tackle; I can’t watch it anymore. This offensive line is in a situation where nobody expected them to be good, but it’s still bad.

5. Opening up the offense isn’t a bad idea:

The Ravens didn’t have Nick Boyle or Patrick Ricard in this game. They had a bad offensive line. It forced the Ravens to spread out the offense and rely more heavily on their wide receivers and Mark Andrews. Mark Andrews, by the way, has an inspiring amount of heart and continues to be my favorite player not named Jackson. Opening up the offense was effective.

Huntley had 270 yards in the air and 45 on the ground. Ironically it felt almost like having Lamar back in stride. Rashod Bateman won his matchup in this game and had 103 yards. Seven different players caught a pass and Devonta Freeman still got 64 rushing yards as the main running back. The offense didn’t play in a box, and the ball moved more freely around the field.

6. The Baltimore Ravens defense deserves a lot of praise:

Anthony Averett came away with a huge interception that got the Ravens their first points. It stopped the bleeding and prevented this game from getting too out of hand in the second quarter. This was cracking the door open for a comeback attempt (at the time a comeback seemed like a distant dream). The Browns scored all 24 of their points in the first half. Did Don Martindale just have his guys pitch a second-half shutout? You bet your butt he did.

In a game, the Browns led wire to wire, Cleveland only managed an even 100 rushing yards. The Ravens were playing catch-up and still ran for more yards than the Browns. Nick Chubb had 17 carries and only picked up 3.6 yards a pop. The Ravens’ front seven did some serious work in this game.

7. How was this game close?

I still don’t really understand this. Cleveland had to be very generous hosts for this game to be close. They were up 24-6. They wasted a lot of chances. Cleveland won the time-of-possession battle, yet its not like we can reward them for chewing up big chunks of game clock. The Ravens shouldn’t have been allowed to get back into this game. It says as much about Baltimore’s resilience as it does Cleveland’s proficiency.

The Ravens were playing without Lamar Jackson for most of the game. Jimmy Smith didn’t play the week after Marlon Humphrey was lost for the year. The defense did okay, all things considered. Nick Boyle and Pat Ricard were out on offense. Patrick Mekari was out at the right tackle spot. This was an even more banged-up Ravens team than usual, after a heartbreaking loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns had a bye week before this game. That may have been the advantage that won them the game. One thing is for sure, you can’t make this up. The Browns have issues. The Ravens may not win another game (It’s a dark and conceivable thought) but the Browns should take no solace here. They have issues that will come back to bite them.

8. Mark Andrews should just live in the slot:

According to a tweet by sideline reporter, Aditi Kinkhabwala, Mark Andrews was lined up in the slot 10 times, targeted 10 times, and caught all 10 passes. I’m half-joking here, but why line up Andrews anywhere else? This has been his most impactful spot all season. Andrews has 75 receptions for 926 yards and he’s done a bit of everything for this offense. Tight ends have to block, especially without Nick Boyle. You want to show different looks and all that good stuff. One thing is for sure, the Browns couldn’t stop Andrews when he lined up in the slot. I’m not sure many teams can.

9. The Baltimore Ravens know how to hurt us the most, don’t they?

Most Ravens fans were probably ambivalent at the halftime intermission. If ever there was a game where you laughed not to cry and made a couple of extra drinks it was this one. The first half was about as fun as waiting in line at the MVA or sitting in traffic for an hour because there was an accident up ahead. It was what it was and fans just had to sit there and make the best of it. Then the Ravens came back and got hopes up.

The Ravens get the onside kick. Then a two-yard pass on fourth and six falls to the ground. Then the heartbreak is worse than watching the first half. Ravens fans, I know. This one stunk. The Ravens are competitive no matter what, getting steamrolled may have been easier to digest. It sounds silly, but the emotions of this game were universally felt among the Ravens Flock. Being a sports fan is signing up for punishment and the Ravens can take this to extremes, can’t they?

10. Young bright spots are what you have to cling on to:

The obvious example of a young bright spot is Rashod Batemen. He was incredible in this game. His explosive and tough style of play is working. We knew the Ravens needed to get him the ball more and this game just confirmed it. Let’s talk about some other guys though.

