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Ravens News 11/10: Stingiest Defense and more

Baltimore Ravens v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

Lamar Jackson Is Evolving and Improving, Even If His Numbers Aren’t As Eye-Popping As in 2019 - Albert Breer

Well, to grow and evolve, and keep it moving, a necessity now based on what he’s seeing in his second full season as a starting quarterback in the NFL, and what he saw in particular on Sunday against the Colts.

“A little bit of everything,” Jackson said, over the cell from the locker room postgame. “They had guys spying on me. One player was a linebacker, Darius Leonard, or it’ll be a nickel or a safety or something like that. That’s one thing that’s been going on. Defenses like to change up their coverages against us. Like I said, beating us to the punch, but on occasion stuff like that [mixing it up]. So Coach is going to do his thing, dial them up, just out-scheme them.”

Maybe the 70-yard runs of last year are now seven-yarders. Maybe teams aren’t frozen by Jackson’s athleticism quite like they were, with coverages compromised as a result.

But this was always going to happen. NFL defenses and their coordinators are too good not to adapt, and thus there was always going to have to be a second adjustment from the 23-year-old. That second adjustment is happening now and, if you looked closely, Sunday gave you reason to believe Jackson’s growth is taking hold.

The Ravens, to be sure, are a pretty tough 6–2 team. And more equipped for what’s in front of them than last year’s group was, even if this edition isn’t winning quite as pretty as that one was.

Ravens enter 2nd half striving for consistency on offense - David Ginsburg

A year ago, the Ravens strolled through the second half unbeaten to finish an NFL-best 14-2. This season, Baltimore (6-2) is chasing undefeated Pittsburgh in the AFC North while operating with an erratic offense and striving to overcome several key injuries.

“You take every game and every season as you find it,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “It’s different from last year, just like next year will be different from this year. It’s really not worth comparing. We’re just trying to find a way to win the next game.”

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Marquise Brown remains Baltimore’s lone deep threat, leaving Jackson to go short more often than not. Brown had three catches against the Colts, the longest 20 yards. But perhaps help is on the way. Veteran Dez Bryant got in for two plays Sunday in his Ravens debut and was not targeted, though that could change after he becomes more acclimated with the offense.

Jackson could use the help. After committing four turnovers one week earlier in a loss to the Steelers, he went 9 for 13 for 51 yards in the first half against the Colts. He regrouped to help Baltimore end an 0-20 skid when trailing at halftime.

What the Colts Said After Loss to Ravens - Ryan Mink

QB Philip Rivers

(on not being able to connect on deep shots)

“They mixed a little more Cover-2 today than they had played and so they had been such a man team. Obviously, they had played some two. It wasn’t like it was completely unorthodox for them but just not as much of it. So, the looks didn’t come up quite as good on a couple of those and just a couple close misses and obviously the one that was a turnover that was just poorly thrown, just underthrown. Unfortunate because it wasn’t our best day, but it wasn’t a terrible day. We were rolling pretty good in the first half. Any time you turn it over and they score with it and then you throw an interception to start the third quarter after the defense gets a turnover, we just couldn’t overcome those.”

LB Darius Leonard

(on cracking down on the Ravens run game)

“It just let us know that with all the certain stuff that they run, the college stuff, just playing against the run, We’re a good team at stopping the run, but we have to be way better. I think they rushed for 110 yards total. That can’t happen. We have to get off the field. We have to make a play somehow.”

Baltimore Ravens snap count analysis: Dez Bryant’s playing time, leaning on Terrell Bonds and more - Aaron Kasinitz

Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins (36 offensive snaps) played more than Gus Edwards (24) in part because the team uses him as its third-down back and splits repetitions on earlier downs. Dobbins also had 12 carries to Edwards’ 11, though neither was particularly productive in the ground game.

Offensive guard Ben Powers played five snaps without replacing an offensive lineman. On several running plays, the Ravens simply added muscle up front.

Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser was on the field for just 15 defensive snaps Sunday, easily his lowest total of the season. Bowser entered the fall with hopes of a breakout during the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, but the Ravens’ trade for Yannick Ngakoue and Jaylon Ferguson’s strong play have left little Bowser with fewer opportunities.

Ravens Have League’s Stingiest Defense at Season’s Midpoint - Todd Karpovich

The Ravens have allowed 17.8 points per game after eight games, which ranks as the fewest points allowed in the NFL.

The Ravens have also created a turnover in 21 consecutive games, which is a main focus of defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.

“Wink wants us to create turnovers, and he wants us to just keep playing fast,” Peters said. “I think we’ve been playing good defense all year. We just needed to create some more turnovers and just harping in on the little things – that’s when it’ll ultimately help us get better.”