Posted in Ravens Thoughts

6 Baltimore Ravens lessons from win over the Broncos

By Chris Schisler

1. The Baltimore Ravens passing game can carry the offense against a good defense

The Baltimore Ravens leaned on their passing game against the Broncos. They did that last week, but it almost didn’t count because it was against the winless Detroit Lions. This was the first time the Ravens played an incredibly talented pass defense and asked Lamar Jackson to throw for the victory. It’s important to remember that the Broncos came into the game with the top pass defense in the NFL. This was a defense that was stifling their opponents and the Ravens just had over 300 yards passing.

Lamar Jackson was next-level good against the Broncos. His deep ball has never looked so good, and many of his strikes were perfectly on the money. The criticism that “Jackson can’t throw” has always been laughable. Jackson has gone beyond proving that he can throw the old pigskin. Jackson is saying that if the game dictates it he can beat you through the air like an Aaron Rodgers or a Patrick Mahomes.

The Ravens are no longer built to win just one way. They didn’t do what they’ve done the last two weeks last season. For that matter, they wouldn’t have mounted a fourth-quarter comeback against the Chiefs last season. The Ravens have a better balance this year and the passing game can carry its weight.

2. James Proche can make an impact

James Proche had five receptions against the Broncos and looked like a player that belongs in this offense. Five receptions for 74 yards is a good stat line to see from a young and developing wide receiver. Proche has seven career receptions so it’s safe to say that this was the start. In his first real and fair opportunity to show up, Proche made important plays. The mostly sure-handed second-year player from SMU could be the possession receiver the Ravens need.

3. The Ravens will be in a tough spot if Alejandro Villanueva misses time:

Alejandro Villanueva was questionable in this game with a knee injury and he left the game with a knee injury. If Villanueva misses a game (or multiple games) the Ravens are in a very bad situation. Who would the Ravens play at left tackle? Ronnie Stanley is out for a while. Tyre Phillips may be the best answer once he returns from injury (once he returns being the keyword).

Phillips is not a very appealing answer yet he would have more going for him than Andre Smith, who looked as if he was hoping not to get the next man up call. Ben Cleveland could play tackle, that’s a rough spot to put a rookie guard in.

He does have experience at offensive tackle as a Georgia Bulldog. Villanueva may not be having a great season but he’s incredibly important. He’s a starter for a reason. The Ravens’ tackle depth is non-existent. Should Villanueva go down while Ronnie Stanley is still out for an unknown time, it will force a make-shift plan for the Ravens. At least Lamar Jackson is fast and elusive…

4. Odafe Oweh is as good as advertised

Odafe Oweh is worth every bit of his first-round selection. Oweh put on a show off the edge in this game. Funnily enough, the Broncos’ offensive line was decimated inside and the Ravens abused the starting offensive tackles. Oweh had a sack in which he blew past the tackle without much of a struggle. It was a ferocious play and it was good for his second sack of the young season.

Oweh may not have made a huge imprint in the box score other than that sack, but Denver had a lot of problems with him. He got great pressures and it’s amazing how many holding penalties he should have drawn. It was probably four or five times that he got held without consequence to the Broncos. Oweh is the real deal. I spent all offseason preaching patience with Oweh. Nah. He’s ready to rock and I was wrong there.

5. The Baltimore Ravens can win on the road without a lucky finish

For the Ravens Flock, this is a great win. It was nice to have your heart beating through your Ravens jersey louder than a marching band, wasn’t it? The Ravens were in full control of this game. Once they survived a bad start Baltimore enforced their will on the Denver Broncos. The Denver crowd doesn’t have to like that last play that got the Ravens the record but that’s about as fun of a way to end a game as there is. Deal with it, Denver.

The Ravens didn’t let this game get too close, even if they took their time finishing the thing. The Ravens found a way to win without a massive comeback in the fourth quarter or a historically long field goal. That’s what you like to see, especially on the road against an undefeated team. The Ravens are capable of taking care of business without giving us heart failure and for that, we should be thankful.

6. The secondary is still a plus for the Baltimore Ravens

Can the Baltimore Ravens secondary stand up so it can get recognized? Everyone clap. Courtland Sutton is one of the better wideouts in the NFL. He was held to three receptions for 47 yards. Noah Fant had six grabs and a touchdown but he was under 50 yards receiving also.

The Broncos had no shots down the field. Teddy Bridgewater dinked and dunked almost exclusively. Drew Lock took some ill-advised shots down the field, but all Denver could do was run slants and crossing patterns. What a glorious day for the Ravens’ secondary (and they did it without De’Shon Elliott)!

