Three Areas Ravens Need to Improve Over Bye - Todd Karpovich
The Running Attack
The Ravens are ranked fourth in the NFL with 149.4 yards per game, largely because of Lamar Jackson. The quarterback is ranked sixth among all players with 480 yards rushing. However, the Ravens are not getting much production out of their current group of running backs. Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell are averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Of course, the running attack was going to struggle after the team lost all three players on its depth chart to injuries in training camp. However, the performance will need to improve over the second half of the season. While the players simply need to run more effectively, the blocking also has played a key role.
“I think early in the year, we’re running the ball pretty decent,” offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris said. Against the Chargers, we did pretty good against them, too, last week. If you look at yards per carry, it wasn’t bad, but we just didn’t do it often enough. Look at the statistics, and we went in reverse. We threw the ball more than we ran, OK? So, that happens because of the position we’re in, but we’re going to do what we have to do to win. Some games, we’re going to be running. But I think our run blocking will continue to improve. The guys will apply to get there, and our [running] backs will gel with us.”
RB Index, Week 8: To help Lamar Jackson, Ravens MUST get more from the run game - Maurice Jones-Drew
Many observers would no doubt like to see the Ravens deal for a running back before the Nov. 2 trade deadline, but I don’t necessarily think that’s the way to move forward here. First and foremost, offensive coordinator Greg Roman must get Williams more involved — even when Murray returns from injury. He’s averaging 5.5 yards per carry this season, and his physical, downhill rushing style provides a nice complement to Jackson’s. Giving his carries to a veteran crew that hasn’t been as efficient doesn’t make a ton of sense.
I know it’s not ideal, but Baltimore has to figure out how to squeeze more production out of the backs on hand. Hopefully Murray will get healthy, Williams will step up and Freeman and/or Bell will click somehow. The Ravens’ schedule toughens up considerably from Week 12 on, with five division contests (two each vs. the Browns and Steelers, a home game vs. the Bengals) and two games against current NFC playoff contenders (Packers and Rams) in that stretch.
The time is now to get the rushing attack back on track — or things could get quite bumpy down the stretch.
The Ravens’ depth has been thinned out badly by injuries, so they are far more likely to make a veteran addition to the roster than subtract from it. However, if they could find a team intrigued by Ferguson’s upside and that is looking for a developmental pass rusher, they could move a young player who looks like he may benefit from a change of scenery. Ferguson, a third-round pick in 2019 after a record-setting career at Louisiana Tech, has been a disappointment, and he’s buried on the team’s outside linebacker depth chart. He’s a physical edge setter against the run, but he has just 4½ sacks in two-plus seasons.
Ravens roundtable: Answering questions about the trade deadline, returning players and the AFC North race - Jonas Shaffer
Which sidelined Raven, if healthy, would’ve helped the team the most this season: left tackle Ronnie Stanley, running back J.K. Dobbins or cornerback Marcus Peters?
Dobbins would’ve juiced the Ravens’ running game and helped quarterback Lamar Jackson out as a check-down option, but this offensive line isn’t owning the line of scrimmage like it did last year. Peters was maybe the Ravens’ most impressive defensive player in training camp, but he wouldn’t have helped their tackling woes. Stanley’s athleticism would’ve helped open up so much of the Ravens’ rushing attack, and his value as a pass blocker will become all the more glaring when Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt come to town.
The Ravens don’t have a lot of salary cap space to make trades work. If you were general manager Eric DeCosta, which player would you target for a possible acquisition?
I’m not the first to suggest Morgan Moses, but with Mekari likely sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Ravens need stability at right tackle, now more than ever. Sure, Tyre Phillips could grow into the role as he finds his footing after a stint on injured reserve. But Moses has played well for the New York Jets, won’t cost much as a rental and isn’t even protecting top pick Zach Wilson anymore. If the Ravens are willing to part with draft capital, he’d be an obvious upgrade.
10) Jaxson Kirkland, Washington
9) Darian Kinnard, Kentucky
8) Abraham Lucas, Washington State
7) Daniel Faalele, Minnesota
6) Sean Rhyan, UCLA
5) Rasheed Walker, Penn State
Walker doesn’t always have the spryness to match explosive first steps. But with his length and lateral athleticism, he can match rushers around the edge and direct them outside the pocket. On top of that, Walker’s power as a run blocker pops.
4) Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
If you want your offensive tackles mean, you won’t find a meaner one than Trevor Penning. The dude lives for driving defenders into the dirt. Although his off-the-rails style can backfire on him, Penning’s aggression is unmatched. On top of that, he has the necessary physical traits to dominate with that aggression at his peak potential.
3) Charles Cross, Mississippi State
With light, efficient shuffles, Cross can match even the most athletic edge rushers. Additionally, he can use his length to prevent opponents from finding a window into the pocket.
2) Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State
Petit-Frere has been sensational in 2021. He’s moved over from right tackle to left tackle, and the results have been tremendous. He’s incredibly smooth as a pass protector with great feet quickness but violent and active on running plays.
1) Evan Neal, Alabama
Neal is 6’7″, 350 pounds, but moves with unfair lightness in his feet.
He’s athletic, extremely powerful, and developing a greater understanding of how to most efficiently channel his traits.