3 ups and 3 downs for Ravens at their bye week
By Ian Schultz
What’s gone well and what hasn’t for the 5-2 Baltimore Ravens as they enjoy their bye week?
It has been exciting first seven weeks of Baltimore Ravens football with the exclamation point coming last week in the team’s 30-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks. The win helped Baltimore open a 2.5 game lead in the AFC North over the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.
There have been highs and lows throughout the season so far. Let’s take a look at what has gone well and what hasn’t so far for the 2019 Ravens.
Lamar Jackson– The story of the 2019 Ravens cannot be told without highlighting their second year MVP candidate. Jackson has been exceptional so far this season combining for 2,226 total yards and 14 total touchdowns while completing 63.3% of his passes. As one of the slowest folks to come around on Lamar, let me tell you he has been spectacular this season. He’s won games through the air and on the ground for the 5-2 Ravens. His leadership is evident and his tireless work ethic and professionalism is equally as impressive. He has been Mr. Everything for this football team and I am stoked to see how he performs the rest of the year.
Marlon Humphrey– The Ravens’ 2017 first round pick has taken the next step this season into the upper echelon of NFL cornerbacks. He is beginning to pop up on top five lists across the country and to date has assured himself at minimum Pro Bowl consideration. He has 22 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, seven passes defensed, and a touchdown so far this season. He made the game changing play in the Ravens 26-23 win over the Steelers in overtime. He helped put the game away last week with a scoop a score. It’s been a fantastic seven games for the Ravens third year cornerback.
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Ravens newcomers- It is hard to pick just one in this group so I am picking them all. Running back, Mark Ingram ranks just outside of the top 10 in the NFL in rushing piling up 470 yards to date and is also tied for second in rushing touchdowns. Safety Earl Thomas has been much better than he is being given credit for keeping things in check in a depleted safety group. How about Marquise “Hollywood Brown” exploding onto the scene with 21 catches, 326 yards, a three touchdowns so far. And a trio of mid-season additions in L.J. Fort, Josh Bynes, and Marcus Peters have all made huge impacts to date. It’s been a heck of a seven weeks for the newcomers.
Ravens defensive youth- I know that some of the Ravens youth has balled out (see the three up numbers one and two) but it hasn’t been all good from Ravens young contributors. Third year linebacker, Tim Williams was cut and fellow third year player Tyus Bowser has seen his snap count drop in each of the last several weeks. 2018 fourth rounder, Kenny Young, was deemed expendable after being healthy scratched for a just off the streets Bynes. He was then shipped to the Rams to help the Ravens land Peters. 2018 draft pick, Anthony Averett, has been a healthy scratch as well in favor of the cut in preseason and turnstile that is Maurice Canady. It hasn’t been a good time to be a young Raven on defense this year.
Red zone offense- This has been a struggle for the Ravens since Jackson took over the starting job last season. The Ravens sit middle of the pack at 57% in the red zone this season. However, while last week’s exchange between Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh (deciding to go for it on fourth and two from the eight) is capturing hearts, they felt it necessary given the red zone struggles. The Ravens were 1/4 in the red zone overall in the contest and have been forced to settle for field goals far too often this season. The Ravens will need to start finishing drives if they want to make noise in the AFC, as the schedule gets more difficult.
3) Health- The team has been ravaged by injury this season, especially on defense. Tavon Young, Tony Jefferson, DeShon Elliott, and Pernell McPhee are out for the year. Jimmy Smith has played less than a half so far and Patrick Onwuasor has missed the past few weeks as well. Brandon Williams missed a game in which the Browns ran for a lot of yards on the Ravens run defense. Offensively, Hollywood Brown has missed the last two games and Mark Andrews has been in and out of practice but has managed to play every game. Hopefully the football Gods send some good vibes the Ravens way the rest of the year.
All things considered, the Ravens are 5-2 and in the driver’s seat in the AFC North. That’s plenty good enough for me.