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Ravens News 9/12: Sneaky good WR corps, changing status quo and more

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Buffalo Bills v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Debrief, Week 1: Chargers, Chiefs among teams on familiar path - Gregg Rosenthal

Sneaky good weeks

Ravens wide receivers: Watching the Ravens’ defense flummox a quarterback like Buffalo’s Nathan Peterman with an array of blitzes isn’t surprising. The Ravens do that even in lean years. The more encouraging part of Baltimore’s 47-3 beatdown of the hapless Bills was the efficient passing game led by Joe Flacco and his trio of new wideouts. All three of Baltimore’s big free-agent signings caught touchdown passes: John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead. Could general manager Ozzie Newsome finally get the position right just as he prepares to leave the building?

To put it another way: Flacco last threw three or more touchdown passes in a game in Week 13 of the 2016 season.

Adding proven veteran pass catchers in free agency is not a new strategy for Ozzie Newsome. Synergy among the play caller, quarterback and receivers within a refined scheme will hopefully produce better results this time.

Joe Flacco rolls in Baltimore’s season-opening victory - Gordon McGuinness

He was our third-highest graded player at the position this week, with only Ryan Fitzpatrick and Drew Brees grading higher than Flacco, who came in at 86.8. While one of the biggest criticisms of the Ravens offense last season was that they were too conservative, that wasn’t the case on Sunday, with 10 of Flacco’s passing attempts traveling 10 or more yards downfield, including going 2-for-2 for 41 yards and a touchdown on throws 20-plus yards in the air. On those throws of 10-plus yards or longer, he produced a PFF passing grade of 91.2, which ranked fifth among quarterbacks this week.

Keeping Flacco free from pressure was key too, and the Ravens were able to do that successfully for most of the game, as he was kept clean on 29 of his 35 dropbacks. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, a player whose development will be key for the Ravens this year, allowed just one total pressure over the course of the game. On those plays, Flacco produced an adjusted completion percentage of 88.9 percent and a PFF passing grade of 88.1.

Flacco’s 6.9-yards per attempt in rainy conditions against Buffalo is encouraging after he posted a dismal 5.7 in 2017.

Ravens’ Week 1 Statement is Real; the Status Quo Has Changed - John Eisenberg

Even though the Bills were awful, the Ravens demonstrated to the rest of the NFL that things aren’t the same in Baltimore this year.

Yes, it was just one game, as Terrell Suggs repeatedly said, and the new season is certain to include ups and downs, as all seasons do. But the game offered evidence that, at the very least, the Ravens’ recent status quo – an albatross of sorts for the organization by the end of last season – has been whacked into submission and replaced by a new one.

Having already sent one message Sunday, the Ravens would certainly send another by winning Thursday night. The Bengals opened the season with a road win, always a promising sign for a team. Thursday night’s game is their home opener. It’s a challenging situation for the visitors, in other words. If the Ravens win, it would send a loud-and-clear message that things really are different in Baltimore this year.

Cautious fans may want to reserve judgement until the 2018 Ravens have a few more games under their belts. Last season, Baltimore recorded four wins of 20 points or more, before ultimately missing the playoffs. The 2016 season also included a pair of blowout home victories. Nonetheless, dismantling the Bills in Week 1 certainly beats the alternative.

Bengals Looking For All Hands On Deck To Cool Off Ravens - Geoff Hobson

“We needed to get some fresh bodies in there. Our guys were a little bit tired,” said defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. “It was a lot of plays and there was some hurry-up involved. So we had to get Sam in there. But that’s my fault. We needed to get Sam in there a little earlier than that. I think Sam deserves to play a little bit more, a little bit earlier. It’s my job to make sure I get him in there a little earlier.”

Dunlap led the way with 79 percent of the snaps, right end Michael Johnson took 56 percent, Carl Lawson had 51 percent at right end, Jordan Willis had 48 percent bouncing between tackle and end and even though Hubbard played just nine percent he played up and down the line.

Nullifying the Bengals pass rush will be the key to earning a divisional road win on a short week.