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Ravens News 10/12: Simplified Scheme and more

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Lamar to the rescue: How the Ravens’ QB saved the day after rough start - Jamison Hensley

Jackson was far from his MVP form for over three quarters, overthrowing open wide receivers twice for sure-fire touchdowns and getting picked off on another poorly thrown pass. But when the game was on the line, Jackson still showed why he’s the most valuable -— and versatile -— player on the field.

In the final two minutes of the game, Jackson finished off the winning drive by running the ball on three of the last four plays, gaining a total of 26 yards. His 19-yard burst put Baltimore in range for Justin Tucker’s 43-yard field goal as time expired.

The Ravens (3-2) are in sole possession of first place in the AFC North.

The win over the Bengals also marked the fourth consecutive game that Jackson led the Ravens in rushing. The last quarterback to lead his team in rushing for five straight games was Randall Cunningham for the 1990 Philadelphia Eagles, according to Elias.

The challenge for Jackson and the Ravens will be moving the ball through the air. The next four games before the bye are against teams that rank in the top half of the NFL in pass defense: the New York Giants (8th), Cleveland Browns (14th), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6th) and New Orleans Saints (12th).

Defensive Notes vs Bengals Week 5 2022 - Ken McKusick

After a pair of one-sided losses to the Bengals last season, the Ravens exacted a measure of prime-time revenge to take sole possession of first place in the AFC North.

In 2 games vs the Bengals last season, the defense allowed 907 net passing yards on 88 drop backs (10.3 YPP). The Ravens needed an answer to the numerous big plays and found it in scheme simplicity.

Macdonald sent a 3 or 4-man pass rush on 35 of 38 plays, reduced elements of pass rush deception, called a lot of zone, and relied on a simplified set of packages that relied on unforced errors from Joe Burrow. The scheme combination resulted in just 5.0 yards per pass play and 1 offensive play of 20+ yards for the Bengals.

The loss of Marcus Williams is devastating despite the team’s depth at safety. Harbaugh announced in the Monday interviews that Williams will go on IR but it would not end his season. I expect Geno Stone will take over at FS and play virtually every snap. Interestingly, despite being down a safety, the Ravens may not see fit to insert Kyle Hamilton for every-down play due to his struggles to date.

Defensive MVPs

Calais Campbell

Jason Pierre-Paul

Marcus Peters

Honorable mention to Patrick Queen.

How the Eagles are proving the Ravens need to open their wallets for a star wide receiver - Cody Benjamin

Obviously, there are many reasons the Eagles are 5-0 and the Ravens are 3-2.

But the biggest difference as it pertains to the two teams’ run-heavy offenses — in a league, mind you, where offense increasingly dictates playoff performance — is Philly’s ability to throw the ball with confidence.

Physically speaking, Jackson has a clear and obvious advantage on Hurts in terms of passing ability. He’s got the gift of Michael Vick-esque touch, capable of firing a deep floater with the flick of a wrist. What he doesn’t have is the luxury of a single alpha-male No. 1 target, let alone two. Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay have taken turns flashing downfield speed this year, and tight end Mark Andrews is a reliable safety valve. But none of those three are wired to be “the guy” on any given play — the type of receiver you eye even if he’s covered, with the game on the line. Marquise Brown wasn’t necessarily that guy, either, but his trade to the Cardinals this offseason simply magnifies the Ravens’ current lack of oomph at the position.

The Eagles, if you hadn’t noticed, happily paid to possess two of those guys. After trading a third-round draft pick to the rival Cowboys to move up and select Alabama’s DeVonta Smith 10th overall in 2021, they sent two of their top 2022 picks — a first- and third-rounder — to the Titans for Pro Bowler A.J. Brown.

Both have commanded Hurts’ unwavering trust, combining for 83 targets and almost 800 yards during the 5-0 start, even as Nick Sirianni retains his commitment to the ground.

Stopping Saquon Barkley Is Next Challenge for Ravens Defense - Clifton Brown

Barkley is second in the league in rushing (533 yards) and has caught 18 passes for 143 yards, and his ability to make razor-sharp cuts in the open field has returned.

“Strength, balance, change of direction; he’s just a really tough guy to tackle,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday of Barkley. “Good out of the backfield, catches passes. Great all-around running back [and] a heart and soul of their offense.

“But it’s just not him. (Quarterback) Daniel Jones is playing really well, and he’s a tough tackle. He’s been making plays out of the pocket that I didn’t really expect to see, and he’s really made a big difference for them – throwing and running around. [Their] offensive line is playing well – Ben Bredeson, who was here, he’s doing a nice job for them. So, they’re doing a good job on offense, obviously, and winning games.”

Barkley has rushed for at least 70 yards in every game this season, so containing him is going to take a group effort. The Ravens (3-2) haven’t won two straight games this year and would love to build momentum, but the defense knows it can’t relax following Sunday’s win.

Ravens are solid road favorites over Giants in Week 6 matchup - Jonas Shaffer

After a narrow 19-17 win Sunday night over the Cincinnati Bengals in their AFC North opener, the Ravens (3-2) are 4 1/2-point favorites over the upstart Giants (4-1), who stunned the Green Bay Packers in London, 27-22. Led by running back Saquon Barkley and an aggressive defense, the Giants scored 24 of the game’s final 29 points to push their winning streak to four games.

Sunday’s game will mark the Ravens’ second trip to MetLife Stadium, where they handled the New York Jets in their opener, and their first game against former defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale. Martindale, whom the Ravens fired after a disappointing 2021, served under coach John Harbaugh for 10 seasons in Baltimore, including the final four as defensive coordinator. Despite injuries and a lack of star talent, Martindale’s unit ranks 17th in the NFL in yards per play allowed (5.5), ahead of the 27th-ranked Ravens (6.0).