Posted in The good bad and ugly

Justin Tucker saves Baltimore Ravens win: Good, bad and the ugly

By Chris Schisler 

The good

The Baltimore Ravens offense finally got a scoring drive near the end of the first half. Devin Duvernay scored the touchdown and that’s how long it took to find a positive at the end of a Ravens offensive drive.

The defense looked fantastic in this game. The expectations dropped a bit when a Covid-19 situation depleted the defensive front. The players that needed to step up did. Broderick Washington played well. He won the battle in the middle of the defensive line. Calais Campbell was great as well.

Don Martindale called another great game as the defensive coordinator of the Ravens. The blitzing was on point. The pressure bothered Lions quarterback, Jared Goff. Every time Goff had to pass and the Ravens knew it, the defense was ready to rock.

Lamar Jackson looked sharp. Drops really hurt his stat line. He had decent numbers in the game even though the box score doesn’t do the MVP quarterback justice. 

Justin Tucker saved the day. The 66-yard field goal was the longest kick in NFL history and it gave the Ravens a win. Okay, now it gets iffy. There is a little bad and then a whole lot of ugly.

The Bad for the Baltimore Ravens

On the first Ravens drive, they were backed up inside their own three-yard line. They ended up with a 3rd & 2. The Ravens ran a play everyone in the stadium was waiting for. The Ravens may be run-oriented but they really had to put the ball in the air there. It was an uninspired call by Greg Roman that took the ball out of Lamar Jackson’s hands on a key play.

The offense got off to a slow start. They wasted good stops by the defense. The first time the offense got going Justin Tucker uncharacteristically missed a field goal. The Ravens couldn’t stay on the field in the first quarter. That was the opposite of what they needed with their depth-strapped defense.

The offense was unflattering. On the last drive of the first quarter, you had a Mark Andrews drop, a play with two penalties, and a very timid call on 2nd & 15 that set up a 3rd and long. Jackson ran for a couple of yards and the Ravens punted. The first quarter was the opposite of fun.

In the second quarter, the offense started throwing it down the field. Jackson missed on a couple of deep shots though Marquise Brown arguably should have caught one of them in the end zone. Tucker got a field goal but the Ravens kept their streak of not picking up first downs on third down.

The Ugly

Marquise Brown was absolutely and unequivocally bad in this game. He had multiple drops with perfect passes hitting him in both hands. This may have been the worst game of his career, a sentiment that could have been rightfully believed before the halftime intermission. Brown has no excuse, these drops were all the way on the awful meter.

The offensive line was poor for much of the game. The Ravens offensive line forced Greg Roman’s play calls in this game. An expected run-heavy game turned into more of a passing day.

When the Lions finally scored the offense revisited the running game. It must have made you wonder why did they get so removed from it in the first place?

Jackson got bottled up a handful of times in the pocket. On one deep pass that could have been a touchdown in the third quarter, Jackson missed Andrews. Pressure may have knocked his accuracy off course.

The Ravens got out to a 13 point lead in this game. They failed to put Detroit away. The Lions put together a touchdown drive in the middle of the third quarter. Open field tackling became an issue. It’s a reoccurring problem. 13-7 was a nervous spot for the Ravens, especially when they controlled most of the action to that point.

The very ugly:

To be fair this was expected because of the circumstances, but the running game of the Lions got harder to stop as the game went on. There were a few moments where the Ravens were simply getting gashed. De’Andre Swift was the main problem, but Jamaal Williams also had some nice runs against Baltimore.

A gassed and exhausted defense gave the Lions another touchdown. All of a sudden it was a two-point game. All of the sudden a win was on a nervous footing for the Ravens. The defense gave up the score. The offense created this situation by squandering perfect chances and putting the defense in tough spots all game long.

Jackson forced a pass on third and long after the Lions score. It was a bad throw, forced in the direction of Marquise Brown. He wasn’t open and the pass was hopeless.

It was a throw that continued Jackson’s three-game run with an awful and unforgivable turnover. The stretched-thin defense had to try to save the day. Take a moment, throw something before we continue.

