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MORSE: Week 3 Preview of the Baltimore Ravens

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
2 weeks ago at 10:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Week 3 Preview of the Baltimore RavensDavid Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens are coming off an embarrassing 42-38 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.  They had a 21-point lead at halftime and let Miami back in with some sloppy play.  Tyreek Hill scored a 63-yard TD with no one around him for 15 yards.

I will look back at Baltimore’s collapse last season and look forward to this season in which I expect them to compete for the AFC North Division Title.

Offense

3WR 1TE

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
QB Lamar Jackson Tyler Huntley
RB J.K. Dobbins  Q Kenyan Drake Mike Davis Justice Hill
WR Rashod Bateman James Proche  Q
WR Devin Duvernay Q Tylan Wallace
WR Demarcus Robinson Slade Bolden IR
TE Mark Andrews Isaiah Likely Josh Oliver Nick Boyle
FB Patrick Ricard
LT Ronnie Stanley Q Patrick  Mekari Ja’Wuan James IR
LG Ben Powers Ben Cleveland
C Tyler Linderbaum Trystan Colon Patrick Mekari
RG Kevin Zeitler
RT Morgan Moses Daniel Faalele

As Lamar Jackson goes, so do the Baltimore Ravens.  Jackson is an incredible talent and physically gifted player.  Everyone knows what a tremendous runner Jackson is.  We are not just talking about being forced out of the pocket and scrambling for a first down.

On December 1st, 2021 Baltimore is the top-seeded team for the Playoffs.  This despite losing Running backs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill before the 1st game.  They filled in with Latavious Murray, Leveon Bell, and Devonta Freeman off the scrap heap. Baltimore wants to run the ball out of their traditional 2 TE offense.  The second week they lose TE Nick Boyle and LT Ronnie Stanley, then WR Rashod Bateman gets nicked up and WR Myles Boykins follows him to the injured list.  Despite this, they are 8-3 the 1st week of December.  Jackson misses a game due to non-COVID illness and they lose.  Next game Jackson injures his ankle and is out for the season.  Ravens go 1-5 the rest of the way and don’t make the playoffs.

What has Baltimore excited about 2022?  First, they had the most impressive draft.  They traded malcontent WR Marquise Brown to Arizona.  He claimed that the Baltimore system was not for him.  The fact was that he was not a very good WR, dropping passes, falling to the ground in his routes, etc.  They got a #1 (23) from Arizona and turned that into #25 and #60.  Those two picks were Tyler Linderbaum the consensus #1 Center in the draft and a strong punter Jordan Stout.  They also plucked DT Travis Jones from Connecticut who I thought was the best Interior lineman in the draft.  Huge players  6’7” TE Charlie Kolar from Iowa State and 6’8” 384 lb RT Dan Faalele from Minnesota were also part of this outstanding draft class.  They also got Jalyn Armour-Davis a one-year wonder at CB for Alabama. If that wasn’t enough they took Coastal Carolina TE Isaiah Likely.  He didn’t perform well in off-season testing.  So much for testing.  Likely lit up in the pre-season to the point that he is now the #2 TE option behind Mark Andrews.  Likely grew up and played HS ball at Everett HS here in Massachusetts.  That’s two weeks and two players from Everett HS.

They rebuilt the offensive line with the Free Agent signing of Morgan Moses to play RT.  The drafting of Linderbaum who played mostly as an undersized, zone-blocking Center at Iowa.   Baltimore utilizes zone blocking but runs gap blocking more than 50% of the time.  They have massive Ben Cleveland the former Georgia Center playing LG.  Do not make any mistake, Baltimore wants to run.  In 2020 they ran the 3rd highest amount, and in 2019 they were the highest.  They changed things around in 2021 because of running back issues and were the 7th highest passing team.

They elevated everyone in the wide receiver corps and didn’t draft a WR.  They have Rashod Batemen. Last year’s #1 selection.  I thought Bateman was the top receiver in the draft and he is proving me correct this season with his outstanding play.  They also have speedster Derrick Douvernay, who led the league in punt and kickoff returns last year.  He opened the Jets game with a 102-yard KO return TD last week.  I also like James Proche who the Patriots had an interest in last year’s draft.

According to Warren Sharp, Baltimore has one of the easiest schedules in the league, both on Offense and Defense.  This is a factor in them not making the playoffs.  They got the second-tier schedule like the Patriots had last year.  They will be playing some inferior teams.  This should lead them to 1st place in their division and a playoff spot this year.   Their schedule is ranked 11th as compared to the Patriots’ 26th.

