Tag Archive | "nick boyle"


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How did Ravens tight ends stack up to rest of NFL in 2017?

Posted on 26 January 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens failed to make the postseason for the fourth time in five years, but where exactly did their players stack up across the NFL in 2017?

Whether it’s discussing the Pro Bowl or picking postseason awards, media and fans spend much time debating where players rank at each position, but few put in the necessary time and effort to watch every player on every team extensively enough to develop any kind of an authoritative opinion.

Truthfully, how many times did you closely watch the offensive line of the Los Angeles Chargers this season? What about the Detroit Lions linebackers or the Miami Dolphins cornerbacks?

That’s why I can appreciate projects such as Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 and the grading efforts of Pro Football Focus. Of course, neither should be viewed as the gospel of evaluation and each is subjective, but I respect the exhaustive effort to grade players across the league when so many of us watch only one team or one division on any kind of a consistent basis. It’s important to note that the following PFF rankings are where the player stood at the conclusion of the regular season.

Below is a look at where Ravens tight ends ranked across the league, according to those outlets:

Running backs
Defensive linemen

Benjamin Watson
2017 offensive snap count: 699
NFL1000 ranking: 7th
PFF ranking: 55th
Skinny: The 37-year-old led Baltimore in receptions returning from last year’s Achilles injury, but he gained just 8.6 yards per catch and nearly a third of his 522 receiving yards came against Cleveland. His true value falls somewhere between these two rankings, but the free agent is considering retirement.

Nick Boyle
2017 offensive snap count: 696
NFL1000 ranking: 34th
PFF ranking: 27th
Skinny: Boyle became a linchpin blocker for Greg Roman’s diverse run-game schemes, but he is limited as a receiver, making him no better than a solid No. 2 tight end. The 2015 fifth-round pick caught a career-high 28 passes, but a 7.3 yards per catch average reflects his lack of speed.

Maxx Williams
2017 offensive snap count: 315
NFL1000 ranking: 71st
PFF ranking: 24th
Skinny: Injuries have derailed the former second-round pick’s career as he was little more than a glorified fullback, catching 15 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown in 11 games. Breshad Perriman headlines the painful shortcomings of the 2015 draft, but Williams has been nearly as disappointing.

Vince Mayle
2017 offensive snap count: 21
NFL1000 ranking: n/a
PFF ranking: n/a
Skinny: The former wide receiver was a solid special-teams contributor, but he didn’t catch a pass and carried the ball twice all season, scoring a touchdown in Oakland. Given his lack of opportunity despite the position needing more speed, Mayle can’t be viewed as anything more than organizational depth.

2018 positional outlook

My big question after Dennis Pitta’s hip injury last spring was whether the Ravens had real depth or only inventory at tight end, and the latter proved to be true by season’s end. Darren Waller’s suspension and Crockett Gillmore’s season-ending knee injury were unfortunate developments, but neither was surprising when considering their respective histories. Watson was a good story coming back from a major injury and has tremendous character, but the veteran leading the Ravens in catches says all you need to know about the state of this passing game. Boyle is a good blocking tight end, but Williams lacks the speed and athleticism to be a difference-maker at the position like the Ravens envisioned when they traded up to draft him three years ago. One of the major priorities of the offseason must be to add a tight end with some game-changing ability, whether it’s through the draft, free agency, or a trade.

Comments (1)


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 30 December 2017 by Luke Jones

One more win.

That’s what the Ravens need to secure their first trip to the playoffs since 2014. Of course, a loss by either Buffalo or Tennessee would also send Baltimore to the postseason, but relying on the out-of-town scoreboard for help is an unsettling proposition in Week 17.

The Ravens will be facing a disappointing Cincinnati team playing out the string and quite possibly preparing to bid farewell to longtime head coach Marvin Lewis. The Bengals secured a 26-17 win over playoff-hopeful Detroit last week, but they’d lost their previous two games by a combined 53 points, which isn’t exactly indicative of a team playing all that hard for its coach down the stretch.

