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Ravens News 11/7: Rolling with Flacco, issues to fix and more

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Debrief: Ravens’, Pack’s losses among most humbling of Week 9 - Gregg Rosenthal

Most humbling losses

1) Baltimore Ravens (lost to Steelers, 23-16): Did they peak too early? Five weeks after controlling the ball and the line of scrimmage in Pittsburgh, the opposite happened for the Ravens in Baltimore. Ben Roethlisberger helped the Steelers convert 10 of 16 third downs because he didn’t have to worry about the Ravens’ pass rush. Pittsburgh was far better in the red zone than Baltimore, because the Steelers have a more dynamic running back and offensive line.

Like a lot of defense-led outfits this year, the Ravens can’t actually get stops against quality offenses when they need them. At 1-3 in the AFC North and 4-5 overall, Baltimore’s chances of winning the division are all but nil. The Ravens have won the Super Bowl via the wild-card route before, though -- and they’ll probably need to do it again to save coach John Harbaugh’s job this time.

A Super Bowl championship seems to be a lofty expectation for the 2018 Ravens. Nonetheless, a brief playoff appearance may not be enough for John Harbaugh to keep his job.

Start Lamar Jackson? Ravens rolling with Joe Flacco for now - Jamison Hensley

“Joe has played well, so I don’t want to get into all of that. We’re rolling right now with what we got,” Harbaugh said. “Of course, at some point in time, this guy [Jackson] is a quarterback. We’ve said that from the beginning. Anybody who wants to dispute that, come to practice. He’s improving all the time. He’s getting better as an NFL quarterback all the time.”

“That’s really a challenge,” Harbaugh said. “You want to keep your offense in a rhythm. You want to keep your quarterback on the field. But you have a playmaker. You don’t want to have him run the ball all the time. He’s not a running back. He’s a quarterback. How many throws can you get him? How many throws can you get him with Joe not being a legitimate receiver out there?”

Harbaugh acknowledged it’s a possibility that Jackson could receive an entire series to line up at quarterback instead of sparsely playing that position.

“I would like to see him out there more and find ways to get him on the field more, if we can,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a good player.”

Jackson’s presence on the field has opened up the run game. And while Lamar has thrown some wildly inaccurate passes, Flacco has not been a model of accuracy either. Pulling Flacco from the field completely for a series per half is a viable strategy.

Five Issues for Ravens to Fix During the Bye - Clifton Brown

Consistent quarterback play

In four games when Joe Flacco has a quarterback rating above 90.0, the Ravens are 3-1. When Flacco’s rating is below 90.0, the Ravens are 1-4.

Flacco’s performance is impacted by other things like pass protection and support from the running game. However, several subpar performances by Flacco have been costly.

Run defense

This goes hand-in-hand with the pass rush. The Ravens are giving up too many yards on the ground, particularly on first down and in the red zone.

It’s a combination of the Ravens not getting enough inside penetration, and linebackers not holding the edge or pursuing fast enough.

“The last few teams have done a pretty good job running the ball,” inside linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “That’s a trademark of our defense, stopping the run.”

The Ravens still rank first in total defense. However, their run defense has tumbled to 7th in yards allowed per carry, 9th in yards allowed per game and 11th in rushing touchdowns surrendered.

2019 NFL Draft order, team needs: Raiders No. 1; Pack in top 15 - Dan Parr

15. RAVENS

Record: 4-5 (.540) Previous week: No. 18 This week’s game: On bye Biggest needs: WR, edge rusher, ILB

The Baltimore pass rush didn’t get to Ben Roethlisberger nearly enough on Sunday. There could be some major turnover in that area this offseason -- Terrell Suggs is 36 and in the final year of his deal, as is the much younger Za’Darius Smith. Stud ILB C.J. Mosley is in his contract year, too. This club still lacks a No. 1 receiver.

Eric DeCosta should strongly consider re-signing Za’Darius Smith and John Brown. If the Ravens release Joe Flacco, Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle, they will have about $60 million in disposable cap space (roughly 10th most in the league), but the list of impending free agents from outside the organization is largely unimpressive.