Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens host Green Bay Packers: 4 predictions and a score

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the late afternoon window. The Packers are fighting for the number one seed while the purple and black are just trying to stop the bleeding. Who wins? How does it happen? Here are four predictions and a score:

1. The Ravens rush for 200 yards

The Baltimore Ravens will probably be without Lamar Jackson. Jackson’s backup also has the ability to impact the run game, so expect Tyler Huntley to operate a ground and pound offense. Last week, Huntley passed for 270 yards but had to play catchup from the very beginning. This week, the entire point of the offensive attack is to prevent this game from getting out of hand.

Huntley had 45 yards on the ground last week. That number will go up this week with some designed quarterback runs being sprinkled in. Give Huntley an even 100 yards on the ground. Devonta Freeman had 64 yards last week. He had 52 yards the two games before that and had 49 rushing yards against the Chicago Bears. 50-60 yards can be seen as Freeman’s standard output. Let’s say he has a good week and it’s 65 yards for the veteran back. That gets the Ravens to 165 yards rushing and, Devin Duvernay and Latavius Murray will get that number to 200.

2. Aaron Rodgers will have 300 yards in the air:

The contreversy making Packers quarterback that is Aaron Rodgers is on fire. Rodgers has four games this year with 300 yards or more passing. The last three games make three of those four tallies. Guys, he’s hitting the 300 yard mark. Against a fairly depleted secondary this seems like an inevitablity. The Ravens run defense will also factor into this equation. Aaron Jones likely won’t play in this game which means if the Ravens stop A.J. Dillon on the ground, Rodgers will have to be the big play-maker. The Ravens face a lot of challenges in this game. Rodgers is problem numero uno.

3. Ravens get out to a fast start for a change of pace:

The Ravens have nothing to lose. Nobody expects them to win. There’s pressure in the sense that a loss hurts the teams chances a bit. For the most part though, the pressure isn’t there because the expectatons are lower than usual. At this point losing the game is thought of as a formality. The Ravens can put a ton of pressure on the Packers. The Packers are expected to win – scratch that – they expect to get the win. The more of a fight this becomes, the more pressure the Packers will feel.

Assuming it’s Tyler Huntley starting for the injured Lamar Jackson, I actually love the idea of a fast start. The young and unproven quarterback has nothing to lose and a huge stage to show his worth. For the first time in weeks the effects of expectations don’t work against this team. I think you’re going to see John Harbaugh gear up for a crazy game. I think the Ravens will get up 10-0 to start this game. A touchdown drive and an early stop will boost this team into having a chance.

4. Reality will set in:

The Ravens situation will eventually catch up to them. They’re the most injured team in football. A backup quarterback is the field general for the Ravens’ offense. It looks like Chuck Clark (The field general of the defense) will miss the game. Eventually the reality of being outmatched will sink in and solidify. The Ravens will get outgunned by the Packers offense. The second half of this game, in particular the fourth quarter will be a bad thing for Ravens fans to watch. A tired and exhausted Rvens defense will start to crack. The dam will break and the Packers will prevail.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers: 5 early thoughts on the game

And now a score: Packers win 31-20

The Ravens haven’t put up more than 20 points in a long while. They need too much to go right for them to win a game with this hand they’re dealt. I think you need 30 points to win this game and I just can’t see the Ravens getting there.

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens vs. Steelers: 4 predictions and a score

By Chris Schisler

1. Lamar Jackson reels it back in and has a solid performance for the Baltimore Ravens: 

The biggest concern for the Baltimore Ravens has to be whether their MVP quarterback is right. Can he get back into a groove? Was the four-interception game indicative of a larger problem? Was it just a bad day at the office, coming back after missing the Chicago game?

While the Pittsburgh Steelers have always found a way to frustrate Lamar Jackson, it’s hard to stay worried about him. He’s very self-demanding, hardworking and he’s going to be very focused on making up for it. Look for Jackson to play more tightly as a passer. He’s probably going to run it a little more. He may hold on to the ball a bit too long on a play or two- there will be side effects of his four-pick game.

This game is a chance to get his groove back. I’m not going to say that he’s going to have his best game or that he’s going to go crazy. I’m saying that we get a vintage Lamar Jackson game. 220 yards passing, 60-100 yards rushing. He’s going to look more like himself. In the Browns game, he didn’t seem like him. This week he’s going to be the player we know and love.

