The Ravens have underachieved.
The Ravens have jumped to a lead in every game they’ve played this season and have led in the fourth quarter in five of six. The best analytics say they’re one of the league’s top teams on a per-play basis. We have yet to watch an opponent cleanly outplay them. They are 3-3.
Blame has to fall at the feet of the most important people in the locker room.
Jackson is a wonder, and the Ravens would be an ordinary team without his bewitching runs and daring throws. But he let his creativity get the better of him against the Giants when he tried to pluck a skidding snap from rookie Tyler Linderbaum off the turf and find Ricard in traffic with the game hanging in the balance.
For all the terrific plays we’ve seen from Devin Duvernay and for all of Mark Andrews’ steady excellence, we have to fault the Ravens’ front office for not bringing in another productive pass catcher to round out an undermanned corps.
We also have to ask John Harbaugh and his staff why the Ravens hamstrung themselves with presnap penalties from the first quarter to the fourth? How could they line up incorrectly on a simple quarterback keeper that would have given them a first down the play before Jackson threw his misbegotten interception? The mental errors seem to come from different places each time; recall the fatal miscommunication in the secondary against the Miami Dolphins or the missed blocks that left Jackson unprotected on that decisive fourth-down play against the Buffalo Bills. But the overarching question is the same: where is this team’s precision when it’s time to put a game away?
The Ravens have had 15 full fourth-quarter drives, not counting kneeldown situations. They’ve turned the ball over on seven of them, with Jackson throwing four interceptions and fumbling once, Rashod Bateman fumbling and the Ravens failing to convert on a fourth-and-short against the Miami Dolphins.
Of the eight fourth-quarter drives that haven’t ended with either a turnover or turnover on downs, the Ravens have scored two touchdowns, kicked three field goals and punted three times. So, the Ravens have points on just five of 15 fourth-quarter drives, and on three of those, they settled for field goals.
His quarterback rating in the fourth quarter this season is just 56.3, his lowest of any quarter by a wide margin. Jackson’s rating is 97.8 in the first quarter, 114.8 in the second and 100.6 in the third.
Jackson obviously carries such a huge burden for the Ravens, and he’s going to make some mistakes. But to get out of this trend where the Ravens are finding ways to lose games rather than to win them, they need their best players to step up and make big plays at key times. That starts with Jackson. He did it against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he hasn’t done it enough in fourth quarters this season.
I truly fear that the 2022 Ravens can be best explained as “capable of being good, just as long as Lamar Jackson is otherworldly.” That sounds like a backhanded compliment, but most teams in the NFL have been about as special as their quarterbacks have been in recent years. But for the most part, those teams have attempted to give their quarterbacks the best possible circumstances in order to be the most otherworldly version of themselves as possible. The Bills aggressively went out to get Stefon Diggs for Josh Allen. This offseason, the Eagles decided to pair DeVonta Smith with A.J. Brown to try to get the best from Jalen Hurts and that has gone quite well!
The Ravens’ decision-making in the offseason (keeping Greg Roman as offensive coordinator, subtracting from what was only a mildly decent wide receiver room) made many of us believe that they hoped to return to a 2019-style run game identity. But they’ve been far from that across the first six weeks. Which makes it fair to ask what exactly their plan was this offseason.
NFL Week 6: One up, one down for all 32 teams - Doug Kyed
One up: RB Kenyan Drake
Drake turned back the clock to 2020 with a vintage 10-carry, 119-yard performance that included a rushing touchdown and an eight-yard catch. His 69.1 rushing grade in Sunday’s loss to the Giants was his highest mark since Week 11 of the 2021 season.
One down: CB Damarion Williams
The rookie cornerback was on the field for just 11 coverage snaps but allowed three catches on four targets for 40 yards with a touchdown and three first downs en route to a 29.7 coverage grade.
Rashod Bateman, Gus Edwards Close to Returning - Ryan Mink
The Ravens are close to getting top wide receiver Rashod Bateman back on the field, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday.
Bateman has missed the past two games as he’s dealt with a sprained foot suffered in Week 4 against the Bills.
“You guys are going to say, ‘You always say that,’ but he’s close. He’s close,” Harbaugh said. “We’re close on a lot of guys. I’m looking forward to all those guys getting back. We’ll be talking about him this week, we’ll be talking about him on Thursday.”
Bateman still has the second-most receiving yards (243) on the team behind Mark Andrews. He was the team’s chief big-play threat before going down, as Bateman averaged 22.1 yards per catch.
In addition to Bateman, the Ravens’ backfield is about to get stronger as Gus Edwards is also nearing his return to game action. Edwards is entering his third week of practice and must be either moved to the 53-man roster or placed on season-ending injured reserve by Oct. 26.
“Gus is in the mix. We’ll see about this week – possibly, maybe next week, maybe Thursday, somewhere in there,” Harbaugh said.