In the secondary, Brandon Stephens is going to have a long and illustrious career with the Ravens. Stephens played really well in this game. The Ravens were absolutely needy at cornerback and he was on the field almost the entire game for this defense. He had six tackles in this game and his quick and fluid skillset shined in coverage. Chris Westry was really sharp at cornerback as well. Westry was an undrafted free agent that made the roster. Stephens was a third-round pick nobody saw coming. Ravens fans, on a day where everything is bumming you out, enjoy this.

11. Where is the Baltimore Ravens- Cleveland Browns rivalry?

The Ravens split the season series with the Browns, so where is the rivalry? The Browns can’t be too happy with the power dynamic. This should have been an easy win. In the back of Kevin Stefanski’s head is that the Ravens took his team to the brink even when everything stacked against them. The Ravens have won four of the last six games against the Browns. It will be interesting to see what happens next time.

If the Browns beat the doors of the Ravens, the way it looked they would, we’d have to talk about the status of this rivalry. For the moment, the Ravens don’t fear the Browns. The Ravens wish they had another crack at Cleveland. The Browns are glad they’re done with the Ravens on their regular-season schedule, whether they admit it or not.

12. The Browns had a great game plan:

The Browns were incredibly prepared for this game. They throttled the Ravens’ offense at the start of the game. They knew exactly where to attack the Ravens defensively. Kevin Stefanski and his staff had more answers than John Harbaugh’s crew did. This allowed the Browns to get ahead from the start. While I think the Browns overthought the second half to their detriment, they had all the right concepts prepared for this game. You have to credit the Browns on that. They learned lessons from the last game and unleashed on Baltimore at the start of this game.

13. Hosting Green Bay could be another brutal Sunday:

The Green Bay Packers dropped 45 points on the Chicago Bears last night. Aaron Rodgers went 29 of 37 passing for 341 yards and four touchdowns. Devante Adams had 10 receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens defense is hurt most in the secondary, hasn’t had a great pass rush, and might be playing without the help of Lamar Jackson on offense. Hope for the best Baltimore. Still… brace yourself.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: How to get the offense rolling again

Thank you for reading my long-form thoughts. There is a lot to process here.


Posted in The good bad and ugly

Ravens Edge the Bears: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

By: Ashley Anderson

With a 16-13 win over the Chicago Bears, the Ravens now stand at 7-3. It was an odd day for Baltimore that required a miracle comeback for them to escape with a victory. Here is a recap of the good, bad, and ugly for the purple and black.

The Good:

Tyler Huntley found out Sunday morning that he would be making his first career start. It was far from a perfect performance, but Huntley played his heart out. Although he was sacked six times, Huntley went 26/36 for 219-yards and an interception. On the ground, he recorded 40-yards on seven carries. Most importantly, Huntley stayed cool under pressure, leading Baltimore on a game-winning drive with under two minutes in the game.

Running back Devonta Freeman was ultimately responsible for the go-ahead score. His day was good enough on the ground, as he led the team with 49-yards on 16 carries. Freeman has also shown a knack for contributing in the passing game. He notched six receptions for 37-yards.

It was also nice to see Sammy Watkins have a bounce-back performance. His return from injury was less-than-stellar against the Miami Dolphins. Against the Bears, however, he had three catches for 48-yards, including the 29-yard catch that set the Ravens up for the game-winning touchdown.

Defensively, Tyus Bowser finally has the breakout game everyone has been waiting for. He was responsible for five tackles, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits, two sacks, and a fumble. When Bowser bulldozed his way into the backfield to prevent a Hail Mary try by Andy Dalton, fans let out an audible sigh of relief.

On his 32nd birthday, Justin Tucker was a perfect 3/3 on field goals and 1/1 on extra-point tries.

The best part of this game was that the Ravens found a way to win. Plenty of things went wrong for Baltimore, with a number of key players ruled out Sunday morning. However, they dug deep and pulled out a crucial win. It proved even more important as both the Browns and Bengals won as well. With Pittsburgh losing on Sunday night, Baltimore now leads the Bengals by one game in the AFC North.

The Bad:

Again, the Ravens allowed a big passing play moments after Dalton took over at quarterback. It seems Baltimore is allergic to defending screen passes, allowing a 60-yard touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney as a result of over-pursuit. Poor tackling was an issue as well as Chuck Clark had a clear whiff on the play.