2. Ben Roethlisberger takes a beating:

The Pittsburgh Steelers just got manhandled by the Cincinnati Bengals. Roethlisberger looked awful last week. He was sacked three times and he was intercepted twice.

If the Ravens stop the run the way they did against Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Steelers will be in their danger zone of one-dimensionality. Odafe Oweh will have two sacks and force a Ben Roethlisberger fumble. Tyus Bowser and Justin Houston will have a sack each. This will stifle the Pittsburgh offense.

Prediction 3: Marquise Brown goes off for the Baltimore Ravens

This seems like a matchup made for Marquise Brown. The Steelers’ secondary is beatable. Whether or not Joe Haden plays, he hasn’t been the Joe Haden we’re used to. Brown’s speed is going to be a problem for anyone they put on him.

In the game without Jackson last year, Brown had four catches and a touchdown. On his first trip to Heinz field in 2019, he also had a touchdown. Let’s make it three for three with Brown getting a touchdown in Pittsburgh but this will be his best game against the Steelers by far.

4. The Baltimore Ravens run game eats

I’ve already predicted a bit more rushing from Lamar Jackson and a standard 60-100 yards on the ground out of him. I don’t think he’s going to be alone in success on the ground. Joe Mixon just tore up this Steelers defense. The rushing yards are there for the taking.

The way the Ravens run the ball is starting to form a decent pattern. Devonta Freeman will be able to get 50-60 yards. Latavius Murray is good for 15-30 yards. With Jackson they’re going to healthily over 100 yards rushing. The Baltimore front is picking up confidence while the Steelers face their biggest moment of doubt.

And now a score: Ravens win 24-17

The Steelers will be competitive. You have to remember that this is a game in Pittsburgh and the Ravens have lost to worse teams (cough, cough Miami Dolphins). It’s a Ravens- Steelers game. It’s not going to be easy, especially not in a year where everything is hard.

NEXT POST: Why Ravens fans should actually feel more confident after their ugly win

I think the Ravens defense is coming together. The Ravens just need their quarterback to play true to his talent. If Jackson plays like himself I have much more confidence in the Ravens, even if that means winning in dramatic fashion.


Posted in Pregame Content

Ravens offense: Things we want to see against the Browns

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens are about to host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday Night Football. This is one of the biggest games of the season. It’s a chance to keep the Browns down and hold onto first place in the AFC North. The Ravens have to play the Browns again in Week 14 after playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 13. The Browns get a bye in between their clashes with the Ravens. This one is big and it can’t be overstated.

Stars back, the quarterback protected:

The first thing you want to see for the Baltimore Ravens is the return of Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown. This isn’t a game that the Ravens can get by in without making big plays. The offense can’t leave the defense out to dry. The Browns may be as on and off as the Ravens, but when they’re on they can drop some points on the scoreboard.

The Ravens need more from their pass protection to be better. What was the problem two weeks in a row? Blitzes coming off the edge untouched and unnoticed. This is a game where the Ravens can’t leave Lamar Jackson out to dry, assuming he gets back into the action. This is where the return of Nick Boyle comes in. Protect the right tackle with extra help blocking. Put Boyle in there and have Pat Ricard at the ready.

Myles Garrett has 13 sacks to his name this year and has a case to be the Defensive Player of the Year. The Browns should absolutely send a defensive back after the Ravens’ quarterback in this game, it worked for two teams in a row. The offensive line is outmatched. What does this mean for Greg Roman?

It means it’s not okay to see a lot of looks out of an empty set, taxing your five-man protection. It means that he can’t call a ton of deep shots down the field that doesn’t include safety valves for Jackson underneath. The ball has to come out quick more often than not and that doesn’t mean 50 wide receiver screens.

Run the ball, have some fun with it:

The Ravens need to keep making progress with their run game. Let’s see Devonta Freeman keep picking up some momentum. Let’s see Latavius Murray running fearlessly up the gut as he did against Chicago. We need to see Jackson chip into the run game. The Ravens used to be promised 150 yards on the ground even on a bad day. You can run against this Browns defense. Let’s see the Ravens get back to overpowering their opponent.