Still, Cincinnati has given the Ravens as many problems as anyone over the last few years, winning six of the last eight meetings with two of those coming at M&T Bank Stadium. And after being embarrassed in a 20-0 shutout by Baltimore to open the 2017 season, the Bengals would like nothing more than to wreck an AFC North rival’s postseason hopes.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens lead the all-time regular-season series by a 22-21 margin and own a 14-7 advantage in Baltimore. However, 10th-year head coach John Harbaugh is just 9-10 against the Bengals, who will miss the postseason for the second straight year.

Below are five predictions for Sunday:

1. Terrell Suggs will record 1 1/2 sacks against an overwhelmed Cincinnati offensive line. The Bengals will be without left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and are likely to again move left guard Clint Boling outside, which will spell trouble. Suggs was quiet against Indianapolis last week, but he was just named team MVP for the first time in his outstanding career and can taste a trip to the postseason. These are the types of games in which Suggs rises up to make a big play such as a strip-sack or batted pass, especially when playing at home. The 35-year-old had two sacks in the Week 1 meeting with the Bengals.

2. Cincinnati’s A.J. Green will catch his first touchdown since Week 13. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has occasionally used rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey to match up over the last two weeks, and I’d expect that trend to continue going up against Green, who is the biggest threat to the Ravens winning this game. Humphrey has played very well since his rough outing against Detroit in Week 13, so the stakes of this contest shouldn’t be too big for him. Like T.Y. Hilton last week, Green will make plays, but the Baltimore secondary will prevent him from being a game-wrecker.

3. Mike Wallace and Nick Boyle will make touchdown receptions for Baltimore. Since the bye, Wallace is averaging 73.5 receiving yards per game, which translates to 1,176 yards over a full season and is quite a contrast from earlier in the year. The uncertain status of Bengals cornerback William Jackson could lead to a big day for Wallace. Cincinnati ranks 31st against tight ends in Football Outsiders’ rankings, which is good news for Benjamin Watson and Boyle. The Bengals’ run defense is poor, but a big key to Baltimore’s offensive surge has been more aggressive passing on first down.

4. The Ravens defense will not duplicate its Week 1 output, but four sacks and two takeaways will do the trick. The Bengals were a mess at the beginning of the season and fired their offense coordinator after Week 2, but things haven’t gotten all that much better since. Andy Dalton isn’t going to throw four interceptions again, but the Cincinnati quarterback will be under some duress and repeatedly check down to running back Giovani Bernard. Unlike the Colts, the Bengals haven’t taken very good care of the ball this year and will make a mistake or two to stall promising drives.

5. Justin Tucker’s late field goal will allow the Ravens to exhale in a 23-13 win over the Bengals. Last week should have provided a good lesson as a three-win Indianapolis team gave the Ravens everything they could handle in a must-win situation. The Bengals’ recent success against Harbaugh’s team should provide more than enough motivation to not take them lightly, but that doesn’t mean it will be a cakewalk as Ravens fans will be biting their nails in the second half. Tucker hasn’t had the chance to make many big fourth-quarter kicks this season, but he’ll convert a long one with a few minutes left to make it a two-possession game and send the Ravens back to the playoffs.

Comments Off on Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Sunday


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Flacco’s play on rise as Ravens grind closer to playoff spot

Posted on 24 December 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens were hardly impressive in their 23-16 win over Indianapolis.

Playing a three-win team in rainy and windy conditions at M&T Bank Stadium wasn’t exactly a recipe to earn style points on Saturday anyway, and there was much to pick apart from the performance.

The defense continued its up-and-down play since the season-ending injury suffered by Jimmy Smith in Week 13, missing too many tackles and failing to consistently pressure Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett behind a decimated offensive line. The running game wasn’t much of a factor and averaged just 2.6 yards per carry in the fourth quarter before three kneel-downs to seal the win. Even the normally-superb special teams had a punt blocked late in the fourth quarter that could have cost the Ravens the game.

“We made a number of mistakes, starting with me,” said head coach John Harbaugh, citing his decision to decline a holding penalty before Indianapolis converted a fourth down in the final quarter. “Things that gave them a chance, especially in the fourth quarter. There are things that we have to get better at and work on.”