Baltimore’s aggressive play-calling was as head-scratching as it was unsuccessful. On a fourth-and-11 late in the fourth quarter, Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale called for a Cover 0, all-out blitz. When no one got home, Dalton found Marquise Goodwin wide open for a 49-yard score to give Chicago a late lead. Baltimore’s defense was down to three healthy cornerbacks against the Bears, and it showed on the stat sheet with two Bears receivers going over 100-yards.

The offensive line had another poor showing despite the return of Nick Boyle and Patrick Mekari. Huntley was under constant pressure, and he was sacked six times. The running backs barely found room to run, and Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray both averaged under four yards per carry. Although the unit has undergone an insane amount of change, it is time for everyone to step up and protect the guy under center.

The Ugly:

Oh my goodness, was the injury list ugly this week. Lamar Jackson was unable to play as he continued to battle an illness. He traveled with the team but was ultimately ruled out Sunday morning.

Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Anthony Averett were both scratched as well. Neither seemed to have an issue during the week, but they developed mysterious injuries somewhere after Friday’s practice. That left Baltimore painfully short-handed in the secondary, with Chris Westry making his first start.

Starting wide receiver Marquise Brown is dealing with a thigh injury, and he was surprisingly ruled out after a limited practice Friday.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens sneak past Bears: 7 lessons on victory Monday

If Jackson is unable to play against Cleveland, it will be a massive blow for Baltimore. The Ravens will also be keeping their fingers crossed that Smith and/or Averett find a way to get healthy. It was a minor miracle that the 49-yard score late in the fourth quarter did not sink Baltimore’s ship. They will likely not get that lucky when the Browns come to town.

Posted in Hot Take of the Week

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs: The psychology of the game

By Chris Schisler 

The Baltimore Ravens can beat the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s possible. The Chiefs aren’t infallible and the Ravens might be 0-1 but they’re not the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s somewhere in the range of possibilities even if you shouldn’t bet money on it. You 100 percent should not put money on it. 

Things seem to stack against the Baltimore Ravens here. They just had a rotten opener with problems in the secondary and the offensive line being the top culprits. The Ravens are banged up early in the season and won’t be at full strength probably until the first quarter of the season is in the books. Please keep in mind that full strength isn’t what full strength was supposed to be anymore. On top of that, the Chiefs are the Chiefs and they have the Ravens’ number.

The big key here is the Ravens putting their best foot forward. There are no moral victories, however, if they do indeed lose, the way it happens matters. If John Harbaugh is going to start out 0-2 it better come with some progress.

The Ravens need to go into this game trying to win. They have to play a completely different brand of football than they showed their first national audience on Monday. This game offers the Ravens a test of character and heart. Do they curl up and give in, or do they fight back and desperately try to kick themselves out of a corner. The psychology of the game puts every single ounce of pressure on the Baltimore Ravens.

In addition to testing the resolve of the purple and black, this is a great game to catch the top team in the AFC by surprise. Before all the injuries the Ravens were considered viable Super Bowl contenders. The circumstances of this game could be building a false David vs Goliath dichotomy. It’s a night game, fans are back, and the Ravens have a ton of talent that didn’t go away.

A slow start for the Ravens could be a death sentence to their chances. The Ravens have developed a pattern of falling apart against the Chiefs. Panic mode is good for mistakes and compounding problems that get the game out of hand. The Ravens need to start strong. The more rounds they can go toe to toe with the Chiefs, the more confidence is they’ll have. The Ravens have to make themselves believers during the course of this game. If it’s close, if there’s a chance of seeing a victory, it could really propel the crowd and the team.

The Baltimore Ravens have issues on top of issues

Lamar Jackson has to recover from his two fumble ending to the Raiders game. He has to keep himself grounded because his emotions and his want to do it all could bite him in this game. With the injuries to the Ravens, Jackson really has to do an unfair amount of the heavy lifting. Jackson has no choice but to try to have another MVP season. 

The offensive line needs to just find a way to make this work. They have problems you don’t solve in a week. Mentally they have to be prepared to overcome it all. Now it has been reported by Jason La Canfora that the Ravens will be without Ronnie Stanley against the Chiefs. A struggling offensive line is now without their top player. It doesn’t have to be pretty- there’s almost no way it can be. The Ravens just have to scrape together enough blocking to make this offense functional. 

