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Ravens Find a Way to Get it Done

Offensive linemen practice at the Under Armour Performance Center
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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Hi friends! I’ll be your substitute teacher on this Victory Monday! 

Per your usual substitute teacher policy, I’m clearly late to class – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t grade out our Ravens in their 24-17 victory in Buffalo on Sunday!

So about these grades… you’re going to be at me. Not because I thought they played poorly necessarily! It’s just that the bar has been set so high that anything less falls short of expectations. 

Make sense?

I sure hope so , or the comment section will be chock full of “who cares how they win, they just win!” (which is completely contrarian to the concept behind a Report Card).

Alright. Let us go.

Quarterback: B-

Did Lamar Jackson throw three touchdown passes? Yes he did. Was his one interception a tipped up ball that found a defender? Yes it was. But as far as LJ performances go, this was not nearly his best work. He sailed a bunch of passes early in the game, seemed indecisive in choosing his running lanes, and even the interception was a high and behind throw that put Willie Snead in a position to barely get a fingertip on the ball, leading to the pick.

Overall, I cannot drop this to a C, simply because of the touchdowns alone (and one more set of broken ankles to hang on the wall), but if this is Lamar having an off day? I’ll take it!

Offensive Line: B-

Feels lazy doubling down on this grade, but I feel good about it. Lamar was kept upright for the majority of the day (one sack) but the pressure was coming pretty frequently from all different directions. The coverage was sticky across the board by the Bills, but not having the offensive line holding up long enough to allow those receivers to separate was painfully obvious. The run blocking also didn’t give Ravens fans much to write home about either.

Again: good by most teams’ measures, surely, but by the 2019 Ravens standard that’s not A material. 

Running Backs: C+

Coming into this game, I had high hopes for the RB group, given the Bills unusually high ypc allowed… but somehow the Ravens failed to take advantage of it, with Mark Ingram (15/50/0), Gus Edwards (4/20/0) and Justice Hill (3/8/0) failing to really show up at any capacity in the run game. Add in Ingram’s three catches for 29 yards (no other back with a catch) and it still doesn’t even make up for the shortcomings in the run game. 

Wide Receivers: C

Seven receptions, 11 targets, 19 yards, one touchdown. I’ve been slamming the table for an early 2020 drafted wideout and this just continues to reaffirm the team’s biggest need on offense in my opinion. Hollywood Brown may be ‘healthy’ but he’s not really healthy, Willie Snead is a serviceable slot guy, and that’s all the Ravens have right now. Seth Roberts is a stopgap, Miles Boykin is on the side of a milk carton, and Chris Moore is looking into the XFL once the season is done (not confirmed, just a hunch). Snead’s touchdown is the only thing saving this group from a D.

Tight Ends: B+

So here’s the thing: Mark Andrews went down early and everyone panicked, but this instance is exactly why the Ravens felt like it was necessary to have such a great trio of Tight Ends that can both block and catch. Nick Boyle roped in a little flick of a pass from Lamar Jackson, and Hayden Hurst had has biggest play of his professional career with a 61-yard catch and run touchdown.

On a day where the offense struggled everywhere else, the Tight Ends showed consistency and resilience. 

Defensive Line: B-

The Ravens D-front held up strong against a very solid Bills offensive line. Domata Peko (three pressures) and Brandon Williams played unbelievably well stuffing the run, as did Chris Wormley and Michael Pierce (who had a major boneheaded 15-yard personal foul to extend the Bills’ final drive). Still, the lack of pass rush ability is hindering the defense at times, and it shows. Let me put it this way: of the Ravens defensive linemen active for this game, Peko’s 61.8 pass rush grade from PFF was the highest of the group and he played the least snaps of all of them (31%).

That’s not up to par for this team, and just like wideout is my biggest need I’ve cried for? So is interior pressure for this defense…

Linebackers: B+

This group was tough to grade out for me. From a run game perspective, they struggled like crazy setting the edge for the second straight week, and I started with a B- grade here. For a moment, I was worried Devin Singletary would take nothing but handoffs for the duration of the second half. But the pass rush aspect of their game was fantastic. L.J. Fort was everywhere on the field, namely in the backfield, and pulled down a sack. Matt Judon was a nuisance behind the LOS, and roped in 1.5 sacks and added another forced fumble. Josh Bynes? Sack. Jaylon Ferguson? Sack. SACKS FOR EVERYONE! And although Peanut Onwuasor didn’t get into the sackfest, his 3rd and short stop on Singletary where he penetrated the Bills line like a hot knife slicing through butter will not soon be forgotten. 

Secondary: B

Sorry, I’m stuck on the B’s today… it’s just that we’ve seen better from these position groups (which would warrant an A grade), but what we saw yesterday was clearly not a ‘bad’ effort by any means… thus, a case of the B’s. This is no different for the Ravens secondary, who put up a strong showing (no DB gave up more than 40 yards receiving on the day), but did nothing flashy (0 turnovers forced) barring a Marcus Peters PBU to end the day for Buffalo and an Earl Thomas sack. 

Special Teams: A

I don’t know, I just feel like somebody needs an A, so let’s give it to the Special Teams unit. Sam Koch‘s well-rested leg handled seven punts on the day, Justin Tucker was sure-footed as usual, and we even saw a decent DeAnthony Thomas punt return yesterday! Good job fellas. 

Coaching: B

Ah yes. Back to the B’s. Let’s give the Bills defense credit here – they played hard and slowed down the Ravens offense – but let’s also point out the numerous attempts made by Greg Roman to spark the offense when it was ever so flat on the day. We saw jet sweeps. We saw the Heisman package. We saw the wildcat. Roman made sure to do whatever he could to generate a spark, not just sticking to what didn’t work as we’ve come to know from every single previous Ravens OC throughout team history.

Defensively, Wink just did more Wink stuff. He got Josh Allen playing on his heels with pressure always in his face from every which way, and it was the key to victory. Great job, coordinators. Great job, Harbs. 

FINAL GRADE: B

Like you didn’t see that coming…

It wasn’t pretty… it just wasn’t ugly. It wasn’t electric… but it wasn’t a dud. This was the prototypical ‘find a way to win’ game when the team just looked off, and the fact that they managed a win on the road against a 9-3 team when they were clearly off their game is very telling of this club. 

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