Alright folks. This was a tough one. I had this whole plan of tying today’s game into The Masters weekend and leading off with Jim Nantz saying “Hello Friends…”, but things last night did not go as planned.
We’re going to do all we can do in these trying times. We’re just going to try and make sense of what the heck happened in such a…how do you even describe that game? No one ever wants to lose, but losing the way the Ravens continue to do, where they shoot themselves in the foot just makes it so much harder to swallow the L.
Let’s dive in.
The conditions definitely lowered my expectations for this game. Heavy rainfall and strong wind gusts are not a recipe for an offensive battle.
However, the key to the offensive struggles continues to be the turnovers. It comes down to a lot of execution issues and they were present in this game. The big story in this game is two missed snaps – one on 4th and 1 and another on a key drive in the fourth which pushed the Ravens back 16 yards.
Jackson on Jackson: B
If I had some sort of ‘blame-o-meter’ for whose fault this game was, Lamar would probably be somewhere very close to the bottom. In fact, I thought he played quite well with the one exception being the INT that ended the first half.
When I look at Lamar Jackson’s passing on a micro-level (i.e. ignoring other issues such as pass protection and WR separation), the biggest difference between 2019 and 2020 is that he seems to be pushing the ball down field for bigger looks rather than taking easier, high percentage looks. That approach is fine when you’re completing those passes, but if you go back to the INT, he could have taken an easier look, set up a FG and tied the game going into half time. Instead, it turned into no points and an unfortunate turnover.
Overall, Jackson played well. He passed with precision and there were just too many things going on outside of his control in this one.
Running back: C+
Gus Edwards continues to look like he should be getting the lion’s share of carries. Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins are extremely talented, but with the offensive line not getting the push to open up running lanes, their patient styles are less effective. However, Edwards is your classic pedal down hammer running back, which helps negate losses or the lack of holes.
He just gets upfield and finds room. Overall, their RBs didn’t have a major impact on this game, but given the context of the offensive line, Edwards is going to be their best option moving forward.
Wide Receiver and Tight End: C
Gotta be way more aggressive at the point of attack! Then use a strong acceleration to stack on top of the defender… and make the catch… MOther Of Pearl!!!! https://t.co/H6Tl3mCte6
— Qadry Ismail (@QadryIsmail) November 16, 2020
I get what he’s saying, and we do seem to have a consistent problem with WRs not getting up for the ball, but on this one, that ball has to be thrown to his outside shoulder. He released outside and was matched step for step. If that ball goes outside, he at least has a shot at the ball. Not sure a ‘jump ball’ for a 5’9″ WR was the best approach, but he’ll continue to take his licks after claiming he’s a soulja that isn’t getting the targets. When you ask for the work, you have to get it done.
Mark Andrews had a classic up and down game that seems to be coming up quite often. He makes some great plays, but he also has some pretty egregious drops.
Willie Snead continues to be the most consistent WR. If they are able to get things going outside, he’s going to be extremely valuable. However, they’re running out of time and saying “if they can get things going” is starting to become exhausting.
Offensive Line: D
Sometimes things happen in this game that you can take a look at and you just understand how something can happen. For the life of me, I will never understand how Matt Skura is still being asked to snap the ball when he has a massive cut on his hand. Reminder of what we found out last week:
CBS has mentioned several times that Matt Skura has been having some accuracy issues with his snaps. Jackson has had to lunge quite a few times to get ball. They also documented a cut on Skura's hand that might be a part of the problem.
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) November 8, 2020
That’s not a minor issue that someone just plays through. It’s having an impact on every play. Obviously, the snaps that went right of Mark Ingram (4th and 1) or over Jackson’s head are noticeable, but if you go back and look, Lamar is catching a lot of these snaps low or to the side and that can disrupt timing. It’s irresponsible for Skura to be playing if his snaps are going to be a consistent issue play to play.
Overall, the OL did about as well as you could expect. They’re banged up and faced another major shift with Patrick Mekari taking over for D.J. Fluker who was struggling in this game.
Harbaugh said the #Ravens will know more about Brandon Williams and Terrell Bonds tomorrow. Patrick Mekari replacing D.J. Fluker at right tackle was a coaching decision.
— Luke Jones (@BaltimoreLuke) November 16, 2020
They had some usual let downs in pass protection, but overall played better as a unit. They were also able to get some push in the run game. Unfortunately, the thing you’ll remember is Skura’s snaps and their impact on big plays in the game.
Defensive Line: C
We’ve seen this song and dance with Brandon Williams all too often. Almost every game where he goes down, our run defense falls apart. Add in the fact that Calais Campbell was out and it’s just a recipe for disaster. The combination of Justin Ellis, Broderick Washington and Justin Madubuike weren’t able to step up in their absence.
One guy that does deserve a lot of credit is Derek Wolfe. He’s been phenomenal this year against the run and he made some big plays yesterday. If Williams and Campbell are in this one, I think it’s a much, much different game. The Patriots would have had to go to the air and that’s where they could have forced some mistakes. Unfortunately, they got the ball ran on them for three quarters and that was enough for the damage to be done.
Speaking of big losses, L.J. Fort was dearly missed in this one. Patrick Queen continues his up and down rookie campaign. The LBs were getting washed on outside runs and power concepts where the pulling OL players were able to seal them to open holes.
Malik Harrison did a nice job on a few runs, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. With both levels of the front-7 getting dominated, the Patriots running backs (and Cam Newton) were able to consistently move the ball.
Defensive Backs: B-
They weren’t tested often, as the Patriots chose to run the ball early and often, but Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott were able to make quite a few plays when Wink Martindale started bringing them up closer to the line.
Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey both looked like they got banged up at different points of the game, which seems to be forming a very hurtful trend (literally). Peters got banged up early and they went after him a few times making some big plays in the air before returning to the ground game.
We know these guys can play better, so that isn’t the concern, but they have to get healthy. That’s the biggest risk to the DB group right now, simple availability.
Special Teams: B+
The only unit that didn’t have glaring execution issues was the special teams. The Wolf Pack stays tight with easy work on the night.
Illegal Formation Penalties: F
Of all the penalty trends I’ve seen, the illegal formation trend we’re seeing is the most ridiculous.
THAT IS FOUR GAMES IN A ROW WITH AN ILLEGAL FORMATION PENALTY.
IT IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE.
— Cole Jackson (@ColeJacksonRSR) November 16, 2020
Like, it’s just ridiculous. This is basic football. You get to the line, you know whether or not you’re “in-line” and you turn to the ref to ask if you’re good. Boom, done. Snap the ball and play.
It’s a nice little microcosm of the season. Nitty gritty execution errors that plague the team.
I’m actually going a little off the wall here and giving the game ball to Patrick Mekari. Mekari joined the Ravens as a UDFA LT out of Cal. He learned to play C in 2019 for the first time since High School.
In 2020, he took over at RG and in this contest, he moved over to RT when the Ravens pulled Fluker.
Being mentally prepared to play any position at the drop of a hat is impressive and Mekari deserves a ton of credit. He also played well at RT when he got in there.