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 Hot Take of the Week

Baltimore Ravens 2021 1st round is looking like a smash hit right now

By Chris Schisler

Can we stop for a second and just gush over the Baltimore Ravens’ first-round selections of the 2021 NFL Draft? Rashod Bateman and Odafe Oweh both look the part of a first-round pick.

Baltimore Ravens loving what Rashod Bateman brings:

Rashod Bateman was the 27th overall pick. Ravens fans had to wait for Bateman to make his mark as a groin injury prevented him from suiting up until the game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The rookie from Minnesota has had at least three catches each week. He has 25 receptions for 301 yards and averages 12 yards per catch.

Bateman has been a consistent first-down provider for the offense. While he’s still waiting for his first touchdown, he’s shown off. Unfortunately, Bateman has had his biggest statistical production in bad games for Baltimore. In the loss to the Cinncinatti Bengals Bateman reached 80 yards on just three catches. Bateman got to the 80-yard mark against the Dolphins on six receptions.

Bateman has shown off great hands. Other than a pass being intercepted off his hands in the game against the Chargers, there’s been nothing to complain about with his catching ability. He’s been staging the football out of the air like his life depends on it. Bateman has shown impressive speed and his quickness coming out of breaks has surprised more than one of the opposing cornerbacks tasked with staying on top of him.

The Baltimore Ravens have just six games remaining. If Bateman appears in each game he’ll have a 12 game rookie season. If Bateman simply doubles his production from his first six games he’ll have 50 receptions for 602 yards. That would put him just over the marks set by Marquise Brown in his rookie campaign. In 2019 Brown had 46 grabs for 584 yards, though he did score seven touchdowns.

When you think of it with that perspective, you have to be pleased with Bateman. You couldn’t have realistically asked for much more of an impact out of a rookie receiver who missed the first five games of the season.

Odafe Oweh is putting on a show:

Odafe Oweh has played well this season. He’s getting off the edge quickly and is strong in run defense. Oweh has played a lot of snaps as a rookie edge rusher. Five sacks and three forced fumbles is a nice start. He’s literally responsible for the two takeaways that allowed the Ravens to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the second week of the season.

When the Ravens spent the 31st overall pick on Oweh there was a lot of skepticism about the move. Picking him in the first round essentially meant that the Ravens needed him to be a starter at outside linebacker. They needed this pick to work out for their defensive offseason plan to really come into fruition. It worked.

When you consider that Oweh has been the difference between a win and a loss already, and he’s a consistent key figure of the defense, you have to be impressed. What Eric DeCosta pulled off here was finding a difference-maker near the end of the first round. Oweh probably won’t win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award (His Penn State teammate Micah Parsons, is probably the front runner). Still, Oweh is easily the steal of the NFL Draft, at least when it comes to the defensive players.

Baltimore Ravens bottom line:

When you consider what the Ravens did in the 2021 NFL Draft, Eric DeCosta has to come out favorably. His grade for this draft class needs to be near an A at the minimum. When you add in the fact that third-round pick, Brandon Stephens is having an impact in the secondary, it has to help the grade of this draft class.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Top concerns against Pittsburgh Steelers


Posted in Pregame Content

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

By Chris Schisler

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

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

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

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

Not all bad news:

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Ravens bottom line:

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

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

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

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

Posted in 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 Hot Take of the Week

How did the Baltimore Ravens become the comeback masters?

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens spent the 2020 season hearing that they couldn’t mount a comeback. Then they overcame a 10 point deficit against the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs, showing that Lamar Jackson and company were capable of the feat. The offseason leading to the 2021 season was filled with questions. Could the Ravens be a more resilient team? Could they get the passing game going when they needed to? The question was simply can the Ravens beat you in multiple ways?

The 2021 Ravens have become the masters of the NFL comeback victory. They were down 35-24 against the Kansas City Chiefs and won 36-35. They trailed the Indianapolis Colts 25-9 and won 31-25 in overtime. This past Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens did it again. They came back from a 24-10 deficit to the Minnesota Vikings and won 34-31 in overtime. How did this happen?

