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Report Card Ravens 26 Browns 24

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Exhale, Baltimore. We did it.

Lay those demons to rest and move on…to the playoffs!

Once again, the difference-maker was a takeaway by the defense to close the game out. These were the takeaways missing in 2017 against Cincy and 2016 against Pittsburgh.

For all of those saying this years team felt different, well you are correct. Whether it was too close for your comfort or not, wins are wins.

Let’s break it down.

Offense – Overall: B

 I’ve come to accept this offensive scheme for what the results are. We hear week in and week out that this will be the week it is solved. While I do see signs of it slowing down at points, it’s still producing results and putting the team in a position to win.

A full offseason offers a lot of opportunity to evolve and add in some true RPO concepts and become more balanced. We can only hope that the coaching staff seizes said opportunity.

Jackson on Jackson: B

Lamar’s fumble on the 1-yard line while trying to punch it across was the difference between an A grade and a B grade.

Now before you jump on me for his passing numbers, I get it, he needs to pass the ball better. There were some missed passes again today. There were also some flashes of a good arm. It’s the consistency factor once again.

However, what Lamar did on the ground today was the difference. I really want to see his rush attempt numbers closer to 10 and there were several designed runs I wasn’t thrilled with, but his legs were the playmaking tool this offense needed.

The fumbles do need to be addressed and there’s no denying that. Lamar had two fumbles (1 lost) tonight and now has 10 fumbles (two lost) as a rusher this season. A lot of these are fumbles off of the read option hand off. Fixable, but we need to see some progress in this area.

In the end, 90 yards and two scores with his legs. Yeah that gets a high B even with average passing numbers.

Running back: A

Well the rushing averages speak for themselves. The only thing holding back an A+ is that Lamar took the scores away…and that’s not really a bad thing.

Honestly, the success that Kenneth Dixon and Gus Edwards have found with this new offensive scheme is truly impressive. Greg Roman deserves a lot of credit for what he’s been able to do with this run game (and yes, the Lamar factor).

Dixon had fallen out of favor hard with this fan base for his inability to stay healthy and his suspension issues. However, he’s really broken out in this newly-formed offense and is starting to show that high ceiling.

Both Dixon and Edwards run hard and have the ability to grab yards after contact, which is the type of fierce running this offense needs.

Alex Collins is going to be in the mix next year, and while his skill set may not be the best fit (more of a one-cut zone runner, whereas this attack is using primarily power concepts), you just can’t rule a guy out without giving him a chance to evolve.

Wide Receiver and Tight End: C+

Mark Andrews…I see you. “Just a big bodied slot WR.” “Too slow to outrun anyone. Not strong enough to out-muscle others.”

Yeah, those were some of the hot takes going into the draft. He has broken out in a big way and is looking like the tight end that Jackson needs. He’s a crafty route runner with soft hands and his blocking, which was an issue in college, is looking much improved.

Hayden Hurst also showed some flashes today as he brought in one beautiful 32-yard gain and finished with two catches for 43 yards. These two are looking like great complements to one another and it seems clear as day Lamar wants to use his tight ends.

The wide receivers had a rough day. Of Lamar’s 24 pass attempts, only 10 were thrown to the wide receiver group. Of those 10, only six were caught.

It’s understandable that the drops may be happening because they’re out of their groove and I think that speaks to how this offense needs to evolve to get the wideouts more involved. That being said, catch the dang ball, man!

Offensive Line: B-

 This line is impossible to grade. Their run blocking and pass blocking are just at two different levels.

The run blocking today was quite strong. The power concepts are working and the guys pulling their butts down the lines (including TEs – I see you Maxx Williams, the ‘hold’ was BS) are taking care of business.

However, there’s still some issues with pass blocking. Lamar has to move way too much in the pocket. When you factor in his already poor mechanics it’s a recipe for some poor passes, as Lamar frequently doesn’t reset himself before slinging the ball.

Also, I think Ronnie Stanley had a Madden glitch at 0:52, 2Q when he didn’t even move while Myles Garrett just kind of ran past him and sacked Jackson. That goes down as the “Come on man!” play of the game.

Defense – Overall: C

Run defense…good.

Pass defense…bad.

This was a big 180 for the DB group from the Chargers game, where they were outstanding. There were several issues with communication in zone coverage that we’ll get into.

Defensive Line and Edge Rushers: C-

The defensive line group started slow, but my lord did they ever start to bottle up Nick Chubb. He hasn’t been shut down like that in a while. He finished with 24 yards on nine carries, and when you factor in that one of those carries went for 13, it means the others were nearly nil.

However, the reason for the low grade is the pass rush group. Baker Mayfield wasn’t sacked once. In fact, he looked like he was doing the cha cha while he danced around incoming defenders (Chris Wormley…).

I’ve been saying for a while that pass rush is still a need on this team and while I think Za’Darius Smith is solid and Terrell Suggs is timeless, we still can’t get pressure without sending a blitz.

Linebackers: A

I’m sure readers of this weekly report are lined up to give me a C.J. Mosley “I told you so.” Yes, I have been harsh on him.

