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Ravens News 12/9: No-Huddle and more

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NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens coach John Harbaugh says no-huddle offense ‘definitely an option’ to help solve slow starts - Ryan McFadden

Slow starts are becoming an unwanted theme for the Ravens as of late. They’ve averaged close to three points in the first quarter through 12 games, but it’s been even worse lately. In their last six first quarters, the Ravens have scored nine total points.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said they are looking at options to fix the problem, including implementing a no-huddle offense early in games.

“It’s definitely an option,” Harbaugh said Wednesday. “It’s definitely something that we have done before among other things. It’s something that’s on the table, for sure.”

Quarterback Lamar Jackson likes the no-huddle offense, as he believes it flexes out the defense. According to Sports Info Solutions, Jackson is 18-for-28 with 149 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and has been sacked twice in the no-huddle. When he’s not in the two-minute drill, Jackson is 14-for-18 with 111 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

“It lets us do our thing a little faster,” Jackson said. “We had success when we did it. I don’t know what the challenge may be. If it comes up in a game then I will have an answer. We haven’t had any problems with it.”

‘We believe in 8’: Ravens need Lamar Jackson to break out of slump - Jamison Hensley

Even at 8-4 and atop the AFC North, the Ravens have reached a crossroads of their injury- and drama-filled season. With five weeks remaining, Baltimore has about the same chance to reach the AFC championship game (20.8%) as it does to not make the playoffs (16.6%), according to the projections from ESPN’s Football Power Index.

“For anybody ... that’s their story — the challenges that you face,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s never going to be easy. Sometimes it maybe seemed easy and seems easy, and sometimes you get on a roll, but it’s too competitive. Everybody is too good for it to be easy all the time. And he doesn’t expect that -– none of us do. So, we’ve just got to work through it, fight through it and get the job done.”

“Lamar Jackson has to be better, too,” Ryan Clark, a former NFL safety and ESPN analyst, said on Get Up. “Lamar Jackson has to get the football out of his hand. Lamar Jackson has to understand where the hot [read] is. I’m not saying that is his fault. But he is part of the blame for this because he’s the quarterback.”

“We believe in eight,” Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams said after the 20-19 loss at Pittsburgh, referring to Jackson by his jersey number.

NFL QB Index, Week 14: Patrick Mahomes exits top 10; Tua Tagovailoa earns his highest ranking of 2021 - Gregg Rosenthal

Rank 10

Lamar Jackson

2021 stats: 11 games | 64.0 pct | 2,865 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 16 pass TD | 13 INT | 762 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 6 fumbles

The MVP talk feels like a long time ago. Jackson took too many sacks in Pittsburgh (seven!), threw a killer red zone pick and fumbled during his otherwise-sparkling final drive. The running game outside of Lamar has dried up — T.J. Watt didn’t buy that play fake on the two-point conversion — and the Ravens’ defense keeps losing pieces. While there have been some great moments along the way, Lamar’s slump has now lasted longer than his five-game sprint to start the season.

PFF’s 2021 Third-Quarter All-Pro Team - Sam Monson

TE MARK ANDREWS, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Second Team: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

At times, it seemed like Andrews was a product of the Ravens’ unique offense, but he is showing this season that he is a spectacular player in his own right. As quarterback Lamar Jackson struggles in a stagnant offense as of late, Andrews’ production remains high. The fourth-year tight end has an average depth of target of 11.3 yards — an extremely high mark for a player at his position, and one that ranks second in the league.

DI AARON DONALD, LOS ANGELES RAMS

Second Team: Calais Campbell, Baltimore Ravens

K JUSTIN TUCKER, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Second Team: Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers

Tucker’s highlight is still a 66-yard NFL record kick to beat the Detroit Lions in Week 3, but he is also perfect from beyond 50 yards. He’s missed just twice on the season — both between 40 and 50 yards.

Week 14: Ravens Vs. Browns Preview, Where to Watch, Prediction - Todd Karpovich

The Browns defense has been mostly stout. Linebacker Myles Garrett is a game-wrecker with 14 sacks. He had a sack the last time the two teams met. Cleveland’s secondary has also been solid. The Ravens are minus-eight in turnover ratio and will need to protect the ball because that could decide the game

The Ravens managed 148 yards against them in Week 12.

While it might be effective to attack the Ravens short-handed secondary, the Browns will likely rely more on the run game. Running back Kareem Hunt only had seven carries in the first meeting because he was coming off an injury. Look for him and Nick Chubb, who had just eight carries in the last game, to get more opportunities.

Tight end David Njoku leads the Browns with 407 yards receiving and he will create matchup problems against the Ravens.

This is another huge AFC North matchup on Sunday night. The Ravens have some cushion but a loss could dampen their playoff standings, especially if the Bengals beat the 49ers. A loss for Cleveland could knock them out of the postseason. The Ravens found a way to win in the previous meeting despite four interceptions by Lamar Jackson. Can the Ravens find some more magic?

Ravens 28, Browns 27