Lamar Jackson is the start of every Baltimore Ravens comeback:

The Baltimore Ravens were forced to adapt this year. Losing their star running backs before the season even kicked off forced the Ravens to get more out of the passing game. Lamar Jackson already has 2,209 yards passing this season. In the entire 2020 season, Jackson had just 2,757 yards. He’s on pace to blow past his 2020 season, and even his MVP campaign in 2019.

Jackson has been the key to the comebacks. Against the Colts he had to light up the box score. He turned on the jets and threw for more passing yards in one game than any Ravens quarterback ever had. We’re talking 442 passing yards and 62 rushing yards. Jackson put the team on his back and put up over 500 yards of offense. How is that even possible?

Against the Chiefs, Jackson had 239 yards passing and 107 yards on the ground. Against the Vikings, Jackson had 266 yards passing and 120 on the ground. Jackson doesn’t panic, instead something kicks into his system and he turns things around. He does what ever it takes, he finds a new focus, he uses his legs to make things happen and he takes shots with his arm. This year when Jackson’s back is up against the wall he finds a higher level of play.

The entire team is sparked by Jackson. The reason Jackson should win the NFL MVP is because the Ravens have a chance to win every game and without him that wouldn’t be the case. The offense finds big plays the second Jackson wakes up and starts the comeback with a huge throw or an attack mode quarterback keeper. The defense finds it’s backbone and comes up with big stops when Jackson’s actions legitimize the Baltimore comeback attempt. You can feel it. When Jackson flips the switch, it’s a brand new team.

The emergence of a number one receiver:

One of the reasons the Baltimore passing game struggled in the past in these types of games is that there was a lack of reliability at the pass catching positions. Drops were a huge issue, espesically in the 2020 season. Outside of the one game (Vs. the Detroit Lions) the Baltimore receivers have been incredibly sure handed. Crazy touchdown grabs like Devin Duvernay‘s against the Vikings weren’t in the cards before.

Marquise Brown has become a number one receiver. It’s not an opinion, it’s a verifiable fact at this point. Brown already has 46 receptions for 682 yards. Should the Oklahoma product stay healthy, a 1,000 yard season is on the way.

Brown has had at least three receptions in every game and in the comeback missions he’s been unstoppable. Against the Chiefs he had six receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown. Indianapolis got rocked by his nine catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings let up another nine receptions for 116 yards. This is a Tyreek Hill or Devante Adams level of performance. Baltimore has a homegrown playmaker who has come into his own.

Sure hands and a newly potent passing game:

Mark Andrews has been just as big a part of it all. This is by far the best Andrews has played (and he was already a top-tier tight end. Andrews had 11 receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. Andrews and Brown give the Ravens two big play threats at all times. Rashod Bateman has been back for three games and it’s clear that he has the big play potential as well.

When you add the sure hands of James Proche and Devin Duvernay, everything becomes possible when Lamar Jackson catches fire. You have a lot of secure places to go with the football, a lot of players for the defense to worry about, while they have to stop the best dual-threat at quarterback we may have ever seen in number eight.

It’s almost like it’s been the past few years with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, you don’t want the Ravens to have to be in attack mode. That’s where all that talent can turn things into overdrive. John Harbaugh isn’t shy about going for it on fourth down, and his aggressiveness can pay off when the Ravens are in these tough spots.

Turning on the lightswitch, flipping the script on defense:

The Ravens are very much a hit or miss team. They’re either hot or they’re cold and that applies on both sides of the football. The magic for the Ravens is that they seem to know how to flip the switch. Would it be nice for the Baltimore Ravens to be consistent? Yes. Would it be nice if they didn’t need a wake up call from time to time? Of course. That being said, the fact that they can be so resilient and can change the momentum of the game is encouraging.

Defense is a big part of achieving a come-from-behind victory. If you can’t get stops, you can’t catchup to the other team. Don Martindale has been at his best when he’s had to figure out how to clamp down on the opponent in the fourth quarter and at key spots. Against the Chiefs he found the wrinkle that forced Patrick Mahomes into turnovers. The defense tightened up against the Colts. Without a stop on a sudden change of possesion, the Baltimore defense would have been responsible for an overtime loss against the Vikings.