Did tonight change my mind? Well, no, not really. I do give him credit. He made the big play and big players make those plays. So I give him credit for that, but when you are look at paying a guy top five money at his position, you have to look at the whole resume.

Is Mosley good enough play-to-play? How much weight goes into making a big play like this? These are all questions we must tackle.

I think C.J. put himself in a position to get paid. I think the Ravens are going to pay him. The difference is, I just don’t see the impact on a play-to-play basis. He made me eat my words tonight, so let’s hope he can continue to do so.

Defensive Backs: D

What in the world happened to these guys? Are the Monstars playing Bugs Bunny in a football game and decided to sneak into the DB groups bodies and steal their talent?

Marlon Humphrey has been an absolute stud and was rewarded with the media-voted MVP award this week. It was extremely uncharacteristic, but he turned in one of his worst performances of the year today.

The combination of Tony Jefferson and Tavon Young on Jarvis Landry’s 48-yard TD was truly something. My good buddy, Logan Levy (@realLoganLevy) from Baltimore Beatdown and I were debating who was at fault. I think Young stayed short in the zone expecting Jefferson to provide over the top support in cover 2. He thinks Young was assigned to cover the seam from the slot receiver and Jefferson provided help elsewhere.

After further review, Jefferson clearly made the decision to go out of cover 2, but Young was not expecting this. So chalk it up to a communication error.

Jimmy Smith did have a pretty solid game and brought in two picks, but letting Mayfield torch them for 376 yards with many deep balls was not good.

That being said, it was an outlier and this group has the ability to bounce back against the Chargers.

Special Teams: B-

Fish going to swim, birds going to fly, Justin Tucker going to make field goals.

Grade takes a hit because of that ugly punt coverage on Antonio Callaway’s 37-yard return. Yuck.

Coaching – C+

An article needs to be dedicated to this topic. You best believe if the Ravens had given up a field goal to lose by a point this would have been a section bringing out the pitchforks, starting petitions for Harbaugh’s firing, etc.

At the end of the day, John Harbaugh and the coaching staff got the job done. They went on a run down the stretch after starting 4-5 and won the division. You have to give the man credit. Add in the fact that Marty Mornhinweg and Greg Roman redesigned the offense for Lamar at the bye week, and there are a lot of things to be grateful for.

Sunday’s win still had play calling issues, the most notable being the 3rd & 5 play on the Ravens’ last offensive drive before the Mosley INT. An option play in that scenario was just not the right call, particularly because of the fumble risk, which ended up happening. In addition, the Ravens seem to lack an idea of how to get the ball in the end zone when they get into the red zone and it resulting in short field goals. That can’t continue if they want to advance in the postseason.

However, when you look at some of the plays left on the field, there were several issues of execution that cost the Ravens. There were at least five pass plays that were either Lamar missing a receiver that had separation or the receiver dropping the ball. You can’t blame Marty for that.

Don “Wink” Martindale took some flak in the twittersphere for his calling of the game. Again though, he can only scheme and call the plays. There were several issues of execution on the defense, particularly in the defensive backfield. This needs to be the focus of the lead up to the Chargers game.  

The Officiating: F-

It’s weak to say you lost a game because of the officiating. However, had the Ravens lost this game, the officials likely would have been tarred and feathered, and rightfully so.

There were several plays in this game that were just so beyond bad that all you could do was laugh.

Maxx Williams’ offensive holding at 10:36, 3Q that nullified Lamar Jackson‘s 33-yard TD run wasn’t even the right call (it was a block in the back if anything), and in any respect, it’s a weak call.

Michael Crabtree’s offensive pass interference at 4:46, 3Q nullified a 12-yard Willie Snead catch and led to a punt drive instead of a first down.

Then there was the Browns last drive. Two catches had to be reviewed and both were the wrong calls on the field. Breshad Perriman was still bobbling the ball when he tapped his toe and it was only called a catch because it needed conclusive evidence. Either way, it was the wrong call on the field. Jarvis Landry’s catch was a catch, but was ruled not a catch. It was just bad and caused two reviews on the drive.

Cleveland fans have their own gripes, such as the whistle being blown early on the Jackson goalline fumble. Effectively, the Zebras wrongly took six off the board for each team.

Here’s to the playoff crews being better…but I won’t hold my breath.

Game Ball

Action Lamar Jackson, baby! Love him, hate him. Think the offense is going unsustainable, think he’s going to get hurt. It honestly doesn’t matter. Lamar was the playmaker this team needed yesterday. Just like Joe Flacco before him, he’s heading to the playoffs as a rookie.

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Cole Jackson

About Cole Jackson

Cole Jackson has been an avid follower of the Baltimore Ravens for over a decade. Born and raised in Brockville, Ontario, Canada, Cole’s love for the Ravens was born and bred in following the playing style of Ray Lewis, which he tried to emulate in his own football career, (ultimately failing to do so). Cole graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Criminology before becoming a Policy Analyst with the federal government. Cole’s football career now involves being a columnist for RSR, yelling at others who are beating him in Madden and being a regular on the RSR forum where he is known as GreatWhiteNorthRaven. Cole has a knack for the team-building aspects of the Ravens, which includes player scouting, free agency and the draft. More from Cole Jackson

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