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Ravens News 11/3: Resetting the Offense and more

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

NFL overreactions, Week 8: Lamar Jackson has been figured out! - Brandon Mendoza

NFL defenses have solved Lamar Jackson!

The signs of trouble for Lamar Jackson are not that he’s regressing in completion percentage, passing yards per game, passing yards per attempt, passer rating, sacks taken and rushing yards per game compared to his MVP 2019 season — well, OK, that’s actually a big part of it.

But one of the biggest red flags for Jackson is his struggle with turnovers. Jackson already has seven giveaways in 2020, just one fewer than he had in his entire 2019 season, when he tied for the fourth-fewest giveaways in the NFL. This season, Jackson is tied for the 10th-most among 32 qualified QBs.

The issue reared its ugly head in Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the division-rival Steelers. On paper, the Ravens should have won this game, given that they ran for a whopping 265 yards and handily outpaced Pittsburgh’s overall yardage output (457-221); entering Sunday, teams that rushed for at least 250 yards and doubled their opponent’s overall yardage total were 215-1-1 since 1933. Instead, Baltimore became just the third team in that span not to win despite checking both boxes, joining the 1967 Lions (who tied the Vikings) and 1944 Rams (who lost to Washington). The difference on Sunday was Jackson’s turnovers, which led to two of the four Steelers touchdowns: one came on Jackson’s first career pick-six and another came after his third-quarter interception, which gave the ball to the Steelers on the Ravens’ 21-yard line. Two plays later, the Steelers scored, regained momentum and ultimately pushed Jackson into unfamiliar territory: failing to close out a game in which he led at halftime. The loss snapped Jackson’s streak of 22 straight wins when leading through the opening two quarters. The QB now has as many losses in 2020 (two) as he did in all of 2019.

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens Offense Need a Hard Reset - Kaelen Jones

The Steelers succeeded in reaching Jackson without having to blitz, registering nine QB hits and forcing Jackson to attempt tough throws: 21.4 percent of his attempts were made into tight coverage (where a defender is 1 yard or less from a receiver at the time of a pass), which is 5 percentage points higher than his season average (16.3), according to Next Gen Stats. Jackson, one of the NFL’s best scrambling QBs, rushed 16 times for 65 yards (4.1 yards per attempt), his third-lowest yards per carry output this year.

Baltimore’s rushing game was effective Sunday—rookie tailback J.K. Dobbins rushed for 113 yards (7.5 yards per carry) and Gus Edwards rushed for 87 (5.4 yards per carry) and one touchdown with starter Mark Ingram out. But the passing game hasn’t been nearly as effective as it was last year. The Ravens entered this week ranked 19th in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA ratings—still in the upper tier of rushing attacks (fifth) but in the bottom half in passing (21st). Jackson is still exceptionally dynamic, but he has strides to make as a consistent passer; his 60.5 completion percentage is 2.9 percent below expectation, which is the eighth-worst mark among NFL passers this season, perNext Gen Stats.

To remedy this, Baltimore offensive coordinator Greg Roman could tweak or revamp the passing game to better highlight Jackson’s playmakers. That likely starts with finding a way to get 2019 first-round pick Marquise “Hollywood” Brown more involved, as the wideout was targeted a season-low two times on Sunday and made just one catch (a 3-yard touchdown).

Steelers and Chiefs in a class by themselves, while Ravens and Titans have a major problem - Jason La Canfora

Baltimore got back to its ground game Sunday with more vigor and is transitioning the offense to run more through speedy rookie back J.K. Dobbins (who is a demon running out of the pistol in three-receiver-or-more spread formations), and they gutted the Steelers time and again while rolling to 265 yards on the ground against a top defense that wasn’t even allowing 70 yards per game coming in. Still, it wasn’t enough. The Ravens will win a bunch of games, again, but the lack of a dependable passing game is a very real issue, and that must improve if they are going to advance in January

What the Steelers Said After Edging Ravens - Ryan Mink

DE Stephon Tuitt

(on if he thought a team could run on the defense like the Ravens did, and his thoughts on the two stops on the final drives)

“This wasn’t our best defensive performance game, at all, but those two drives that we did those stops on were the most important. We were in an adversity situation and we overcame it. They’re a good team. We need to do better defensively in these moments, and we will.”

(on what challenges they faced today against the run game)

“They have Lamar Jackson, and then they have a lot of different type of backs who can get back there and run that option-type of offense. So, they did a good job of executing it, and we have to do better making sure we stay in our gaps and stop them.”

Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh reacts to Marlon Humphrey’s COVID-19 result, explains week ahead - Aaron Kasinitz

“We plan to have a great week of preparation, and we plan to be ready to play the game on Sunday,” Harbaugh said during Monday’s news conference.

“They are in the process of doing the contact tracing,” Harbaugh said. “Wherever that might lead us, we’ll see. We’re pretty optimistic about that at this point. But you never know. It’s 2020, so we’ll take it as we find it.”

For now, the Ravens will wait to see what test results reveal over the next several days and learn whether Humphrey passed on the virus to a teammate or anyone else.

“We’re all waiting for the answer on that,” Harbaugh said. “We’re just going to approach it like we’re business as usual in a different kind of way, and we’ll go to work.”