Ravens

Quick Links

Receivers find daylight to help Flacco

863761.png

Receivers find daylight to help Flacco

A major issue for the Ravens has been with the receivers getting separation to give quarterback Joe Flacco a better chance of opening up the no-huddle offense.

In Sunday's comeback win vs. the New England Patriots, they did just that.

Flacco completed passes to eight different receivers. And instead of targeting tight end Dennis Pitta 15 times like he had in the previous game, a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Flacco was able to spread the wealth. That made for a more dynamic offense as Flacco threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns.

Torrey Smith, who had a team-high six catches for a game-high 127 yards, was targeted 10 times by Flacco. Pitta had five catches for 50 yards but was targeted only seven times. Anquan Boldin finished with four catches for 48 yards in seven targets. Jacoby Jones only had three catches but had 86 yards in four targets. Ray Rice caught the ball all five times he was targeted for 49.

Figuring out the seams in the Patriots' Cover 2 scheme -- using two safeties to play over the top in the deep zones -- was part of it.

"We had to adjust to what they was doing," Jones said. "They were playing a Cover 2 but they were playing it kind of different. Once we figured out what we were doing it was easy to find the soft spots out there. The safeties didn't really come off the hash (marks) that much.

Just as important was that the replacement officials started calling opposing defenses for illegal contact after five yards downfield. Before Flacco's 5-yard strike to Smith that pulled the Ravens to 30-28, he was sacked for a 12-yard loss. That was negated, however, by a defensive holding call on Brandon Spikes.

Earlier in that drive, Devin McCourty was called for defensive holding on 2nd-and-14 that gave the Ravens an automatic first down.

"It was a technique thing. We did a better job of getting off some of the grabbing stuff," coach John Harbaugh said. "I also think it got called in this game. And when it gets called it cleans up that stuff pretty quick."

Quick Links

Youth movement leads Ravens’ list of MVPs of 2018 season

Youth movement leads Ravens’ list of MVPs of 2018 season

The Baltimore Ravens' 2018-19 season certainly wasn't boring.

A change at starting quarterback while displaying the NFL's No. 1 defense for just the second time in team history en route to a playoff run highlighted their campaign. 

With rookies on the rise and veterans still at the top of their game, who on the Ravens' roster had MVP performances in 2018?

Offensive MVP: QB Lamar Jackson

Coming in for an injured Joe Flacco in Week 11, Jackson pulled the Ravens out of a four-game losing streak and led the team to a 6-1 record down the stretch. His 695 rushing yards is the most by all NFL quarterbacks in 2018 and also ranks 11th most by a quarterback in NFL single-season-history. 

The Ravens' leader for the foreseeable future, Jackson landed the team in their first postseason appearance in three seasons and rekindled fandom in the city of Baltimore. 

Defensive MVP: CB Marlon Humphrey

Humphrey followed up his strong rookie season with an even stronger sophomore season. Nursing a groin injury for part of it, Humphrey led the team with 15 passes defended, 37 total tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble. 

Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15, the cornerback produced a career-high four passes defended and one interception in the 20-12 win. Through 14 games, Humphrey proved he can matchup with some of the best receivers in the league while slowly emerging as a leader of the defense.

Special Teams MVP: Justin Tucker

He's the most reliable guy in Baltimore, finishing the 2018 season with a franchise-record 141 points for the third-consecutive season.

Named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month in September and November, Tucker was snubbed from a Pro Bowl appearance after making 36 of 39 field goal attempts. 

Unsung Hero: RB Gus Edwards

Beep, beep. Make way for Gus 'the bus'' Edwards. 

Alongside Jackson, the undrafted rookie out of Rutgers emerged in their Week 11 matchup against the Bengals rushing for 115 yards on 17 carries and his first-career touchdown. Through seven weeks, Edwards helped take the Ravens' 29th ranked run game to No. 2 in the league. An introvert in the locker room but an extrovert on the field, Edwards became the Ravens' second rookie in franchise history to post back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in Week 11 and Week 12.

With Greg Roman being promoted to offensive coordinator, expect to see Gus 'the bus' pounding the field in 2019.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Would Ravens fans welcome Steelers WR Antonio Brown?

antonio-brown-ravens-steelers-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Would Ravens fans welcome Steelers WR Antonio Brown?

If there’s one Raven who knows just how difficult it is to cover Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, it’s Marlon Humphrey.

The second-year cornerback out of Alabama rose to the top of the team’s depth chart in the secondary this season and was rewarded with the chance to cover the consensus top pass catcher in football over the last half-decade.

It’s not newsworthy to tell you that Antonio Brown is an elite receiver. In Week 14 of the 2017 season, with top CB Jimmy Smith on the bench, Brown roasted the Ravens secondary for 213 yards on 11 catches. And in two games this past season with Humphrey following him, Brown combined for 104 yards on 10 catches and a touchdown in each game. 

What is newsworthy is the Steelers potentially shopping Brown, after numerous reports of locker room struggles and diva qualities from the star. And since he knows just how dangerous Brown can be, it makes sense that Humphrey would prefer to see him in purple and black.

Fans of every team have imagined what it would be like to see Brown in their colors, scoring touchdowns and racking up big yardage. It’s no surprise that players would imagine it as well.

He hasn't had fewer than 1,284 yards or 8 touchdowns in any season since 2012, but Brown will be 31 by the start of next season, so there probably aren't too many elite seasons left. For the time being, however, Brown would be a major addition for any team.

That goes double for the Ravens, who would A) take a playmaker away from their biggest rivals, and B) finally give themselves a star receiver, something they haven’t had on the roster since Anquan Boldin during the Super Bowl run.

While no team wants to add an alleged diva to their locker room, the Ravens have historically believed in the strength and leadership of their veterans, and therefore haven’t shied away from problematic players.

With John Harbaugh running things and Eric Weddle and Terrell Suggs in the locker room (none of whom are guaranteed for 2019, to be fair), the Ravens will likely trust their infrastructure and focus on talent when adding to the roster this offseason, and Brown certainly is talented.

Even Humphrey recognizes it’s a longshot, however. Not only would it take a massive haul in draft picks and young talent, but the Ravens would need to create some cap room that’s already needed to fill other holes on the roster.

Plus, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers allowing their best player to go to their most hated rival if they can help it, so Baltimore would likely be forced to overpay even more than other teams to pry away Brown. Even if they could make it happen, how would fans react to adding a player they've hated for so long?

When asked about potentially bringing in both Brown and star running back Le’Veon Bell from Pittsburgh to Baltimore, Humphrey could only laugh.

Some things really would be too good to be true. It’s still fun to speculate, though, and Lamar Jackson throwing up long touchdowns to Brown would be a sight to behold.

If anything else, it’d just be nice to get Brown out of the black and gold. Just ask Marlon Humphrey.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: