Harbaugh Out-coaches Himself at Arrowhead
Alright, my friends, I will repeat:
Deep breath #RavensFlock
5 point loss to the KC Chiefs on the road.
Was it ugly yes? But, they stayed in the game and gave themselves a shot against a top team.
We’ll be back.
— Cole Jackson (@ColeJacksonRSR) September 22, 2019
It’s all going to be just fine. Or it’s all going to be horrible. I don’t know.
What I do know is that the Ravens had some horrible play from some positional groups. However, they still managed to be in the game down to the wire.
I’ve seen the comment that it wasn’t as close as the score made it seem. That may be true, but at the end of the game it’s one score versus another. The reality is that the Ravens are routinely in games like this despite inconsistent play, mental lapses from individual players and questionable coaching.
That, to me, is at least a positive takeaway. Let’s break it down.
Offense – Overall: B
Jackson on Jackson – C
This was pegged as the big showdown of two rising stars in Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. While I think Lamar is going to be a stud, I still don’t think he’s there yet. The label this matchup received was unfair to Lamar.
Lamar’s deep ball from the get go just wasn’t there today. There were a few plays where guys were in position to at least make a play on the ball, but it was overthrown. Marquise Brown and Hayden Hurst stand out as guys that I had at least 2 notes each as being overthrown when I thought they could have made a play.
That doesn’t mean it was an easy play, but one thing Lamar has done better this year has been his ability to put the ball in a safe spot where his man has a chance to make a play. The ability to place the ball away from a defender and let his guy do his thing is something that good quarterbacks do.
Through the air, Lamar finished 22/43 for 276 yards with no scores or interceptions, and no fumbles. So positive marks for protecting the ball. That said, his accuracy was off and his completions to Willie Snead and Seth Roberts were heaves that seemed more lucky than good.
I have absolutely zero concerns with Lamar’s game. Games like this will happen. We know how he responds and I have no doubt he’s already in the film room reviewing the game and getting better.
What was efficient today was Lamar’s legs. He had 8 carries for 46 yards and a beautiful touchdown. I would imagine Alex Okafor will be suing for damages to his ankles on a beautiful juke move.
Lamar Jackson this was rude and uncalled for! I know Alex Okafor well. He’s a good man, a law abiding citizen! Sheesh! Lol
— Emmanuel Acho (@thEMANacho) September 22, 2019
He snapped another pair of ankles on his 9-yard touchdown run.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 22, 2019
Running back – A
I’m not entirely sure why the run game was abandoned in the first half, but it was clearly a mistake. How strange that the offensive success in the second half came with a strong run game. Hmmm. Anyway, we’ll talk coaching later.
The running backs had a great day and were completely underutilized. Mark Ingram rumbled for 103 yards and 3 TDs on 16 carries. Gus Edwards added 53 yards on 7 carries and Lamar, as mentioned above added 46 yards and a score.
That led to a team rushing attack of 203 yards on 32 carries for a 6.3 average and 4 total TDs.
Ingram, in particular, was an absolute beast today, churning for extra yards and laying the hammer every opportunity he got.
Ingram and Edwards were also used in the pass game today collecting 4 catches for 32 yards and 2 catches for 15 yards, respectively. It’s an encouraging showing from this duo. Their efforts represent proof that the duo can work well in a committee. If Justice Hill gets going, I’ll get to relive my dream three headed monster of the 2008 grouping of Willie McGahee, Le’Ron McClain and Ray Rice.
Wide Receiver – C
There were some flash plays from the wide receiver grouping, including:
– Marquise Brown’s 31-yard reception on the boundary (almost the same play as last week’s game clincher)
– Willie Snead 23-yard prayer. Still have no idea how he held on to it.
– Seth Roberts 25-yard prayer.
That said, overall the impact wasn’t very large. Miles Boykin and Willie Snead both had drops on key plays. It also seems like the WRs need to do a better job working back to the ball when Lamar has to scramble. On several plays Lamar scrambled and created time, but no one seemed to break open.
It’s a tough grade because Lamar did miss some throws to guys that had some separation, but considering impact and the missed plays, it’s a pretty low grade today.
It also took until 1:55 of the 2nd quarter for a WR to have a catch. Womp womp womp.
Offensive Line – B+
The offensive line was taking some heat on Twitter, and I’m really not sure why. There were a few bad plays, such as Bradley Bozeman getting blown up for an easy sack (again) and Orlando Brown Jr. completely missing his assignment that led to another sack.
But, overall, Lamar had time in the pocket, including several plays where he was able to scramble and keep moving when no one down the field could gain separation.
This is one of the tough things. Your line can’t be asked to hold the pass rush for 10 seconds. At some point a pass catcher needs to break free.
The run blocking was fantastic and Ingram and Edwards were given some great holes to do their thing. I was pretty hard on Matt Skura, but I thought he had his best game of the year from first glance. It’ll be a fun re-watch.
Tight Ends – B
The tight ends were a big focal point of the passing game at Arrowhead, as they were targeted on 17 throws among the three of them. Nick Boyle was the most productive hauling in 4 passes for 58 yards. Watching Boyle hurdle someone is hilarious and I love it.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 22, 2019
Mark Andrews was quiet today and you could see him getting doubled regularly, and if like me you had him on your fantasy team you were pretty disappointed with his output. Hayden Hurst was missed on a few occasions, but it’s nice to see him at least in position to make a play.
Defense – D
My goodness that was a pathetic display of defense. I don’t usually break out the ‘p’ word that often, but it was embarrassing that Wink Martindale’s unit couldn’t stop some of the sweeps from the Chiefs to get the ball back.
The Ravens gave up 503 yards, 27 first downs, 5/9 on 3rd down conversion and only came away with 1 sack and 0 turnovers on the day.
Defensive Line – D
The first drive was a fantastic display for the pass rush. Patrick Onwuasor forced Mahomes to dump the ball that led to an intentional grounding play, followed by a Matt Judon sack that pushed the Chiefs completely out of field goal territory.
After that? No sacks on the rest of the day. The Ravens did get some hits on Mahomes, but he wasn’t pressured often and you already know that the Ravens will enter the 2020 offseason, once again, needing a pass rusher.
Matt Judon probably deserves an article all his own, but I don’t think there’s another player in Ravens history that frustrates me as much as Judon. He’s a great player and he’s producing in a contract year, so I 100% acknowledge that. I mean, I even tweeted “pay that man” during the game.
Then he goes on and does his thing and gets a boneheaded unnecessary roughness penalty on 3rd down that would have been a 4th down for KC and likely made the game 6-3 for the good guys instead of 7-6 for the bad guys after they scored with a new set of downs.
For the moment, the Ravens defense isn’t good enough to absorb these types of penalties. Judon also had an illegal use of hands later in the game where he basically choked out a Chiefs’ player.
Ok, enough on Judon…
Back to the defensive line, I’ve given up on Tim Williams. He was targeted in the run game with the Chiefs sweep plays and he just simply can’t set the edge. He was run off the ball or sealed on numerous occasions.
I think the entire building knew the Chiefs were throwing a screen and yet our DE’s still didn’t sniff it out on the game clinching pass. It was just not a good showing from this group. No pass rush and we couldn’t stifle the rushing game giving up 140 yards on 26 carries.
Linebackers – C-
This is another group that leaves you feeling uninspired. Onwuasor is playing well, and he was close on a potential INT, managing to tip it into the waiting hands of Sammy Watkins. Unfortunately, “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, not football.
Kenny Young has been a disaster and looks lost in coverage.
One of the most frustrating parts of this game from the defense was giving up receptions to the Chiefs running backs – eight catches for a 9 yard average for running backs is not good. Last year with CJ Mosley playing the MIKE the Ravens were able to let Peanut focus on the RBs, covering the flats. This year he’s playing the MIKE and the combination of Young and Board just can’t play that same role.
I’m not going to say we miss CJ Mosley…but we don’t not miss him either.
Defensive Backs – F
Oh look! A communication error? That’s so Ravens.
Seriously, this is bananas to watch on back-to-back weeks. Mecole Hardman could have stopped and had a hot dog on his way to the house.
Tony Jefferson was particularly awful today, including negating a beautiful Brandon Carr interception by just kind of tackling his man out of bounds for some reason and earning a pass interference call. Jefferson was supposed to be the guy that could cover TEs and come up and make some hits. So far, we just haven’t seen it.
Speaking of Carr, I actually thought he had a solid game. His technique defending Demarcus Robinson on his 18-yard TD was a bit shaky, but that was also a beautiful play.
Marlon Humphrey left the game banged up and overall just hasn’t looked himself in coverage. In run support he’s been an absolute animal, but he’s not doing the player in coverage so far this season. Also, Earl Thomas owes the Ravens Flock an apology. He vowed to eliminate all big plays. He lied.
Special Teams – B
Not much to see here. Harbaugh didn’t want to kick the ball for reasons that are beyond me.
Coaching – F
Oh man, the coaching. The moment you people are all waiting for.
I am not sure what John Harbaugh was thinking with his approach, but it just doesn’t make sense to me. I understand the analytics on going for 2 from 1 yard out. It was probably the correct choice from a pure quantitative point of view.
However, that doesn’t take the context into account. You’re on the road, playing a top 2 AFC team, in what promises to be a shootout. It’s not the context where going for 2 makes sense.
I had no problem going for the 4th and 2. Generally speaking, I’m usually okay with that move because of Lamar’s legs and what he can do improvising. But in these situations, defenses are up tight to the line. The play call was atrocious, but the decision itself was the right one.
My theory is that Harbaugh was scared of the shootout and doesn’t trust the defense. How could you after the breakdowns against Arizona? I think he went for 2 knowing that if a shootout happens it may be a scenario where the scoring works in his favor. Unfortunately, it was the complete opposite.
The intimidating factor got to him and Andy Reid seems to have the number of his old mentee.
With a little luck, Harbaugh will get another crack at Reid again in January!
Mark Ingram. Roll tide! What an absolute beast!