As a result of Calais Campbell missing his fifth game this season, Justin Madubuike played 52% of snaps, the second highest mark of his young career. The Ravens pass rush found success early and often against a bad Jacksonville offensive line, thanks in part to the contributions of Madubuike.
With five pressures, the third-round pick provided the Ravens front with something it hasn’t had much of in recent weeks: pressure from the interior. The inside pressure kept Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew from moving up in the pocket to avoid pressure on the edges brought by Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and others. It led to five sacks (the team’s most since Week 6), eight tackles for loss and six QB hits.
His best work came in the second half, where he gave Jaguars center Tyler Shanley and right guard A.J. Cann trouble when Minshew dropped back to pass, by getting in his face and forcing either a poor throw or flushing him out of the pocket. His best play of the afternoon may have come against the run, when he showed his speed and beat left tackle Cam Robinson inside to stuff a James Robinson run to the opposite side of the field for a loss.
Maybe the best play of Justin Madubuike’s season. He does a great job of getting right past the left tackle and then uses his speed to stop a run to the opposite side of the play for a loss pic.twitter.com/5yAXHnTVND
— Taylor Lyons (@taylorjlyons) December 22, 2020
Overall, this was some very encouraging stuff from the rookie who’s found a bigger role with all the injuries on the defensive line.
The former Jaguar finally had the game Ravens fans have been waiting for. We knew this could be the day it all came together for Ngakoue. He had been doing everything you could have asked for him except complete the sack, and he did that twice, forcing a fumble on one.
He had a combination of successful wins using finesse and power. His two best examples of power and the bull rush came once each against the Jags tackles: he forced Minshew out of the pocket late in the first quarter lined up on the right side that led to Patrick Queen’s sack, and then did the same later on from the left, leading to a pressure and incompletion. He showed the finesse with two nice spin moves, the first coming late in the second quarter…
The first of Yannick Ngakoue’s two sacks that both used the spin move. He made it look easy against his former team pic.twitter.com/a6xWrbajDk
— Taylor Lyons (@taylorjlyons) December 22, 2020
And next on the strip sack late in the third.
Tune in on CBS! pic.twitter.com/rFbDi1V37d
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 20, 2020
On that play, the Ravens got pressure with just three rushers, something they’ve been wanting to be able to do all season long; bringing in Ngakoue was supposed to help that happen. Although we hadn’t seen it come to fruition to this point, it finally came together.
Queen was one of the brightest stars on either side of the ball and was all over the field in Sunday’s win. The rookie had six tackles, with three going for a loss, as well as two QB hits and a sack.
He got his hands on Minshew three times in the first quarter, most notably shutting down a Minshew rush attempt then on the very next play chasing down and sacking the Jags QB when he rolled out left. He also did a good job of filling his gaps and bringing down the ball carrier on runs.
All in all, Madubuike, Ngakoue and Queen headlined a great day from the defense and the pass rush, which had been trending in the wrong direction before this week.
Brown, Boykin and Dez
Marquise Brown was fantastic on Sunday, playing easily his best and most complete game of the season. He finished three yards away from matching his season high set way back in Week 1, ending with six catches on seven targets for 98 yards.
Brown attacked every level of the Jacksonville defense, something we haven’t seen him do in a long time. He took the top off the defense early in the fourth quarter, beating his defender for a 44-yard gain deep down the sideline. He attacked the middle of the field with a deep slant on an RPO to pick up 28-yards. He was used in the screen game late in the second quarter to pick up 11, Jackson hit him on a crosser for a 10-yard gain on the second play of the game, and he also drew a holding call on one of his targets. He was also open for a potential TD on the game’s opening drive, but Lamar Jackson underthrew the pass, leading to an interception. Below is a good thread showing each of Brown’s targets, courtesy of Friend of RSR Josh (click the tweet to go see the entire thread):
Was considering making this thread now, this tweet pushed me over the edge (also want to take a break from charting).
— KingMoose (@Yoshi2052) December 21, 2020
Even more encouraging is the fact that six of Brown’s targets came on first down, and Jackson dropped back to pass on 14 of the 17 first downs that he was on the field for. This is a breath of fresh air from the days of just a few weeks ago when the Ravens offense was super predictable on 1st & 10, and a good sign moving forward.
The best thing all day was seeing Dez Bryant score a touchdown, his first in over 1,000 days. He did an excellent job of getting open on that play, not only at first when he threw his hand in the air, but afterwards when Lamar Jackson left the pocket and Bryant came back to Jackson to catch his attention and make the grab.
Miles Boykin showed a good ability to go up and get a ball up high on his touchdown, showing flashes of what he could be in the form of an effective red zone threat.
There’s no doubt Marlon Humphrey had a bad game on Sunday. He was called for two pass interferences, gave up a touchdown to Jaguars receiver Chris Conley in coverage and was late getting to James Robinson’s TD reception.
I won’t rag on him too much, though. He was the Ravens’ lone healthy cornerback coming into the week as the rest either missed practice, were questionable going into the game or didn’t play. Not only that, but he too looked shaken up on more than one occasion during the game. Early on he came up limping after a play and later suffered what the announcers were speculating to be a hand injury, but he stayed in the game both times. Pierre Desir was promoted from the practice squad for the game but didn’t play a single defensive snap despite the lack of health in the secondary. I’m not sure why Humphrey wasn’t replaced, possibly by Desir, late in the game when it was all but over.
Honestly, I could have left the Stock Down category blank and been just fine. This was a spectacular performance from all phases. There’s no better time to be playing your best football than in December.