A bad game, an ugly 55 minutes of football and a devastating loss to the Kansas City Chiefs place the Ravens firmly at 2-1 and second in the AFC North. However, there is good, bad and ugly to take from this humble pie.
Justin Tucker is the GOAT: Don’t mention Harrison Butker in the same breath as Justin Tucker. The way the Ravens are No. 2 to the Chiefs is the gap between Tucker and Butker. Last night, Butker dropped 1.589% in career FG%. He’s out of the 90% club while Tucker is knocking on the doorstep of 91%. Tucker’s the best and it’s not close.
Devin Duvernay and Special Teams: For the first time in the 2020 NFL season, a team returned a kick for a touchdown. Duvernay put on the jets and burst across the field for a 93-yard touchdown. Landing a dangerous kick return specialist is a luxury and Baltimore may have found theirs.
L.J. Fort continues to impress: Truly, one of the only shining spots on defense has been Fort. Maybe due to his expectations being low but by each games’ end, he’s a guy you sit and think, “He really just played another great game.”
Nick Boyle is dependable: A garbage tripping call may taint this game forever but Boyle’s third career touchdown was an enjoyable sign of life from an otherwise apathetic catching unit.
The Ravens are still a great team: Devastating loss? Yes. Frustration mounting? Yes. However, this team is still one of the league’s best. Lamar Jackson is 21-1 in regular season games not played against the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s why this loss hurts so much. He’s incredible and this team is great.
Down 2-1 in the division: Say what you want about schedules but the Pittsburgh Steelers are still above Baltimore as of now. Long season ahead yes, but they’re boasting one of the league’s best defenses and they may have the advantage in the upcoming matchups.
Playmaker depth: On Kansas City, you are fearful of Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill. The Ravens do not have the same horses. They do not have a surplus of talent to spin you in such tight circles you’re starting linebacker gets benched.
Panicked coaching — Offense: Baltimore marches down the field on a great drive led by Mark Ingram, Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins. They gash the Chiefs for 60 yards. The second drive began with a great run nullified by a weak tripping call on Nick Boyle. What proceeds from here on out is an absence of run calls, an absence of Gus Edwards and a the 2020 second-round pick getting next to zero play after being heralded as a special talent.
To continue, the passing concepts were similar to Joe Flacco’s end in Baltimore: checkdown specials. Third & 2 and Marquise Brown is catching it at the line of scrimmage. It’s a testament to how far from KC this team is when you’re watching them gash two All-Pro cornerbacks eight-plus yards downfield while being scared to throw it further than a far-past-prime Drew Brees did this weekend.
“Try it again” coaching — Defense: Marlon Humphrey, arguably the league’s best cornerback, should not be blitzing on third down. Sending Matt Judon on another A-gap blitz won’t work. Blitzing Mahomes on third down won’t work. I understand that if the four guys up front can’t get to Mahomes you need to send more or try something more than sitting on your hands but when the outcome is getting burned on third down time after time, it’s likely not going to work again. Overall, Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy were masterful playcallers and outcoached Don Martindale.
Lack of catching the football: Baltimore’s receiving team can’t get it together against their greatest foe.
Ravens receivers:— PFF (@PFF) September 29, 2020
▪️ vs. Chiefs: 13 drops in 3 games (14% of all attempts)
▪️ vs. rest of NFL: 22 drops in 23 games (4%) pic.twitter.com/z4DRv9BCsp
So, while the playcalling was suspect, the playmakers were far more critical in the failure of Monday night. Playcalling can be perfect but it all goes to hell if the playmakers don’t execute.
Pass rushers wanted: Twice, a Ravens’ linebacker had Mahomes in their grasp and he slipped free. On many other occasions, they never got to the Chiefs’ quarterback. Where is the star-studded crew led by Judon, Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe and Tyus Bowser? You need a four-man rush to best Mahomes and it was not there.
Lamar Jackson: Now 0-5 when facing a 10-point deficit. Until it’s done, you won’t be getting the benefit of the doubt. It’s becoming an issue when this team and its leader on the field begin to panic and miss throws. Doesn’t help when they don’t catch them, either.