Baltimore Ravens Week 3: Right, Wrong, and WTF

Your Baltimore Ravens.. got their shoes, hat, and lunch money taken by the Kansas City Chiefs. In a game that wasn’t close at any point after the initial Baltimore drive, they were outclassed, outplayed, and out-coached at every turn.

Unlike last week, I don’t want to write this article. I don’t want to think about this game. But it isn’t about me. It isn’t even about you. It’s about this needing to be put to paper, and gotten out of the system.

The game closed out at 34-20, but it felt like the Chiefs beat the Ravens by 50. Let’s.. let’s just get into it.

P Sam Koch, K Justin Tucker
Week 3: Chiefs vs. Ravens
Photo Credit: Baltimore Ravens

The Right:

I tried really hard to find something positive to say about the Ravens offense. Then I tried really hard to find something positive to say about the Ravens defense.

I simply couldn’t do it. However, there was a bright spot. But where was it?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the third phase of every football game. You’re familiar with Justin Tucker, the best kicker in the league. You know the rest of the Wolfpack – consisting of long snapper Morgan Cox, and punter Sam Koch.

Who you may not know, are the rookies who truly made this unit shine on Monday night. Devin Duvernay had the highlight of the night when he returned a kick for a 93-yard touchdown. It also happened to be the first kick returned for a score in 2020. His other kick return went for 26 yards, giving him a 59.5 yard return average. That’s huge for a team that has missed any kind of viable kick returner since the Jacoby Jones days.

James Proche added a 16-yard punt return. That may not seem impressive, but that’s because the Ravens defense forced a punt from the Chiefs a whopping one time. More on that later.

Justin Tucker did Justin Tucker things, amidst much talk from silly Chiefs fans claiming that Harrison Butker was better. He was 100% across the board, although every single kick was a gimme for a guy who’s range starts when he exits the team tunnel.

Sam Koch was similarly impressive, booting three punts for 147 yards, including one inside the 20-yard line. He’s somewhere around AARP age, and still averaging over 49 yards a punt. Can’t hate that.

Special shout-out: Speaking of picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, let’s give a big round of applause to one Anthony Averett. After a tough showing in Houston, I saw him in good coverage more often than not against the Kansas City speedy wideouts. It’s hard to see the good coverage while Pat (not calling him Patrick just to spite his mother, we’re petty today) is throwing all over the field, but Averett did his job. It’s not a stretch to say he even did it well.

Now that we’ve run out of positive things to say about this team, let’s move on.

OLB Pernell McPhee
Week 3: Chiefs vs. Ravens
Photo Credit: Baltimore Ravens

The Wrong:

This will likely be the longest section of this article. While I’m saving something special for the ‘WTF’ section, there were more than enough mistakes for me to turn this section alone into its own article.

Matthew Judon vs. Production: Zero sacks. One quarterback hit. One tackle. Three pressures. Two boneheaded penalties. One word: unacceptable. When you franchise tag your outside linebacker, especially for $17M, you expect production. Consistent production. I’ve said it ad nauseum – Judon is inconsistent at best. Through three weeks, he’s likely wishing he took the Ravens’ best contract offer. The Ravens are probably ecstatic that they didn’t.

Mark Andrews vs. Catching: Andrews was targeted eight times. Given the caliber of player that Andrews is regarded as, you’d think that he’d have six catches, 90-some-odd yards, and a score, right? Well, this is the part where I tell you he had just three catches for 22 yards. And a fumble. Can’t forget that. This is the third time in as many big games where Andrews has been a problem more than the answer. He’s a great TE, sure. But he needs to be great when it counts. I miss Hayden Hurst.

Marquise Brown vs. Catching: This was supposed to be a breakout year for the small speedster. He was supposed to be the Ravens version of Tyreek Hill (that fast guy on the Chiefs who slaughtered the secondary last night). He still can be, don’t get me wrong. I’m being dramatic, and won’t indict a player based on one game. However, when you’re targeted six times, I expect more than two catches for 13 yards.

Ravens Secondary vs. Press Coverage: As I said on Twitter last night, I understand the need to respect the speed of the Chiefs pass-catchers. What I don’t understand is this. Every time the Ravens played press coverage, they forced incompletions (there weren’t many). The Ravens have very physical corners in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. It’s their strength. And so, I question the intelligence of going away from a strength. Of course, it’s not the only time they did that last night.

Ravens Blitz vs. Pat Mahomes: Again, as I said last night, Mahomes is very good against the blitz. Like, otherworldly. (That link is NSFW, by the way.) So why would you continue to blitz against him for 7/8ths of the game? If you can avoid a strength of an opponent, you should. You don’t have to prove that you can do something that nobody else has been able to, especially when you can’t.

Lamar Jackson vs. Being Elite: Yeah, I know. Ravens fans won’t like that statement. However, let me be clear: if Lamar wants to consistently be mentioned as an elite quarterback, he needs to act like one. That means taking over the game if he needs to, like he did in the Titans game. It means changing the play at the line if, for some unknown reason, Greg Roman calls a 2-yard route when they need a 7-yard gain for a first down. Not only will it create better game situations, it will show the coaches that he can handle the game at the highest levels.

