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What we learned from the Ravens’ 28-3 victory over the Browns

Observations from Baltimore’s latest win

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens improved to 3-1 with their 28-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns, taking first place in the AFC North as a result. What did we learn from the divisional win?

The Ravens need their starting offensive tackles

This is a no-brainer for any team in the NFL, but it was evidently clear for Baltimore last Sunday after right tackle Morgan Moses left the game with a shoulder injury. Second-year offensive tackle Daniel Faalele replaced the veteran at right tackle with Patrick Mekari still at left tackle. The two struggled mightily against the Browns’ pass rush, which should not be too surprising considering they were facing two of the best edge rushers in the NFL in Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith, but their next challenge will not be any easier as they look to face outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith against the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said that none of the injuries from last Sunday’s game were long-term but it is unclear if Moses will miss time going forward. Meanwhile, left tackle Ronnie Stanley returned to practice last week but did not suit up against Cleveland. If Stanley is able to play this week, then the Ravens could opt to move Mekari to right tackle over Faalele to deal with Watt.

Arthur Maulet made his case in the slot

Baltimore’s secondary continues to impress week in and week out despite the evergrowing number of injuries the unit has sustained. Multiple players have seen playing time at cornerback specifically for the Ravens through four weeks of the season. This is especially true at slot cornerback, where Baltimore has even used safety Kyle Hamilton at times. Against the Browns in Week 4, it was veteran cornerback Arthur Maulet who got a crack at it.

The former Steeler made a strong case that the position should be his with his performance against Cleveland. Maulet was sticky in coverage and exceptional against the run. Going forward, the Ravens could opt to deploy different players in the slot depending on different matchups every week, but Maulet appears to be a viable option if he can continue this level of play. He will have the chance to face his former team this Sunday in Pittsburgh.

The veteran additions are paying off for the pass rush

Baltimore’s pass rush was a massive question mark heading into the season. The team entered the season with the hopes of their young outside linebackers, Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo stepping up and carrying the outside pass rush. After both players suffered ankle injuries in back-to-back weeks, the Ravens have completely turned to veterans at the position, and so far, it seems to be working.

Jadeveon Clowney in particular has been a force upfront for Baltimore. Through four weeks, the veteran edge rusher has 19 pressures and two sacks. Finishing sacks has been an issue, but the pressure is coming at a consistent rate. On the other side, Kyle Van Noy had an impressive debut against the Browns after being signed by the Ravens just days prior. The versatile linebacker only rushed the passer 15 times last Sunday but accumulated four pressures and a pass deflection.

General Manager Eric DeCosta has shown a knack for finding cheap veteran pass rushers who can contribute during his tenure, including Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, and now Clowney and Van Noy.