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Ravens News 11/30: 4th Down Decisions

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

Twelve Ravens Thoughts following Week 12 win over Chargers

Luke Jones, Baltimore Positive

There’s certainly Pro Bowl-caliber talent, but what makes this defense great is its ensemble makeup. A prime example of that Sunday was Arthur Maulet, who registered an interception, a tackle, and the quarterback hit to force the fourth-quarter turnover on downs. He played all of seven defensive snaps.

Registering the strip-sack to torpedo the Chargers’ 19-play, eight-minute drive in the fourth quarter, Jadeveon Clowney has garnered high praise for his renaissance season, but defensive assistant Chuck Smith noted that Lamar Jackson is the only current Raven to face more scrutiny than Clowney for his career. What a story.

Entering Sunday as one of the best quarterbacks facing pressure in the pocket this season, Jackson fared poorly under duress as the left side of the offensive line struggled in pass protection. Baltimore needs better from Ronnie Stanley for this passing game to take the next step down the stretch.

Whether talking about the failed direct snap to Gus Edwards on fourth down, a first-down handoff to Devin Duvernay for no gain, or curious running back usage, Todd Monken never developed a good feel facing a bad defense. The ground game is strong, but more passing efficiency will be vital.

NFL Week 12 Coaching Decisions: Colts’ Shane Steichen Makes Bid for Coach of the Year

Gilberto Manzano, CBS Sports

Calls we questioned

Ravens’ strange fourth-down decisions: It’s tough to criticize John Harbaugh for passing on a fourth-and-1 late in the game against the Chargers because he has Justin Tucker—probably the greatest kicker of all time—and a standout defense that was stifling Justin Herbert and his offense.

But the Ravens (9–3) have had issues closing out teams. They have led at the start of every fourth quarter this season and nearly lost a fourth game this season because of poor execution in crunch time.

Tucker surprisingly missed the 44-yard field-goal attempt to give the Chargers the ball back at their 34-yard line with a three-point deficit and 2:57 left in regulation. Harbaugh’s defense stepped up with a critical stop, but he could have avoided the mini scare had he given the ball to Lamar Jackson for the one yard.

Earlier in the game, Baltimore offensive coordinator Todd Monken had a strange fourth-down Wildcat play that had Jackson lined up at wide receiver.

NFL offensive line rankings ahead of Week 13

Zoltan Buday, PFF

3. BALTIMORE RAVENS (NO CHANGE)

Projected starters entering bye:

LT Patrick Mekari

LG John Simpson

C Tyler Linderbaum

RG Kevin Zeitler

RT Morgan Moses

The Ravens’ offensive line had a rough night in pass protection against the Chargers. The unit allowed 13 pressures — including two sacks — on 36 dropbacks and finished just 25th in pass-blocking efficiency rating in Week 12.

Right guard Kevin Zeitler’s 88.1 pass-blocking grade tied for the best mark among all offensive linemen in Week 12.

Best player: Tyler Linderbaum

Linderbaum has endured a rough stretch over the past three weeks. His 53.5 pass-blocking grade over that period ranks just 26th out of 37 qualifying centers.

The Ravens’ unusual approach that’s helped them lead the NFL in sacks: ‘Being in the same room helps’

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

“When you have the outside backers in one room and then the defensive front in another room, then you have two guys on the edge and two of my guys on the inside, there’s a disconnect there sometimes,” Ravens defensive line coach Anthony Weaver said. “I think just the sheer nature of us being in the same room helps.”

It also simply makes sense in today’s fast-paced NFL, where speed has become more valued over size and simulated pressures and confusion are at the heart of the league’s best defenses, including the Ravens’.

“I think you look at that room, we’re connected like a puzzle,” first-year Ravens outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith said. “You can’t put a puzzle together without making sure all the pieces fit. The edge guys do some of the same things that the interior guys do, or we’ll replace them when it comes to the different fronts and different positions.”

“I also would like to lead the league in beating up quarterbacks, honestly,” Smith said. “Putting quarterbacks [down] on the ground where they lean to get back up. So, that’s the kind of goal that we’ve got. We want to put hands on quarterbacks, and that can affect the game. The sacks come after that.”

Former Ravens TE Daniel Wilcox: Baltimore Can Overcome Mark Andrews’ Injury

Jake Shindel, PressBox

One area where Andrews’ absence was felt in particular against the Chargers was third-down offense. The Ravens are converting 43 percent of their third downs this year, but against the Chargers, they converted just 31 percent of their tries.

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken will have to figure out how to make up for Andrews’ ability to run, catch and block from the tight end position. Wilcox believes Likely has the same skill set as Andrews in terms of catching the ball, but the team might need to rely on Kolar more for run blocking.

“I think Isaiah Likely is a huge threat in the passing game but not as much of a threat in the run game,” Wilcox said. “[Andrews] is a constant mismatch on routes, and then he could hold his own when it comes to blocking. Isaiah Likely is a little lighter … and may get tossed around a little more, but he’s just as good as Mark in the pass game. … I think Kolar may be a little bit better of a run blocker as well.”

Wilcox also mentioned fullback Patrick Ricard as a player who could step up in the absence of Andrews. Ricard is mainly used for blocking but has still recorded four catches for 48 yards this season.

While the loss of Andrews is a costly one for the team, the depth in all three phases of the team should keep the Ravens in Super Bowl contention. The Ravens are allowing the second-fewest yards (273.9) and points (15.6) per game in the league.

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Bears trade Justin Fields to Raiders and select Drake Maye; Patriots land Caleb Williams

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports

Round 1 - Pick 31

JT Tuimoloau EDGE

OHIO STATE • JR • 6’4” / 270 LBS

Tuimoloau is the sizable defensive end the Ravens typically gravitate toward in the draft.

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Bears take Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels crashes top 10

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

31. Baltimore Ravens: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Mitchell, who currently ranks No. 2 in the FBS with 17 passes defended, offers size (6-1, 200), speed (4.39 40-yard dash) and a composed play style downfield. He has been targeted 59 times this season and is allowing only 42.4 percent completions with zero penalties.