This is a game where every bit of creativity from Roman will be appreciated. All season, the Ravens have been using Devin Duvernay in the run game. What if that jet sweep could be used to set up a fairly deadly play-fake? It feels like the Ravens have been setting it up all season and this could be a good game to have it pay off. The Ravens need to pull out all the stops. The last thing Ravens fans will accept is a lack of creativity and inspiration from their play-caller.

More than anything you just want to see the Ravens finish drives. Too often they are stopped to Justin Tucker field goals when the offense looks like it’s about to get going. The offense needs to hone into the moment with no little mistakes. Penalty-free football is next to impossible the way the game is called, but Baltimore can’t beat themselves with stupid things: False starts, delay of game penalties, illegal formations.

Jackson to Andrews:

Again, this article is written in the assumption that we’ll see the Ravens MVP candidate under center on Sunday evening. We have to see Lamar Jackson playing like Lamar Jackson wire to wire. He can’t be off or out of sync at the beginning of this game and look to turn on the jets as the game progresses. He needs to be the number eight that steps into his throws and fires strikes, not the one who misses low, or puts himself in a bad throw because he held the ball too long.

This is a Browns game so it’s all about Mark Andrews. Andrews has had some of his biggest games against the Browns. That needs to continue on Sunday evening. When Jackson is feeling it and the Browns don’t have a way to stop Andrews, good things happen for Baltimore.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Ranking every crazy victory of this insane season

This is going to be a battle. The offensive focus needs to be on three things. First, the play-calls must help the offensive line. Secondly, creativity must unlock some fun in the run game. Finally, the Ravens need Lamar Jackson back and ready to do some damage. Other than one bad day in 2019, Jackson has owned the Browns. He’s their biggest nightmare. He has to be extra scary to the Browns on this game in front of a national audience.

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 Pregame Content

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

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens need to take down the Chicago Bears. It’s imperative that the Baltimore Ravens start taking care of their business, especially against teams with a losing record. The Chicago Bears may be a tough-looking three-win team, but it’s time for the Ravens to start looking like contenders. If the Ravens are for real they have to show up in this game and get the job done. Here are four predictions and a score for the Ravens clash in Chicago.

1. The Baltimore Ravens have an uncharacteristic fast start:

If the Baltimore Ravens are going to come out with a chip on their shoulder and guns blazing at some point, you’d think that this would be a good game to do it. The Ravens had no sense of urgency in their humid battle with the Miami Dolphins. Baltimore was quite nonchalant against the Vikings until they snapped out of it and won in overtime. The trend of slow starts will at the very minimum get the pause button in Week 11.

Look for the Ravens to try to get the run game going early. The Bears give up 122.3 yards of rushing per game. Elijah Mitchell had 137 yards against the Bears when the San Francisco 49ers went to Chicago. In a game where the Buccaneers crushed Chicago, Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II combined for 144 yards. The Packers saw Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon pick up a combined 135. While the Ravens running backs haven’t been overly impressive, they have a viable chance of picking up the pace this week.

The Ravens will feature both Devonta Freeman and their quarterback, Lamar Jackson in the run game. The Ravens will control the football on offense for their first two drives. The payoff will be two touchdowns off a play-off action pass. Let’s give one to Mark Andrews. Let’s give the other one to Rashod Bateman (Which would be his first career touchdown). By getting back to their identity, the Ravens offense will find its groove earlier than usual, in a week where John Harbaugh and the whole city of Baltimore demand it.

2. Justin Fields will gift the Ravens the ball twice:

Justin Fields is an exciting rookie quarterback, yet he has nine interceptions in eight starts. Against the Buccaneers, Fields had three interceptions. Fields has only gone without a pick in four of the nine games this season. The Ravens defense has been doing a lot of things right. The big problem is that this defense is giving up big plays that nullify that impressive effort. The Ravens need to have a get right game by making big plays of their own.

Let’s give the Ravens a turnover on an Odafe Oweh strip-sack in which Fields mistankingly thinks he can outrun Oweh and doesn’t protect the football. Oweh has had four sacks this season and gets in quarterbacks’ faces rather frequently. Let’s give the second turnover to Brandon Stepehns as an interceptions.

3. Justin Tucker will be a huge weapon in the windy city:

Chicago is a notoriously tough place to kick the football. This time of year the ball gets hard in the cold and the wind has an impact on the game. The current forecast has the Ravens picking a good weekedn to go play the bears as it looks like a day just under 50 degrees. As of now, the Ravens are looking at winds at 20 miles per hour.