Get ready for Alejandro Villanueva on the left side and Patrick Mekari at right tackle. Get ready to be at least a medium level of frustrated by this while you watch the game. 

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has reported that Chris Westry is out with a torn meniscus. Don Martindale and the defense need to find answers and clarity heading into this battle. Jimmy Smith needs to get healthy and ready quickly. Tavon Young has to see if he can stay healthy, and he needs to knock off some rust from missing so much football.

Martindale has to have a clear plan. One thing is for sure he can’t depend on his cornerbacks to play lockdown coverage across the board, he has to adjust and call a masterful game just to keep Baltimore in it. 

There’s a lot of work to do and a lot of it is just having the team be mentally prepared and composed for week 2. Bad luck has come and it hasn’t let up since they lost J.K. Dobbins. With today’s reported injuries added to the list, it takes a lot of deep breaths to realize the season isn’t over/ If you feel like it is though, as a Ravens fan I’m not judging you. This is tough and it’s a difficult road to start on this early. 

The Ravens Flock won’t need much to get rocking. When you consider the passion of the fanbase and the fact that there were no crowds last season, people will be eager to get back to the stadium. Still, things could go sour quickly. The fans are eager to go back to games yet this shouldn’t be mistaken for patience. The Ravens need to try to give the fans a night they’ll never forget. They need to attempt making this bigger than a game, they need to make this a moment.

With an 0-1 record and the entire football world practically locked in on the Chiefs, a win would be the regular season equivalent of the Mile High Miracle. It’s a big game in a tough spot against a juggernaut of a team. If the Ravens win this game it would go down in Ravens’ lure along with games like the 2003 comeback against the Seattle Seahawks and the 47-42 win over the Browns last year.

The Bottom Line: 

This wouldn’t be just any other win for the Ravens. As big as the moment is it’s important not to get too high or too low. A win would only reach this momentous meaning because of how hard it would be for this injury-plagued Ravens team. That win is possible, a loss seems more likely. Far more likely. Injuries have taken so much from this team. 

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Keeping perspective after rough loss to Raiders

Baltimore must leave Sunday with at least a silver lining of hope. What they can’t do is panic, crumble and let the train fall off the tracks after two games. It’s an emotionally burdensome place for fans to be. The coaches have the unenviable task of finding answers in a hurry. Emotions and psychology play a bigger role in the game than usual. How gritty can this team be? They have to dig deeper than ever before just to get by. When this game is over, we’ll know what kind of heart this team has. 

Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

Baltimore Ravens 3 Big Questions About the Secondary

By: Ashley Anderson

Baltimore Ravens blog

There is no position group more stacked for the Baltimore Ravens than their secondary. Following along with Ozzie Newsome‘s belief that you can never have too many corners, Baltimore loaded up on talent in recent years. Now, there are some pressing questions about the group.


Will Tavon Young (Finally) Stay Healthy for the Baltimore Ravens?

When he is healthy, Tavon Young is among the best nickel corners in the NFL. The Ravens invested heavily in Young with a then record-breaking 3-year, $25.8 million deal in 2019. Since then, he has only played in two games. Young restructured his deal last November to give Baltimore some cap relief, but they are still seeking a return on their investment.

Young’s 2019 season was over before it started due to a neck injury that happened in training camp. After working his way back from that, Baltimore was hopeful for a productive 2020. Unfortunately, only two weeks into the season, Young suffered a season-ending knee injury. Prior to that streak of bad luck, Young missed all of 2017 with a knee injury.

Reports out of training camp indicate Young is back up to speed and playing like his old self. Baltimore has become less reliant on him in recent years, but they would love to play Marlon Humphrey at his natural outside position. In a surprise move, the Ravens traded Young’s most likely replacement, Shaun Wade, so they appear confident in his ability to stay healthy.

Although he is not a free agent till, after the 2022 season, Young needs to stack games this year. His return gives a major boost to the secondary, but only if it does not flame out early in the year. Certainly, no one is hoping for a healthy season more than Young himself.

When Will Jimmy Smith Return?

Seeing Jimmy Smith get carted off the practice field gave many fans a touch of PTSD. Like the aforementioned Young, Smith has been dogged by injuries throughout his career. He is a classic example of a player who could have been a Hall of Famer if only he stayed healthy.