Marlon Humphrey, Anthoney Averett, Tavon Young, and Jimmy Smith all had great games. By the way, if Averett doesn’t make that interception in garbage time, the Ravens don’t get their rushing record. The secondary should get as much praise as Lamar Jackson in this game. It’s still a strength of this team. It’s only getting better with Smith back and Young getting his rustiness behind him.

NEXT POST: Ravens handle the Broncos: The good, bad and ugly

This was a big win for the Baltimore Ravens. These lessons are good ones to take in.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ravens shock Chiefs: Good, bad and ugly

By Chris Schisler 

The Baltimore Ravens obviously have a lot of good to go over from their thrilling 35-36 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Ravens’ offensive line performed like a completely different group than they did against the Raiders. Alejandro Villanueva shockingly held his own, filling in for Ronnie Stanley at left tackle. Pat Mekari did a decent job on the right and there even was a Ben Cleveland sighting.

This allowed the offense to stay on the field and have some of the most important drives of the Lamar Jackson era. The Ravens picked up 31 first downs and had 481 total yards. Jackson, Ty’son Williams, Latavius Murray and, Devonta Freeman all had positive showings on the ground. Williams even got a lucky bounce, as the ball popped up and back into safety for the touchdown.

The cool thing about it is that the Ravens did it their way in a character-defining play. 251 rushing yards and 230 passing is the Greg Roman offense working the way it was intended. Marquise Brown was a game-changer. Brown is going to have a breakout year. He looked like a game-changer. The offense lived up to the moment. They lifted the team up.

The defense did just enough and made key plays: 

Odafe Oweh is the biggest bright spot defensively. Oweh forced the game-winning fumble. He got the pressure that led to the Patrick Mahomes interception. Tavon Young had a rough day but that interception was gold. Oweh was explosive off the edge and was a key component of the fourth quarter shutout.

Mahomes had 343 yards and three touchdowns. Whatever Don  Martindale did, Mahomes could move the ball. Still, Tyreek Hill registered as a statistical non-factor and the defense stepped up when it absolutely needed to. Anthony Averett and De’Shon Elliot deserve some praise today.

The biggest thing here is the heart the team had. With that, the Ravens really found themselves. When Lamar Jackson zoned in and played within himself everything became possible. 

The Bad

Tackling and flow to the football could have been better. Bryon Pringle and Travis Kelce both scored touchdowns where they had long runs after the catch for a touchdown. For the second week in a row, the Ravens gave up over 100 yards to a tight end. It’s going to be fun not having to deal with Darren Waller or Kelce the rest of the regular season.

The game started out with a pick-six. It really wasn’t a mistake from Jackson as Sammy Watkins slipped. That slip was costly and it was a rough start.

The scary thing is that the Ravens left some points on the field. There were a few drives that didn’t manifest into points that absolutely should have. Jackson threw a pass into triple coverage and was picked off in the second quarter. Jackson had an open receiver underneath and had no reason to throw that football. They should have picked up the first down. They should have scored at least three there. Two interceptions and some stalled drives (mostly because of iffy play-calls) could have cost the Ravens more dearly. Let’s be honest, the Ravens made too many mistakes against a team that doesn’t need any help.

The Ugly

The Ravens got hampered by the officials. This was one of the worst called games I’ve ever seen. The worst example was the phantom illegal man downfield that took away a two-point conversion. Thankfully, it didn’t cost the Ravens the game. It did seem like the officials were trying to help the Chiefs.

Martindale deserves credit for how the defense finished. His defense still gave up 28 points. The idea of not blitzing Patrick Mahomes didn’t work all that well. The defensive line wasn’t generating enough pressure. For most of this game, Mahomes had a very clean pocket to throw the football.

NEXT POST: Ravens win over the Chiefs: Processing all the emotions of the game

The comeback was a thing of beauty. The Ravens put themselves in a position where they had to do it the hard way. They got just enough stops, though this defense for the second straight week had some issues.

 

 

 

Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

Baltimore Ravens 3 Big Questions About the Secondary

By: Ashley Anderson

Baltimore Ravens blog

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

When Will Jimmy Smith Return?

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

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

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

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

Who Makes the Cut?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Ravens: The meaning of their preseason game win streak

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

Posted in Uncategorized

2021 Baltimore Ravens: Camp battles

By Ronald Toothe

Ravens fans, before we dive into the meat and potatoes of this article, I’d first like to take a moment to express my thanks to Chris Schisler and my excitement in being here at the Purple and Black Nest.