Calling the Ravens a good defense seems fairly irresponsible. The Ravens give up a ton of big plays. The one thing the Ravens defense has been is opportunistic. In the big moments they’ve either found a turnover or a stop they’ve needed. The loss to the Bengals was the excpetion to the rule, every other time the Ravens have been pushed this season, they’ve found a way to make things interesting.

The Bottom Line for the Baltimore Ravens:

The Baltimore Ravens are the best comeback team in the NFL this season. They’ve made it more difficult than it has to be. The thrilling victories are incredible. While the Ravens have to work on a more sustainable route to wins, they must be credited for being the cardiac birds. They can do in pressure moments. They’re never out of a game. This isn’t the same old Ravens’ team. They can find a way to win no almost no matter what.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens wise not to force it at trade deadline

The Baltimore Ravens are in first place in the AFC North. If they take care of buisness in the games they should win, Baltimore should be in the playoffs. That’s an exciting prospect for a team you can’t count out with a quarterback who has been remarkable when the odds are against him.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens vs. Minnesota Vikings: 4 predictions and a score

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday and they better win because it’s the day before my birthday. That’s not actually why they better win, but for me, it works. Getting serious for a bit, let’s talk about this game. Here are four predictions and a score for the purple-on-purple crime that is Ravens vs. Vikings.

1. Lamar Jackson has 400 total yards

The Baltimore Ravens have to realize that they have five wins for one specific reason. It’s Lamar Jackson is the MVP of the NFL. Jackson is the key to everything and he’s going to take center stage against the Vikings. Lamar Jackson is the hardest worker at the quarterback position and he’s had an extra week to stew on a loss. This means he’s going to come out ready. I expect Jackson to be on his A-game. This is how he operates. When he thinks he has to turn on the jets, he does it.

The Minnesota Vikings don’t have the strongest defense in the NFL. The Vikings give up 367 yards per game. They give up an average of 246.1 yards per contest. Jackson has thrown for over 230 yards in all but one game this season.

Let’s say he has 300 passing yards on Sunday. Let’s give him 100 yards on the ground. Remember Sam Darnold picked up 48 rushing yards against Minnesota earlier this season. Jackson can double that and he doesn’t need much help from the Vikings’ defense. In a game where Kyler Murray didn’t have to really run the football because he had 400 yards in the air, Murray had 31 yards on the ground. I expect Jackson to be feeling it on Sunday. When Jackson brings his A-game he’s good for 60 rushing yards at a minimum. Give him 100.

2. Rashod Bateman takes over

The Ravens have a lot of matchup problems for the opponent. It’s a sentence that was once just a dream, but now it’s a reality. The Ravens have Marquise Brown playing like a number one wide receiver. They have Mark Andrews playing like the best tight end in the NFL. Say what you want about Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and even Josh Oliver, but they all have skills that can get them chances to catch the football. The defense has a lot to worry about.

Rashod Bateman could emerge as the third weapon that defenses have to make a priority. Bateman has an incredible opportunity with all the attention rightfully going to Brown and Andrews and a passing game that attacks the whole field. It is also worth noting that Sammy Watkins hasn’t fully recovered from his injury. Bateman could have a real breakout game. If he does it’s going to break the Vikings’ defense.

Bateman had three receptions for 80 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals. Two things are true of Bateman’s start to his NFL career. First, when he gets called on it usually goes well. Secondly, he gets targets because he’s winning off the line and he’s creating separation with good route running. He could be the X-Factor in every game moving forward. Let’s put him down for six receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns. That sounds fun and it’s a situation that could help towards those lofty numbers.

3. The Ravens bend but don’t break

Don Martindale is going to have to adjust his defensive game plan. Overall, what the Ravens have been doing isn’t working and Baltimore ranks last in passing defense. To quote the bad boss with grey hair in the Christmas movie Elif “That does not happen!”

Martindale will still lean towards being aggressive. He just has to realize that this defense can’t keep getting gashed. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thelin are going to get some tough completions that will extend drives for the Vikings. If you thought Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins were hard to do battle with, just wait for this week. With the matchup favoring the Vikings’ receivers more than the Ravens’ defensive backs, Martindale will simply try to keep everything in front of the defense.

