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Ravens News 1/15: Field position matters and more

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Divisional Round - Tennessee Titans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

How to survive in the NFL playoffs: How the Ravens failed and the Chiefs came back - Bill Barnwell

Field position matters

The biggest reason the Titans were able to get out to an early lead and the Chiefs were able to come back so quickly is simple. Field position over the course of multiple possessions almost never gets mentioned during broadcasts or in postgame commentaries from coaches and players, but it’s a lot easier to score on a short field than it is on a long one.

The Titans scored four touchdowns during their win Saturday night. Three of those drives started on Baltimore’s side of the field, with the Titans cashing in on possessions of 20 yards (after they recovered a Lamar Jackson fumble), 35 yards (a Jackson interception off a Mark Andrews drop, with a curious penalty tacked on for Jackson’s tackle attempt at the end of the play), and 45 yards (the first failed fourth-and-1 opportunity).

They also repeatedly forced the Ravens to go the length of the field to score. Baltimore had 11 possessions, each starting inside its 26-yard line, with 74 or more yards to go for a touchdown. Jackson & Co. had six drives of 50 yards or more during the game, but those six opportunities generated just 12 points.

Six Ravens possessions -- including all three of their fourth-quarter opportunities -- ended on the Tennessee side of the field without any points. To put that in context, there has been only one playoff game over the past 20 years in which an offense made it to the opposing side of the field and failed to score more than six times.

NFL Power Rankings: 49ers on top before Championship Sunday - Dan Hanzus

RANK 5: RAVENS (14-3)

The Ravens’ remarkable season ends with one of the most shocking early playoff exits in recent NFL history. Baltimore played like a team in complete control of its destiny for three months, then lost all jurisdiction when it mattered most. CBS cameras captured the Ravens on tilt, down double-digits before they realized what hit them, then reduced to blind hope that their young superstar quarterback could save them from disaster. Lamar Jackson had 59 pass attempts and 20 rushes -- an almost-comical level of over-reliance that generated absurd production (508 yards in total) but didn’t come close to achieving the desired effect of bringing John Harbaugh’s team back from the abyss. The future remains bright, but the 2019 Ravens’ fate is ultimately that of a cautionary tale: Even a truly great regular-season team (and Baltimore was one of the best ever) can be rendered vulnerable, and ultimately irrelevant, over the course of 3.5 hours in January.

Ravens Positioned to Continue Offensive Success - Clifton Brown

The talent base that drove Baltimore’s offense to new heights isn’t going anywhere. Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda could retire, but Yanda and running back Mark Ingram II are the only starters who are age 30 or older. Jackson is 23 years old. Andrews made the Pro Bowl in his second season. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and fullback Patrick Ricard became Pro Bowlers at age 25. Wide receiver Marquise Brown had 46 catches for 584 yards as a rookie, and he was the best receiver on the field during the playoff loss with seven catches for 126 yards.

Roman is returning and will have the offseason to assess what went wrong against Tennessee, and to expand on the concepts that made Baltimore the league’s most productive regular-season offense. The Ravens are in excellent position to remain at the top of the heap offensively.

General Manager Eric DeCosta and the scouting department will seek to add more offensive talent around Jackson via free agency, the draft and trades. However, the foundation has already been set.

Offseason needs for all 32 NFL teams in 2020 - Ben Linsey


Secondary needs: interior offensive line, wide receiver

The giant strides that the Ravens made offensively this season overshadowed just how interesting and effective their defensive scheme was. They blitzed more than any other defense has since the beginning of the PFF era in 2006 (55%), and they allowed just 4.6 yards per play on those plays, ranking third in the league behind the 49ers and the Bills. Using those blitzes and stunts to manufacture pressure allowed the Ravens to mask the fact that they didn’t have a dominant pass rush. Their best pass rusher — Matthew Judon — is due for a new contract, and even he benefited from the scheme, with 35 of his 62 pressures coming as unblocked or cleanup pressures.

The Ravens don’t have a long list of needs; they were one of the best teams in the NFL this season, even if they were one-and-done in the postseason. A pass rusher who consistently wins one-on-one matchups is on top of that small list, though. Additionally, they could use an interior offensive lineman, with Marshal Yanda’s future up in the air, and a wide receiver to take away some snaps from Willie Snead IV and Seth Roberts.