Special Teams, We Need to Have a Chat Phil Hoffmann/Baltimore Ravens

Report Card Special Teams, We Need to Have a Chat

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Alright Special Teams, please go wait in my office. We’ll get to you in a minute.

It turned into a blowout on the scoreboard, but it just didn’t quite feel like one. These Thursday Night Football games happen and when the schedule was released I was very happy to see it was against the New York Jets and not a contender. 

The Ravens are coming off a tough stretch that culminated in a short turnaround. Luckily, they’ve won 10 in a row and are AFC North Division champions and one win away from securing homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Let’s break it down position by position.

Offense – Overall:  A

430 yards, 23 first downs, 0 turnovers and 42 points. That’s about what you can expect from the best offense in football.

There was a period where the Ravens were having a hard time and punted on three straight drives. However, when you consider they scored touchdowns on their first three drives before the punts and three touchdowns after the punts, I guess we can live with it.

Is this what it’s like to have an offensive juggernaut? I never thought I’d see the day.

Jackson on Jackson – A

Lamar Jackson started the game by beating Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record before sitting back in the pocket and slinging five touchdowns. This is your league MVP and what he is doing is truly remarkable. The only thing preventing Lamar from getting an A+ was overthrowing Mark Andrews, for what was a sure TD. Lamar is up to 2,889 passing yards, 1,103 rushing yards and 40 total touchdowns.  

Running back – A-

I have to be honest; I was getting a little concerned about the running back group in recent weeks. We weren’t seeing the same level of explosive runs, albeit playing against two very good defensive lines from San Francisco and Buffalo. Mark Ingram needed this game to build his confidence back up and he took advantage. He sprung several big runs and ran violently, while adding a score on the ground and through the air. Gus Edwards added a big run towards the end and even Justice Hill broke a run.                                        

Wide Receiver – A

Speaking of needing a bounce-back, Marquise Brown got back on track after turning in three catches for -2 yards last week. Brown had his best play of the year with the top drag swag, 24-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone. Seth Roberts has looked great as of late and paced the team in yardage. Miles Boykin hasn’t gotten the yards people wanted, but he got on the scoreboard and showed he can do damage in the red zone.

Tight End – A-

Did anyone else stress all day about starting Mark Andrews in your fantasy line up? I sure did, but he put me at ease early with a first half touchdown. He looked his normal self despite an injury scare in Buffalo. Hayden Hurst began the game with a great effort on a 19-yard catch. His statistics don’t tell the story. He catches basically everything thrown at him and has really developed into a strong blocker. Nick Boyle continued to beast on opponents in the run game. The blocking is what bumps the grade. It’s just amazing to see them to go to work every week. Anyone catch Lamar Jackson throwing Boyle into the defender on one of his big runs? Good stuff!

Offensive Line – A-

A lot of Ravens fans owe James Hurst a sincere apology. He had a very strong game, especially in pass protection. Overall, the pass blocking was very good, with really only one hiccup when Orlando Brown Jr. failed to engage his defender to get his hand down on a designed flat route to Mark Ingram on 3rd down.

I dropped the grade because I wasn’t thrilled with the run blocking. There were some highlight blocks, but it was inconsistent, especially on off-tackle runs. That said, Brian Baldinger did a great breakdown on Brown Jr’s punishing block on to #58 on the Jets.

Defense – C+

It feels weird being disappointed when the defense only allowed 14 points, but it was a lot uglier than the score would tell you.

Missed tackles, weak pass rush, sloppy run defense are all things you could expect on a short week. The Ravens should just be happy it wasn’t against a good team or this would have been a shootout rather than a blowout. 

Defensive Line – C

Oh man, that was an ugly performance. Domata Peko and Matt Judon showed up, but that was about the beginning and end of it from the defensive line. Le’Veon Bell has one of his better rushing games of the year and it just felt like the Jets offensive line was the more physical line.

The pass rush was inconsistent. They did flush Sam Darnold out of the pocket, but they weren’t able to get home on sacks, which allowed receivers to get open on improvised routes. Tyus Bowser’s strip sack was a thing of beauty and it’s encouraging to see him stack back to back good pass rushing games. It’s a short week after a very physical game, but it was not a good showing from the defensive line.

Linebackers – C+

Josh Bynes had a solid game, but L.J. Fort and Patrick Onwuasor appeared to struggle. The Ravens were using a gap control defense, but Bell was able to find a gap as the Ravens LBs struggled to come off their blocks. Solid day in pass coverage from the LBs gives them a slight bump.

Defensive Backs – B-

The defensive back group seemed to play uninspired for most of the game. Marlon Humphrey had a hard time on Jamison Crowder and the Ravens gave up too many chunk yard plays that brought flashbacks of the game against the Cardinals.

The grade got a slight bump for playing well in the second half and Jimmy Smith stood out a few times with tight coverage. Chuck Clark also brought in his first INT of the year, and Earl Thomas’ coverage was solid. Tackling on the other hand…

Tackling – F

…okay tackling deserves its own grade because that got pretty darn ugly. Brandon Carr whiffed on an easy tackle on a screen pass that went for a big gain. Jamison Crowder got a chunk yard play off of a whiffed tackle.

It’s been a consistent issue that the Ravens need to clean up. You have to make those easy tackles.

Special Teams – EPIC FAIL

What in the world was that?

That was the worst special teams performance I’ve seen from the Ravens under John Harbaugh. Justin Tucker failed to kick the ball into the end zone, and the Jets managed 179 return yards on seven attempts.

Then to add insult to injury, the Jets add a touchdown off of a blocked punt when Morgan Cox got steamrolled off the snap.

OH AND TO MAKE IT WORSE…Justin Tucker missed an XP.

42-21 seems silly to be complaining, but my god that was so ugly.

Game Ball

Again, giving it to Lamar Jackson is just too easy week after week, so we know he’d get it, BUT we’re going to Seth Roberts this week. He’s stacked some solid games and is becoming a real factor in the passing game.

Honorable mention to James Hurst for proving everyone wrong and having an awesome game.

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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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