One way or antoher, this is a road trip the Ravens will asbolutely need Justin Tucker. Let’s give the Ravens three field goals in this game. Let’s say Justin Tucker hits a 56 yard field goal to give Baltimore an extra three points before the half. I’ll give Tucker two other field goals in the second half. Tucker will make sure points come at the end of promising drives gone wrong. This will be a key to this game.

4. Devonta Freeman and Lamar Jackson both run for 100 yards:

Devonta Freeman has started to heat up and he’s established himself as the top running back. With Le’Veon Bell gone and Latavius Murray just coming back from injury, Freeman has a chance to continue to be the main running back featured in this offense. It’s not that crazy that Freeman could have 100 yards on the ground. Freeman had 79 yards rushing on just 13 attempts against the Vikings. So put me down for 100 yards out of Freeman.

Lamarhe Jackson is always a threat to take off and run the football. I’m looking to see a proactive Jackson against the Bears. I don’t expect him to be timid; a frustrated quarterback is about to force the issue. Put Jackson down for a by any means neccesary kind of game. It’s also qute possible that he’ll have to scramble away from Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn creating extra rushing yards. Jackson dealt with a non-Covid illness this week, though he should be squared away to take on the Bears. The Ravens will rush for over 200 yards getting 100 from their emerging top back Freeman, and 100 yards from their MVP quarterback. Book it.

And a score: Baltimore Ravens win 30-24

This is a game on the road against a team with a rookie quarterback who is beginning to figure some things out. Okay, it’s not going to be as easy as Baltimore wants it. That’s the thing though, from here on out there are no more easy games. The level of the opponent can’t continue to matter to the Baltimore Ravens, they have to go out and win football. Baltimore will give you a heart attack once again, but they’ll get back on track with a big win.

MUST READ POST: Ravens vs. Bears: 3 big questions



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.

Posted in Complicated made simple: X's and O's and scouting for all fans

Baltimore Ravens: How to spark run game against the Vikings

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens offense needs to spark the running game and no time is like the present. This can’t be a lingering problem when there are actionable steps to fix the run game. The Baltimore Ravens must reclaim confidence on the ground in their battle with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Ravens oddly enough are a pass-first team. It sounds odd but it’s true. Lamar Jackson has thrown for over 230 yards in every game but one. Mark Andrews at tight end and a good group of receivers are carrying the offensive box score. How can the Ravens finally achieve the balance they’ve been looking for now that their run game is struggling and their passing attack is mostly flourishing?

Open rushing lanes with the passing game:

The first part of this is to realize that the passing game has to open up the run game while subsidizing some of the production. Screen passes and a quick-firing passing game can act much like the run game. It’s a staple concept of the west coast offense. While that’s not the Ravens’ deal, there are elements of the west coast approach that would help the Ravens.

Having more of an underneath passing game would keep Lamar Jackson honest as he tends to ignore his safety valve. Jackson either keeps the football too long or he forces it down the field when a passing play breaks down. The idea however of using this approach is all about getting something extra in the offense. It’s like working at a restaurant, you scrape every extra drop out of those big plastic jars of mayonnaise.

Lamar Jackson is the key to the run game. He’s always made a huge impact on the defense. The Ravens need to use more RPO (Run pass options) and get back to more of the zone-read concepts that Jackson and company have made such a dangerous attack in the past. Surely, the lack of chemistry with the running back fill-ins has factored into everything, but these concepts are a requisite threat when Jackson is the quarterback.

Baltimore Ravens always must lean on Lamar Jackson:

More quarterback runs make sense. Jackson is going to do more damage than 30-year-old running backs seeing lesser results. Jackson is averaging 6.3 yards per rushing attempt. That’s a good way to get the run game going. The running backs are only going to get going to an extent. Accepting that is a key component to understanding the run game as it is.

Jackson had 16 rushing attempts against the Chiefs. That may have been the best the offense functioned the entire season. Winning that game without those rushing attempts would have been a tall order. Jackson won’t always have to tuck the football. He didn’t really have to do much against the Broncos the way his passing was torching Denver. The Detroit Lions got beat by his arm, and the Chargers got beat by the most complete team win of the Ravens’ season.

