Ravens film study: No, Earl Thomas is not the problem with their disappointing defense - Jonas Schaffer
Fiction: Thomas has been exposed in coverage.
According to a review of the Ravens’ past three games, Thomas has been “targeted” in coverage — loosely defined as defending an intended receiver or in the vicinity thereof — just five times.
The results: one 34-yard completion, one interception (by cornerback Maurice Canady) and three incompletions. The Ravens had problems in their secondary throughout September, but a defensive back who allowed a 15.8 passer rating against Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield was not one of them.
Fiction: Thomas is washed up athletically.
Tracking data proves it. Midway through the fourth quarter in Week 3, Chiefs running back Darrel Williams took a handoff, cruised through a hole at the line of scrimmage and took off down the right sideline. Jefferson had been blocked out of the play; only Thomas could stop him.
According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Williams reached 20.88 mph on the play, the fifth-fastest speed among all Week 3 ball-carriers. But Thomas, the weak-side safety, tracked him down from behind and limited a would-be touchdown to just a 41-yard carry.
Fact: Thomas is still a football savant.
Midway through the second quarter, Cleveland faced third-and-3 near midfield. The call was a run-pass option, and Mayfield opted to pass. Landry, lined up in a reduced split to Mayfield’s left, ran at Canady for about 7 yards, then broke in. Thomas saw it coming from a mile away.
The Ravens, like the Lions and Eagles, still hold both of their first-round picks in the next two years. But thanks to Lamar Jackson’s bargain of a rookie contract (which carries cap hits of $2.1, $2.6, and $3.0 million in 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively), the team is projected to have more than $62 million in cap space in 2020. That ranks 10th and gives the team all the flexibility it needs to give Ramsey the market-setting contract he’ll be looking for.
Baltimore surprisingly needs help in the back end, too. With Tavon Young on the IR and Jimmy Smith still dealing with a knee injury, the team’s secondary has been uncharacteristically porous through the first quarter of the season.
Dropping Ramsey into the scheme opposite Marlon Humphrey could certainly help clean up those issues and give the team the turnover-creator it needs. Ramsey’s fearless, aggressive attitude would certainly fit in with Batimore’s defensive personality.
PFF Rankings: Highest-graded rookies in the NFL through Week 4 - Anthony Treash
The former Oklahoma Sooner and now Baltimore Raven, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has been far and away quarterback Lamar Jackson’s go-to wide receiver with receiving 19 more targets than any other Ravens wideout (30 total, Willie Snead IV is second with 11). While he is coming off his worst performance of the year against the Browns (48.2 PFF grade and two drops), Hollywood has shown plenty that he is one of the league’s top rookies by ranking tied for fourth in broken tackles (five), tied for 21st in explosive plays (six) and ninth in yards per route run (2.45).
Ronnie Stanley Has a New Attitude This Season
“Starting this offseason, I made a decision in my head, knowing the type of player I can be and knowing the potential I have. I wanted to make sure I got everything out of myself this year,” Stanley said.
“It was a complete mindset change. Just focusing on finishing the play and being as physical as possible, both run and pass, and just being a leader out there that you can see clearly on film for our team.”