Ultimately the biggest problem for the Vikings will be the Ravens putting points on the board. If the defense isn’t perfect it’s going to be okay, because the offense is going to rock it. The defense just has to play a solid game and not break when it matters most.

4. The Ravens run game gets back on track

If Lamar Jackson has 100 yards on the ground it will be a big boost for the run game overall. If the Vikings have trouble covering the Ravens’ weapons, they’ll be unable to commit extra bodies for run defense. Should the Ravens run up the score, they’re going to run the ball more. A lot of things point in a positive direction for the run game.

Baltimore Ravens win 41-24

I have a strong feeling about this game. It can go one way or the other and it’s on the Ravens to make the right decision. My confidence in John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson has me feeling a Ravens win. Let’s see a ticked-off Ravens team that’s done some soul searching get the win.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Top 10 positives at the bye

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: Top 10 positives at the bye

By Chris Schisler 

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

10. Rashod Bateman looks the part

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

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

9. The Hollywood Brown ascension:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Odafe Oweh has been an impact player

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

6. Calais Campbell is a consistent rock

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

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

5. Special Teams has been a strength

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

4. Found a way in some close games

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

3. The team has shown flashes of something greater

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

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

2. Lamar Jackson… Wow!

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

1. Playoff chances are still good: 

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

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

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

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 4 predictions and a score

By Chris Schisler

1. The Baltimore Ravens defense stays hot

The Baltimore Ravens defense has a good chance to stay hot and pick up some momentum. Last week the Ravens stood tall against Justin Herbert. The only score the Chargers had was a touchdown right after a Ravens’ turnover. The Ravens showed their best defensive performance of the season. It was the first time the defense showed that it could be dominant against a top-tier opponent.

If you’ve been paying attention though, this was not the first time the defense has shown steps forward. The Broncos’ passing attack was absolutely thwarted by the Baltimore defense. The Lions’ offense struggled until the dam broke against a Ravens defense that was thinned out on the defensive front. The Ravens stopped the Kansas City Chiefs when they had to for a strong comeback win. The Chargers game looked like an example of a defense finding its identity and sticking with it.

The Cincinnati Bengals offense isn’t much different than that of the Chargers. They have an impressive young wide receiver and plenty of talent at wide receiver. The Ravens should be able to utilize a very similar game plan on defense against the Bengals. Joe Burrow may put up some decent numbers, but Martindale is going to make third downs a bad place for the Bengals to be. The red zone is going to be quite the challenge for Cincinnati. The Bengals may get the defense to bend, but they’re not going to break it. I’m calling it now, the Bengals are held to less than 300 total yards and struggle to get in the end zone more than once or twice.

2. Mark Andrews has a monster game:

The Ravens and Bengals play twice per season, so some matchups are more predictable than others. In the two games last year Andrews put up 10 receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. In 2019, Andrews had six catches in both games. In the first of the 2019 battles with Cincinnati, Andrews had two touchdowns. In the second, Andrews had no touchdowns but 99 yards receiving. Andrews hasn’t brutalized the Bengals quite like he has the other team from Ohio, but he always shows up in these games.

Let’s take a look at the momentum Andrews is having going into this game. He has two games this season with over 100 receiving yards. Two weeks ago against the Colts, he had 11 receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Last week, Andrews had five receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals have a mostly young defense and no answers for Andrews. Put Andrews down for eight receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

3. Rashod Bateman gets heavily involved in the Baltimore Ravens offense:

Rashod Bateman had four receptions for first downs against the Chargers. It was his first taste of football in a Ravens uniform. Other than a drop that led to an interception, it went well. The fact that the Ravens gave Bateman so many snaps in his first game shows you both how ready he was but also how the Ravens feel about him as a receiver. It’s important to remember that Devin Duvernay and James Proche have been playing well – the Ravens didn’t necessarily need to add Bateman to the main mix.

