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Ravens News 12/11: Pro Bowl worthy O-lineman and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens’ weak spot, Chiefs’ balance among Week 14 revelations - Gregg Rosenthal

A great pass defense can slow down the Ravens

Considering the Ravens entered Sunday with the highest yards-per-carry average of any team since the AFL-NFL merger, it would stand to reason that a strong rush defense would be the first ingredient to slowing down Lamar Jackson. Over the last two weeks, however, the 49ers and Bills showed another route.

The Ravens’ second-ranked offense was held below 300 yards in back-to-back weeks largely because of opposing cornerback play. Both the 49ers and Bills are excellent in pass defense, which allowed them to load up the inside to stop the run and inside throws. Both teams kept their safeties near the line of scrimmage and dared Lamar Jackson to beat them deep and to the outside. That type of strategy can only be pulled off with excellent communication and personnel in the secondary, which the 49ers and Bills have in abundance.

What the Bills’ defense accomplished Sunday was particularly impressive. The Ravens had 13 possessions before kneeling down late in the fourth quarter. They punted seven times, more they had in their previous five games combined.

By the Numbers: Lamar Jackson vs. Michael Vick - Sam Monson

While each player is a human highlight reel, especially as a ball carrier, Jackson still puts some distance between himself and even Vick, and there’s no telling if Vick’s running style would have lent itself quite as naturally to the same kind of offense as Lamar’s does. The Ravens superstar has by far the best broken-tackle rate of any quarterback on rushes this season, and even if you include running backs, he has the fourth-best rate of any player (0.25 broken tackles per attempt).

Because Baltimore has embraced the skillset of their quarterback rather than resisted it, one could make the argument that they have custom-crafted a far more dominant offense. If we look at EPA (expected points added) per play, the 2019 Ravens, with Jackson at quarterback, are at 0.194, which is by far the best mark in football.

Jackson has just eight turnover-worthy plays all season but already has more big-time throws, more passing yards and significantly better passing metrics across the board.

Baltimore’s franchise quarterback has shown this year already what Vick never quite could throughout his NFL career — that he can be a top-level, pure passer of the football on a consistent basis.

2020 Offensive Pro Bowlers: Lamar Jackson, George Kittle locks - David Carr

Tackle: Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens exercised the fifth-year option on Stanley’s rookie contract last offseason with good reason. He is PFF’s highest-graded offensive lineman in pass blocking (92.5) of players with a minimum of 400 pass blocking snaps, having allowed zero sacks, one QB hit and seven hurries. He’s great in pass protection but even better in the run game as a blocker for the Ravens’ dynamic duo of Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram.

Guard: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens

Like Stanley, Yanda is a key cog in the Ravens’ electric rushing attack. Few guards stand out like Yanda on film. He’s one of the league’s most athletic players at the position and has exceptional footwork. As a result, he’s allowed only one sack and one QB hit in 427 pass plays, per PFF. A campaign like that should land him his eighth Pro Bowl nod.

Week 14 DVOA Ratings - Aaron Schatz

There’s a little more movement in the weighted DVOA ratings, which makes sense -- the sample size is effectively smaller since some games are only partially weighted. Baltimore is still a significant No. 1 in weighted DVOA, 17 percentage points ahead of the rest of the league.

The strong Baltimore game against Buffalo keeps the Ravens high on our list tracking the best teams in DVOA history.

Why Baltimore Ravens’ game vs. Jets spotlights draft and development success - Aaron Kasinitz

And, really, it’s about the locker room,” Gase said of his appreciation for former Ravens players. “It’s the right kind of guys getting in there, and they’re guys with the right kind of attitude and work ethic. All the guys that we have that have come from there have always been some of our better-type teammates in our locker room that just seem to do everything right, and they try to do everything the way that we need it done.”

There’s evidence to suggest that Gase isn’t the only prominent football figure who feels that way.

Eighty-nine players who began their careers with the Ravens were on NFL rosters as of this weekend, which is the second most for any team in the league, according to OverTheCap.com. Only the Patriots (90) have drafted or signed more players as rookies who remain in the league.