The Ravens will need a more complete performance next week to beat Cincinnati, an AFC North rival who’s winding down a disappointing season but has given them as much trouble as any team over the last few years. It only gets tougher after that if Baltimore does advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

But the most encouraging trend of the last month continued Saturday as Joe Flacco turned in his fourth consecutive good performance. It’s no secret that the 10th-year quarterback is in the midst of one of the most trying seasons of his career, but he looks healthier and his play down the stretch has reflected that.

Despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions, Flacco completed 76.3 percent of his passes against the Colts and threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. It was the fourth straight game in which Flacco has thrown for at least that many yards after doing so only once in the first 11 contests of 2017. He’s thrown seven touchdowns and just one interception over those four weeks, raising his season passer rating from 74.2 to 81.4. He’s making plays while protecting the football, the opposite of what we saw for much of the season.

It wasn’t perfect on Saturday as he lamented his bad misfire to tight end Nick Boyle near the goal line in the second quarter as well as the offense scoring just two touchdowns despite five 10-play drives of 50 or more yards. But this is the Flacco more closely resembling the quarterback who helped guide the Ravens to six playoff appearances in his first seven seasons.

“I just feel, as an offense, we’re starting to hit our stride,” said Flacco, who’s showing better mobility than we saw in the first half of the season after his summer back injury. “I’m playing more consistent. The receivers are getting open quick. The line’s playing really well together. The backs are running the ball really hard, and it’s good to come out of these games and have some things that we left out there but still a lot of things that we did well.”

Most impressive about Flacco’s rise has been him doing it with a less-than-ideal supporting cast. The Ravens are currently playing with one established NFL wide receiver in Mike Wallace, who recorded his fourth straight game with at least 60 receiving yards. Flacco’s scores went to two players — Michael Campanaro and Maxx Williams — who hadn’t caught touchdown passes in over two years.

The offensive line has improved since the bye week, but its season-long trials are hardly a secret.

And while Marty Mornhinweg deserves credit for his improved unit now scoring 23 or more points in six consecutive games, the offensive coordinator still makes some calls — particularly inside the red zone — that make you scratch your head.

Through all of this, Flacco has rebounded from his own struggles and is making it work.

Saturday’s clunky overall performance won’t raise anyone’s confidence level about the Ravens making a deep run in January, but they got the job done in the end and are now one victory away from the opportunity to roll the dice. And with Flacco now playing his best football of the season and owning a stellar track record in January, the Ravens will take their chances having won five of their last six.

“One good game, and we’re in,” said linebacker Terrell Suggs, referencing next week’s tilt with the Bengals. “If we win, we’re in. Everybody knows that second season, we become a different team — a special team.

“‘January Joe’ — we’re all looking forward to seeing him. Absolutely.”

Comments Off on Flacco’s play on rise as Ravens grind closer to playoff spot


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Ravens thoughts following 39-38 loss to Pittsburgh

Posted on 12 December 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens falling in heartbreaking fashion in a 39-38 loss at Pittsburgh, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The final outcome hurt, but the highest-scoring Ravens-Steelers game we’ve ever seen was as entertaining as it gets and again cemented this rivalry as the best in the NFL. There’s no reason for John Harbaugh’s team to fear a third meeting if that’s how it plays out.

2. Yes, you must vary coverage looks, but leaving Brandon Carr on an island against arguably the league’s MVP with the game on the line while deep safety Tony Jefferson was more concerned with Martavis Bryant down the seam is indefensible. It was bad play-calling, bad execution, or both.

3. Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass 69 times and was sacked only three times and not picked once despite a couple of interceptable throws. The failure to generate pressure with a four-man rush and shortcomings in man coverage make for a deadly combination against an elite passing game.

4. Alex Collins gained 95 of his 120 rushing yards after contact, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s been a godsend and won’t even become a restricted free agent until after next season, which is great news for an offense needing more skill-position talent. Keep feeding him the ball.

5. The interception that likely took three points off the board on the opening drive was brutal, but Joe Flacco followed his best performance of the season last week with another solid outing. I’ll take my chances if he can play more like this the rest of the way.

6. C.J. Mosley has had challenges in coverage in the past, but he was eaten alive and showed no explosiveness as Pittsburgh’s pedestrian tight ends feasted in the middle of the field. Injuries are taking their toll on him, and that has to be a concern the rest of the way.