When Jackson has to turn on the run game by himself, he has to realize it. He also needs to take off more rather than taking sacks he doesn’t need to take. Improvised run plays may be the single greatest danger to the defense, and Jackson is forcing it sometimes as a pocket passer to prove that he can do it. Mr. Jackson – it’s proven, you can take off and make something magical happen with your legs.

Other Factors:

The offensive line is a huge part of this. Say what you want about Tyre Phillips, he may be the answer at left guard. At right tackle, Phillips looks abysmal his heavy footwork is his undoing and he loses leverage a lot. Remember he was the Ravens’ first choice at left guard. He clearly struggles at tackle but if we just accept that he’s a guard he could give the offensive line a boost next to Bradley Bozeman. Down the line, Phillips can move back to guard if the Ravens can find anything better at tackle (Cedric Ogbuehi is that anything better).

Greg Roman needs to be less predictable with his play-calling. The Ravens need to stop with a simple dive play to a running back who doesn’t have much burst in short-yardage situations where the middle of the offensive line is closed for business. Creativity has always been Roman’s calling card. I’m going to go back to the Chiefs game again… What happened to the offensive coordinator who bragged about how many running plays he didn’t even use yet?

The Vikings won’t see Latavius Murray, who is listed as doubtful for the game. This is a good chance to let Devonta Freeman audition for the main spot. How much does he have in him? Go find out already. When the Ravens have had big plays it’s either been Freeman or Ty’Son Williams and Williams has been stuck in John Harbaugh’s doghouse.

Speaking of young running backs, Nate McCrary is sitting on the practice squad. The running back one job was Ty’Son Williams’s job to win at the time the season kicked off. He lost the job, why not see if McCrary, a player who was neck and neck with Williams this preseason, can win the job this year?

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens defense: 3 keys against the Vikings

The run game has to get going. It’s an essential part of the Ravens’ identity and the offense needs to reclaim it. This was an exercise of throwing ideas against the wall to see what could be done. The Vikings and Dolphins present a perfect chance for the Ravens to spark the run game and get back to something they love to do.

Posted in Uncategorized

Meet the new Ravens running back room: It’s basically Plan Z

By Chris Schisler

No more J.K. Dobbins for the Baltimore Ravens. No more Gus Edwards. A completely new running back group. Things changed in a heartbeat, didn’t they? The Ravens running back room now consists of Ty’Son Williams, Le’Veon Bell, Latavius Murray and, Devonta Freeman. Trenton Cannon also figures into the equation but is projected by most pundits as a special teams player. Okay Plan B-Y are essentially gone through. Here’s plan Z.

So what should we think of this make-shift group of running backs? Let’s take a real look at what we can expect from each running back. Here is the one thing going for each of them, and the one thing that works against them the most.

A look at the Ravens running backs:

Ty’Son Williams: What works for him?

What’s working for Williams is that he’s young and he’s got fresh legs. He’s the one running back who hasn’t gotten a chance to shine on the big stage. Monday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders is a big jump up in competition than the third quarter of a preseason game. Williams has a lot of competition, though he’s the only one with untapped potential. At this point in their careers, Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman can’t be workhorses for the offense.

This is essentially the Suicide Squad of running backs. These are mostly second chance running backs, who didn’t have options and are relatively expendable. Bell can potentially work his way up to stardom, he’s definitely the Blood Sport of this group (Or DeadShot, depending on which version you want to use with this analogy). The point is that in the group of cheap replacements, Williams is the cheapest. He’s on his first contract as an undrafted free agent. The Ravens can run him into the ground if they have to, and they may have to.

What works against Williams? 

The thing that works against Williams is that he’s so inexperienced. We may not know what his counterparts have left in the tank, but they are known commodities. When it comes to the little things it could be his downfall. Pass blocking, route running out of the backfield, and becoming one with this offense are all things that could potentially be hiccups for him.

Le’Veon Bell: What works for him with the Ravens?

What is working for Bell is that he’s a really good pass catcher. This is a running back that has caught 394 passes in the NFL. Do all of the running backs have the ability to be receivers out of the backfield? Sure, some more than others. Bell has a track record for doing it the best. If Bell gets back to the player he was (Or even gets 50-75% there) he’s going to be the most versatile and dynamic back on the roster.

Bell may have skipped the entire 2018 season. Bell may have been on a downward trajectory that started with a bad New York Jets team, but he was a superstar half a decade ago. The Ravens can bring him some stability and this could be the fresh start he’s needed for a while. There’s an idea going around that if anybody can get something out of Bell it’s Baltimore. I think that’s true.