Put Bateman down for five receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown. It’s not a monster game but it’s going to put on quite the impression on the football world. Bateman is going to show that he is the real deal and that his presence makes the Ravens more dangerous offensively.

Score: Ravens win 35-24

The Ravens’ offense is humming at a nice rate. They know what they’re about and Lamar Jackson makes a lot of things work smoother than maybe they should. With the defense filling me with confidence last week, I think the Ravens prevail by more than one score in front of their home crowd.

NEXT POST: The Baltimore Ravens and the year of incredible resilience

Look for the Bengals to make this a good game for two or three quarters. In the end, the Ravens are the best fourth-quarter team in football plus they’re the better overall team at home. Baltimore will pull away and win this one. This strikes me as a team that will take advantage of the games they should win.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

7 Baltimore Ravens lessons from huge win over the Chargers

By Chris Schisler

1. The Baltimore Ravens are one of the best teams in football:

The Baltimore Ravens beat the Los Angeles Chargers. In theory, anything can happen on any given Sunday. This wasn’t a fluke though, the Ravens came in ready and rolled over the Chargers. The Ravens haven’t lost since week 1.

They’ve done this with no less than 13 players on injured reserve. They lost J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Marcus Peters. They lost L.J. Fort and have been playing without Ronnie Stanley and Nick Boyle. The Ravens have been exceeding expectations with enough adversity for two seasons. This is insanely impressive.

The Ravens came into this game needing to make a statement. They needed a win that didn’t come down to a comeback or a heart-pounding finish. They needed to beat a quality opponent in a convincing fashion. The Ravens just showed how good they can be. This was the best all-around game for the Ravens.

2. Don Martindale knows what he’s doing:

Defensive coordinator, Don Martindale held the Chargers to just one touchdown. That touchdown was basically a gift after a Ravens turnover. Justin Herbert had a lot of trouble against Martindale’s defense. The Ravens were aggressive and disrupted the timing of the Chargers’ passing game.

Herbert couldn’t rely on his first read. The Ravens knew that they couldn’t sit back and try to cover everybody. Martindale knew he had to force the issue. This was a masterfully called game and the players stepped up.

3. The Baltimore Ravens run game isn’t dead:

The Baltimore Ravens can run the ball after all. This week saw positive production from Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray. The Chargers showed a lot of respect for Lamar Jackson as a passer. It led to the run game stepping up. The run blocking was much improved and everything was a bit smoother. The Ravens rushed for 187 yards and Jackson only pitched in 51 of those yards. This offense will keep you honest and can dictate how they beat you by the poison you choose.

4. Rashod Bateman has the goods:

Rashod Bateman had a dropped pass that led to an interception. It happens. We certainly saw more positives than negatives from the rookie wide receiver. Bateman came into this game with essentially no expectations because it was week six and he’s just getting into the action. Four catches and four first downs make a nice start to your NFL career, I don’t care who you are. Bateman looked the part. After a small sample size, it’s definitely going to be exciting to see more.

5. The Baltimore Ravens have an impact play secondary:

The Ravens defense has a lot of exciting pieces. This may have been the best game that DeShon Elliott has played with the Ravens. He had three tackles, a sack, and an interception. Brandon Stephens was incredibly impressive. After his only bad game of the season, Anthony Averett played a nearly flawless game. Justin Herbert tested Marlon Humphrey and Humphrey won. Chuck Clark had a strong day as well and tipped the pass on the first third-down stop.

6. Devin Duvernay is going to be a weekly factor

Devin Duvernay made an impact on offense and on special teams. As a kick-off return specialist, he had two kickoffs for 70 yards. He started the second half with a long kickoff return. Duvernay was great on punt returns as well. He had three returns and averaged 14.7 yards per return. Add 15 rushing yards on offense and an 11-yard reception and you have a solid day for a young role player at receiver. If Duvernay continues to play with confidence, he’s going to be an underrated impact player on a weekly basis.

7. Patrick Queen may be able to turn things around

Patrick Queen has had a rough season. Before getting hurt in this game he was off to a great start in this game. Queen did return to the game and he played his best game of the season overall. With Queen, it comes down to him playing fundamentally sound football. If he reads his keys and stays out of the trash he has the athletic ability to be a big play-maker. This was a step in the right direction for the struggling linebacker.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens crush the Chargers and put the AFC on notice

There you have it. There are seven lessons from the Ravens win over the Chargers. What a week this was for Ravens Football!

