Still Waiting for That OL Improvement

Out To Lunch Still Waiting for That OL Improvement

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Well… at least the game was exciting?

Chances are that if you run into a fellow member of the Ravens Flock today, they’ll be sporting bags under their eyes, composed of equal parts stress and lack of sleep. Last night’s roller coaster OT loss to the Raiders has generated plenty of buzz, rightfully so. To save you some headache and heartache of sifting through the rubble of the game, let’s bring some of the news to you:

Our first item, and the headliner in what went wrong last night, comes from of Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun, and via NFL’s NextGen Stats:

 

There were more than a few people concerned about how Baltimore’s O-line was going to look out of the gate this season, myself included. I share Shaffer’s optimism about the line hopefully coming together down the road, but… man. Would you believe the Raiders only blitzed a TOTAL of three times yesterday? With as much time as Maxx Crosby spent in our backfield last night, he might as well have been lining up there. Alejandro Villanueva, whose bread and butter to this point in his career has been pass protection, got bullied. What makes matters worse along the line is that Tyre Phillips was carted off with a leg injury that looked pretty serious, meaning yet another injury to add to the stack.

To their credit, when the Ravens were sticking to the run, they had some success creating lanes, and the team registered 189 yards on the ground (albeit with a pair of costly fumbles from Lamar Jackson). A good performance from this guy helped in that regard (credit to NFL Research on Twitter):

 

Could we be seeing history repeat itself in Ty’Son Williams? Baltimore’s front office is known for finding the diamonds in the rough, and Williams sure looked the part last night as he registered 94 total yards and the long rushing touchdown mentioned in the tweet. Sure, 35 yards on a single carry does help inflate that stat, and there were a few awkward exchanges between him and Lamar that’ll have to be worked out, but for an undrafted player’s debut in a tough environment… not too shabby. He was also a major reason why the Ravens registered their 40th consecutive game with at least 100 rushing yards, a streak unmatched by any team in the league at the moment. Here’s hoping that’s one aspect of last night’s performance that rolls over to next week.

Onto a unit that has tons of pressure going into next week’s matchup…

On the heels of a hot-and-cold performance from Baltimore’s secondary last night, let’s talk about a guy who wasn’t out there. If you’re like me, seeing Marcus Peters’ name included on the list of season ending injuries put a pit in your stomach. It’s no secret that the absence of a four-time All-Pro is going to change the way that the defense operates, and there’s rightfully plenty of concern. Still, an interesting tidbit came from Defensive Coordinator “Wink” Martindale when discussing Peters’ impact both on and off the field: (Credit to Childs Walker, also of the Baltimore Sun)

To illustrate the cornerback’s football acumen, Martindale noted that Peters called the team’s entire defensive game plan from the sideline in the second half of the Ravens’ preseason finale against the Washington Football Team.

Now, I’ll start by saying this: given the choice between having Peters healthy and having him on the sideline, I put him on the field without question. But we’ve seen plenty of examples over the years of veteran players on the sideline becoming de facto coaches when limited by injury (think Ray Lewis recovering from his pectoral injury). As great of a rapport as Peters has with the coaching staff, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the coaches get Peters involved with the defensive game plan, particularly in pass coverage. Anthony Averett, Chuck Clark, and Chris Westry all showed the ability to hang tough against a potent aerial attack, and hopefully Peters’ tutelage while he’s sidelined can be a silver lining for this short-handed group.

But speaking of pass coverage…

Usually, if a member of Baltimore’s defense has a chance to force a turnover, they pounce on it. Marlon Humphrey is no exception; in fact, he’s known for flipping the field on the opposition with a well-timed punch-out. That being said… (Credit to CBS Sports on Twitter):

 

Oof. He’s going to want that one back. Obviously, in live game action, it’s a bang-bang play, but any chance to flip the field is one you can’t just let fall flat to the turf while you celebrate. While hindsight is 20/20, the razor-thin margin of error in yesterday’s game makes this missed opportunity look even worse. Humphrey even took to Twitter himself after the game was over and lamented his late game-struggles:

 

There’s not a doubt in my mind that Humphrey bounces back and plays like the All-Pro that he is, but this one may follow him around on social media for a bit. Maybe there IS some merit to the officials trying to tone down the celebrations after all.

Here’s hoping the Ravens can shake this one off, and if you stayed up until the end last night, here’s hoping you can shake it off too.

Grab some coffee, Ravens Flock. You earned it.

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About Kevin McNelis

Kevin, a lifelong Ravens fan, is a Maryland transplant living in Virginia. When he’s not watching the games or collecting memorabilia, he enjoys spending time with his loving girlfriend and pets, who are nice enough to tolerate him. If you enjoy reading Kevin’s pieces and want to see him yell about other sports-related topics, you can visit his YouTube channel, KMack Sports. More from Kevin McNelis
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