7. On the flip side, Baltimore tight ends combined for one catch for one yard despite Benjamin Watson, Nick Boyle, and Maxx Williams playing a combined 107 snaps. The Ravens desperately need to find some speed at this position in the offseason.

8. The absence of Za’Darius Smith hasn’t been discussed much, but he’s normally part of the interior-rush rotation in sub packages and Chris Wormley was trusted to play just two snaps, leaving Brandon Williams and Willie Henry to play over 60 each. No wonder there wasn’t any inside pressure.

9. Jeremy Maclin has eight catches on 24 targets over the last three games as his rapport with Flacco has gone the wrong way since the bye. Harbaugh’s lack of an answer when asked about this was telling. Maclin has been much more T.J. Houshmandzadeh than Steve Smith, a clear disappointment.

10. The emergence of Chris Moore has been encouraging as the special-teams standout had his best game as a pro with an impressive concentration catch for a 30-yard touchdown. You hope a hip injury doesn’t halt that momentum since the Ravens need all the help they can get at wide receiver.

11. Anthony Levine being able to tackle Bryant in the end zone on a third-quarter kickoff sure would have been an interesting variable to throw into the mix of a classic one-point game. It was just one of several plays after which the Ravens had to be asking, “What if?”

12. We know rules are catered toward offense, but some of the pass interference flags on both sides couldn’t have been more ticky-tack calls. That offers some context to these teams combining for 77 points and 747 net passing yards.

Comments Off on Twelve Ravens thoughts following 39-38 loss to Pittsburgh


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Stanley listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game in Green Bay

Posted on 17 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For the first time all season, the Ravens haven’t ruled out a single player on their final injury report of the week, but that wasn’t grounds for a celebratory feeling Friday.

Despite practicing all week on a limited basis, left tackle Ronnie Stanley was designated as doubtful to play in Sunday’s game at Green Bay. Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed Stanley sustained a concussion near the end of the Week 9 loss to Tennessee, but the 2016 first-round pick being on the practice field all week had been interpreted as a positive sign for his status.

Should Stanley miss his first game of the season — he missed four games as a rookie with a foot injury — Baltimore would presumably move James Hurst out to left tackle with either veteran Luke Bowanko or rookie Jermaine Eluemunor filling in at the left guard spot. It would be Hurst’s first start at left tackle since Oct. 2, 2016 against Oakland.

Stanley’s absence would give the Ravens their fourth different starting offensive line combination of the season, but that doesn’t include several other in-game adjustments due to injuries.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles) headlines a list of six players officially designated as questionable to play against the Packers. Smith was the only Baltimore player to miss practices this week for an injury-related reason, but he was a limited participant on Friday and hasn’t missed a game all season despite dealing with Achilles tendinitis since early in the season.

Running back Danny Woodhead’s status remains in question, but he completed another week of practice and appears to have a solid chance to be activated from injured reserve. Since Woodhead is not currently on the 53-man roster, the Ravens haven’t been required to include him on the injury report.

He hasn’t played in a game since re-injuring his left hamstring on the first drive of the season opener on Sept. 10. Woodhead would become the second and final Ravens player to be permitted to return from IR this season after second-year cornerback Maurice Canady was activated earlier this month.

“He went through most of everything we did. I thought he looked pretty good,” said Harbaugh of Woodhead. “It’s just going to come down to the doctors and trainers making their decision. We have until Saturday [at 4 p.m.] to make that part of the decision, then really, we have until an hour and a half before the game to really determined whether he will be out there.

“We’re ready if he goes, and we’re ready if he doesn’t go.”

Tight end Nick Boyle (toe), wide receiver Michael Campanaro (shoulder), running back Terrance West (calf), and rookie outside linebacker Tim Williams (hamstring) were all listed as questionable after being full participants in practices all week. Campanaro missed the final two games before the bye while West and Williams have missed four consecutive contests apiece.

Meanwhile, the Packers officially ruled out starting running back Ty Montgomery (ribs) and starting safety Morgan Burnett (groin), two significant losses for Sunday. Rookie running back Jamaal Williams is expected to start against the Ravens with Montgomery and fellow rookie Aaron Jones (knee) currently sidelined.

