After a pair of morale boosting victories to start the season, the Baltimore Ravens have regressed over the last two weeks. While John Harbaugh aims to correct course for the final 12 games, our staff discusses the first quarter of the regular season:
Who has been the most impressive Raven over the first four games?
Yitzi Weiss - Patrick Onwuasor. He narrowly edges out Humphrey and Jensen for this slot. Jensen was an expected starter, and has performed admirably, and Humphrey has made plays in his slowly increasing role. But Onwuasor has made an impact, showing a nose for the ball, forcing turnovers and making plays. There is still room for improvement, but I think we are all feeling alot more secure about the ILB spot next to Mosley than we were a few weeks ago.
Logan Levy - Alex Collins, rather cliche but he is the offense, at this point. Yes, he has fumbled twice, but without him, the Ravens don't score that touchdown against the Steelers. He is the best RB on the roster and he is one of the very few playmakers on this team.
Evan Mazza - Marlon Humphrey. He is a first round pick, but he simply looks comfortable and did a very good job against the Steelers on Sunday. A lot of young corners struggle during their rookie seasons, but so far so good for the kid from Alabama. I would say Alex Collins as well, but for every big play he makes, he coughs it up. The Baltimore Ravens, of all teams, don't have a running back and have simply failed to fully replace Ray Rice.
Vasilis Lericos - Jimmy Smith has been the Ravens team MVP thus far, no question about it. His coverage has played a large part in the defense’s success holding A.J. Green under 75 yards in Week 1 and Antonio Brown under 35 in Week 4. Smith also snared the game sealing interception against Cincinnati and forced a momentum turning interception against Pittsburgh. He has literally been the only veteran to consistently play up to his talent level. If the Ravens linebackers and safeties can help him by tightening up coverage in the middle of the field, the defense may still live up to their lofty expectations.
Who has been the most disappointing player?
Vasilis Lericos - Austin Howard. After failing to address the crucial right tackle position earlier in the offseason, an experienced player such as Howard becoming available in August seemed like a fortuitous break for the Ravens. The front office promptly inked the 30-year-old to a three-year, $15 million contract. A shoulder injury kept him out for much of training camp, but he was mostly solid against the undermanned Ohio teams. However, his lack of foot speed has been a glaring issue over the last two weeks. In a rare prudent decision by the front office, the Ravens did write an out into his contract that would cost ‘only’ $2 million in dead cap next season if he is released. Of course, filling the position with a quality player would remain a challenge.
Evan Mazza - I'm going to cheat here and give it to two players, Breshad Perriman and Kamalei Correa. They decided to continue this inside linebacker experiment with Correa, but the guy simply can't do it and is being outplayed by an undrafted free agent. Perriman can't catch a nose bleed. The Ravens need to get him going, but it's hard to do so when you have hands of stone. They are now two Ozzie Newsome draft busts. Other disappointments include Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, Za'Darius Smith, Joe Flacco, Terrance West, Mike Wallace, the entire offensive line, and the team’s defense on 3rd down.
Logan Levy - Joe Flacco. With what was thought to be the best WR core he has ever had in his entire career, Flacco has accomplished very little this season. He has looked like a shell of himself through four games.
Yitzi Weiss - Tony Jefferson. Others have underperformed, but most of them are not making the big money like Tony is. We have been victimized at times by tight ends, and given up too many plays where the safety should be involved. He was supposed to be a big upgrade and it just hasn't been there yet.