Gus Edwards can carry the load
With the NFL trade deadline coming and going on Tuesday, there was much speculation about whether or not Baltimore would trade for a top-end running back. In the end, the Ravens did not add a running back via a trade. While adding an elite running back would certainly have offered another level to Baltimore’s offense, Gus Edwards proved against Arizona that he is capable of carrying the load for Baltimore.
Edwards responded to the trade rumors by having one of the best performances of his career on Sunday as he carried the ball 19 times for 80 rushing yards and three touchdowns. This came a week after totaling 144 yards, including an 80-yard receiving touchdown, against the Detroit Lions. Despite not having an elite running back, the Ravens currently have the No. 2 rushing offense in the NFL, only behind the Miami Dolphins. Baltimore may opt to get rookie running back Keaton Mitchell more involved alongside Edwards and Justice Hill as the season progresses as well.
The offense inevitably came back down to Earth
After a nearly flawless performance against the Lions last in a blowout win, the Ravens’ offense was bound to disappoint against the Cardinals. While the running game was able to take over eventually, the passing game was nowhere near as productive as the week prior. After completing 21 of 27 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns against Detroit, quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 18 of 27 passes for just 157 yards and one touchdown against Arizona.
It is clear that Baltimore needs another receiving threat outside of tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Zay Flowers to step up for the offense to become a consistent juggernaut. Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman have had disappointing seasons through the first eight games, with the pair combining for just 28 catches for 314 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. Both players have flashed at times this season but neither has become a reliable option for Jackson in the passing game yet.
Special Teams remains an issue
One of the most surprising developments for the Ravens this season has been the play of the special teams unit. Baltimore has had top-notch play from their special teams for the majority of John Harbaugh’s tenure as head coach, but the group has struggled this season and it has bit them in multiple key moments so far through eight games, including this past Sunday.
After scoring a late touchdown to cut the lead to 10, the Cardinals needed consecutive onside kick recoveries for a chance to tie the game. Arizona successfully recovered the first of the two onside kicks as wide receiver Nelson Agholor was unable to corral the football. This led to a quick field goal from the Cardinals to make it a one-score game. Baltimore was able to recover the second onside kick to end the game, but it never should have gotten to that point in the first place. The unit must tighten up or they could cost the Ravens an important game down the line.