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Ravens News 9/21: Viable Targets and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

5 things we learned from the Baltimore Ravens’ Week 2 win over the Cincinnati Bengals

Gordon McGuinness, PFF


Mekari allowed two pressures from 43 pass-blocking snaps and was the team’s highest-graded run blocker in the game. He’s talented enough to be a top-20 tackle in the NFL, so the Ravens being able to rely on him as a backup is important. Center Sam Mustipher wasn’t dominant, but he was good enough. He didn’t allow any pressure on 44 pass-blocking snaps. The run-blocking drop-off from Linderbaum to Mustipher is not insignificant, but the Ravens will be happy with his performance as a pass blocker.

In the secondary, the Ravens rotated between Ronald Darby and Rock Ya-Sin opposite Brandon Stephens. Stephens faced seven targets, allowing four receptions for 37 yards, while Darby allowed two receptions for 15 yards and a touchdown. Ya-Sin gave up 13 yards on one reception. Both Darby and Ya-Sin recorded pass breakups, with the latter’s coming on a pass to Ja’Marr Chase in the end zone. Safety Geno Stone had a huge day, making arguably the biggest play of the game by intercepting Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow on his way to a 91.1 PFF grade.


Zay Flowers continues to impress, pulling in a spectacular grab on a 52-yard dime from Lamar Jackson, and Rashod Bateman caught all three passes thrown his way. But the real story was Nelson Agholor. The 2015 first-round pick earned an 87.2 PFF receiving grade in the game, securing five receptions for 63 yards. Four of his five catches went for either a first down or a touchdown, including what became the game-winning score on third-and-5 with 11:42 left in the game.

Ravens film study: Geno Stone calls his shot vs. Bengals; Brandon Stephens and OL creativity stand out

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

Balancing act

The Ravens’ run game creativity didn’t leave with former offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Just look at five significant runs from Sunday.

First quarter, second-and-goal: Edwards ran behind sixth offensive lineman Daniel Faalele, who’d lined up outside of left tackle Patrick Mekari, for a 1-yard touchdown.

Second quarter, first-and-10: With an unbalanced line — from left to right, Patrick Mekari, Morgan Moses, John Simpson, Sam Mustipher, Kevin Zeitler and tight end Isaiah Likely — running back Justice Hill followed fullback Patrick Ricard and a pulling Zeitler around the left end for an 8-yard gain.

Third quarter, first-and-10: With the same unbalanced look and the same pulling action, Edwards burst through a big hole for a 20-yard gain.

Fourth quarter, third-and-3: This time, tight end Mark Andrews replaced Likely in the unbalanced look. A quick snap unsettled the Bengals’ defense, and with the same pulling action, Edwards burrowed ahead for a first-down run of 4 yards.

Fourth quarter, third-and-1: The Ravens put the game away for good with a mix of earlier elements. With Faalele as their sixth offensive lineman, Ricard lead-blocking and Zeitler pulling, Edwards took a hole for a 5-yard gain.

Ravens film study: How the slot fade and Lamar Jackson’s accuracy have spurred a revamped offense

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

Enter the slot fade. Conceptually, it’s similar to the smash corner, with one big exception. With a fade from the slot receiver, there’s more room for improvisation, a bigger window for quarterbacks to throw to and thus it’s easier to complete. It became wildly popular in college football before making its way to the NFL in recent years.

On the eighth play of their opening scoring drive against the Texans, Jackson was in the shotgun with Dobbins to his right, Beckham Jr. wide left with Flowers next to him in the slot and receiver Bateman motioning to the right. With Houston playing Cover 2, Beckham ran a hitch route in the flat while Flowers sprinted on a fade past cornerback Tavierre Thomas. Jackson dropped the ball in perfectly over the cornerback and underneath safety Jalen Pitre for a 20-yard gain.

Five plays later and with the ball on the 17-yard line, Bateman lined up wide left, Flowers wide right, Agholor in the slot right, Andrews just to his left and Justice Hill in the backfield next to Jackson, who was in the shotgun. At the snap, Andrews ran an in-cut, while Flowers and Bateman worked underneath routes, and Agholor stutter-stepped then sped past Awuzie on the fade. This time, Jackson trained his eyes on Andrews, which again held the safety, before he quickly turned and lofted a perfect spiral over the head of Agholor and into his lap in the end zone.

It has helped, too, having receivers who are capable of catching the ball. Through two games, on-target passes by Jackson have been dropped just 4.7% of the time, compared with 7.3% for his career and 9% last season.

Real or mirage? Evaluating NFL trends in the first two weeks

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

Baltimore Ravens

The early surprise: QB Lamar Jackson has completed 74.5% of his passes

The verdict: Mirage. It’s been an impressive start under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, but Jackson would be hard-pressed to continue completing passes at this rate. His career completion percentage is 63.7%. Now, a realistic goal is for Jackson to surpass his career-high completion rate of 66.1% in his 2019 MVP season. Jackson has a couple of factors working in his favor. Monken has modernized the passing game with his detailed routes. Jackson also has so many more viable targets in the passing game this year that he can look for the open receiver instead of trying to force the ball to tight end Mark Andrews.

Week 3 NFL picks: Patriots’ nightmare start continues with loss to Jets; Eagles hold off feisty Bucs

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-8)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)

The Colts could be without quarterback Anthony Richardson since he is in the concussion protocol. Gardner Minshew would start, but I don’t think it will matter. The Ravens offense clicked against the Bengals, and it will do so here as well. Look for Lamar Jackson to insert his name into the early MVP talk.

Pick: Ravens 30, Colts 17