Sharp also points out that Baltimore has 4 position groups out of 7 in the top ten (QB-6, OL-6, Secondary- 5, and Head Coach-2).  The Patriots have just 1 and that is Belichick at 7.

The key is always Lamar Jackson.  Can he be a pocket passer?  His arm strength is outstanding as he often throws flat-footed and relies on his rocket arm.

Defense

Base 3-4 

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
LDE Justin Madubuike Broderick Washington
NT Michael Pierce Travis Jones Q
RDE Calais Campbell Brent Urban
WLB Odafe Oweh Tyus Bowser O Vince Biegel IR
LILB Josh Bynes Kristian Welch Josh Ross IR
RILB Patrick  Queen Malik Harrison Del’Shawn Phillips
SLB Justin Houston David Ojabo O Daelin Hayes IR Steven Means IR
LCB Marcus Peters Brandon Stephens Q Damarion Williams
SS Chuck Clark Geno Stone
FS Marcus Williams Kyle Hamilton
RCB Marlon Humphrey Jalyn Armour- Davis Daryl Worley Kyle Fuller IR

 

The Ravens are consistently good because they draft so well.  This replenishes the team when they let veterans leave for Free Agency.  They often re-sign these players when they are let go as cap casualties.  Michael Pierce is exactly one of those players.  He signs elsewhere, makes his money, then comes back to the Ravens.  At 6’ 355 he is squat and tough to move out of there.  He eats space and allows players around him free to make plays.    Justin Madubuike  (3rd) and Broderick Washington (5th) were both 2020 draft picks that have matured into serviceable players on the D-line.  Calais Campbell is probably a future Hall of Famer. The 36-year-old, 15-year veteran has been to the Pro Bowl 6 times, 2x 2nd team All-Pro, Walter Peyton Man-of-the-year award winner is the glue that holds the line together. He is a monster at 6’8”, 307 lbs.

Baltimore will be without LBs David Ojabo and Tyus Bowser.  They will miss Bowers as he played 79% of the defensive snaps last year.  Don’t fear they have very capable replacements in Malik Harrison, 3rd round selection in the 2020 draft, and Odafe Oweh.  Oweh is a terrific pass rusher.  Josh Bynes, Justin Houston, and the steal of the 2020 draft Patrick Queen round out the LB crew.  He was the 28th overall pick out of LSU and runs a 4.5 flat 40.  That’s the equivalent of most of the running backs in the league.

Marlon Humphrey is the key defensive back.  The Alabama product was the Ravens 1st round pick #16 in 2017.  Marcus Peters was sorely missed last year and he missed the entire season.  Another shutdown corner to pair with Humphrey is the reason the Ravens’ secondary is so highly ranked.  The Ravens went out and got Marcus Williams to play safety.  Pair him with Chuck Clark, and they have 2022 1st-round pick (#14) Kyle Hamilton backing them up.  Another key Free Agent signing Kyle Fuller is on IR.  Together,  Warren Sharp has them ranked as the #6 Secondary.

Special Teams

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
PK Justin Tucker
P Jordan Stout
H Jordan Stout
PR Devin Duvernay Q James Proche Q Damarion Williams
KR Devin Duvernay Q Justice Hill Q
LS Nick Moore

Year in and year out Justin Tucker is one of the best kickers in the NFL.  His 54-yard FG Sunday was effortless.  Devin Duvernay’s return ability is legit.  That puts a lot of pressure on the Patriots’ Special Teams and they will have their hands full.  Stout the rookie is averaging 46.5 yards a punt on 8 punts.  He has dropped 3 of those inside the 20.

Jim Harbaugh is one of the better coaches in the league.  His Ravens teams have never been intimidated playing in Foxboro.  I expect they will come out on fire after the embarrassing loss to the Dolphins.

Injuries

Ravens

Calais Campbell DE NIR-Rest DNP
J.K. Dobbins RB Knee FP
Devin Duvernay WR Concussion DNP
Justin Houston OLB NIR-Rest DNP
Marlon Humphrey CB Groin DNP
Lamar Jackson QB Right Elbow LP
Travis Jones DT Knee FP
Isaiah Likely TE Groin LP
Marcus Peters CB NIR-Rest DNP
James Proche WR Groin LP
Ronnie Stanley OT Ankle LP
Brandon Stephens CB Quad LP
Damarion Williams CB Ankle LP

Patriots

Kyle Dugger S Knee DNP
Jakobi Meyers WR Knee DNP
Joshuah Bledsoe SAF Groin LP
Cody Davis DB Calf LP
Davon Godchaux NT Back LP
Raekwon McMillan MLB Thumb LP
DaMarcus Mitchell DE Knee LP
Adrian Phillips DB Ribs LP

Need to monitor Lamar Jackson.  He wore a full sleeve with an elbow pad on his throwing arm.  During the media portion of practice, Jackson did not throw one pass.

