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'Chunk' plays victimize Ravens' defense


'Chunk' plays victimize Ravens' defense

Even if the Ravens beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, theres a bigger issue that must be addressed before its too late.

Can this defense prevent "chunk" plays and revert to the more traditional, hard-nosed outfit that has typified it in the past? Or will it morph into a bend-but-dont-break defense that continues to allow opponents to chew up yardage?

Going into Week 5, the Ravens are ranked 23rd in overall defense. Theyve given up 18 "chunk" plays -- gains of 20 yards or more -- through four games for 504 yards.

In their only loss, 24-23 to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, nine plays of that distance were allowed.

At this same point last season, the Ravens gave up 12 "chunk" plays for 383 total yards.

Taking on the Chiefs, who have lost three of four games, poses problems similar to Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who can extend plays and make something out of nothing with his legs.

Kansas City has big-play capability with running back Jamaal Charles, who goes into the game with 415 yards as the NFLs second-leading rusher.

"He's just a talented guy. He can burn the edge if he gets that chance," Ravens defensive end Pernell McPhee said. "If you peek in, he'll bounce it out."

Charles has the longest run from scrimmage for a touchdown as he went 91 yards against the New Orleans Saints.

Keeping Charles contained is a key to victory. With quarterback Matt Cassel being error-prone -- he has 10 of their NFL-high 15 turnovers -- the more he throws the better for Baltimore.

The Ravens allow 94.5 yards rushing, 13th-best in the league. Thats not far from 2011 when they had linebackers Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson and held teams to 92.6 yards rushing.

But a "chunk" play can change all of that. Even rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, who threw for 320 yards for the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 27, converted four "chunk" plays against this defense.

The Ravens weren't able to put them away as winless Cleveland stayed alive throughout the 23-16 defeat.

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?