Initially, the injury looked pretty serious. Reports quickly came out indicating otherwise, and Baltimore released a collective sigh of relief. Rather than something season-ending, Smith is dealing with a low ankle sprain. At the time, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Smith could return in, “a week or two is what I was told.” That was on August 8th.

Since then, Smith has yet to return to practice. It is possible the Ravens are simply being cautious. Smith is entering his 11th season, and he would benefit more from rest than strenuous practice. Having only played a full season twice in his career, a conservative approach is understandable.

At this point in his career, Baltimore will take what they can get from the oft-injured corner. He still plays at an extremely high level when healthy, and it is a matter of when, not if, he returns.

Who Makes the Cut?

To get to 53, the Ravens have some excruciatingly tough decisions to make. With such a strong secondary, there are bound to be players who are highly capable that simply do not work out numbers-wise. There are definitely some locks, but there may also be some surprises.

Baltimore has already jettisoned their rookie 5th round pick, Shaun Wade, to New England because he was on the roster bubble. In return, they got New England’s seventh-round selection in 2022, and their 2023 fifth-round pick. The seventh-round pick should actually be high in the round because it originally belonged to the Houston Texans.

In their first round of cuts, the Ravens also placed Iman Marshall and Khalil Dorsey on Injured Reserve. Marshall has struggled to stay on the field since Baltimore took him in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Dorsey, an undrafted free agent acquisition in 2020, also suffered season-ending injuries in his first two years.

Roster locks include Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, and Anthony Averett at corner. At safety, Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott are also safe, no pun intended. For those keeping score, that is already seven players.

That leaves corner, Chris Westry, hybrid players Brandon Stephens, Anthony Levine, and Nigel Warrior, and safeties Ar’Darius Washington and Geno Stone fighting for their jobs.

Of that group, Stephens is the most likely to be safe. As a 2021 third-round pick, it is highly unlikely the Ravens would part with him, especially since he probably would not clear waivers. Westry has also drawn a great deal of praise during training camp, and his size makes him ideal to provide outside depth. Like Westry, Warrior has put together a strong preseason, and he spent the 2020 season on the Baltimore Ravens practice squad, so he knows the system.

An undrafted free agent out of TCU, Baltimore felt so strongly about Washington that they guaranteed him $100,000. Surely, they want to see what he can do going forward. Stone was a seventh-round pick in 2020 who spent most of 2020 in Baltimore before being waived in December. After a brief stint in Houston, the Texans cut Stone free, and he returned to Baltimore. If the front office lacked faith in him, it seems unlikely they would have brought him back.

That leaves Anthony Levine, aka CoCap. A fan favorite and special teams ace, Levine could find himself on the outside looking in on cut day. Hearts will break around Baltimore if that happens, but football is a business. Levine is an older player whose departure would make way for young, up-and-coming talent.

Baltimore Ravens: The meaning of their preseason game win streak

Bottom line, the Ravens have to do what is best for the team. They created a good problem for themselves in stockpiling their secondary, and now they will have to make some unpleasant decisions. Tonight’s final preseason game against the Washington Football Team will go a long way in helping with those decisions.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens vs. Carolina Panthers: The good, bad and ugly

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens took down the Carolina Panthers 20-3 in their preseason game on Saturday night. When all was said and done, the Ravens picked up their 19th straight preseason win. It was a game that was a mixed bag for the offense, though the defense stayed on a roll. Let’s get down to the good, the bad, and the ugly from this game.

The Good

The Baltimore Ravens defense stepped up right away in this game. Tyler Huntley had a pass intercepted on the first half of the game. The Panthers got down to the one-yard line and went for it on fourth down. The Baltimore defense prevailed and Carolina was kept out of the end zone for the entire night. The only score of the night for the Panthers was a field goal that was preceded by a Panthers fumble. It may have only been the preseason, but Don Martindale’s defense almost pitched an impressive shutout.

The Panthers had under 200 total yards in the game. The Panthers moved the chains eight times compared to the 24 first downs for the Ravens. While Tyler Huntley and the offense weren’t exactly cruising along, they ran 76 plays to the Panthers’ 43.

