The Baltimore Ravens have been on a roller coaster ride throughout the first half of the 2017 regular season. With a 4-4 record, they are in contention for a wildcard berth in the competitive AFC. Their four wins have been of the impressive variety, while their four losses the polar opposite.
A position-by-position midseason report card:
Joe Flacco currently carries a quarterback rating of 72, more than ten points below his career average. His 6:8 touchdown to interception ratio and 4.4 yards per attempt leave much to be desired. Flacco has made a handful of elite throws this season, but not nearly enough to carry the team on a weekly basis. His lack of support from the coaching staff and his offensive teammates are the only reason he receives a passing grade.
Running Backs: B-
Alex Collins has been a revelation with a six yards per carry average, leading the way for the NFL’s eight best rushing attack. He makes the most out of every touch, regardless of the blocking. Buck Allen has been a serviceable player but Terrance West was struggling to get on track before injury. Ball security remains a major area to improve upon from this group.
Tight Ends: C
Veteran Ben Watson has taken over Dennis Pitta’s role as the security blanket receiver. He has caught an impressive 80-percent of his targets, but does not bring much elusiveness after the catch. Nick Boyle has blocked well overall and is one of the most underrated players on the team. Maxx Williams continues to struggle with injuries.
Wide Receivers: C
Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace have had moments of brilliance, but not made the weekly impact necessary to produce consistent offense, in large part due to various injuries. Breshad Perriman has been a major disappointment and is quickly headed towards bust territory. Chris Moore has flashed both good and bad attributes this season. Michael Campanaro has been a decent contributor.
Offensive Line: B
Ryan Jensen is thriving at center in Greg Roman’s scheme. Ronnie Stanley and Austin Howard have been up and down at tackle. Quietly, James Hurst and Matt Skura are performing reasonably well at guard. Considering the Ravens lost their best overall player, Marshal Yanda, to injury in Week 2, this group deserves a solid B.
Special Teams: A -
Justin Tucker has missed three fields goals, but still provides the team with a potent weapon. Sam Koch has been dependable as usual. The Ravens have returned two kicks for touchdowns through eight games.
Defensive Line: B +
Despite missing four games, Brandon Williams has been one of the better run stuffers in the league. Michael Pierce has proven to be a core player for the team with strong play on a weekly basis. Willie Henry is also developing into an important piece of the Ravens young core and Carl Davis has provided solid depth.
Linebackers: B -
C.J. Mosley has produced several highlight real plays this season, but is still searching for the week-to-week consistency against both the run and pass to elevate himself into the elite category. The inside linebacker spot beside him has been a weakness, as both Kamalei Correa and Patrick Onwuasor have displayed their respective flaws. At outside linebacker, Terrell Suggs, Matt Judon, Za’Darius Smith and Tyus Bowser have combined for ten sacks. However, their inability to hold the edge consistently has played a role in the Ravens unexpected difficulties stopping the run.
Jimmy Smith is playing at an All-Pro level, and Brandon Carr is close behind him. The pair has regularly shutdown receivers and posted five combined interceptions. Rookie Marlon Humphrey has also displayed encouraging coverage ability. Lardarius Webb has made up for numerous lapses in coverage with several momentum shifting impact plays. All in all, the corners have been the best unit on the team.
Despite coming off their best game in Week 8, Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson have not come close to the lofty preseason expectation of comprising one of the best safety tandems in the NFL. Each has had issues stopping the run as well as the pass, particularly when covering tight ends. Baltimore needs more from their safeties in the second half of the season.
Coaches: C -
Greg Roman has been a positive influence on the offensive line, yet Marty Mornhinweg’s play calling has been atrocious at times. Dean Pees has also been wildly inconsistent with his playcalling, aggressive with a lead but often passive in close games. John Harbaugh has proven he can still motivate his team when their backs are against the wall, but a .500 record against a relatively easy schedule thus far represents underperformance.
How would you grade the Ravens units thus far?