Williams rushed for 67 yards on 20 carries in last week’s 23-16 win over Chicago.

“This kid from Brigham Young — he’s the real deal,” Harbaugh said. “He runs hard, he has [good] feet. I think he closed the game out for them last week in four-minute [offense], which is very impressive. We’re treating him like he’s Jim Taylor as far as we’re concerned.

“We have to be ready to stop the run. This is a good running team. These guys run the ball very well.”

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in Green Bay calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching 32 degrees with winds 10 to 15 miles per hour.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

DOUBTFUL: OT Ronnie Stanley (concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Nick Boyle (toe), WR Michael Campanaro (shoulder), S Chuck Clark (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles), RB Terrance West (calf), LB Tim Williams (thigh)

OUT: OT Bryan Bulaga (knee), S Morgan Burnett (groin), RB Aaron Jones (knee), RB Ty Montgomery (ribs)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Ahmad Brooks (back), DT Quinton Dial (chest), CB Kevin King (shoulder), G Lucas Patrick (back)

Comments Off on Stanley listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game in Green Bay


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Woodhead working way toward return, Stanley limited with concussion

Posted on 15 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As anticipated during their bye week, the Ravens released their cleanest injury report in a long time Wednesday as they continue preparations for the Week 11 trip to Green Bay.

Much attention this week centers around a player not even listed on the report as running back Danny Woodhead remains on injured reserve while continuing to practice. It’s unclear whether the 32-year-old will be activated to play against the Packers, but the Ravens are itching to have the shifty back on the field for the first time since he re-injured his left hamstring on the first drive of the season on Sept. 10.

“I think you got a little taste of Danny the first week and what he can do,” said quarterback Joe Flacco, referencing his three catches on that opening drive in Cincinnati. “He’s also a guy that knows what he’s doing in [pass] protection and can give you a lot of things, obviously. We all know he’s a good athlete. He catches the ball out of backfield well and does a lot of those things.

“I know he’s out here working to get himself healthy and get himself going, so we’ll see.”

Signed to a three-year, $8.8 million contract at the start of free agency in March, Woodhead was expected to be a vital part of the short passing game that’s been high in volume but low in productivity this season. The ninth-year veteran has averaged 9.4 yards per reception in his career and has twice caught more than 75 passes in a season.

The Ravens have understandably been cautious with Woodhead, who originally injured the hamstring during the preseason and has now missed a whopping 35 games over his last four seasons with various injuries. A decision on his status must be made by next week when his 21-day window to practice expires.

Woodhead would need to be activated by 4 p.m. Saturday to be able to play this week. On Wednesday, he offered no clues on whether that would happen.

“I don’t know the odds. I stay in my lane, and I work hard,” Woodhead said. “Whenever an opportunity comes for me, then that’s the opportunity that comes.”

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley was surprisingly listed as a limited participant with a concussion. The 2016 first-round pick missed snaps in each of the last two games with a right shoulder issue, but it’s unknown if he suffered a concussion in the Week 9 loss at Tennessee or whether it possibly occurred during Wednesday’s padded practice.

For what it’s worth, Stanley was not on the field for the Ravens’ final offensive play against the Titans two weeks ago.

Tight end Nick Boyle was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice after missing the final game before the bye with a toe injury. Running back Terrance West (calf) and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (shoulder) also participated fully and appear primed to return after extended absences.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles tendinitis) was the only player on the 53-man roster not to practice, but that wasn’t surprising since the veteran defensive back has routinely missed Wednesday practices since early October.

Meanwhile, the Packers held out running back Ty Montgomery, who continues to deal with sore ribs and is a question mark to play. Fellow running back Aaron Jones is expected to miss at least a few weeks with a knee injury suffered in last Sunday’s win over Chicago, leaving rookie Jamaal Williams as the favorite to start on Sunday.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT Ronnie Stanley (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Nick Boyle (toe), WR Michael Campanaro (shoulder), S Chuck Clark (thigh), RB Terrance West (calf), LB Tim Williams (thigh)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Bryan Bulaga (knee), S Morgan Burnett (groin), RB Aaron Jones (knee), RB Ty Montgomery (ribs)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Ahmad Brooks (back), CB Kevin King (shoulder), G Justin McCray (ankle), LB Nick Perry (foot)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Quinton Dial (chest), QB Brett Hundley (hamstring), LB Joe Thomas (ankle)

Comments Off on Woodhead working way toward return, Stanley limited with concussion


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens cut Rainey, claim offensive tackle from Rams

Posted on 13 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens made a roster move Monday that reflects their improved health coming off the bye week as they try to make a push for their first trip to the playoffs since 2014.