What works against Bell? 

Bell’s running style is well documented and it’s not what the Ravens do. The whole stand behind the line of scrimmage and watch the blocks unfold thing isn’t going to work for the Ravens. Bell probably will adjust. The Ravens probably told him he has to. That’s something to keep an eye on. This marriage isn’t built on a perfect match but on necessity. Bell has to stop a slide down in his career. Things have been going the wrong way. Slides down the hill are hard to stop. Climbing back up is hard too, so there’s a concern here. Cautious optimism is a good thing to have will Bell.

Latavius Murray: What works for him?

The good news for Murray is that he’s put up decent numbers for a complementary running back for the most part of his career. In the last two seasons, Murray had over 600 yards and averaged over four yards per rushing attempt. Murray is a huge running back. Is he Gus “The Bus”? No. Is he someone that a linebacker really wants to tackle when there’s a full head of steam? Nope. Murray could be the best fit. He’s basically still what he’s always been. He’s a running back who can chip into a running back rotation. He didn’t look good in the preseason and the Saints asked him to take a pay cut. He’s not a star, but if the Ravens call on him, this can legitimately work out.

What works against Murray? 

What works against Murray is that he’s not overly explosive. He’s 31 years old, and the Ravens have to see how much is left in the tank. With Murray, you’re getting a player that fits with the Ravens, but the ceiling may be lower for him than Bell. The ceiling could be lower for him than Williams, who has a real chance for a breakout year.

Devonta Freeman: What works for him?

Freeman is a good pass catcher of the football and is a player that could work in the one cut-and-go offense of the Ravens. Freeman stylistically may even fit the best out of all the running backs. So what’s the catch?

What works against Freeman? 

Freeman is coming off a year with the Giants where he didn’t factor into the equation much. He only played in four games and he didn’t look great in that small sample size. Back in the day he was one of the better running backs in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons.

Next Post: Baltimore Ravens: Moving forward after Marcus Peters injury

The problem is that he’s less exciting than Bell and Williams as a pass-catching running back. On top of that, it seems like he was just signed because he was available and the Ravens needed to act quickly.


Posted in NFL News

More Ravens injuries are sobering: Next man up starts early

By Chris Schisler

The bad news cloud that loomed over the Baltimore Ravens preseason isn’t done doing its thing. According to reports both Gus Edwards and Marcus Peters were injured in practice. We have to wait to see how bad it is for both players. What we do know is that it doesn’t look good. The whole “Next Man Up” thing is soberingly starting now.

The Ravens are also starting the season with Rashod Bateman on injured reserve. They’re not only waiting for the return of their first-round pick at wide receiver, but also Nick Boyle and Jimmy Smith. The bad news cloud puts a ton of pressure on Lamar Jackson.

Without Dobbins and Edwards, the Ravens are completely improvising at the running back position. When Dobbins went down it elevated the importance of Edwards and created a plan B. After Justice Hill went down and three other running backs were signed, John Harbaugh and company are completely winging it at the running back position.

Running back improv for the Baltimore Ravens

The good news is that running back is the most replaceable position group and Greg Roman’s offense doesn’t require the best back in the business. The bad news is that a team that already had pressure to fix the passing attack, is going to have to get even more out of the passing game than they thought. Jackson has to carry this team, especially at the beginning of the season. There’s no getting around that.

The Ravens came into the preseason with the best one-two punch at the running back position. Now Ty’Son Williams is your starting running back. A 2020 undrafted free agent, who made the team after bouncing onto the scene in preseason play. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Devonta Freeman signed with the Ravens. Who had Williams, Bell, and Freeman as the running back trio in Baltimore this season?

Williams was supposed to compliment Edwards. Now he’s replacing him. Le’Veon Bell has to exceed expectations. What was a low-risk signing is now one with real stakes. This has to work out. With Freeman, the Ravens need to see how much is left in the tank. Bell might just have some of his prime to get back to, while Freeman is well past his.

Losing Marcus Peters is harder to deal with:

The Ravens may have enough to get by at the running back position. This isn’t a game, set, match situation for the offense. There’s actually plenty of room for optimism with an MVP quarterback. This is tough and yet survivable. The big problem is replacing Marcus Peters. That’s because nobody really “replaces” Peters.

