Taking Stock Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Street Talk Taking Stock

Posted in Street Talk
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The Ravens head into their bye 5-1 for the third time in franchise history, which is a good omen.

The previous two times the Ravens opened the season with that record (2000 and 2012) they went on to win the Super Bowl.

Those championship teams faced many of the same questions regarding their inconsistent offense as this year’s Ravens.

The bye comes at a perfect time because the players and coaches still don’t appear to be in sync even though the numbers tell a different story. 

The Ravens have scored 20 or more points in 29 consecutive games, breaking a tie with the 1999-2000 Rams for the 2nd-longest streak in NFL history. Lamar Jackson and company have their sights on breaking the all-time record of 30 held by the 2012-2014 Denver Broncos. 

Jackson had his seventh-career 100-yard rushing games, second-most by a quarterback in NFL history.

Still, a 30-28 victory over the one-win Eagles in Week 6 provided more questions than answers.
The Ravens could not keep the Philadelphia at bay after opening a 17-0 lead.  Baltimore’s much-heralded defense that has paved the way for victories this season gave up 28 points in the second half. The Ravens escaped when linebackers Matt Judon and L.J. Fort tackled Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz in the backfield during a potential game-tying attempt at a 2-point conversion with just over a minute remaining.
The Ravens were uncharacteristically sloppy and were penalized 12 times — with nine of those infractions on the offense — for 132 yards. 
After the game, the players acted as if they had just lost the game as opposed to escaping with the victory. 
“Big picture, we’re 5-1,” safety DeShon Elliott said. “Yes, a lot of teams in the league would be excited if they were 5-1 going into the Bye Week, but we’re not. We expect excellence, we expect greatness, and right now, we’re not being great.

“I can only speak for the defensive side of the ball, so right now on defense, we’re not being great. We’re not playing sound defensively. All we can do is just get better, and we’re going to work to do that. It is what it is.”

Over the bye, much of the focus will be on the offense.

After last year’s record-setting attack, Jackson and his teammates have been mostly inconsistent. Jackson has struggled to find receivers downfield either because they are failing to get open or because he is missing on his passes.

Jackson has completed 102 of 162 pass attempts (63%) for 1,135 yards, which ranks 25th in the NFL. He is averaging seven yards per pass and has thrown for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions (99.2 passer rating).

He also leads the team with 346 yards rushing — 16th in the NFL — with another two scores. Jackson insists the offense is going to break out, but the team is entering the mid-point of the season and the clock is ticking. 

“We just got killed with penalties. We really just stopped ourselves,” Jackson said. “I feel like we were driving the ball down the field pretty decent. We did a great job today. We just have to work on the small things. And I feel like the sky is the limit for us. We did pretty good. We stepped it up from last week.”

The Ravens playoff picture will become much clearer when they return from the bye with a game against Pittsburgh. The Steelers are undefeated and are establishing themselves as a threat to dethrone the defending Super-Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens play Pittsburgh twice in the month of November, in addition to games against the undefeated Titans, the Colts, and the Patriots. 

The Ravens are going to have to play much better to deal with that portion of the schedule.

“[We’re] 5-1 going into the Bye [Week]; we get a chance to just catch our breath, get our bodies right, and then we come out of the Bye [Week] with a big one,” said defensive end Calais Campbell, who had three sacks against the Eagles. “This is the game that they say, ‘You’re not really a Raven until you play against the Steelers.’ So, I’m looking forward to the opportunity; it’s going to be a great game.”

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich

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