General manager Ozzie Newsome claimed offensive tackle Andrew Donnal off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams and cut running back and return specialist Bobby Rainey. The latter’s departure leads one to believe wide receiver Michael Campanaro will be ready to resume his return duties after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury. Rainey returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the Week 6 loss to Chicago.

Baltimore should also have improved depth at the running back position with Week 1 starter Terrance West returning to the practice field last week after a four-game absence due to a calf injury. West’s role moving forward is unclear, however, with the emergence of Alex Collins, who has averaged 5.6 yards per carry and is 13th in the NFL in rushing despite being tied for 27th in attempts.

The Ravens must wait until next year to welcome back the likes of guards Marshal Yanda and Alex Lewis as well as running back Kenneth Dixon, but Sunday’s game at Green Bay will likely be the healthiest the active roster has been in quite some time. In addition to Campanaro and West, starting tight end Nick Boyle (toe) is expected to return and a plethora of others battling nagging injuries will benefit from the off-week.

“I could probably stand up here and give you the politically correct ‘coach speak’ and say nothing changes, but I’ll be honest with you: I’m excited,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m excited for the fact that we have our offensive weapons back — the ones that are still with us. I feel like we are more full strength than we’ve been all year.”

The Ravens could also welcome back veteran running back Danny Woodhead, who was designated to return to practice on Oct. 31 and is eligible to be activated against the Packers. Harbaugh wouldn’t commit to him playing this week, however, as Woodhead is making his way back from a severe hamstring injury that sent him to injured reserve after the season opener.

It’s wise for the Ravens to be cautious with Woodhead, whose activation would require a 53-man roster move. His 21-day practice window will conclude next week, meaning a decision would have to be made by that point to activate him or leave him on IR for the rest of the season.

“He’s going to try to practice tomorrow,” Harbaugh said. “Throughout the week, we’ll have to see how he comes along during the week with practice and see what happens. It’s kind of hard to predict.”

Donnal, a 2015 fourth-round pick from Iowa, has made six career starts and now gives Baltimore nine offensive linemen on the active roster, but starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley was dealing with a shoulder injury and missed snaps in each of the final two games before the bye week.

Comments Off on Ravens cut Rainey, claim offensive tackle from Rams


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Ravens thoughts following 23-20 loss to Tennessee

Posted on 07 November 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens suffering their fifth defeat in seven games in a 23-20 final at Tennessee, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Many are mocking John Harbaugh’s claim that the Ravens remain in the playoff race, but he isn’t wrong when you see the remaining schedule and mediocrity of the wild-card candidates. Still, I can’t help but think Sunday’s loss tipped the scales in the wrong direction, especially from a tiebreaker standpoint.

2. It’s becoming very difficult to justify Breshad Perriman being on the field. His inability to effectively use his size and speed reflects an utter lack of confidence, and he doesn’t contribute on special teams. He wants to do well, but the 2015 first-round pick looks completely lost.

3. Jeremy Maclin had his best game as a Raven, catching eight passes on nine targets for 98 yards. He’s had his problems staying healthy, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be targeted more frequently with so many others underperforming in this passing game.

4. I didn’t have a problem with the decision to go for it on fourth down to begin the final quarter, but how do you fail to even try to block inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who didn’t do anything out of the ordinary on the play? That’s elementary football right there.

5. Delanie Walker was the latest tight end to give the Baltimore pass defense problems. He caught all five passes thrown his way, and his 25-yard reception was a key plays of the Titans’ final touchdown drive. Per Football Outsiders, the Ravens entered Week 9 ranked dead last covering tight ends.

