With the Baltimore Ravens coming off of their week 9 bye, their mind is on making NFL history to become the first team in the current NFL playoff format to go from 1-6, to 10-6 and clinch a playoff birth in the process. This week, the Ravens take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
During the game against the Jaguars, everyone following the Ravens is going to want to look for adjustments that have been made during the bye week. Which player will rise to the challenge? Which player will struggle?
Here are the five players to watch for:
1.) Wide receiver Chris Givens
The Ravens acquired Givens via trade from the St. Louis Rams a little over a month ago and he has already made his way to the number one wide receiver on the Ravens depth chart. Some can look at that as a good thing and others can look at that and be displeased with the lack of depth at the position. It's probably somewhere in the middle.
Right now is Givens' time to shine. Rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman might not suit up at all for the Ravens this season and someone has to want the starting job at wide receiver. It isn't going to take much to win the spot at this rate given that everyone else has disappeared when the spotlight came to them. I want to see if Givens can separate himself from the pack and be the kind of quality receiver the Ravens envision him being.
2.) Center Jeremy Zuttah
Zuttah was out for the remainder of the second half against the San Diego Chargers with a shoulder injury which prompted backup John Urschel to snap at the center position. In result, quarterback Joe Flacco had to deal with inaccurate snaps including one late in the fourth quarter that almost resulted in a lost fumble.
If Zuttah able to go this Sunday, then there is nothing to worry. If he can't go, Flacco might have his work cut out for him dealing with bad snaps.
3.) Tight end Maxx Williams
Perriman has gotten the headlines this season as he has been dealing a PCL injury since July as he was drafted in the first round this year. But Williams has been nicked up as well over the course of the season with only 12 catches for 108 yards this season. Williams is a second round draft pick from the 2015 NFL draft and he has had a bit of a slow start.
Some of that has to do with tight ends in Crockett Gillmore and Nick Boyle playing well which has limited the snaps Williams has had. But I would like to see more from him. Williams is on pace this season to have 24 catches for 216 yards. Very underwhelming for a tight end that was considered to be the best in the 2015 draft class.
The good news is, the Ravens have said recently that they will incorporate their tight ends in the passing game more to start the second half of the season.
4.) Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley
Mosley is having somewhat of a sophomore slump this year after becoming the first player in Ravens history to reach the pro bowl as a rookie. He does have a fumble recovered for a touchdown this year but Mosley has struggled in pass defense. He can't stay with tight ends too long and shifty running backs in the passing game have given him trouble this year from time to time.
With the Jaguars featuring tight ends in Julius Thomas and Mercedes Lewis, the pass coverage at the linebacker position is going to be critical. Mosley needs to have his best game yet.
5.) Quarterback Joe Flacco
Ray Lewis recently told Flacco to lead his team. I think Flacco is going to do it. The Ravens defense has failed to live up to the expectations this year and Flacco has been dealing with moving parts week to week. In order for the Ravens to get back into the thick of the AFC Wild Card race, Flacco has to elevate his teammates to another level. There's only so much a quarterback can do, but Flacco has to be Superman.
Flacco hasn't played consistently well this season but he isn't the reason why the Ravens are 2-6. Regardless, this is the card Flacco is dealt with and he has to make the most out of a very difficult situation.