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Ravens News 11/15: 3rd Down Woes and more

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens must take long look at their process after clunker in Miami - Luke Jones

That offensive line and choppy running game are the biggest reasons why the Ravens have fallen off a cliff on third downs, entering the weekend ranked 29th in conversion rate after finishing in the top four the previous two seasons. They were an abysmal 2-for-14 on third down against the Dolphins with nine of those 12 failed conversions needing nine or more yards.

Make no mistake, no offense prefers to be in such a down and distance, but the Ravens entered Week 10 ranked dead last in Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric for third- and fourth-and-long situations — “long” defined as seven or more yards — this season. Perhaps even more disturbing is that Baltimore ranked seventh in that category last season and third two years ago. No one would confuse this offensive line with the one featuring an All-Pro version of Ronnie Stanley and future Hall of Famer Marshal Yanda two years ago, of course, but is this group really that much worse than last year’s unit? Now with a better cast of pass-catching weapons, why does Jackson sport a 52.2 passer rating on third downs after thriving on that down in his first two seasons as a starter?

It doesn’t add up for an offense so good in other ways, but such a deficiency is likely to hurt more against tougher opponents ahead.

Ravens Defense Is Having a ‘Disconnect’ as More Big Plays Strike - Clifton Brown

Two coverage lapses by Baltimore’s defense were part of Thursday night’s 22-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins, one of the least explosive teams in the NFL. Entering the game, Miami (3-7) didn’t have a single play that gained more than 50 yards all season. But against Baltimore, the Dolphins morphed into a big-play team.

Humphrey thinks having 10 days before facing the Chicago Bears in Week 11 will be good for Baltimore’s defense to sort out its issues. But the Ravens have already had the bye week to regroup, yet gave up an easy touchdown to Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson last weekend, followed by Miami’s two big plays on Thursday. Opponents have every reason to keep taking downfield shots against Baltimore, especially after watching the Dolphins have success Thursday night.

The loss of Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters to a season-ending knee injury prior to Week 1 took away one of Baltimore’s most experienced members of the secondary who is masterful at recognizing formations and communicating that to his teammates. Losing safety Elliott for the season against the Vikings took away more experience in the secondary, but the Ravens say there is no excuse for some of the lapses they are having.

Week 10 Ravens’ observations: Thursday disaster and a concern going forward, an O-line shakeup? RB questions - Jeff Zrebiec

Time to make changes along O-line?

The Ravens have been starting Ben Powers at left guard and Tyre Phillips at right tackle, primarily because they didn’t have other serviceable options. Powers, who has started the past eight games after Phillips went down with a knee injury in Week 1, has played unevenly. Phillips, who returned from his injury only to be inserted as the right tackle after Patrick Mekari sprained his ankle, has had his struggles.

Could they be part of an offensive-line shakeup when the Ravens get back to work and start preparation for the Bears? At the very least, the Ravens may have options.

It’s not out of the question that Mekari could be ready to return after missing two games and he’d likely go back to right tackle. If he’s not ready, Harbaugh and offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris could opt to use recent veteran signee Cedric Ogbuehi, who should know the Ravens offense well enough by now, at right tackle.

Those moves could allow Phillips to go back to the left guard spot, where D’Alessandris said he’d prefer him at, and either supplant Powers or rotate with him. Then, there’s rookie third-round guard Ben Cleveland. He’s been designated to return from IR after dealing with a knee injury. If his pregame workout in Miami is any indication, Cleveland is close to a return and he’ll re-enter the mix at left guard.

After a performance like the offensive line put forth Thursday, it wouldn’t be surprising if some changes were considered.

50 Words or Less - John Eisenberg

It’s tempting to pass off the debacle in Miami as a classic misadventure of the road. But road teams have a 70-67 record in the NFL this season, and the trend has been going in that direction for several years. As the home-field advantage disappears, location can’t be an excuse.

The Ravens have five fewer turnovers caused (12-7) and nine fewer sacks (28-19) than their opponents through nine games. They’ve converted 34 percent of their third downs, down 15 percent from a year ago. It all serves to make their 6-3 record that much more surprising.

Ravens 2021 First-Round Picks Making Huge Impact - Todd Karpovich

Through his first four career games, Bateman has recorded 18 receptions, 15 of which have converted for a first down. The 15 first-down receptions are the most by a Ravens’ rookie through his first four career games in franchise history, while his 18 receptions tie (Marquise Brown, 2019) for the most by a Ravens’ rookie through the first four games of a career.

Bateman had a career-high 6 catches tonight and tied his career-best with 80 receiving yards in Week 10 against the Miami Dolphins.

“I’m getting more comfortable in the offense, getting more comfortable playing in the NFL,” Bateman said. “So, right now, I’m just having fun [and] staying locked-in.”

Oweh recorded four tackles (3 solo), two tackles for a loss and had one sack Thursday night, marking his fourth sack of the season. The four sacks are the third-most by a rookie this season behind the Giants’ Azeez Ojulari (5.5) and the Cowboys’ Micah Parsons (5) and the most by a rookie Raven since OLB Matthew Judon (4 in 2016).

“So, it’s a challenge for him, and I think that he has … Out of rookies, for rush wins, I think he’s No. 1 or No. 2 – I think he’s No. 1 – as far as just winning in one-on-one rush situations.”