6. Nick Boyle’s absence was a big loss for the running game as Harbaugh even labeled him a “centerpiece” for what they do from a blocking standpoint. It was just the third time this season the Ravens have been held under 100 yards rushing.

7. The run defense held the formidable duo of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to a combined 45 yards on 17 carries. Since surrendering the 21-yard run to Jay Ajayi on the second play from scrimmage in Week 8, the Ravens have given up 97 rushing yards on 39 attempts. That’s more like it.

8. Whether it’s his back or Father Time, Joe Flacco isn’t showing enough mobility in the pocket to consistently be successful. On third-and-4 early in the third quarter, he needed to step up and to the right against a three-man rush, but he instead retreated backwards and was flagged for grounding.

9. I groaned seeing Flacco — with plenty of time — throw a 1-yard pass to Benjamin Watson on third-and-10 at the Tennessee 13 on Baltimore’s opening drive. You certainly don’t want to do anything foolish to jeopardize a field goal, but that’s not even trying, whether by design or execution.

10. On the principle of his superb special-teams play alone, Chris Moore should be receiving opportunities over Perriman at this point. I’m not convinced he can do a serviceable job, either, but he has one fewer catch in 162 fewer offensive snaps this season.

11. I liked the option look employed by the Ravens with Buck Allen and Alex Collins on the fourth-and-2 run in the second quarter. With Marty Mornhinweg remaining the offensive coordinator, you can only pray much more creativity is in the works over the bye week.

12. No play better epitomized the Baltimore offense than when Ryan Jensen snapped the ball wildly, Flacco threw behind the receiver, and Watson bobbled the catch for a 1-yard loss late in the third quarter. As CBS analyst Rich Gannon described it perfectly, “They make the easy things look difficult.”

Comments Off on Twelve Ravens thoughts following 23-20 loss to Tennessee


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Titans: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 05 November 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are getting healthier at the wide receiver position, but they’ll be without a key tight end for Sunday’s meeting with the Tennessee Titans.

After sitting out practices all week with a toe injury, Nick Boyle is officially inactive and will miss his first game of the season. Regarded as Baltimore’s best blocking tight end, Boyle is a key component in senior offensive assistant Greg Roman’s improved rushing attack, which is bad news as the Ravens face the league’s 10th-ranked run defense. Third-year tight end Maxx Williams will be asked to help pick up the slack as he’s active for just the second time since suffering an ankle injury in Week 2.

As expected, quarterback Joe Flacco (concussion) and wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) and Mike Wallace (concussion) are all active and will start against the Titans. This is the first time both Maclin and Wallace have been on the field together since Week 5, an important development for a passing game ranking dead last in the NFL entering Week 9.

After being activated from injured reserve on Friday, second-year cornerback Maurice Canady will make his 2017 debut.

Rookie outside linebacker Tim Williams (thigh) is inactive for the fourth straight game. Despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report, he was a full participant in practices all week, which may mean his deactivation was more of a coaching decision than about his health.

Meanwhile, the Titans will have the services of their best receiver as tight end Delanie Walker is active despite missing practice time this week with an ankle issue. Walker will be joined on the field by rookie first-round wide receiver Corey Davis (hamstring), who is active for the first time since Week 2.

Sunday’s referee is John Hussey.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in Nashville calls for mostly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching the high 70s with winds averaging 16 miles per hour and a 15 percent chance of precipitation. Expected wind gusts could cause problems in the passing and kicking games.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys and white pants while Tennessee dons navy blue jerseys with light blue pants.

Sunday marks the first time since 2014 that these former AFC Central rivals have met with the regular-season series currently tied 9-9 and the Ravens holding a 2-1 advantage in playoff contests. The Titans own a 5-4 home mark against Baltimore.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

WR Michael Campanaro
RB Terrance West
S Chuck Clark
LB Tim Williams
OL Maurquice Shakir
TE Nick Boyle
DE Bronson Kaufusi

QB Brandon Weeden
WR Darius Jennings
CB Kalan Reed
DB Curtis Riley
LB Nate Palmer
G Quinton Spain
DE David King

Comments Off on Ravens-Titans: Inactives and pre-game notes


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Titans: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 04 November 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will tell you every game is important.

