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Grades from a Tough Win Over Houston

Ravens defense huddles after a Marcus Peters interception against Houston
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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Well folks, I think we were spoiled in 2019. Somehow, a 17-point lead, which would have felt incredible throughout the 2010’s, just didn’t quite have the same feeling.

Instead fans were left with some concerns and felt like they wanted more. Don’t worry though, we’re here to break it all down and see what went right and what needs to be improved before the matchup we’ve all been waiting for: Monday Night Football with the Kansas City Chiefs.


Overall:  B+

Despite some concerns on the offensive line, the rest of the offense played particularly well. However, the game is won and lost in the trenches. So when your offensive line has a rough day it has an impact across the entire unit.

If you can’t get the push in the run game, your running backs don’t have anywhere to go. If you’re letting your QB get pressured, it’s harder to get the ball downfield.

Greg Roman deserves a ton of credit for his adjustments to find a play-calling approach that would allow the Ravens to move the ball and get some points.

Jackson on Jackson: A-

I remember sitting down before the 2019 season and trying to map out what an ideal completion % would be for Lamar Jackson in a Roman offense. I remember ending up around 66%.

Well, through two weeks, Jackson has completed 77.6% of his passes, for 479 yards and four TD. His passing is methodical and he’s taking what the defense is giving him. However, the most impressive part is he’s doing it in a chaotic environment as the OL is giving up pressure more often than not.

Lamar had to use his legs a bit more yesterday as Roman tried to help the OL by calling more option run calls which can force a DL to hesitate as they read the QB. It’s always going to be an asset when Lamar has that skillset at his disposal, but his passing has just blown me away. He navigates the pocket so well and gets the ball out. With the pressure in his face, I gave his grade a bump because he’s able to keep executing despite that chaos.

Running backs: B+

It was a big bounce back for the running back group who didn’t put in the finest work last week, especially Mark Ingram who misread a few running lanes and ended up leaving yardage (and a TD on an inside zone left run) on the field.

The three-headed monster looked strong and, specifically brought a big play element that they were lacking last week. Ingram took a 30-yard wildcat zone left run to the house, J.K. Dobbins ripped off a 44-yard run and Gus Edwards added a 22-yard dash in “Gus Bus” fashion.

Dobbins brought a little Ray Rice flashback to fans when he got his hand on the ground to keep his balance on a 12-yard completion.

Wide Receiver and Tight End: B+

It was another week where the wide receivers were a big focus of the passing game. Tight ends (+ Pat Ricard) were only targeted five times while the receivers were targeted 14 times. This has been one of the unique differences from 2019 to 2020 through two weeks.

The big thing is that the Ravens pass catchers are capitalizing on their opportunities. This game didn’t allow for downfield throws, so it was mostly short catches, but the important thing is high catch percentages.

Miles Boykin showed has shown progression and brought in four of his five targets, while Hollywood Brown brought in five of six.

Mark Andrews was only targeted three times with one of them going for a 29-yard gain.

The big takeaway for me is that the Ravens are spreading the ball around to different receivers and it’s resulting in plays being made. Last year teams focused on Brown and Boykin and it was hard to get other guys going. However, if Boykin, Devin Duvernay and Willie Snead continue to make plays, it’s going to keep Jackson operating efficiently like we’ve seen thus far.

Offensive Line: C-

And here lies the problem with the offense yesterday. Lets start with the positive…. Well, they got better as the game went on.

Okay that’s a little misleading. The reality is that Roman shifted the play calling to help out his OL by calling more option runs and it did lead to better running in the second half. I think we saw the result of that play calling as the defense line was hesitant out of their stance in the 4th quarter when the Ravens ran 16 times (quarter-to-quarter stat breakdown courtesy of @Yoshi2052 on Twitter).

It was a putrid game in pass protection. It’s almost shocking that Jackson was able to complete 18 of 24 throws with how much pressure he was under, but that’s a true testament to how skilled he is.

I gave them a slight bump because the 2nd half did get better, but this is a group to keep your eye on as they will need their A game against the Chiefs next week who boast a pretty good DL that includes studs like Chris Jones.


Overall: B+

Expectations are a funny thing. Baltimore fans know what elite shutdown defenses can do. We saw it here for years.

However, you have to remember that the Texans have a top 5 QB and Deshaun Watson is not used to losing by multiple scores. Don’t believe me? Check this stat out:

Yeah, he’s always keeping his teams in games, so lets give the defense a little bit of credit because they kept him limited.

Defensive Line: B

The Texans run a lot more gap power concepts rather than zone, which really plays to the strength of the DL. I think that’s what helped the run defense play a lot better.  David Johnson was taken out of the game on the ground and the Texans were forced to go into the air.

The issue with the DL is still the lack of a pass rush. It should be noted that the pass rush looked significantly better in the second half, which bumped the grade. Just look at the difference in QB hits:

They’re almost all in the 2nd half. So credit there, but it did come with more blitzing.

Matt Judon noticeably stepped up his pass rush game and was held by Tytus Howard uncalled on three occasions. And that’s just me watching the broadcast live, not a film breakdown. 

The grouping of Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe and Brandon Williams, known as the Monstars, really showed progression as they start to jell. They have a tough task ahead of them next week as they’re going to see more zone concepts from the Chiefs, which they struggled with against the Browns.

Linebackers: A-

Patrick Queen continues to impress me. He was all over the field around the ball. There’s still some things he’s going to have to iron out, but that’s what happens with rookies.

L.J. Fort was the real notable in this matchup. It’s crazy that he came off the street last year and is playing so well through two weeks. He recovered the fumble on special teams last week and then returned a fumble for a TD this week.

I also thought Malik Harrison looked really solid. I don’t think anyone expected him to be so fluid. He has loose hips and he did a really good job chasing down Watson on a few plays.

Defensive Backs: A

The Ravens have the best CB duo in the league in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters.

Humphrey had the beautiful punch out that led to Fort’s TD return, which led to…

And then Peters tracked an INT showing his ball-hawking abilities, which led to…

These are the playmakers that take a defense from good to great.

Anthony Averett did not have a good game when he entered in relief of Tavon Young. It’s not entirely unsurprising that he was picked on which led to the majority of the Texans progress in the air. I expect the Ravens to move Jimmy Smith back outside and Humphrey inside like they did last year for the majority of the year. The issue is that they had planned for Jimmy to be on TE-man duties and that is now not possible if he moves back to outside CB.

This injury stinks and Young has dealt with a lot of them. Thoughts and prayers from everyone here at RSR go to TY. We love you man.

DeShon Elliott is helping us forget Earl Thomas and his drama. He has put together back to back weeks and he and Chuck Clark face a HUGE test next week.

Special Teams: B+

Nothing flashy here. Just solid work. Justin Tucker hit all of his FG’s (Shocker). Coverage team looks significantly improved from last year.

The guy that stood out to me is Chris Board. He is getting downfield from the inside of the coverage teams with some serious speed and breaking things up. Good to see him contribute.

Game Ball

Game ball this week goes to Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. The elite duo get to share the game ball.

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