The Ravens fall to 5-3 after a tough loss in Cincinnati with several player losses due to injury. Today, we'll look at how each position group did in week 8 and grade them out.
Defensive Line: B-
The defensive line had moments of excellence and moments of head scratching frustration. While the line played well for most of the game, they have shown that short yardage situations will give them trouble. Multiple touchdown runs of about a yard where the entire line is pushed back are times where you scratch your head as they have been able to get penetration most other times. Haloti Ngata with his 8 tackles and a sack and fumble, and Brandon Williams with his 6 tackles are proving to be quite the inside run stuffing combos.
The linebackers played exceptionally well on the day even if the numbers don't necessarily support it. Terrell Suggs had the lone sack from this group, but they were able to get consistent pressure on Andy Dalton through the game and were able to secure two turnovers in the second half. The linebackers were able to keep the running backs from getting past them for most of the game, holding Bernard to a 2.8 yard per carry average and a long of only 8 yards. Where this unit struggled was in dropping back into coverage, allowing lanes to be open. Mosley again is showing his pedigree and chances to win DROY with his 13 tackles and his interception.
Defensive Backs: D
Pro Football Focus currently have safety Matt Elam rated 82nd out of 83 possible spots on the year. Add in the fact that after Jimmy Smith left with his foot injury, the secondary completely collapsed in both coverage and in tackling. While the unit is incredibly thin, the Ravens had no answer for a Bengals passing attack that is missing several of their key weapons, most notably A.J. Green. Dominique Franks is proving that he is at best a nickle corner that should be playing sparingly and Lardarius Webb is a shadow of his former self. The only reason that this group isn't graded as an F is simply because they are playing with such a limited cast that you can't truly blame them completely.
Special Teams: B
Kicker Justin Tucker was perfect on his three attempts including two kicks from 50+ yards. The Ravens finally switched out Jacoby Jones on punt returns for Michael Campanaro. While Campanaro didn't have an excellent return, he did secure the ball well and didn't miss any major opportunities that he should have capitalized on. Jacoby Jones did well as a kick returner even though he bobbled and dropped one of the kicks and had to take a touchback, the chances of him messing up badly are relatively negated with him only on kickoffs. The punt coverage unit did well with Koch booming a 50 yard kick and the Ravens allowing it to only go 6 yards. However, the kickoff return unit had some troubles allowing Adam Jones to return a kick for a long of 34 yards to set up better field position and had some penalties that should be getting ironed out by now.