That’s just reality when you’re 4-4 and haven’t won back-to-back games since the first two weeks of the season. Sunday’s trip to Tennessee might be the most pivotal game remaining on the schedule for an inconsistent team trying to gain traction in the quest for its first playoff berth since 2014. If you concede that Baltimore’s chances of catching first-place Pittsburgh appear bleak, the result against the Titans becomes even more critical in sizing up the AFC wild-card picture.

A win puts Baltimore a game above .500 entering the bye week with a reasonable schedule down the stretch with several opponents having messy quarterback situations. A loss would force the Ravens to win five of their final seven contests just to get to 9-7 and — even worse — would give both Tennessee and Jacksonville head-to-head tiebreaker advantages in the playoff pecking order.

“When it comes down to the ‘who’s in, who’s out’ [talk], it’s going to come down to these teams,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “We need this win. We’ve been doing a pretty good job of that this year. We have some losses, obviously, but those losses are against teams that’s maybe not going to affect us going to the playoffs besides Jacksonville. We just need to continue to win, and we’ll get where we need to go.”

It’s time to go on the record as these onetime AFC Central rivals meet for the 19th time in the all-time regular-season series that’s tied 9-9, but the Ravens are 2-1 in postseason encounters. The Titans own a 5-4 record in home games against Baltimore dating back to 1996.

Below are five predictions for Sunday:

1. Tight ends and edge defenders will be the deciding factors in this game. This is a rather bland proclamation, but Tennessee’s best pass-catcher is tight end Delanie Walker, who is questionable to play with an ankle injury. Six of the nine touchdown passes allowed by the Ravens defense this season have been to tight ends. Meanwhile, Nick Boyle is also questionable after missing the entire week of practice with a toe injury. His blocking has been a critical part of Baltimore’s seventh-ranked running game. Both rushing attacks depend on popping outside runs for chunk yardage, and the Ravens have been inconsistent setting the edge and have occasionally lost containment against mobile quarterbacks.

2. The Ravens will be held under 100 rushing yards for just the third time this season. Head coach John Harbaugh deemed Boyle a game-time decision Friday, but it’s tough envisioning him playing without any practice, putting much pressure on the remaining group of tight ends as run blockers. Tennessee ranks fifth in the NFL in yards per carry allowed, so the surprising Alex Collins could have his hands full should Boyle not be on the field. The matchup between guards James Hurst and Matt Skura and Titans defensive linemen Jurrell Casey and DaQuan Jones will be crucial with the latter two having the advantage on paper.

3. Marcus Mariota will throw for a touchdown and run for another. The Titans’ bye week came at the perfect time for their quarterback, who had been hampered with a hamstring injury and is no longer listed on the injury report. He is much more dangerous as a passer when he moves from the pocket and can improvise with an ordinary group of receivers. Baltimore’s pass defense has been its biggest strength, but Terrell Suggs and the young pass rushers must be disciplined trying to get by Titans offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin to prevent Mariota from hurting them with his legs.

4. Joe Flacco will find Wallace for a long touchdown pass. The Ravens quarterback has been at his best this year when offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has designed pass plays to get him on the move instead of remaining static in the pocket, so that needs to continue if the league’s 32nd-ranked passing attack is ever going to grow. The Titans are vulnerable in the secondary and rank 19th in the NFL against the pass, so the Ravens need to use the run game and play fakes to get the defense out of two-high safety looks. If they do that, Wallace will be able to slip past rookie cornerback Adoree’ Jackson.

5. Baltimore will come up short in a 20-16 loss to the Titans. This is the kind of game a playoff hopeful reflects upon at the end of the season as a deciding factor in whether a team is playing in January or watching the playoffs on the couch. The Ravens have proven to be capable of playing at a high level with four wins decided by 13 or more points, but those performances have been soiled by some real clunkers in defeat. I’d normally like the Ravens’ chances more with extra rest against a decent — but hardly special — opponent, but Tennessee coming off its bye week wipes away that potential advantage. A key takeaway or a big special-teams play could certainly swing the outcome, but the healthier Titans playing at home will get the job done as the Ravens go into the bye with much work to do.

Comments Off on Ravens-Titans: Five predictions for Sunday