Martindale used a game plan which relied on less scheme and numbers than in previous weeks. Some will see this as evidence Ngakoue is allowing the Ravens to get by with less, but I think there was a greater willingness to spread the coverage to best combat the Steelers array of short passes and Roethlisberger’s NFL-low time to release (2.29 seconds).
The Ravens failed to generate a lot of impactful pressure, in large part because Big Ben delivered the ball 14 times before pressure could develop. He had Ample Time and Space (ATS) on just 5 of 34 drop backs (15%), yet the Ravens only turnover generated was on a fumble after the catch.
Marcus Peters had a fine game. He immediately made up for his early pass interference with a strip and recovery on the following play (Q1, 7:58). He had a PD on a 26-yard pass down the right sideline in coverage of Claypool (Q4, 11:53). He also made a fine tackle on the crossing route to Dionte Johnson (Q4, 1:52) which could have sealed the game for the Steelers.
Jimmy Smith was again excellent as an outside CB. He allowed 2 short completions for 8 yards with 0 YAC. It always makes me smile when Jimmy can give another receiver the “Ike Taylor” treatment, but it’s especially fun versus the Steelers. On Sunday, he used the boundary to force WR Dionte Johnson to break stride on 3rd and 10 (Q3, 14:20) to end the Steelers first possession after halftime.
A look at Jackson’s production in 2020 has me wondering if the Ravens are falling into the same trap. It sure feels that way. In the Ravens’ Divisional Round loss last season, Tennessee built a lead and took Baltimore out of its game, forcing Jackson to throw a career-high 59 times. This season, with the Ravens focused on trying to avoid a repeat of the same fate, Jackson’s completion percentage is down nearly three points from where it was at this time last year and he’s not being utilized as a runner at the same rate:
Through seven games in 2019: 83 att., 576 yds, 3 TDs, 6.9 rush ypc, 82.3 rush ypg* Through seven games in 2020:* 66 att., 411 yds, 2 TDs, 6.2 rush ypc, 58.7 rush ypg
Now, Baltimore’s offensive line has taken its lumps, losing eight-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda to retirement in the offseason and All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley to a season-ending ankle injury on Sunday. But Roman must dial up creative play-calling to help Jackson be more effective as a runner. The reigning MVP strikes fear into defenders as a ball-carrier in space, but we haven’t seen the wide array of explosive plays we did a season ago. Jackson has averaged fewer than 5.0 yards per carry in three of the Ravens’ seven games this season after having three such games in all of 2019.
I certainly understand why Roman would be making a greater effort to protect Jackson from hits and help him improve as a passer, but I believe the way to do the latter is to keep Jackson comfortable with designed runs, RPOs, screens, bootlegs, etc. The Ravens need their QB1 to get back to his MVP form if they want to hang with the top dogs in the AFC. It’s a fine line Roman walks as the offensive coordinator, but right now, he’s falling on the wrong side of it.
Source: Baltimore Ravens have 7 ‘high risk’ close contacts to COVID-positive Marlon Humphrey - Jamison Hensley
The Baltimore Ravens have six “high-risk” close contacts identified after All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey tested positive for COVID-19, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said Tuesday.
A source told ESPN that another close contact was added after Sills’ comments, bringing the total to seven.
This doesn’t indicate that those close contacts have tested positive results or will miss Sunday’s game at the Indianapolis Colts. Humphrey, however, will be out Sunday because he must quarantine for 10 days following his positive test.
The NFL sent a memo Tuesday asking teams to have players wear masks on the sideline and in the locker room during games.
Challenging Times Have Arrived - John Eisenberg
Ray Lewis always referred to a season as a “journey” because a team goes through a lot, both good and bad.
That’s why last season was so remarkable. The Ravens stumbled in September, but once they found their footing, they rolled to 12 straight wins with little going wrong. Weeks passed with them barely, if ever, trailing on the scoreboard.
We’ll never know why they followed up a nearly ideal regular season with a clunker in the playoffs. But after experiencing little adversity during the season, they seemed stunned to fall two touchdowns behind the Tennessee Titans. And they didn’t recover.
If they make it back to the playoffs in 2020, they’ll do so with a better understanding of what adversity and disappointment look and feel like. Wide receiver Willie Snead IV tweeted that losses like Sunday’s, while disappointing, can prove beneficial in their own way. “We get stronger from games like this,” he wrote.
That the Ravens would make the playoffs was deemed a foregone conclusion when they began this season as top-tier Super Bowl contenders, and they’re still overwhelmingly likely to qualify. Their losses to the Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs may have quieted the buzz around them a bit, but they’re still superior to many teams.
Given the mounting challenges they’re facing, though, Sunday’s game now looms as especially big.
NFL Week 9 picks and odds: Buccaneers get revenge on Saints, Colts upset Ravens in Indianapolis - John Breech
Baltimore (5-2) at Indianapolis (5-2)
Point spread: Ravens -3
In the 24 hours since playing the Steelers, the Ravens have lost their starting left tackle (Ronnie Stanley) for the season and there’s a very real chance that one of their best defensive backs (Marlon Humphrey) won’t be playing in this game because he tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
I was thinking about picking the Colts before those two things happened, so I’m just going to stick with my gut, even though it’s feeling a little weird right now after I ate that egg salad sandwich for lunch. I don’t even like egg salad sandwiches. The Ravens are the only team I still have a perfect record picking this season so let’s hope that egg salad sandwich doesn’t ruin things.
The pick: Colts 23-20 over Ravens