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

Baltimore Ravens: Projecting 53 man roster after 2 preseason games

By Chris Schisler

  • Editor’s Note: This article has been updated

The Baltimore Ravens are undefeated in the preseason so far, and it’s a testament to their roster’s depth. Let’s take a look at what I project to be the 53 man roster. Evaluation is a subjective thing. This is a blend of what I would do and what I think the Ravens will do. With that in mind, this is my first crack at making the 53 man roster.


  1. Lamar Jackson
  2. Tyler Huntley

This is a two-quarterback kind of year for the  Baltimore Ravens. They have been keeping three quarterbacks. Once Trace McSorley gets healthy they can call him up from the practice squad if they absolutely must. Here you have an MVP quarterback and a backup who can run the same style of offense. This is a good situation, especially considering that Huntley will only get better with experience.

Running back/Fullback

  1. J.K. Dobbins
  2. Gus Edwards
  3. Ty’Son Williams
  4. Pat Ricard

You may be surprised that Ben Mason isn’t on here. The Ravens can probably stash him away on the practice squad. That pick seems like a contingency if the Ravens can’t re-sign Ricard. I have Ty’Son Williams stealing Justice Hill‘s job here. Williams has been the most impressive back in the preseason. Hill is dealing with an ankle injury. Everything lined up for Williams to be the third running back.

Tight End:

  1. Mark Andrews
  2. Nick Boyle
  3. Josh Oliver

This is a self-explanatory position. Mark Andrews is a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end. Once he returns, Nick Boyle is the most elite blocking tight end in the NFL. Josh Oliver gets the nod at the third tight end spot in my estimation. The fact is that he’s gotten the most work in the preseason from the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens want to test him because they want him to win the job. Oliver has prototypical size and athleticism. I think he gives you enough blocking to beat out Eric Tomlinson for the third tight-end spot. Eli Wolfe is a great candidate for the practice squad.

Wide Receiver:

  1. Marquise Brown
  2. Sammy Watkins
  3. Rashod Bateman
  4. Devin Duvernay
  5. Tylan Wallace
  6. James Proche

Most of the preseason talk was about Miles Boykin. Boykin hasn’t played in the preseason due to a hamstring injury. The Ravens are probably best off putting him on injured reserve. It’s almost a deferment of a decision. I decided to keep Bateman on the week 1 roster. Assuming the Ravens want him back as soon as possible, IR may be something the Ravens try to avoid with him.

We all kind of knew that the Ravens weren’t going to keep Binjamen Victor or Jaylon Moore. The question all along was if the Ravens keep six or seven receivers. With the surplus of talent the Ravens have at defensive back, they needed the room and seven was out of the question. In the scenario where you can basically take Miles Boykin out of the decision, these are the clear six.

We haven’t seen a ton from James Proche in the preseason. He’s had a strong training camp though. He offers some special teams versatility and he catches the ball when it’s thrown to him. That’s enough to get him a job in the regular season.

Offensive Line

  1. Ronnie Stanley
  2. Ben Cleveland
  3. Bradley Bozeman
  4. Kevin Zeitler
  5. Alejandro Villanueva
  6. Tyre Phillips
  7. Ben Powers
  8. Ben Bredeson
  9. Patrick Mekari

Offensive tackle depth is bleak here. The Ravens knew that was going to be a problem one way or the other. If the Ravens kept Michael Scolfield or Adrian Ealy, they aren’t fixing that problem. The nine offensive linemen here are your best players. This was one of the hardest position groups to project. We’ve seen so many combinations along the offensive line throughout camp, and a lot of the competition at guard and center is pretty even.

Trystan Colon was the odd man out here. I originally had 10 offensive linemen, but I couldn’t make the roster math work. The Ravens have multiple options at center even without Colon. This is why roster math is a cruel practice.

