Bulls & Bears Week 3
The Baltimore Ravens continue to win football games despite less-than-stellar production and execution. In Week 3, it was a two-point victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Baltimore moved to 3-0 despite poor third-down production, three turnovers and too many penalties. It was a messy win but a win nonetheless.
As Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman fade in and out and Kamar Aiken remains essentially stealth, Smith has regained his role as the team’s go-to receiving option. He led the way once again in receptions and targets and made the longest gain from scrimmage for Baltimore on the day. In Week 1, it seemed like Smith was out of his element leading a passing attack, but he has found his legs again, at least for the time being.
Welcome back Terrell Suggs! After a lackluster game last week, Suggs made a bunch of plays against the Jacksonville offensive line in limited snaps. He finished with two sacks and two tackles for loss, as well as two quarterback hits. Suggs was reportedly on the field for 37 snaps and has yet to play even 40 downs in a game this season. But the team is correctly limiting his exertion, and he was on the field enough times to have a huge impact in this one.
Jernigan is becoming a force up front for the Ravens. After a productive Week 2, he recorded a sack and tackle for loss in Week 3. Though a defensive tackle, Jernigan also deflected two passes, one of which led to an interception. He now is tied for the team lead in sacks with three despite playing on the interior. Coach John Harbaugh points to Jernigan’s elimination of negative plays that has also led to his great start.
The rookie cornerback intercepted his first career pass on Sunday. Young also made a few tackles and got a hit on Blake Bortles. He has had a nice start so far in Baltimore, even arguably surpassing the reliability of Shareece Wright. Though Young has been playing in nickel and has seen limited time on the field, his big-play ability (he returned a two-point attempt in Week 2) may warrant a playing-time adjustment in his favor.
It is probably fair to leave Tucker on the bullish list for the rest of the season. The dude is one of the best kickers of his generation. All he did in this one was connect on five kicks (four field goals), which included the game-winning 54-yarder in the final minute of the ballgame.
The passing offense has been suspect thus far behind Joe Flacco. He was particularly poor in this game. Flacco threw the ball 40 times, barely cracking 200 yards. Though he completed a high percentage, everything was underneath and for negligible yardage. No one had a pass play longer than 23 yards all game. Flacco also threw no touchdowns and two picks, the latter of which could have lost the game against a better opponent. He hasn’t been terrible, but this is a far cry from the better Joe Flacco we have seen in years past, especially his 2014 season.
It appears as though Justin Forsett time as a main cog in the backfield may be coming to an end soon. He had another bad game in Week 3, out-touching Terrance West but doing nothing with his 13-to-11 edge in touches. And now the return of rookie Kenneth Dixon seems to be on the horizon. When Dixon does return from injury, Forsett is likely to see his chances slashed even further. There is no room in this offense to wait on a guy averaging 3.2 yards per carry.
Forsett has been poor running the ball, but Terrance West has hardly taken the league by storm. Instead, it’s been a struggle for any Ravens back, and that stems in large part to the struggles of the offensive line. One of the main culprits up front has been Jeremy Zuttah. Zuttah is an experienced player both in the league and in this offense. He shouldn’t be encountering problems like he is, but he gets no hall pass here. He has been a bad center to this point.