Morse’s Morsels

Just how bad is Davante Parker?

The rest of Patriots Nation is waking up to the fact that Parker cannot play anymore.  I pointed out in my week 1 preview that Parker was the worst player in the league at getting separation.  Parker was praised for winning so many 50/50 balls in the pre-season practices.  The fact is every pass to him is a 50/50 ball because he can’t separate.  I also highlighted the stress that he puts on the QB.  It forces the QB to throw into tight windows where the pass has a more likely chance of being intercepted or broken up.  Parker has had 4 passes thrown to him.  Two of those have been intercepted, one completion for 9 yards and another pass he should have caught.  It was a back shoulder throw that he was not on the same page as Mac Jones.  Pittsburgh thought so little of Parker they let LB Robert Spillane cover him on the play that was intercepted.  Parker is on the field for too many pass plays.  He and Lil’Jordan Humphrey have one catch each, but Jordan’s was for 11 yards.  Parker needs to be cut.  He is occupying a roster spot that could go to a player that might develop.  Parker and Meyers are the same players and they should never be on the field at the same time.

Lil’Jordan Humphrey praised for his run blocking

When Humphrey is on the field the Patriots are running 90% of the time.  Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), he had an 83.9% blocking grade which is excellent.  I say that Humphrey should be playing the play percentage that Parker was playing and we would be a better team for it.

O-line Blocking ratings

I thought the O-line blocking was great last week against the Steelers.  The individual grades from PFF came in and it was a mixed bag.  At Guard, Michael Owenu had a 78.8 (#5) and Cole Strange was 61.0.  Joe Thuney was #1.  At Tackles, Trent Brown was 70.7 (#26) and Isaiah Wynn 73.7 (#15).  Former Patriot Cameron Fleming was #9.

Evan Lazar, Patriots.com, and Greg Bedard, Boston Sports Journal, both panned the blocking after watching the coach’s all-22 video.  Then the team ratings came out from PFF and the Patriots line moved from the #6 unit to #3. I have not re-watched the game but watching it live and seeing limited highlights I thought the line was much improved.  Bedard said that Mac Jones was pressured 43% of the time he dropped back.

What you can’t dispute is the way the Patriots and the Offensive line in particular closed out the last 6:30 seconds of the game.  They dominated the line of scrimmage by running 8 of 9 run plays, before three straight kneel-downs.  The one pass was to Lil’Jordan Humphrey for 11 yards and a 1st down.

Patriots Trade OT Justin Herron

The Patriots needed to make a roster move today in order to activate DT Dan Ekuale from the suspended list.  Herron ended up as the odd man out.  They traded him to the Raiders for a swap of 2024 draft picks.  Patriots receive a 2024 6th-round selection from Las Vegas.  In return, the Raiders get Herron and a 2024 7th-round pick (the Patriots selection).  Signing Marcus Cannon to the Practice Squad allowed the Patriots to make this move.

Patriots lose Terrance Mitchell

Tennessee Titans snatched CB Terrance Mitchell from the Patriots Practice Squad.  That leaves the Patriots with only S Brad Hawkins as a secondary replacement on the Practice Squad.  To fill the void the Patriots re-signed K Tristan Vizcaino.

Patriots reinstitute Practice Player recognition

The team has decided to recognize the practice players of the week by giving them Black Practice jerseys.  The three winners were WR Laquan Treadwell, TE Matt Sokol, and DT Sam Roberts.

The Patriots rank dead last in pre-snap motion

Pre-snap motion can give a QB a read on the defense whether they are in man or zone coverage.  Mac Jones is having problems with pre-snap reads.  He is not picking up blitzes pre-snap.  This also reflects the inexperience of the offensive coaching staff, specifically Matt Patricia.

Per Evan Lazar, another telling stat is that in 71 dropbacks to pass Jones has made in two games, 64 of those have come from the shotgun.  We are not utilizing play-action passing enough.


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    Fred
    Fred
    11 days ago

    Agreed on Parker…I have no use for a WR who has a DB in his back pocket on every play…let’s hope the Pats move on quickly from him, but something tells me that he’ll here for the entire season. Just put Bourne on the field and let him run free. He and Mac seem to gel.

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