Defensive Line

  1. Brandon Williams
  2. Calais Campbell
  3. Derek Wolfe
  4. Justin Madubuike
  5. Broderick Washington
  6. Justin Ellis

I don’t really have to write about the starting three right? You know what they bring to the table and there was no decision to be made there. Justin Madubuike was a lock as well, Broderick Washington and Justin Ellis are fairly interchangeable, however, Washington is more of a nose guard than a defensive end. Washington could play a role very similar to a young Michael Pierce.

Ellis is a solid veteran. With Ellis, you probably aren’t getting big plays but he’ll have some tackles and he’ll chew up some space. Overall this is a good group for a 3-4 team. If Madubuike and Washington have breakout seasons, this could be a great group.

Outside Linebacker

  1. Justin Houston
  2. Tyus Bowser
  3. Odafe Oweh
  4. Daelin Hayes
  5. Jaylon Ferguson
  6. Pernell McPhee

Jaylon Ferguson makes the cut here. Ferguson has been impressive in the preseason. He’s always looked the part, but he’s shown growth as an outside linebacker. It’s too early to give up on him and the Ravens need three players who can rotate on the edge. Pernell McPhee adds to the run defense.  Houston and Bowser should be your starters. They’re the most versatile and experienced. Oweh and Hayes have looked great in the preseason. They’re surely rookies to be excited for.

Inside Linebacker

  1. Patrick Queen
  2. Malik Harrison
  3. Chris Board

With L.J. Fort being injured in the preseason battle against the Panthers, it leaves the Baltimore Ravens a little short at this position. At linebacker, it really boiled down to Kristian Welch vs. Jaylon Ferguson. The Ravens have a nice young nucleus at inside linebacker. The Ravens’ extra defensive backs will allow them to have almost an extra linebacker in sub-packages.

The team can get by with three inside linebackers. Fort would have made the roster if he was healthy and he could always return. It’s important to remember the 53 man roster is something you can edit over the season. The goal is to go into the season opener with the best combination of 53 players for the Baltimore Ravens.


  1. Marlon Humphrey
  2. Marcus Peters
  3. Jimmy Smith
  4. Tavon Young
  5. Anthony Averett
  6. Shaun Wade
  7. Chris Westry

This was the one preseason where the Ravens should be reluctant to cut any of their defensive backs. While some are better than others, there isn’t a bad player in the group. It’s kind of amazing. You can never have enough good defensive backs and the Ravens almost kind of do.

If you would have told me at the beginning of camp I would have Chris Westry on this list, I wouldn’t have believed you. This is the value of getting to see preseason games. Players stand out and impress you, pass the eye test and give themselves a chance. That’s what Westry has done. He’s a good cover corner and I couldn’t cut him.


  1. DeShon Elliott
  2. Chuck Clark
  3. Brandon Stephens
  4. Geno Stone

Everything I just said about cornerbacks I could say about safeties. Defensive back-wise, this team is loaded. Geno Stone had two interceptions in the first preseason game and has impressed all through camp. His advantage is that the Ravens saw potential in him, drafted him, and now they’re starting to see that they were right. Teams love being right and that helps his cause.

Washington is an undrafted free agent. He’s a player I ended up with on the cutting block. If that’s the case the Ravens better get him on the practice squad. Washington is such a fast and twitchy player. I love the way he plays and I want to see him get a chance to grow up with the Ravens. I listed Stephens as a safety, he can play either position.

Cutting Nigel Warrior was a tough call. It’s not a cut I was happy about. Roster math is rough. Warrior played fantastic football against the Panthers. Anthony Levine Sr. has been with the Ravens since 2012. Cutting him hurts the heart. There is just such a powerful youth movement at the defensive back positions. Levine offers value mostly on special teams and being a wise veteran. There’s too much talent in front of him this year.


  1. Justin Tucker
  2. Sam Koch
  3. Nick Moore

The best kicker of all time, the longest-tenured Raven, and a new long snapper walk onto the field… the kick is up, the kick is good.

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

When the Ravens make their final cuts, it will be interesting to see how accurate this projection is. It’s subjective because we’re talking about evaluation. My evaluations may differ from the coaching staff at a couple of points.