The defensive backs were the standouts of the evening. DeShon Elliott came up with an amazing stop near the goal line on that first Panthers possession. Elliott also walked away with a sack and played sharply in coverage. Nigel Warrior had a great game as a safety fighting for a roster spot. Warrior had good coverage on several plays. There were a couple of plays where he showed great discipline by disrupting the receiver while avoiding penalties.

Chris Westry had another strong performance at cornerback. Westry is a player I was very skeptical of making the roster at the beginning of training camp. It’s still an uphill battle for the undrafted free agent out of Kentucky, on his second stop in his NFL career. What’s impressed me about Westry is how fluid of an athlete he is, and how fundamentally sound his coverage is. Westry offers some toughness at the cornerback spot. When push comes to shove the Ravens may want to find room for him on the roster.

Tyler Huntley had some good things going for him in this game. He went 24/34 for 187 yards. The former Utah quarterback had to deal with a couple of drops. Tylan Wallace had a chance at a touchdown, but he couldn’t hold on as he rolled into the ground. It was a slow start, and the number of tipped passes is a clear concern; that being said it was a satisfactory showing for the de facto backup of Lamar Jackson.

Speaking of Tylan Wallace, he did have some positives in this game. Wallace had two receptions for 36 yards. On one reception, he ran a great route and took a short pass, and turned on the jets up the field. That is exactly what I wanted to see from him. 

The running backs were the stars on the offensive side of the football. J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards got a brief cameo appearance early in the action. Edwards had a rumbling run that picked up the first down and then some. Edwards had four rushing attempts for 28 yards meaning he’s basically in mid-season form. Ty’Son Williams and Nate McCrary were the backs that stole the show.

Ty’Son Williams had 10 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was the top highlight of the game. Williams took several hits and kept his balance and made an acrobatic reach to the goal line. In his post-game press conference, John Harbaugh called it an old-school run, I have to agree with the head coach. When he scored that touchdown, it showed everything that Williams brings to the table in one play.

McCrary was equally impressive. His touchdown run showed a good feel for the game and that he could follow his blocks to the paydirt. McCrary had 64 yards on 15 carries. The fact that both running backs have played fantastically and have shown they can catch passes out of the backfield, is bad news for Justice Hill. Hill is reportedly dealing with an ankle injury and the competition for the third running back spot is crazy tight.

The Bad:

Josh Oliver had a fumble early in the game. Oliver also had a dropped pass in the game. Overall the tight end had a respectable evening. Oliver finished with seven receptions for 50 yards and was the most involved receiving option on Saturday night. The fumble and the drop are going to hurt him a bit. If Oliver didn’t have the two blemishes to his performance, he’d be sitting pretty as the third tight end. His mistakes have left the competition alive.

Tyler Huntley had several passes deflected in this game. There are two things to note here. First, Huntley may need to work on his release, a low release increases the chance of tipped passes. Secondly, the pressure the offensive line is giving up is a problem. It was better in this game than it was against the Saints. It was nice to see Kevin Zeitler make a couple of nice blocks for the ground game, though the offensive line was a bit wonky overall. Ronnie Stanley didn’t play (which is a good call), The good news is the run game looked like the Ravens. The bad news is pass protection was a bit iffy, and the only reason there were no sacks is Huntley’s athleticism.

The Ugly:

You couldn’t have started the game much worse for the Ravens offensively. The Ravens waited until the end of the second quarter to actually get anything going. We have to temper our criticism of the state of the offense. We haven’t even seen Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown, Ronnie Stanley, and Rashod Bateman yet. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that the offense on the field has some issues. There’s no way around the fact that the real starting offense will not get action in a game setting together until the regular season.

L.J. Fort suffered a bad injury. In his post-game press conference, Harbaugh said it didn’t look good. Fort is a veteran linebacker. While he’s not projected to be a starter in the 2021 season, he’s still a valuable player. This is one of the problems with preseason. The reward is a win that doesn’t really do anything, while the risk is injuries like this. Injuries are the ugliest thing you can see in a game that doesn’t count.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Three Big Questions About the Linebackers

There you have it! That’s the good, bad, and ugly from the Ravens’ battle with the Panthers. Roster cuts are coming. We are getting close to the regular season. Keep it locked into PBN when you need to stay in the know!

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