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Ravens News 1/6: Establishing the Pass and more

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Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens’ final regular-season stats: Taking stock of which players improved in 2020 - Aaron Kasinitz

Interception leaders

CB Marcus Peters: Four interceptions

OLB Tyus Bowser: Three

CB Marlon Humphrey: One

ILB Patrick Queen: One

S Chuck Clark: One

Peters remains one of the NFL’s top interceptors, and it’s impressive in itself that his four picks this season represent the second-lowest total of his six-year career.

No Ravens player besides Peters and Bowser had more than one interception this year. The team’s 10 total picks was tied for the fifth-fewest in the NFL, and Baltimore might want to consider how to boost that number in 2021, a difficult ask because of the team’s tendency to play man-to-man coverage.

The Ravens made up for the lack of picks with 12 fumble recoveries, which ranked third in the NFL, and Humphrey led the league with eight forced fumbles.

NFL Playoffs: Here’s the most important rookie for every AFC team in the 2021 postseason - Chris Trapasso

Baltimore Ravens

J.K. Dobbins

The Ravens ran the football like a dominant high school team in their last five games to close the regular season — they’ve averaged an unheard-of-in-the-NFL 267.4 yards per outing. The competition has to be considered — they didn’t face any stingy run defenses, but Baltimore has gotten back to its thunderous ground-game roots during its current five-game win streak. Lamar Jackson’s been at the forefront of the rushing resurgence with 430 yards on 56 carries over that stretch — 7.6 yards per.

As the reigning MVP, he’s the obvious focal point. But Dobbins had the most under-the-radar 6.0 yards-per-rush average season from a first-year pro in a while and has rumbled to 425 yards on 62 carries (6.8 yards per) during Baltimore’s five-game run. In the regular season, Dobbins led all qualifying rookies with 3.47 yards after contact per rush. Given Mark Ingram’s age (31), mileage, and injury concerns this season, Dobbins finds himself as one of the top dogs in the Ravens backfield for the postseason.

Who is the most complete 2020 NFL playoff team? - Ian Hartitz

NO. 12: BALTIMORE RAVENS

Offense

The Ravens have rushed for 100 yards in 39 consecutive regular season games since Lamar Jackson took over under center in Week 11, 2018. The only longer streak in NFL history is the Steelers (43 games) from 1974-1977. Fourteen players averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry this season among 51 dudes with at least 100 rush attempts; three played for the Ravens.

Jackson’s at-times erraticness as a passer hasn’t helped the Ravens establish much consistency through the air all season, although he hasn’t exactly been blessed with the league’s best receiver room. Overall, the Ravens ranked 28th in both PFF receiving grade and drop rate. The offense’s 45.5% catchable deep-ball rate ranks ahead of the Buccaneers, Chiefs and Steelers; stop it with the unironic “RB playing QB” jokes and maybe start questioning why this offense hasn’t given Jackson a single established high-end WR to play with through three seasons.

Defense

Patrick Mahomes is basically the only QB to have sustained success through the air against this secondary over the past two years. All in all, the Ravens ranked no worse than eighth in each of our pass defense categories. This is largely thanks to the excellent play of corners Marlon Humphrey (No. 13 in PFF coverage grade), Jimmy Smith (No. 17) and Marcus Peters (No. 36).

The problem for this defense has been tackling. Overall, they rank 26th and 30th in missed tackle rate and yards allowed after contact per carry. This is far from simply a front-seven problem; only the Packers, Buccaneers, Giants, Dolphins and Lions missed more tackles in coverage than the Ravens in 2020.

Titans have had Lamar Jackson’s number, but can this defense stop him? - Turron Davenport

“I’m not sure we have many people that can match up with Lamar Jackson’s speed,” coach Mike Vrabel said on Monday. “We’re going to have to play sound, team defense. He’s an unbelievably dynamic player that poses a lot of problems.”

In their playoff win over the Ravens last season, Tennessee’s defense condensed the field to shrink the space where Jackson could operate. Defensive back Logan Ryan played a key role in their game plan, blitzing off the edge.

The Titans were able to flush Jackson to one side of the field and gain the sideline as an extra defender. Jackson racked up a lot of yards, finishing that game with 365 passing yards and 143 yards on the ground, but he wasn’t able to generate any of his signature home run plays to the end zone.

Baltimore used 11 personnel on 48% of its plays and ran the ball 43% of the time, which is the highest rate in the NFL per ESPN Stats & Information research. Using this package naturally spreads defenses out, creating more space for Jackson and players such as J.K. Dobbins while taking advantage of speedy options such as receivers Marquise Brown and Devin Duvernay on jet sweeps.

Remember the Titans? Ravens not thinking about past in playoff rematch - Jamison Hensley

“We’re just focused on the game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Previous games have little bearing. It’s got some history, the rivalry does sure. But what impact does any of that have on the next game?”

Baltimore certainly has an emotional playoff history with Tennessee. In the 2000 and 2008 postseasons, the Ravens knocked off the top-seeded Titans in Nashville. In the 2003 playoffs, Baltimore lost at home to Tennessee in the first round.

But Baltimore still has Jackson, tight end Mark Andrews and cornerback Marlon Humphrey. In fact, 29 of the 44 players (66%) who suited up for last year’s playoff game against Tennessee will do so again Sunday. But Harbaugh said you can’t compare the teams or situations.

“We’re excited about the opportunity,” Harbaugh said. “I do love the team. I love the players and the coaches. I love what we’ve been through — the adversity, even — [and] the challenges, because it forges you and it makes you who you are. So, that’s exciting, man. You’re living in the moment, and it’s an exciting thing to be in the playoffs in the National Football League.”