Offensive Line vs. Being Offensive: Through three games, the interior offensive line has been.. let’s say problematic. On that same line of thinking, Orlando Brown does not look like the player that he was in 2019. I hate to bring it up again, but the loss of Marshal Yanda cannot be understated. If they plan on being a Super Bowl contender, they need to figure it out, and fast. While they won’t be facing elite or very good pass rushers week in and week out, they have guys like this coming up:

  • Ryan Kerrigan
  • TJ Watt
  • Geno Atkins
  • Carlos Dunlap
  • Chase Young (maybe)
  • Jadeveon Clowney
  • Myles Garrett

The list goes on – those are just the ones off of the top of my head.

Speaking of lists, this one has gone on long enough as well. There were myriad other issues to discuss, but the most important ones are listed. Now, let’s get into my least favorite part of this article.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh watches his team during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Photo Credit: Baltimore Ravens

The WTF:

Where, oh where should I begin.

Easy answer: at the top.

A team is only as good as its coaching, and the coaching from the Baltimore Ravens was – in a word – horrific.

The Ravens gashed the Chiefs for 67 yards on the ground in their first drive. Now, you may ask yourself why this is important, and let me tell you… it’s because after that, they went away from the ground game.

I was trying not to scare El Doggo with my yelling at the television, but I know that a ‘What the hell are they doing?!’ escaped my mouth once or thirty times.

I expect a rush of Ravens fans to come to the defense of Greg Roman, but you have to understand – twice in as many ‘big’ games, he’s completely deviated from what made the Ravens so good. Twice, he has abandoned the run game in game situations where you can run the ball to win.

More than a few times last night, he called plays on 3rd-and-7 that involved two-yard routes. Who are you? Marty Mornhinweg?

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Me last night:

I understand that at some point you’ll want to test the not-great secondary of the Chiefs. However, when testing the secondary doesn’t work (or the pass-catchers drop more balls than puberty) it’s time to go back to the run game. Bring the safeties up to the line of scrimmage, and then bowl them over.

Every single rusher averaged over 4.0YPC. That’s not a mistype. Mark Ingram averaged 4.3YPC. JK Dobbins was next, at 6.0YPC. Then comes Lamar Jackson, with a casual 9.2YPC. Where’s Gus Edwards, you may ask? 9.8YPC.

But for whatever reason, they decided running the ball wasn’t a good idea, even during a one-score game.

Moving onto Wink Martindale.

What? You thought this wasn’t a two-pronged attack? (It isn’t, it’s three. Just wait.)

I said earlier on in the article that I didn’t agree with some of his defensive choices – namely, blitzing the guy who’s phenomenal against the blitz, and not calling press coverage when you have physical cornerbacks.

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He’s also the guy who is responsible for masking deficiencies that the defense has, like say.. Marcus Peters.

Yes, that’s right. I’m about to slander (kind of) my favorite player on the entire team. The Ravens knew when they traded for Peters, that he was a give-and-take player. John Harbaugh and the Ravens have experience with that kind of player, in the form of Hall of Famer Ed Reed.

For those of you who don’t know what I mean, a give-and-take player is one that will make absurd plays for you (think about the interception against the Texans), but will also give up plays (think about the Mecole Hardman touchdown against the Chiefs) because of his gambling ways. And in gambling terms, Marcus Peters is a bonafide degenerate.

Which is absolutely fine. If his gambling is compensated for.

In this game, multiple times it wasn’t compensated for. Deshon Elliott isn’t experienced enough to cover up the times that Peters does his own thing. Again, think about the Hardman touchdown. Peters saw Tyreek Hill, and went for what he thought was going to be where the ball went. Instead, Elliott was left to trail Hardman as he went for the long score.

This happened more than once, giving the illusion that Marcus Peters had a bad game – which caused certain Ravens ‘fans’ to slander Peters on my timeline. That will not be tolerated.

When Peters was actually on his assignment, he had very good coverage. Of course, even he wasn’t exempt from the whole ‘cushion coverage’ thing, so he allowed catches and yards. But there were some passing attempts that were absolutely perfect on his end, regardless of the outcome.

Next up, a big question. When you know that you have Peters gambling, and an inexperienced Anthony Averett on the other side, when the Chiefs throw five wide receivers at you over and over.. why are you blitzing the guy who is arguably your best corner??

Marlon Humphrey is being forced to play slot corner after an injury to Tavon Young in Week 2, which loosens up the coverage on the outside. Against a guy like Pat Mahomes, you cannot allow that coverage to lapse, be it by playing soft coverage or by taking your best corner out of the equation.

And let’s talk about what he did with the pass rushers. Why was he sending Judon on these long, looping blitzes? The world may never know, but against a guy like Mahomes, it seemed foolish and unnecessary.

What it all really boils down to is John Harbaugh. I’m not saying he never has his team prepared for big games. In 2019, the Ravens slaughtered the Patriots, Seahawks, and Rams. They were all considered big games at the time.

But this is twice in four games that he hasn’t had his team ready. This is the two biggest games of the last four, where his team has forgotten who they were, and tried to get too cute.

Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.

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Well John, your mouth should still be bleeding this afternoon. Because your plan didn’t work. Stick to who you are as a team. The Ravens have a very distinct identity, and it feels like they go away from it at the worst times. Let Lamar do what Lamar does. Let the running backs be great (especially when they’re averaging 6.0+ YPC). Above all, don’t fail your team.

In Closing:

Breathe in, Flockers. Then exhale, and let it all go. It’s a week-to-week league, and thankfully, this was just Week 3 of a 16-week season. The Ravens will end up at 5-1 in three weeks, and all will be forgiven.

Until they meet the Chiefs in the postseason.

Want to argue about what I said? I don’t care. Argue with yourself.

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