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Ravens fall to Raiders: 5 things you need to know


Ravens fall to Raiders: 5 things you need to know

OAKLAND – Here are five things we learned after the Ravens fell to 0-2, losing to the Raiders, 37-33:

1. The Ravens are in trouble, 0-2 for the first time under John Harbaugh.

This was a must-win the Ravens didn’t get, and it left them dead last (0-2) in the AFC North. The result makes the Ravens’ home opener against the Bengals (2-0) next week even more crucial. If the Bengals start 3-0, and the Ravens start 0-3, do you think the Ravens will win the AFC North? I don’t.

2.  The Ravens’ decision to stay West before this game didn’t help.

The Ravens spend the week practicing in San Jose, spent nine days on the road, and for what? To go 0-2, that’s what. And they are planning another weeklong stay out West in October when they play the 49ers and Cardinals back-to-back. By the end of October, the Ravens will have spent a lot of time on the road. But if they don’t starting playing better, they’re going to be in deep trouble by the time they reach Week 8.


3.  Linebacker Terrell Suggs was missed. 

If you give up 37 points to the Raiders, you deserve to lose. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had a ton of time to throw all day. This was the Ravens’ first game after Suggs’ season-ending Achilles injury, and the defense didn’t react well. The amount of time Carr had to throw also led to mistakes in the Ravens’ secondary. Newly-signed pass rusher Jason Babin was not activated for this game, but whether Babin eventually helps or not, it will be difficult for the Ravens’ defense to succeed if their pass rush remains this dormant. 

4.  The Ravens have a pass-catching tight end in Crockett Gillmore 

This was a statement game for Gillmore (five catches, 88 yards, two touchdowns), one of the few Ravens positives to take from this game. He showed his ability not only to get open, and to make powerful runs after the catch. Gillmore overpowered three Raiders defenders to bull his way into the end zone. In only his second year, Gillmore entered the league labeled as a blocking tight end. In truth, he’s an all-around tight end who looks ready to become a weekly weapon in the Ravens’ offense. 

5.  The Ravens haven’t established an identity.

Last week, the Ravens’ offense didn’t score a touchdown. In this game, the Ravens’ defense couldn’t control Oakland’s offense. With Suggs gone, Steve Smith )10 catches 150 yards), Joe Flacco, and defensive vets like Elvis Dumervil and Chris Canty must help younger players to keep from panicking.

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."


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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There are no dreary work days for Don Martindale, who has overwhelmingly embraced his new role as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

After serving for five seasons as the team's linebackers coach, Martindale was promoted to coordinator in January after Dean Pees left the post.

Enthusiastic doesn't even begin to describe Martindale's attitude about being in charge of the defense.

"Ever since we've made this transition, it's been a joy to just come through those gates every day. I love it," Martindale said after Wednesday's mandatory minicamp practice.

This isn't the first time Martindale has been put in charge of molding a defense. In 2010, he watched over a unit in Denver that was the worst in the NFL in both yards and points allowed per game.

Given a second chance, the 55-year-old Martindale is putting together a defense that will rely heavily on the instinct of several of its most proven players, most notably safety Eric Weddle and linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley.

"He's just putting his personal fix on our defense and expanding it, giving the guys confidence to play fast," Weddle said. "The idea is to do what's best for the defense, not what's best the individual."

Martindale called Mosley "the quarterback" of a fluid unit that can make a snap-change from drop-back coverage to an all-out blitz. In that regard, Mosley believes this defense is superior to the one that in 2017 yielded 18.9 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL.

"The way we're able to use our core guys, put them in different spots and do some of the same things just from different positions, it's more creative, I would say, than where we were last year," Mosley said.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh promoted Martindale rather than go outside the organization because he wanted to extend his vision of a defense that has evolved since his arrival in 2008.

"All we're doing is forwarding John's plan," Martindale said. "We're remodeling the package. It's still Ravens football, it's still Ravens defense, but we've streamlined it. It's the elegant simplicity. Guys are playing really fast."

Asked for his take on Martindale's defense, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg replied, "They're fast and they're furious."

Sure, things might be different once the pads go on at training camp, but at this point, Martindale's boss likes what he sees.

"We're doing a lot of neat things on defense, things that are really good," Harbaugh said. "More than ever, we're putting it on our players to make decisions in real time."

Martindale has a new title, but old habits die hard.

"For the most part, it's been the same," Mosley said. "He always comes in and says, `I have to lead the linebacker room,' and sits down and gets to talking like he's back at linebacker coach."

Told of Mosley's disclosure, Martindale smiled and said, "I've been trying to stay out of there, but you can't help but go in. That's home. I have a good time in the secondary room as well."

And just about everywhere else.

"Where we're going with this thing is really exciting to me," Martindale said, "and I know it's exciting to the players."

In other training camp news, cornerback Jimmy Smith was a surprise participant at practice, going through a light regimen of individual drills just six months after tearing his left Achilles tendon.

"I don't know if Jimmy's like half Wolverine, but he's healed up in half the time of regular human beings," Weddle said, referring to the amazing recuperative powers of the Marvel super hero.