Ronnie Stanley’s Potential Absence Poses Another Challenge - Clifton Brown
Wink Martindale Praises Odafe Oweh’s Strong Debut
“What’s he on schedule for now, a 17-sack season?” Martindale said.
Oweh is far more than just a situational sack artist. He defends the run well, with an ability to blow plays up in the backfield with his quickness off the snap. He has the upper body strength to set the edge while defending the run, and that should improve as he gains more experience.
Oweh played 58 percent of the defensive snaps Monday (46 snaps), and that playing time is likely to climb if he continues to improve each week.
“First primetime game, I thought he lived up to his billing and surpassed a lot of people’s thoughts of him coming out,” Martindale said. “I think he’s going to be a really good player for us.”
Rookie safety Brandon Stephens could see an increased role after playing 25 snaps in Week 1. During his college career, Stephens showed his versatility by switching from running back to cornerback, and he has off to a good start making the transition to safety in the NFL.
“He’s so valuable because he’s a chess piece,” Martindale said of Stephens. “He can play anywhere, and that’s what he’s been doing for us. So, that’s how I see him best right now.”
QB Lamar Jackson faced heavy pressure in Week 1. Ravens OC Greg Roman says offensive line’s ‘got to do a better job on the edge.’ - Jacob Calvin Meyer
“We’ve got to do a better job on the edge. We know that,” Roman said. “It’s just really a technique thing. … We’ve just got to do a better job, and we will.”
Las Vegas’ success at pressuring Jackson wasn’t due to blitz schemes, though, as the Raiders sent more than four rushers fewer times than any team in the NFL in Week 1. Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley called a blitz on only 5% of the Ravens’ drop-backs, according to Pro Football Focus.
“There’s room for improvement everywhere,” Roman said about the Ravens’ tight ends and running backs as pass blockers. “I think there was some really good blocking, and then there are some things we’ve got to clean up. That kind of goes every week.”
“I think Al [Villanueva] is a guy who is going to keep getting better in our system,” Roman added later.
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley hasn’t practiced this week, and his status for Sunday’s contest is unknown. With starting left guard Tyre Phillips, who played right tackle last season, now on short-term injured reserve, Villanueva and Patrick Mekari are the only other Ravens linemen on the 53-man roster with NFL experience at tackle.
Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson can downplay it all they want, but this game is first and foremost a clash between two MVP quarterbacks.
‘’I think those guys definitely view it that way,’’ said Watkins, now a receiver for Baltimore. ‘’You can say you’re not, but the world is watching two of the best, youngest MVPs in the league, and very talented guys. I’m definitely looking at it that way. Like, man, Lamar needs to win.’’
This is the fourth straight season Baltimore and Kansas City will face off, and Jackson has yet to beat Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Baltimore quarterback is 30-5 as a starter in the regular season against everybody else.
The Ravens will be at home for Sunday night’s game, but Kansas City won 34-20 at Baltimore last year, and the Chiefs have 11 straight regular-season road victories overall.
Mahomes, the league MVP in 2018, has had a passer rating of 100 or better in 29 games in his career, one shy of Len Dawson’s franchise record. He had a rating of 131.4 in last weekend’s win over Cleveland - and 133.5 in last year’s win over Baltimore.
CARRYING THE LOAD
Jackson is a big reason Baltimore can still rack up big rushing numbers despite all the injuries in the backfield. The 2019 MVP ran for 86 yards against the Raiders, although he did lose two fumbles.
Jackson also threw for 235 yards and a touchdown.
Matchup to watch: Patrick Mahomes vs. Baltimore blitz
Few teams have blitzed more often or more effectively than the Ravens since 2018. Mahomes has been one of the few quarterbacks who has consistently beaten that blitz. In their three matchups over the past three years, Mahomes has thrown for six touchdowns and zero interceptions against Baltimore’s blitz with a 134.0 passer rating. All other quarterbacks have combined for a 74.5 passer rating against the Ravens’ blitz over that time frame.
Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s defense will hope for more success in this matchup, though few defenses find it against Kansas City.
Biggest storyline: Baltimore’s offensive line could hold this team back
The Ravens dropped from seventh in pressure rate allowed in 2019 to 27th in 2020, and their pass protection unit continued to trend in the wrong direction in Week 1 against a Las Vegas defensive line that wasn’t all that well regarded entering the season. Lamar Jackson was under pressure on 46% of his dropbacks against the Raiders, and Ronnie Stanley and Alejandro Villanueva led all tackles in pressures allowed last week.
It’s an issue that will need to be corrected if Baltimore hopes to make any noise in this game or in the AFC.
Kansas City Chiefs 31, Baltimore Ravens 26
The Ravens have started 0-2 only once in the John Harbaugh era, but playing the Chiefs on a short week will test their organizational resolve. Their running game doesn’t have its usual flow with a new offensive line and even never running backs. Their pass rush is even more reliant than usual on aging veterans. Meanwhile, Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu are expected to return for a Chiefs defense that has held Lamar Jackson in check in three wins over the Baltimore QB. With everything pointing toward a Chiefs blowout, the most popular bet of the week will be K.C. covering. I had a whole screed pushing back against that and then the news broke that Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley is likely to be out and I lost my nerve. Prove me wrong, Lamar; I’m sad and not thinking straight!