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Key observations from the Ravens' Week 2 loss to the Bengals

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Key observations from the Ravens' Week 2 loss to the Bengals

The Ravens headed to Cincinnati on a short week for a division matchup that was almost a primetime comeback. 

Coming off a 47-3 blowout over the Buffalo Bills, Joe Flacco and the Ravens struggled against an unstoppable Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. 

Here are the key observations from Thursday's 34-23 loss.

Defense suffered without C.J. Mosley

Linebacker C.J. Mosley was carted to the locker room in the first with what was eventually diagnosed as a bone bruise, and as soon as Mosley departed, the Bengals went on a run, scoring four touchdowns in four drives. 

How long the Ravens will be without their signal caller is unknown. 

The typical recovery time for a bone bruise is 3-6 weeks depending on the severity and location of the injury. What we do know, however, is the Ravens' defense needs to fully prepare to step up in his place. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor took over the reigns of play caller and then safety Eric Weddle during the second half.

However, several players admitted postgame that there was a lot of confusion on the field after Mosley's departure.

We were kind of just scrambling around when [Mosley] went out,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “Some guys didn’t even know he was out. It’s kind of in-between. I really couldn’t tell you.

The absence of a veteran of Mosley's caliber will certainly have its effects, but there are more than enough guys to take over that role. Eric Weddle, Terrell Suggs, Tony Jefferson and even Tavon Young, who had two sacks against the Bills last Sunday, have more than enough experience to handle the responsibility. Luckily, the Ravens have ten days to prepare for the Bronco's defense. 

Flacco's first two performances vastly different

During Week 1 against the Bills, Joe Flacco came out in horrible weather conditions and put up a 121.7 rating en route to hitting all three wideouts for touchdowns. Fast forward to Week 2 and a different Flacco appeared.

On the verge of a comeback and down by a touchdown, Flacco's pass was knocked out from behind for a turnover and was the icing on top of an up and down night for the QB. He finished the night 32-55 for 376 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Several sloppy throws were mixed in with 21-yard, right on the money shot to John Brown for a touchdown late in the fourth.

While Flacco and the offense rallied from a 21-point deficit, the magic they needed to get the job done wasn't there, something they've experienced in the past. The QB has lost more games there than anywhere else in the NFL and has 13 more interceptions against Cincinnati than any other team, per ESPN's Jamison Hensley

An extended period of rest for an offensive line that didn't give Flacco any additional help in his quest for a comeback will be beneficial ahead of Week 3. It will also be interesting to see which version of Flacco takes the field. 

Looking ahead

The Ravens host the Broncos Sunday, Sept. 22 before hitting the road for three games. A win at home will be vital for their long-term success.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley exited the game in the fourth quarter, and postgame would not disclose what the injury was. He did say, however, that he would be "fine." If that is true, the attention will remain focused on Mosley and how much time they expect the three-time Pro Bowler to miss. 

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Ravens' options in a potential Matthew Judon trade

Ravens' options in a potential Matthew Judon trade

According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens have expressed interest in moving on from Matthew Judon through a trade this offseason. 

Judon, who isn’t under contract for next season, was tied for 19th in the league in sacks with 9.5 — a team-high. He was also the team-leader in quarterback hits with 33. The next best pass-rusher was Tyus Bowser, who registered 10. 

Lined up for a big payday, and with a high-priced franchise tag an option, the Ravens could lose their second pass-rusher in as many years on the free agent market should they elect to not pay Judon the elite pass-rusher money he’ll likely command.

Which brings the Ravens to the report from Schefter that indicated the team could move on from Judon, 27, through the sign-and-trade route. 

Should Judon, or the Ravens, walk away from the negotiating table in free agency, two options exist: The Ravens could either let him walk freely to another team and likely receive a 2021 third-round pick as compensation, or place the franchise tag on Judon. 

With the franchise tag option, the Ravens could keep him for a season and essentially kick the can down the road for a year, or trade him for a return that would likely be greater than the compensatory third, and more importantly, the help would be immediate. 

A few weeks ago, coach John Harbaugh said re-signing Judon would be, “pretty hard,” but that the team was going to try.  

But if the Ravens aren’t able, or are unwilling, to sign Judon, a potential blueprint for a future trade might have been laid out last year by the Chiefs. 

Last season, the Chiefs traded Dee Ford to the 49ers for a second-round pick just a month before they sent first and third-round picks to the Seahawks for Frank Clark and a third-round pick.

Ford had 13 sacks in 2018 and 29 quarterback hits while Clark had 13 as well and 27 quarterback hits. They both immediately signed long-term, expensive contracts with their new teams. 

Baltimore could make a move similar to that with Judon and get better, and more immediate, compensation for him and later add a pass-rusher with the draft capital than the team added.

The Ravens have just under 29 million dollars in cap space, meaning they’ve got the space to sign Judon to a long-term deal or keep him on the franchise tag, but they’d need to make some moves to be able to field a full roster. And that full roster, if Judon isn’t in Baltimore in 2020, needs pass-rushing help. 

Baltimore had 37 sacks as a team, and just over a quarter of them came from Judon. It also had 111 total quarterback hits, and 29.7 percent came from Judon. 

So the report that the Ravens could move Judon could play out, perhaps the most interesting aspect of a Judon trade would be the replacement the Ravens would need to have lined up.

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With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

Ravens guard Marshal Yanda has a decision to make on his playing future, but he's in no rush to make it.

The 35-year-old is under contract with the Ravens through the 2020 season, but will take the next month or so to decide if he wants to continue playing or hang up the cleats.

"I'm going to take my time now," Yanda told Ravens.com regarding his future. "Done playing for the year, just take some time over the next month and basically just go with my heart and see how I feel."

The eight-time Pro Bowler was a vital piece in the NFL's best rushing attack in 2019. Yanda, the leader of the offensive line, started and played in 15 games this season for Baltimore, missing the regular-season finale as the Ravens rested multiple starters with the No. 1 seed already clinched.

Following Baltimore's upset divisional playoff loss to the Titans, a visibly disappointed Yanda refused to address his future, but he was definitely thinking about it then.

But if Sunday's Pro Bowl was the last time Yanda put on the pads, he didn't treat the game or experience any differently.

"Not necessarily," Yanda said if he cherished Sunday's Pro Bowl differently. "You're not in that frame of mind. I definitely didn't think about [my retirement decision] too much today, just because it was the Pro Bowl. It's more of a relaxed game, not like a really intense game.

"I didn't have those feelings as much as the Tennessee game," he continued." Yeah, it's a possibility. But those feelings were more in the Tennessee game."

Even at age 35, Yanda remains one of the best guards in the game. He's made the NFL's second-team All-Pro squad the past two seasons and has been a Pro Bowler every season since 2011, minus the 2017 season where he played just two games due to a season-ending ankle injury.

There's no debate: Baltimore would greatly benefit from Yanda returning.

"You want people that want you back," Yanda said. "You want to be playing very well when you end. Nobody wants to fade out; you want to go out strong."

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