How we got here

While all of us would’ve loved to continue growing the Ravens Flock community that we established at our old company, sometimes life doesn’t work out as you planned. Whether it’s in our professional lives or our personal lives, all we can do during our time on this floating rock in outer space is roll with the punches and embrace every new opportunity.

With that said, this new journey you’re all taking with us is one full of those opportunities. We now have the freedom to bring you all types of new, exciting Ravens content in a multitude of different mediums.

You’ll soon start seeing more and more familiar faces here at the Purple and Black Nest. People who only want to bring you what you deserve. That’s the BEST Baltimore football content consistently. So thank you all for sticking with us, the love we put into what we do has been exceeded only by the love shown to us by all of you over the last few weeks. The Ravens Flock truly is the best fan base in all of sports, and I for one can’t wait to see what the future holds.

The Ravens opened up their OTAs this week in force, with 80 players in attendance including former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. It’s clear that the team is highly focused on silencing the critics in 2021, and bringing another championship to Baltimore in the process.

The work truly starts now for the Ravens, and there’s bound to be plenty of storylines coming out of camp as we head into the Summer months. Many of those storylines will be in the form of positional battles for starting jobs, so let’s take a look at some of the key matchups fans should be keeping an eye on.

Left Guard: Ben Powers vs Ben Cleveland


Kicking things off is a battle of the big men to determine who will flank Ronnie Stanley on the left side of the offensive line.

At the end of last season, Ben Powers showed a lot of promise filling in after Stanley’s injury forced an offensive line reshuffle. The running game began to look even more like it did when it was smashing records in 2019, and Powers was a big part of that. Even given the massive human being who will be competing with him for the job, Powers will have every opportunity in camp to take the role as the incumbent.

Speaking of that massive human being, Ben Cleveland is a player that John Harbaugh has gone on record as saying was one of his favorites in this entire draft. A mean mauler with a physical stature only comparable to The Mountain in Game of Thrones, Cleveland spent his college career pushing defensive linemen around in the toughest conference in football at Georgia.

Now he has his shot to be a professional starter and do the same thing for Lamar Jackson and company, and the smart money would bank on him being the opening day starter for the Ravens.

Ravens Number 4 receiver/Number 2 slot: Devin Duvernay vs Tylan Wallace


This battle will likely stay the same whether the Ravens trade for Julio Jones or not, although the playing time that goes along with it will inevitably decrease in a pretty massive way.

Assuming the Ravens stick with who they have, Devin Duvernay will have stiff competition for a larger target share in this offense coming off his rookie year. His contributions in the return game were massive for Baltimore last year, finishing 9th in the league in kick return yards with a touchdown.

While that kind of production and potential assures he’ll have a role on the 2021 Ravens, it could also motivate the coaching staff to have him focus more exclusively on that role while giving their fourth-round draft pick the majority of the reps.

Tylan Wallace did a little bit of everything during his time as a member of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, but his skill set very much lends itself to that of a consistent slot receiver in the pros.

A scrappy competitor who runs crisp routes while displaying great body control, Wallace is just the type of receiver Lamar Jackson needs over the middle on those tough 3rd and 7 type scenarios late in ball games. He’s not the type of player who will break off 50-yard chunk plays consistently, but he’s more than capable of being an added security blanket for this offense.

Ravens Slot Corner: Tavon Young vs Shaun Wade


Tavon Young is coming off two straight season-ending injuries, but after signing the richest nickel corner contract in football just two years ago the Ravens will give Young every opportunity to maximize their investment in him. His talent is certainly undeniable, but the name of the game in 2021 for Tavon Young is not his ability, but his availability. As long as he can be out there on the field, he’ll likely be the clubhouse leader to take back his starting job.

Shaun Wade out of Ohio State would love nothing more than to usurp that position from Young though, as somebody who scouts thought would be an easy first-round selection heading into last season.

Wade had an up-and-down 2020. A combination of a turf toe injury and a switch to the outside corner position caused his stock to fall all the way into the fifth round. Make no mistake though, in his two seasons as the starting slot corner for the Buckeyes, Wade was the best player on the field more times than not. He has all the athletic potential in the world to translate that success to the next level. Tavon Young won’t be handed this job, and as his contract comes towards its end perhaps the Ravens would like to look to the future at the nickel.

Next Post: Nest Talk: Keep underselling the Ravens offense

As we head into the Summer months, more competitions are likely to take shape as the Ravens continue to build the 2021 team. These are just a few to really take note of as we progress through this week into the rest of the offseason team activities, and all three will be crucial to the success of the Ravens this year.