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Ravens News 10/4: Explosive Runs

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Syndication: The Enquirer Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Lamar Jackson and Ravens efficient in red zone, and the defense playing well 4 weeks in

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

For all the early angst about Todd Monken’s new offense, there is one clear and immediate area of improvement from last season: The Ravens are scoring touchdowns in the red zone. They went 4-for-4 in Sunday’s 28-3 victory over the Browns, who entered the game having not allowed a red zone touchdown all season.

Through four weeks, the Ravens’ 80 percent scoring rate in the red zone tops the NFL. Since a Lamar Jackson interception on the Ravens’ first red zone trip of the regular season, they have entered the opponents’ 20-yard line 14 times and come away with 12 touchdowns and two field goals.

The NFL trade deadline is still four weeks away, so it’s a bit early to speculate on what Baltimore could do and the players who will be available. But as long as the Ravens don’t head badly off course over the next three weeks, you’d expect general manager Eric DeCosta to explore a potential deal. The question, though, will be what’s the Ravens’ biggest need in two or three weeks and whether there’s someone attractive and available to fill it. Edge rush and cornerback help have been perceived as the team’s biggest needs, but that may not be the case if Humphrey, Bowser, Oweh and Damarion Williams return in good form. It makes perfect sense for the Ravens to monitor the running back and offensive tackle markets, too. The injury concerns at both spots aren’t going away.

Twelve Ravens Thoughts following Week 4 win at Cleveland

Luke Jones, Baltimore Positive

In 23 snaps, Kyle Van Noy batted down a pass and registered a quarterback hit while Pro Football Focus credited him for four total pressures on Browns rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson. That’s a credit to his conditioning and football intelligence for playing that well after only a few days of practice.

The Ravens confirmed Brandon Stephens will remain at cornerback after Marlon Humphrey returns to game action, which should be much sooner than later at this point. Stephens logged his first career interception Sunday and has played every defensive snap this season. His step forward has been a critical one.

Limited to seven snaps returning from a toe injury, Justice Hill gained 33 yards on three carries and had a 55-yard reception on a screen pass called back for holding in the second quarter. If he can stay healthy, Hill remains the top home-run hitter Baltimore has at running back.

Baltimore is tied for third in the NFL in fewest points allowed through Week 4 with 15 of those 58 points surrendered coming on field goals of 53 yards or longer. Even when opponents are moving the ball, the Ravens aren’t making it easy.

Grading all 31 first-round picks after Week 4 of the 2023 NFL season

Dalton Wasserman, PFF


Overall Rookie Grade: 75.5 (Rank: 4/14)

Principal Opponent: Martin Emerson

Week 4 Snaps: 57

Week 4 Grade: 71.6

It was a Mark Andrews day for the Ravens, but Zay Flowers continues to be the team’s best wide receiver. Flowers collected three catches for 56 yards, including 43 on a terrific scramble drill adjustment. Baltimore has seen a ton of injuries to its receiving corps so far, but Flowers continues to make an impact every week.

NFL Week 5 Power Rankings 2023: How all 32 teams stack up

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

7. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

Week 4 ranking: 7

Defensive efficiency: 84.2 (3rd)

Biggest issue on defense: Explosive runs

Over the past two weeks, the Ravens have allowed three runs of 20 yards or longer — only the Broncos and Cowboys have given up more in that span. The problem has been setting the edge with young outside linebackers David Ojabo and Jeremiah Moon. This is uncharacteristic for Baltimore, which allowed the second-fewest runs of 20 yards or longer (38) over the previous five seasons. The Ravens still remain one of the best run defenses overall, ranking seventh in the league with 92.5 yards allowed per game this season.

NFL power rankings, Week 5: Ravens, despite injuries, in a class of their own in AFC North

C.J. Doon, The Baltimore Sun

7. Ravens (3-1, No. 7)

Last week: Win vs. Browns, 28-3

Up next: at Steelers

With as many injuries as the Ravens have had to overcome, it helps to have one of the league’s best players. Lamar Jackson certainly looks like an MVP-caliber quarterback again, accounting for four touchdowns in a blowout win. His performance in the second quarter — in particular back-to-back throws to Nelson Agholor and Mark Andrews in the end zone that defenders had no chance of knocking down — might have been the best stretch of his career. Combine Jackson’s ascendence with a defense that has held up extremely well despite missing its Pro Bowl cornerback, $70 million safety and two best young pass rushers and the Ravens should be extremely pleased sitting in first place in the now very winnable AFC North.