A combination of Jimmy Smith (When healthy) and Anthony Averett will fill in for Peters on the outside opposite Marlon Humphrey. Chris Westry could also play boundary corner some as well. The Ravens just lost the best combo at cornerback in football. They have some options. None of them replace the most instinctive cornerback in the game. Peters was next level in anticipation and the Ravens surely lost some potential interceptions.

Now the injury histories of Smith and also of Tavon Young can start to make you nervous. The Ravens have the depth to deal with this kind of news better than most teams do. This is early to call on their depth. That’s an issue.

The safety play also has to be better now. Peters and Humphrey in tandem took a lot of the plate of the backend defenders. More could leak through now, and the safeties have to be ready for it. The Ravens lost an elite cornerback. They can put another player in his place, but losing Peters is bad. It changes the defensive game plan for Martindale.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens Three Big Questions About The Special Teams

If you’re bummed out just know that the whole Ravens Flock is. If you think the season is over, however, get a grip. There’s still plenty of positives. The Ravens have a game in just four days. Getting an impressive win over the Las Vegas Raiders can settle down the internal screaming and panic the Ravens Flock is going through. Adversity found the Ravens early. Now they have to deal with it and win.


Posted in NFL News

Baltimore Ravens in need of another running back

By Chris Schisler

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Justice Hill has been lost for the season with a torn Achilles. The Ravens are now in need of a running back, and there are under 10 days until they take on the Las Vegas Raiders to start the season.

If you’re thinking about Nate McCrary, the Ravens cut him and now he’s with the Denver Broncos. Baltimore went from having a surplus of talent at the running back position to just having two running backs they can turn to after the injuries of Dobbins and Hill. The good news is that Gus Edwards is one of those picks. The only other running back on the roster is an undrafted free agent from 2020.

We’ve spent all offseason talking about Todd Gurley. He’s obviously still on the table.

Logistically, the Ravens absolutely have to acquire a third running back. According to a tweet from The Athletics Jeff Zrebiec, the Ravens have worked out Le’Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman and, Elijah Holyfield.

Let’s take a look at these options for the Baltimore Ravens:

Bell has seemingly been linked to the Ravens forever. At this point, fans can be highly skeptical that this would be the time to bring in Bell. If the Ravens wanted Bell they could have had him twice. Bell had a disappointing stint with the New York Jets and didn’t work out well with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Is Bell even a scheme fit for the Ravens. Bell is known for a patient running style where he’ll dance around a bit and feel out his way through the offensive line. If there’s one thing, Gus Edwards, Ty’Son Williams and, Justice Hill all had in common it’s that they aggressively hit the point of attack. At this point, the Ravens could pay Bell like a number three running back, yet he’d have to be deemed a scheme fit. The Ravens would also need to decide if he’s worth the headache they’ve never seemed interested in having.

If this was 2016 or 2017, Freeman would look like a very appealing option. Freeman was with the Giants last year and only played in five games. He averaged 3.2 yards per rushing attempt. Back in the day, he was a reliable running back good for at least four yards per carry and a good showing as a pass-catcher. There’s just no reason to think the previous version of Freeman’s game lives in him.

With Holyfield, the Ravens would have to know something that I don’t. He’s only played in one game in the NFL, on top of that he has no stats to speak of. Could he work out? Sure. I’m not familiar enough with him to have much of an opinion one way or the other.

Frank Gore is still playing…

Frank Gore is another option. He’s 38 years old, and he should probably retire, yet he’s an option. Gore isn’t as explosive as he used to be. What you get is a versatile back who can block and catch passes. What you get is a dependable player who will at least give you a solid performance. Gore had 653 yards last year with the Jets and just under 600 yards with the Bills in 2019.

One thing to note about Gore is that he’s tough as nails and he’s a great source of veteran leadership. Gore had 12 straight seasons with over 200 rushing attempts in the NFL. He’s able to take more of a beating than most people on the planet. As a serviceable third running back, he wouldn’t have to do too much but would prevent Edwards from having to take on an unviable and unfair workload.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Las Vegas Raiders: 5 predictions and a score

The options at this point aren’t great for the Baltimore Ravens as they try to find a third running back for their roster. Running back has become the thinnest spot on the roster, and that’s a big deal for what is still expected to be the most run-oriented team in the NFL.