The defense gave up two wide-open passes that cut the Lions’ distance to a glorious win in half. This thing was just going that way. The Ravens were looking at a loss to Detroit of a win that didn’t make anyone in the Charm City feel good.

John Harbaugh inexplicably challenged a catch. The Ravens wasted a timeout. Then the Lions quickly got into scoring position. Again, if you need to throw something I totally understand, take a second if you must. Spoiler alert, the Lions scored the field goal with 1:04 left on the clock. You have to be kidding me!

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Top 10 tight ends in franchise history

The Baltimore Ravens took two sacks and faced a 4th and long. That’s it for the ugly, it got glorious for a second and the Ravens got away with one.

 

 

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens vs. Lions: Players who need to step up on Sunday

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens just beat the Chiefs and things seemed so hopeful. Then Covid-19 dampened the excitement. Jaylon Ferguson reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 leaving Justin Houston, Justin Madubuike, and Brandon Williams on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Losing Ferguson isn’t a big hit to the defense. The other three players are integral to the defensive front- now the Ravens defensive front is stretched thinner than what is almost doable.

Obviously when these many players are out of the picture the game plan changes. Obviously, some players need to step up and make this happen. Who are the players that need to step up the most to keep this a very winnable game for the Baltimore Ravens?

Baltimore Ravens players who need to step up:

Broderick Washington is the first player that comes to mind. Washington is the closest understudy the Ravens have to Brandon Williams. Washington is going to have to have a higher snap count than he’s ever been used to as an NFL player. The second-year player has to be the anchor of the defensive line, something that sprung on him out of nowhere.

The history of the Ravens missing Williams is daunting. When Williams has been out, the run defense hasn’t been the same. If Washington can just be a space-eater it will be enough. He needs to win off the ball and clog everything up. You’re not getting a two-for-one deal here. Washington isn’t going to replace Williams and Madubuike at the same time. We’re talking about a player who has barely played so far this season.

The good news is the Ravens have Justin Ellis and he’s at the very least an experienced player on the defensive line. The bad news is that Derek Wolfe still won’t be back from injury. The Ravens’ defensive front could tire out quickly. They’re missing two very important defensive linemen and a starting outside linebacker. This changes how the Ravens have to play defense in this game.

More good news for the Ravens is that Daelin Hayes should finally come into action at outside linebacker. Look for the Ravens to use Hayes a lot in this game out of nothing but necessity. Look for the outside linebackers the Ravens do have to be more like defensive ends on the defensive line than their typical linebacker roles. This won’t be a stretch for Hayes, or the impressive rookie Odafe Oweh, as it fits a lot of what they did a year ago in College Football.

If Pernell McPhee can go it makes a huge impact. The Ravens would then have a leader for the defensive front. McPhee can do the dirty work in the run game and can act as a defensive end/outside linebacker. McPhee is listed as questionable but the Baltimore Ravens really need him. Don’t forget Pat Ricard can do more than play fullback, he could get some reps in at defensive tackle.

Oweh was the defensive player of the AFC in the second week of the season. He made the big plays against the Chiefs that allowed that comeback to happen. The Ravens are going to have to use Oweh’s youth and energy in this game. His snap count is going to be higher and that’s unavoidable. He needs to continue to be explosive and versatile. Whether he sacks Jared Goff or not, he needs to keep being active with pressures and great run defense.

The Bottom Line:

Before the extra losses on defense for this game, the Lions offered a decent litmus test of the defense. The Lions aren’t a particularly good team, with T.J. Hockenson and De’Andre Swift being their two big weapons. Before the defensive line got thinned out, it seemed like if the defense held the Lions to under 20 points it would be the defense getting back on track.

The defense got a pass for all it gave up against the Chiefs because it was the Chiefs and the defense stepped up in crucial moments. This defense still needs to show improvements that we haven’t seen in the first two weeks. All of that is on pause now. The defense just has to be good enough. The expectations have gone down.

NEXT POST: Ravens vs. Lions got interesting: 3 big questions for the game

The best way for the Ravens to win this game is by the offense putting up points. If the offense can stay on the field and dominate the time of possession, they really don’t have to worry about the complete lack of depth on the defensive front. On defense though, it’s all about Broderick Washington, Daelin Hayes, and Odafe Oweh doing a little extra.

Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

Ravens vs. Lions got interesting: 3 big questions for the game

By: Ashley Anderson

It has been a crazy week in Charm City. The Ravens came away with a major win over the Chiefs on Sunday night and quickly got back to business. Lamar Jackson missed some time with a stomach bug, then Covid-19 struck again. Most experts have penciled in a win for Baltimore, but there are plenty of lingering questions.

3.) Will the Ravens suffer an emotional letdown coming off a big win?

Sometimes, when teams win a huge game and emotions are super high, they have a tendency to overlook their next opponent. The Detroit Lions are in a different conference, rarely face the Ravens, and are currently 0-2. This has the makings of a perfect trap game.

Baltimore faced Lions quarterback Jared Goff in 2019 when he was with the Rams. Under the lights of Monday Night Football, the Ravens shellacked the Rams 45-6. Goff is in a much different situation now, although it hardly seems much better.

This is the type of game where the Ravens are heavily favored, and pundits are giving them a big edge. However, Detroit has plenty of solid weapons. In the NFL, and team can truly beat any other if conditions are favorable.

All season long, the Ravens have been battling injuries, and now Covid-19 reared its ugly head again. With their emotions on a rollercoaster, it would be understandable if Baltimore suffered a letdown Sunday. If that happens though, they could be in for a surprise defeat.

Since taking over as the starting quarterback, these are the types of games Lamar Jackson has rarely lost. Head Coach John Harbaugh preaches celebrating for 24 hours then turning focus back to the upcoming game. Few teams are as well-coached and built to withstand adversity as well as Baltimore, but they will be put to the test Sunday.

2.) Will Jimmy Smith Finally Return?

When Jimmy Smith initially went down with an injury in training camp, his season seemed to be in jeopardy. Fortunately, team doctors diagnosed him with an ankle sprain rather than any breaks or tears. It looked as though he would be able to return prior to the start of the season, or very early on.

Smith has continued to be limited at practice as his injury proved to be more serious than it seemed. As a result, he has yet to play in a game. In his absence, opposing tight ends have been eating the secondary alive. First, Darren Waller had his way, picking on Chuck Clark in particular, then Travis Kelce was a one-man, tackle-breaking wrecking crew.

This week, the Ravens are tasked with stopping T.J. Hockenson, who is arguably one of the top tight ends in the league. Smith finally got in a full practice on Friday and appears primed to make his season debut. His return would be a huge boost for the secondary who are already missing Marcus Peters and Chris Westry. It would also benefit DeShon Elliott, who suffered a concussion last week.

Fans have been anxiously awaiting Smith’s return. The Ravens officially listed him as questionable, and the full practice is a positive sign.

1.) Can the Ravens survive the latest battle with Covid-19?

The Ravens are a team that has faced issues with Covid-19 multiple times. Last season, the NFL postponed the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers twice due to an outbreak. Pittsburgh dealt Baltimore a close loss that ultimately affected playoff seeding. At full strength, the Ravens would likely have won that matchup.

Before the start of this season, Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards both missed time after testing positive. Ultimately, it did not matter for Edwards, as he suffered a season-ending knee injury. For Jackson, however, it cost him valuable reps with a new receiver group. In particular, Jackson had precious little time to develop chemistry with rookie Rashod Bateman before Bateman was injured.

Now, just three weeks into the season, outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson has tested positive. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale employed Ferguson sparingly the first two weeks. However, losing Ferguson is just the tip of the iceberg.

Justin Houston, Justin Madubuike, and Brandon Williams will all miss Sunday’s game as the Ravens deemed them to be close contacts. We can infer that they are all unvaccinated based on the team’s response. If any of them end up testing positive, it could cause them to miss even more time.

Next Post: NFL Picks: Predictions for the whole week 3 slate of games

This is simply not a good scenario for the Ravens. It leaves them thin along the defensive line for this game and potentially even longer. Although the Lions are 0-2, Baltimore can hardly take a win for granted. Already ravaged by injuries, the hits just keep on coming.