Browns clobber the Ravens

September 30, 2019 | Dennis Koulatsos

Not a good day at the office by the Ravens by any stretch.  Here are my thoughts this morning:

  • I said all week that job 1 for the Ravens was to stop Browns running back Nick Chubb.  After watching tape of the Browns’ first 3 games, I had come to the conclusion that they got away from the run too soon and got too cute with their passing game.  Chubb is a very good back, but the Ravens defense made him look like Jim Brown.  I get that Brandon Williams didn’t play, but back ups are well paid professionals and are supposed to step up when starters go does.  Obviously that didn’t happen.
  • Speaking of back ups, three fourths of the Browns’ secondary didn’t play due to injuries, and for a second week in a row were successful in throttling a potentially high scoring offense.   By the virtue of being very bad for a long period of time leading up to now, the Browns have stocked pile a bunch of high round draft picks, and those picks are maturing and starting to pay dividends.  Their rise is reminiscent of the 2017 Jaguars that annihilated the Ravens in the London game.  The talent gap in that game was noticeable, and although the disparity between these teams wasn’t as great yesterday’s, it was still noticeable.
  • Freddie Kitchens’ offense was as innovative as it was effective.  Kitchens’ schemes proved too much for the Ravens’ bewildered secondary, as tight ends and receivers were routinely wide open, particularly down the seams.  Baker Mayfield’s stat line looked pretty good, but by and large he had some good looks and wide open throws, where he delivered.
  • The Browns’ offensive line was much better than advertised.  This was the weak point of the team, but it opened up big holes for Chubb to run through and gave Mayfield ample time to find open receivers downfield.  Even without the services of Williams I expected the Ravens defensive line to have its way with the Browns’ offensive line, but the exact opposite happened.  Mayfield got sacked only once, but what’s even more concerning is that he was rarely under duress.
  • The Ravens’ secondary hasn’t stopped anybody all year.  Four games in they’ve been schooled by Kyler Murray, reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, Mayfield, and even Ryan Fitzpatrick had his moments in the opener.  Jimmy Smith can’t get well quickly enough, and his absence is glaring. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has to burn the proverbial midnight oil here and come up with a fix – and fast!  Even Marlon Humphrey has had some self admitted lapses, particularly while in zone coverage.  Hey coach, if these guys can’t comprehend the complex schemes of a zone, let them play man and take your chances.
  • Even with the heated post game locker room exchange with Brandon Williams, I’m still not down on Earl Thomas.  When a team loses back to back games, it shouldn’t sit well with the players and I for one am glad that there are some passionate players willing to voice their concerns.  The exchange shouldn’t have made it’s way to the media, but it is what it is.  I don’t view it as a drawback.  Although he hasn’t made splash plays, Thomas has been solid and has been doing his job.
  • Jarvis Landry had himself a day.  Had he not gone out in the third quarter with a concussion, his catch total may have exceeded 200 yards.  And although the stat line will reflect that Odell Beckham Jr. only had 2 catches, he was still a difference maker.  Landry and the tight ends got open due to the attention Beckham was attracting by the Ravens’ secondary, particularly on drag routes.  Humphrey got under his skin though with his tight coverage, to the point where Beckham threw a punch at him.  For his part Humphrey took him down and put a choke hold on him that would have made WWE super star The Undertaker proud.  Beckham should have been ejected, but the zebras saw it fit to flag 4 players for unnecessary roughness, with all penalties off setting each other.
  • Mark Andrews was interfered with on the Lamar Jackson pass that ended in a Browns’ defensive back’s hand in the end zone.  The linebacker covering him (may have been Joe Schobert – I have to go back to watch the play) pulled Andrews’ left arm down right before the ball got there.  Why the Ravens’ coaching staff didn’t challenge that play I’ll never know.  Should have been a first and goal for the Ravens. This play shifted the momentum in the Browns’ favor, and it should have been the other way around.
  • The Browns put a “cage” around Lamar Jackson, and contained the Ravens’ mercurial quarterback for the entire game.  To a man they said he is a special player, and treated him as one.  Credit Browns’ defensive coordinator with scheming up a good game to slow down Jackson. Now that teams are game planning for him, it is time for the rest of the Ravens’ skill players to step up, to play up to their contracts and draft positions.  The Ravens put up 173 yards rushing on the Browns, but the fumble by Mark Ingram was a back breaker.
  • Looking at what’s in store for the AFC North, tonight the Bengals play the Steelers.  Loser drops to 0-4, winner improves to 1-3.  Should the Ravens’ next opponent (Steelers) win, they’ll be 1-3 and play Baltimore in Pittsburgh next Sunday.  You can bet they’ll look to go 2-3 while dropping the Ravens to the same record.  The Browns travel to San Fracisco for a prime time Monday night match up with the Niners.  Should they lose there would be a three way tie at the top at 2-3.  That’s why every game in the NFL is so very important.  Today the Browns feel real good, that at 2-2 they are very much in control of the division.  The Ravens – who are sporting the same exact 2-2 record – are not feeling so good.  Such is life in the NFL.  Curious to see what team shows up in Pittsburgh next week.