Your Baltimore Ravens are now 2-0. They have blown out both teams that they faced, and even though they are not without issue, they’re one of the fiercest teams in the league.
You know why I’m here. In this article, we will take a look at what went right with the Ravens on Sunday. We will also look at what went wrong, and what made me shake my head in despair.
The game finished up at 33-16, and the score probably should’ve been more lopsided if it wasn’t for a few key factors. We’ll take a look at some of these things, plus a heartbreaking injury to a lynchpin of the defensive secondary.
Let’s get into it.
When your quarterback isn’t playing his best (18-of-24 for 204 yards and a score) football, you expect your defense to make up for it.
The Ravens defense had no problem answering that call.
They began their show of dominance by starting the game with a quick three-and-out, and then doubled down on it by ending the quarter with a pivotal stop on fourth-and-one.
That’s right. Bill O’Brien and the Texans decided to go for it in the first quarter of the game. While many (myself included) laughed at the decision so early in the game, only down 3-0, there is a foundation for an argument.
The Ravens have an electric offense. They score a lot of points, and defenses struggle to stop them from doing so. If your defense can’t stop the offense, your offense damn sure better keep up with them. O’Brien was trying to outscore the Ravens, instead of stopping the Ravens.
Later in the game, we would see a Marlon Humphrey punch-out, which LJ Fort would recover and take all the way down the field for a touchdown. Following that, Marcus Peters did Marcus Peters things with an absurdly athletic interception of Deshaun Watson.
Simply put, the defense not only did their jobs, they did them extremely well.
While the pass-rush was the target of much malign (myself included, again), they ended up sacking the elusive Watson four times. Should it have been more than that? Sure. But Deshaun Watson is Top-5 in escapability when it comes to quarterbacks. They had 18 quarterback pressures on 36 drop-backs, with eight pressures coming from Matthew Judon.
The Texans offense is a different beast without stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. That isn’t to say it’s a bad offense, but he adds a level of dynamic play and ability that isn’t found anywhere else in the league. Still, you can only play who you play, and the Ravens defense made sure their presence was felt on this Sunday afternoon in windy Houston.
I called the offensive line a ‘question mark’ for the Baltimore Ravens for the entire off-season.
This is one of those times where I am not happy about being correct. Although the offensive line seemed to strengthen in the second half (where the majority of the rushing yards were to be had – 186 rushing yards in the second half, to be exact), for the entire first half, they played.. offensively.
Matt Skura is coming back from a major injury, so you expect a decline in play from him, sure. Seeing Tyre Phillips get beaten time and time again makes you question why a rookie is starting at right guard. And seeing Orlando Brown, Jr. looking lost makes you question whether he misses Marshal Yanda that much.
The Ravens are a team that relies on the run game. That was evidenced in 2019 when they broke the All-Time Team Rushing record. That was further evidenced when they spent premium draft capital on running back J.K. Dobbins. It was more evidenced when they drafted two more offensive linemen and signed DJ Fluker.
So for a team that is so focused on a ground game, why does the run-blocking (and pass-blocking, to an extent) seem so.. meh?
They’re going to have to figure it out, and soon. The defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs are coming to town next Monday, and Chris Jones is not a man to be trifled with.
Tavon Young. Oh, Tavon.
You were supposed to be back. You were the guy that was going to keep Marlon Humphrey outside, where he can flourish. You were supposed to be the best nickel corner in the league, man!
Sidenote – if anybody tries to tell me, ever again, that a slot corner and nickel corner are two different positions, I will physically fight you. Learn things. Then speak.
Back on track. Tavon Young is on injured reserve with a torn ACL. The worst thing about ACL tears, is that they are freak injuries. You cannot control them, no matter what you do. That being said? Don’t be like this guy. Also don’t click that link if you have virgin eyes.
Why is this the ‘WTF’ then? I’ll tell you why.
BECAUSE OF ANTHONY AVERETT.
For those of you reading this, that don’t know who Averett is, he’s the CB5 on the Ravens. So when you read what I’m about to say, read it knowing that I am aware that he’s not going to be a Pro Bowler.
However, when a starter goes down with injury, the NFL has a ‘next man up’ mindset. When this situation occurs, the next player on the list takes the spot of the starter, and is expected to do the job correctly.
Anthony Averett did not do the job correctly. He couldn’t keep his feet underneath him when he cut. He couldn’t make plays on the ball. He could barely tackle when called upon to do so.
Why am I telling you this? Because I am confused. I am confused as to why they didn’t move Jimmy Smith outside, Marlon Humphrey inside, and use Anthony Levine as the hybrid defensive back. The gameplan clearly called for a hybrid DB, but it didn’t have to be Jimmy.
Listen, I’m aware that the Ravens ‘like’ Averett. That’s why they kept him around. But for me? He’s on the list of players that I will continue to drag until his parents call me and tell me to stop putting down their m̶e̶a̶l̶ ̶t̶i̶c̶k̶e̶t̶ son.
It’s weird to complain about, but I didn’t feel great going into the half with just a 10-point lead. The Ravens answered that call as well, finishing the game with a three-score lead.
I’m not going to make any predictions about next week’s game, but I am nervous about it. That is one win that I need. I’m not sure Jackson doesn’t need it as well.
We’ll see you next week.