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Ravens News 10/7: Designed Big Plays and more

Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Ravens WR Devin Duvernay, the NFL’s leading punt returner, is still learning on the job - Jonas Shaffer

It was a flash of what Duvernay has made clear this season: You don’t need a mastery of punt returns to play like one of the NFL’s best. After a career-long 42-yard return in the Ravens’ 23-7 win Sunday over the Denver Broncos, Duvernay’s averaging an NFL-high 18.9 yards. Among players averaging at least 1.25 returns per game, the Tennessee Titans’ Chester Rogers is next best — at 13.3 yards per return.

“I’m honestly kind of learning on the fly,” Duvernay said Wednesday. “I mean, this last year, when they threw me back there at the end of the year, was my first time ever doing it. So I never did it in college, high school or anything. So I’m still kind of learning. ... Part of it is just catching the ball and just running, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The running part comes naturally to Duvernay. He hit 21.76 mph on his big return Sunday, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, the second-fastest time recorded by a ball-carrier in the NFL this season.

“Just try to carve out a lane in my brain,” said Duvernay, also the team’s top kickoff returner, “and just hit it.”

Micah Parsons. Mac Jones. Kyle Pitts. Asante Samuel Jr.: The NFL All-Rookie team at the quarter mark - Dane Brugler

Edge rusher

Odafe Oweh, Baltimore Ravens (1st round, No. 31)

A one-year starter in college, Oweh didn’t register a sack in his final season at Penn State and with his relative inexperience, most expected a slow start to his NFL career. But the Ravens took the training wheels off early and cut him loose in their attacking front seven. Oweh is averaging 44.5 defensive snaps per game, which leads all rookies at his position.

Among rookie pass rushers, Oweh ranks No. 1 in pressures (13) and tackles for loss (3) and has added a pair of sacks. He has been terrific vs. the run (zero missed tackles) and should be considered one of the early favorites for defensive rookie of the year honors.

Final line from his scouting report:

Oweh is a work in progress with his rush plan, counters and feel, but all the athletic and physical traits that NFL teams covet at the position are there. He projects as a high-risk, high-reward pass rusher in the Jason Pierre-Paul mold.

2021 NFL analytics survey: Most and least analytically inclined teams, future GM candidates, more - Seth Walder

Which NFL team is the most analytically advanced?

1. Cleveland Browns (17)

2. Baltimore Ravens (4)

Which team produces the highest level of analytics work?

1. Cleveland Browns (14)

2. Baltimore Ravens (3)

Which team most incorporates analytics into its decision-making?

1. Cleveland Browns (11)

2. Baltimore Ravens (6)

The Ravens still earned a few votes for most analytically advanced and a few more for the degree they incorporate data into decision-making. The most obvious place this shows up is in their fourth-down aggression, which was on display in their win over the Chiefs in Week 2, when QB Lamar Jackson sealed the win with a fourth-down conversion.

“Andrew Berry leads the NFL in terms of acceptance and adoption of analytics. On the coaching side, John Harbaugh has the most buy-in,” wrote one survey-taker.

2021 Opponent Scouting Report: Week Five Ravens Offense- Not as good as they’re going to be - Chris Shepherd

This is a designed big play offense

I digress, this offense is designed to take shots deep down the field. I guess I don’t really know that’s how it was designed, but that’s how they’re running the thing. They’ll hit you with run after run after run and right when your linebackers feel like their brains have completely turned into mush getting off blocks and making tackles, the Ravens hit them with a play action and Lamar Jackson chucks the ball deep.

Offensive Line

Bozeman is a good center and based on what I’ve seen he has been the best Ravens offensive linemen this season. Zeitler turns 32 this year and it appears his best football is behind him. Mekari was a UDFA out of Cal, in 2019. Considering he’s a former undrafted guy, playing in his third year, Mekari is playing really well. If you don’t factor in any of those things he probably shouldn’t be starting for an NFL team.

Final Thoughts

This Ravens offense is missing vital parts of it’s offensive line and running back room and they’re still ranked in the top 4 NFL offenses by yards and they rank as the 9th best scoring offense, too. Lamar Jackson hasn’t played his best football and they expect rookie Rashod Bateman to be a playmaker when he recovers from his injury.

Lamar Jackson and the playmakers these Ravens have that are healthy are good enough to win a lot of football games but if there is a “good” time to play these guys to try to steal a win that the Colts probably shouldn’t get, this is that time. By the time the playoffs come around, if they continue to get healthy, this team will be really hard for anyone to handle.

Ravens-Colts Week 5 Preview, Prediction, Where to Watch - Todd Karpovich

Ravens Game Plan

Offense

The Ravens put up 406 yards and 23 points against a Broncos defense that was one of the stingiest in the NFL. Denver was determined to shut down the Ravens top-ranked running attack, so quarterback Lamar Jackson beat the Broncos over the top, throwing for 316 yards with a long touchdown to Marquise Brown. The Ravens are ranked fourth in the NFL with 420 yards per game after four weeks. Jackson has made tremendous strides throwing the ball this season.

The running attack fell from first to third after running for 102 yards against the Broncos. However, Baltimore is still a running team and should be able to find yards against the Colts, who are allowing 114 yards on the ground per game. Indianapolis defensive end Kemoko Turay has two sacks. Linebacker Bobby Okereke leads the team with 28 tackles. The Colts are giving up 24.3 points per game.

Defense

The Ravens got back to playing physical football against the Broncos and did a solid job keeping the pressure on Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who left with a concussion.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz has thrown for 920 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. However, he could struggle against the Ravens; aggressive pass rush because he is not overly mobile. The Colts running attack averages 112 yards per game and is led by Jonathan Taylor (274 yards). The Ravens will focus on shutting down Taylor and forcing Wentz to beat them through the air. Indianapolis is averaging 20.8 points per game, which is tied for 21st in the NFL.

Prediction

Ravens 34, Colts 18