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Third down has not been a charm for Ravens


Third down has not been a charm for Ravens

Move the chains. It sounds simple enough, but in fact the Ravens have had all sorts of trouble doing it.

The Ravens continue to struggle to convert on third down, and third-and-short situations were at the heart of their offensive problems at Heinz Field on Sunday night.

"Third down is a concern," coach John Harbaugh said at his media session on Monday. "If you look at the stats, we aren’t as good on third down as we need to be. That’s something that we really have to get better at. We’ve known that. That’s something that we’ve been working really hard on."

The Ravens rank 23rd in the league in third-down conversions, succeeding about 34.4 percent of the time. In their 13-10 win at Pittsburgh on Sunday, the Ravens converted three of 14 third downs.

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron likes to talk about staying "on schedule" -- getting decent gains and first and second down to set up third-and-short. But against the Steelers, the Ravens had four third-down plays of 3 yards or less and went 0-for-4.

They mixed up the play calls in those situations, too, but none of them worked. On third-and-3 in the first quarter, Joe Flacco threw high to Torrey Smith in the right flat. On third-and-1 in the third quarter, Ray Rice was stuffed for no gain after tight end Ed Dickson was overpowered at the line of scrimmage by LaMarr Woodley. Facing third-and-2 in the fourth quarter, Flacco overthrew a well-covered Jacoby Jones down the right sideline.

On the Ravens' final possession, facing third-and-2 coming out of the two-minute warning, Flacco was sacked. Harbaugh explained afterward that the plan was to hit the pass if it was there, but to take the sack if it wasn't so that the clock would continue to run. (The Steelers had just used their final timeout).

It's worth noting that the Ravens were without tight end Dennis Pitta, a frequent third-down target, who had left the game with a concussion in the first series -- after making a third-down catch.

Some have thought the Ravens should be utilizing fullback Vonta Leach more in those short-yardage situations, but the Ravens frequently swap out Leach for a third receiver, and Harbaugh said it's not that simple.

"A dive play wouldn’t have worked against the defense they ran," Harbaugh said. "They were bringing everybody inside. ... Something running outside would have had a chance, but they were bringing safeties off the edges, too."

So on the final possession, Flacco took the sack, and the Ravens punted away. It was a recurring theme.

"We need to get better at third down, no doubt," Harbaugh said, "and third-and-short, absolutely.”


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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens place Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson on reserve/NFI list

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens place Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson on reserve/NFI list

With training camp just six days away, here is the latest news surrounding the Baltimore Ravens.

1. Ian Rapoport reported that the Ravens have placed Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson and two others on the reserve/NFI list. He later added that Brown is still recovering from Lisfranc surgery but is "progressing well" and Ferguson is dealing with a "minor hamstring" injury.

2. The entire Baltimore Ravens class is officially under contract after the signing of wide receiver Miles Boykin. Boykin was a third-round pick out of Notre Dame.

3. Michael Vick joined The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Friday morning and when asked which young quarterbacks in the NFL most emulate his style, he answered: "Lamar Jackson" along with Kyler Murray and Cam Newton.

Looking Ahead:

July 24: Ravens training camp begins. Rookies are set to report a week earlier on Wednesday, July 17. 

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.


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A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

The number eight is sports royalty in the city of Baltimore thanks to Cal Ripken Jr.

If Lamar Jackson has the career many are hoping for, he’ll be another reason for that one day down the road.

For now, he’s a young, athletic quarterback entering his second season in Charm City. But his successful rookie year hasn’t been reflected in Madden NFL 20’s newest ratings.

Jackson came in with an overall rating of 76, tied for 24th among all quarterbacks. Unsurprisingly, his athleticism is highly-regarded, as he leads all signal-callers in speed, acceleration, agility, and elusiveness.

Questions abound about his throwing abilities, leading to the low rating. But that’s not a concern for Jackson himself.

“I can’t feel no way,” the quarterback told media members prior to throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles-Nationals game Wednesday night. “You know, I don’t make Madden. That’s them. But I feel like our team, we’re going to show ‘em this season.”

Jackson continued to praise the Ravens roster. When asked about the high ratings for teammates like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Earl Thomas, Jackson put his thoughts quite succinctly: “We look stacked!”

Of course, with speed and acceleration ratings like Jackson has, it’s fun to imagine how he might fit in on a baseball diamond as well.

“Whew, somewhere in the middle, to make a play,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided when asked where the Ravens quarterback might play on his roster.

“I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’m a big football fan, so watched him play a lot. And if he wanted to play center field or up the middle, it’d be great,” Hyde continued.

The speedy quarterback agreed, though it came with a caveat.

“Probably,” Jackson quickly answered when asked about his best fit being center field. “But you know, I’m the Ravens QB right now, so I’m good.”

He doesn’t know what his walk-up song would be if he played baseball, but Jackson was definitive about one thing at least: his hot dog preferences.

“I don’t really eat mustard,” he emphasized. “So I just put ketchup, relish...I just go from there. Pretty standard.”

When he’s not eating hot dogs, Jackson is working hard to build chemistry with his new receiving corps, and he seemed optimistic about the results it will bring on the field.

“Looking pretty good,” he described. “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Knowing how many dual Orioles and Ravens fans there are in Baltimore, Jackson was also happy to provide a little hope as the city’s attention starts to shift from baseball to football. He gave a message to O’s fans who have sat through months of losing baseball and are looking to the Ravens to bring winning back to the city.

“Look forward to us coming out and balling,” he said. “Can’t say too much right now, [the] season’s not here!”

The Ravens season will be here soon enough, and when it is, Jackson will be ready to go out and show both local and national fans what he can do, regardless of what his Madden rating says.