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Grading the Ravens offense vs. the Eagles

Grading the Ravens offense vs. the Eagles

The Ravens remain in contention for the AFC North title heading into the Christmas showdown at Pittsburgh -- but barely. The Ravens nearly squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the struggling Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, winning only when the Eagles' final two-point conversion try with four seconds left was tipped away.

Once again, the Ravens scored early and struggled to maintain consistency on offense, which wasn't helped by what John Harbaugh called an "all-time worst" play call.

It's time to grade the Ravens, beginning with the offense:

QUARTERBACK: C-

On the bright side, Joe Flacco's 34-yard touchdown throw to Steve Smith was elite, dropping it over the top of the cornerback for one of his best throws of the season.

On the down side, there's no excuse for Flacco not changing the call on his ill-fated interception, and even after he didn't change the call, there's no excuse for throwing that pass. He said he simply never saw the defender. That mistake put the Eagles back in the game.

Flacco finished 16-for-30 for 206 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. But as has been the case all season, he was high on some easy throws 

Simply put, Flacco is supposed to be the leader and he needs to take command. If the coordinator sends in an all-time worst play call, it's up to Flacco to take charge and change it.

RUNNING BACKS: B+

Terrance West, who was relegated to just two carries for 2 yards at New England on Monday, was the workhorse against the Eagles with 13 carries for 77 yards, including a season-long 41-yard run. West also led the team with four receptions for 45 yards.

Kenneth Dixon, who had a strong game at New England, carried nine times for 36 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown. That's a healthy 5.1-yard average per carry by the Ravens backs.

Kyle Juszczyk had three catches, as the backs remain the most popular receiving targets on the field.

OFFENSIVE LINE: C+

Joe Flacco was sacked three times, with the Eagles getting some push right up the middle. Vladimir Ducasse had trouble in pass protection and his holding penalty wiped out a nice run by Dixon.

The line, though, opened some big holes for the Ravens run game.

Ronnie Stanley is looking healthy again and protecting Flacco's blind side.

TIGHT END: C-

The tight ends were hardly a factor in the passing game, with Dennis Pitta catching two passes for 16 yards and Darren Waller one for 11. Give Waller credit, though; he dragged defenders the final 2 or 3 yards to fight for a first down.

Nick Boyle played 19 snaps as a blocking tight end, and the Ravens had major success running the ball.

WIDE RECEIVER: C-

Ravens receivers caught only six passes all day; Steve Smith had a 34-yard touchdown grab that was a great throw by Flacco, and Mike Wallace turned a short slant into a 54-yard gain.

Kamar Aiken caught the only two passes thrown his way, including his first touchdown of the season. Breshad Perriman dropped another short pass, and it remains a mystery why the Ravens haven't used him more vertically this season.

Michael Campanaro made his 2016 debut and ran for 39 yards on a jet sweep. He played six snaps on offense and gives the Ravens  another nice slot option.

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Jalen Hurts' defiant NFL Combine comments mirror Lamar Jackson's

Jalen Hurts' defiant NFL Combine comments mirror Lamar Jackson's

It seems kind of laughable now, doesn’t it?

In 2018, questions about Lamar Jackson’s future position were unavoidable. His speed and elusiveness, combined with a spotty track record when it came to accuracy, had teams salivating about his potential at a number of skill positions in the NFL -- quarterback not included.

Now, coming off a unanimous MVP campaign, during which he rewrote record books and established himself as one of the young faces of the next generation of quarterbacks, it’s strange to look back on a time when the majority of football pundits thought his future was at wide receiver or running back.

Jackson’s undeniable success has not only taken the NFL by storm, it’s paved the way for future athletic college quarterbacks to stick at the position.

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, formerly of Alabama and one of the top players in the country, is receiving the same questions at this year’s NFL Combine that Jackson fielded at his. Namely, is he willing to switch positions?

His answer mirrors Jackson’s. He’s a quarterback only, and he has no interest in switching positions to appease an organization with less foresight than what the Ravens had with Jackson.

While Hurts didn’t mention Jackson by name in his reasoning, it’s hard not to draw parallels. Jackson’s 2019 season was one for the history books, and his influence will continue to trickle down to future generations.

Players like Jackson and Hurts haven’t always had the same opportunities to succeed -- or, more importantly, fail -- as other, more “traditional” quarterbacks have had in the course of NFL history. But organizations that are creative and willing to tailor their offensive schemes to the attributes of their quarterbacks are taking advantage of a largely backward-minded league.

Teams that look at Hurts and see a unique skillset full of things he can do, rather than what he can’t, are the way of the future. 

Hurts himself, along with a generation of fellow athletic quarterbacks entering the league over the next few seasons, are betting on this future when they demand to be evaluated as quarterbacks only.

They may have found a way to push through on their own. But Jackson’s incredible year has opened up the path in a major way, making it that much easier for the next crop of unique, talented quarterbacks to shine.

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Report: Marquise Brown has offseason surgery to remove screw from foot, will be healed for training camp

Report: Marquise Brown has offseason surgery to remove screw from foot, will be healed for training camp

According to a report from Ian Rapoport, Marquise Brown is fixing last offseason’s fix.

Brown reportedly had off-season surgery to remove a screw from his injured foot, hampered by a Lisfranc injury. The move isn’t expected to keep Brown out for spring training, though it will limit him in the off-season program.

As a rookie in 2019, Brown had 46 receptions for 584 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games played. He posted seven receptions and 126 yards in the team’s loss to the Titans in the divisional round. 

Brown was the team’s best deep threat and posted five games with catches of more than 30 yards last season. 

The injury affected him all season, but it appears that the former Oklahoma Sooner will be completely healthy for his second go-round with the Ravens. 

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