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Ravens Bag The Jags

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Despite an inactive list that was rather eye-opening, admit it, you expected an easy win against the Jaguars. And you got one, as the Ravens coasted to a 40-14 victory. It could have been worse.

So, for this Good, Bad, Ugly & The Mo Gaba, I’ll do something a bit outside of the box by highlighting via bullet points, the performances that captured my attention – good or bad. And I’ll wrap things up with a look ahead towards January.

THE GOOD

• Despite an ill-advised pass that was intercepted on the Ravens first possession, Lamar Jackson posted a passer rating of 133.1, throwing for 243 yards, 3 scores while running for another. One other note on Lamar…really liked his ball placement on the TD throw to Miles Boykin. He put it where only the tall receiver with a great wingspan and hops could make a play on the ball. Would be nice to see more of that in the red zone. Perhaps this play was a start.

• J.K. Dobbins’ burst from this point forward will be interesting to watch. His workload this season has been relatively light and fresher legs down the stretch could provide an advantage. Through 14 games the former Buckeye has just 110 carries. Against the Jaguars he had 64 yards and a score, plus another 17 on a check down reception. Greg Roman should expand his role in the passing game. Side Note: J.K., like Lamar, needs to secure the ball a bit better. Two fumbles in two games, fortunately recovered by purple.

• How many times will Gus Edwards snag a pass deep downfield inside the hash marks for 34 yards? A rarity, right? The Bus is steady as a runner. He continues to tote the rock for positive yards even when yards aren’t initially there for the taking. This Bus has great body lean and he possesses an ability to get small in order to maximize limited space and time. He had 78 yards on 11 touches.

• Mark Andrews looks as though he’s back in stride posting 66 receiving yards. Lamar and Andrews were 5 for 5 on targets.

• Marquise Brown came to play, chipping in with 98 yards on 6 catches. He needs to stack such efforts. Lamar will continue to attract the attention of defenders and in doing so, Brown will have opportunities to make big plays in one-on-one situations.

• The Ravens offensive line was stout and gave Lamar plenty of time to set, read and throw. Special props to Tyre Phillips who gave viewers the game’s most entertaining play after scooping up a fumble by Jackson deep in Ravens territory and then advancing it for 13 yards and a first down. The effort brought back memories of “The Fridge”.

• There has been some talk that the Ravens are looking to extend Derek Wolfe. Let’s hope so. He’s a lunch pail guy and battles every play. Wolfe had 3 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. The former Bronco has been steady for most of the season, willingly taking on the dirty work.

• Brandon Williams and Justin Madubuike were powerful forces at the LOS and both were instrumental in limiting the capable James Robinson to 35 yards on 16 carries (2.2 YPC).

• Yannick Ngakoue was able to gain a measure of revenge against his former teammates with 2 sacks and a forced fumble, recovered by Wolfe. He is beginning to gain traction as an edge rusher in Baltimore. It will be interesting to see how he and the rejuvenated Matt Judon (sack for safety) develop as a tandem moving forward.

• Patrick Queen for my money, had his best game of the season – even better than his DPOW efforts against the Bengals in Week 5. He had 6 tackles including a sack, added a couple other pressures and 3 of his tackles were for losses. He also showed greater awareness in coverage. He came to the game well prepared and executed nearly flawlessly.

• Overall the Ravens defense was fast to the ball and their tackling was much better against the Jaguars than it was in Cleveland.

• The Ravens were 8 of 12 on third down conversions and 4-for-4 in the red zone.

• Up until the 5:10 mark of the 4th quarter, the Ravens went 54:50 of game clock before being called for a single penalty.

Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens

THE BAD

• Eric Tomlinson’s false start at the 5:10 mark of the fourth triggered a heavy load of laundry for the Ravens. They were flagged five times (four accepted) over the course of 3 minutes, 21 seconds.

• The Browns, Dolphins and Colts all won.

• Marlon Humphrey had an uncharacteristically rough game, allowing a TD reception for the third consecutive week. Pro Football Focus had him with 388 snaps prior to the win over the Cowboys without surrendering a score. You might have thought Gardner Minshew would have targeted the less accomplished Ravens defenders, but instead he was 7 of 9 for 95 yards when targeting No. 44.

• Devin Duvernay was on the field for 4 offensive snaps. I thought this game represented a great opportunity to get him more involved. He’s much better on the jet sweeps (technically a pass) than Marquise Brown. Duvernay more willingly takes on tacklers and is infinitely more likely to advance the ball after contact than Brown. Brown to contact is like a vampire to sunlight.

• Speaking of Brown, his game awareness is shaky. GET OUT OF BOUNDS!!!

THE UGLY

If Jaylon Ferguson has to wonder why he shows up as a healthy scratch at some point during the games ahead, look no further than the late hit on Minshew that cost L.J. Fort a pick six. I had to wonder if that’s exactly what John Harbaugh was saying to him on the sideline immediately following the blunder.

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan, USA Today Sports

THE MO GABA

Prior to the Ravens hosting the Cowboys, no one in the team’s locker room was more excited to play the game than Dez Bryant. Dez ran through warm-ups with boyish enthusiasm. But just before kickoff, Bryant was informed that he was being removed from the active list due to a positive COVID test.

Imagine having this game circled for months. Imagine the motivation running through his veins like a freight train. Imagine the pre-game conversations with former teammates. And then imagine it’s all snatched away. Disappointment, anger, even rage ensue. You take to Twitter before decompressing and post regrettable things.

Rational thinking eventually kicks in, and then you realize that the setback was just part of the journey. With the Browns game off the board due to the positive test and league protocols, Jacksonville would be Dez’s next opportunity. It’s not as if Dez was the star of the game – not even close. But for his determination to persevere, to be among the league’s best not too long ago and then accept a much smaller role on a team that fields receivers with much inferior resumes, Dez is deserving of this week’s award. And somewhere out there, Mo Gaba I’m sure, would certainly agree.

THE ROAD TO THE PLAYOFFS

We have all been inundated with playoff scenarios. But let’s just keep it simple, shall we – and probably help maintain your sanity as a fan.

If the Ravens beat the Giants (Ravens minus 10 ½) and the Bengals, they only need any of these three teams (Browns, Colts, Dolphins) to lose just 1 game and Baltimore will be a postseason participant for the third straight year. Here’s a look at the upcoming schedule:

Dolphins: @ Raiders (Dolphins minus 2 ½); @ Bills
Colts: @ Steelers (Steelers minus 2 ½); Jaguars
Browns: @ Jets (Browns minus 10); Steelers

One of these teams WILL lose. And I think it happens on Sunday.

JETS WIN BUT LOSE

The Jets finally posted their first DUB of 2020, raising their record to (1-13) on the season. And due to tiebreakers, they’ve fallen behind the Jaguars in the race to draft Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Talking heads are criticizing the Jets for not tanking for Trevor – that organizationally they’ve failed to look at the big picture.

But how do you tell world-class athletes driven to compete since exiting the womb, to play half-ass football? How do you convince players who have their livelihoods at stake to show up on film as a dog and then jeopardize an opportunity to land a future contract?

The answer is, “You can’t!”

I admire the strength and conviction of the Jets for taking care of business against a superior team on the road that had so much to play for? And shame on the Rams.

PREDICTION

Water pressure across the Maryland area will drop dramatically around 4:30 PM on Sunday as Ravens fans across the Land of Pleasant Living simultaneously shower after rooting hard for the Steelers for the better part of 3 hours.

Steelers 23, Colts 20

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