Luke Jones: A purple overview as Ravens look to navigate second half Super Bowl run

Ravens Browns logos
Ravens Browns logos
- Advertisement -

When Luke Jones joins Dennis Koulatsos on Thursday at 3 p.m. on WNST-AM 1570 to preview the Ravens game, it’s always deep dive and long form. It’s a big week ahead against the Browns and Bengals in Baltimore for #RavensFlock.

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

ravens, playing, browns, talking, year, game, offense, week, quarterback, baltimore, ravens defense, sunday, passing, defense, good, season, ronnie stanley, lamar, ball, keith mitchell

SPEAKERS

Dennis Koulatsos, Luke Jones

Dennis Koulatsos  00:02

All right, welcome back. My first guest is always leading off as Luke Jones. He is the man of the hour. To sweet to be sour. What you see is what you get. And what you don’t it’s better yet the best have yet to come Luciana, doesn’t it?

8

Luke Jones  00:16

Absolutely, Dennis, I appreciate that introduction. How are you?

Dennis Koulatsos  00:20

I’m doing really well. I’m very happy right now and attended to ravens games this past Sunday, watch them, put the smackdown on on the Seahawks and feeling good about the team. Right? They have supreme health and still have a season to go. But we all have to feel real good about where the ravens are right now.

Luke Jones  00:44

Yeah, I mean, I don’t think there’s a scenario realistically speaking that you could look at right now and not feel or feel any better about where the ravens are right now. I mean, it’s seven to four wins in a row. They weathered the early injury storm that they had back in the month of September, where, you know, we talked about it a lot, you know, starters were missing. But, you know, the saving grace was other than JK Dobbins, it wasn’t this long list of guys who were lost for the season. You knew there were going to be back. And look, there’s, as you pointed out, there’s a long way to go. The Ravens have one of the most challenging schedules over the second half of the season, I think it would be too ambitious to start talking about running the table or anything like that. But that said, there are going to be a team that’s going to be favored just about every game moving forward. I mean, maybe that Christmas night game in San Francisco, certainly, very few of these games are layups. I mean, I think we need to be clear about that. But this is a football team that’s put itself in really, really good position with the defense that’s playing, as well as any ravens defense since the days of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. At the very least, I think we could say that much. Again, we’ll see how it goes forward. And then offense that I think is still lagging behind the defense a little bit, but it’s certainly it’s all on the rise. And we’ve seen it now score 30 plus points, each of the last three games. And I think, as I wrote a Baltimore positive.com, Sunday against Cleveland, while I fully expect the ravens to win the football game, mainly because I don’t think Cleveland’s offense is gonna be able to do enough against the Ravens defense. But I do like the matchup the test for this ravens offense of not just going up against what has been maybe the best defense in the NFL, other than the ravens, you know, and certainly people have debated who’s better one to take your pick on those two. But I think it also gives them a nice test, in the sense of this will now be the second time around facing an opponent for a Todd Monken. And even Lamar Jackson. I mean, I think we forget or we try to forget it. In the case of any Ravens fans, this will be the first time Lamar Jackson has started. And you hope knock on wood, you know, all those different things finished a return game against an AFC North opponent since the end of 2020. You know, he he was out for the return bouts against the AFC North last year and the year before 2021. Remember, he got hurt in a second Cleveland game. So you know why I bring that up is I think it’s you know, it’s no secret that this offense, the last couple of years under Greg Roman had kind of been going in the wrong direction, each of those two years even before Lamar got hurt. And that’s part of the reason why Greg Roman is no longer the offensive coordinator here in Baltimore. So that’s not to predict that that’s going to happen again. But I do think it is I think this will be a nice test, a good litmus test, maybe a good indication of just how dangerous this offense can be over the second half of the season, knowing that it is a tough, you know, a tough run of opponents. And also knowing that these AFC North teams, yeah, they know you much better than Detroit, or Seattle or Arizona that you know, those NFC teams that just they don’t see Lamar Jackson a whole lot. And that’s not a knock on the more it’s that he’s so uniquely talented, in the same way that you’re a baseball player going up against that supremely talented starting pitcher in the National League that you might only see once every few years, you know, you’re just not as familiar. You’re not used to going up against that guy. So I want to see this offense fare at a you know, operate at a high level, not just against Cleveland, but of course Cincinnati next week, and as we get into the second half Pittsburgh, San Francisco, I mean, they’re gonna be facing some good defenses. So if you can see that offense continue to roll against opponents who have seen them already this year opponents who have already seen a Todd Monken offense. To me that bodes really well for this team’s potential and their upside continuing to not just finish the second half of the season on a very strong note but also getting into jazz You worry and knowing that the scrutiny that’s there, the amount that teams will gameplan and study you and look for tendencies and all those different things. That’s why I think beginning with Sunday, it will be a little bit of a different test for for this offense to see, you know, not just do it against an NFC opponent, but do it against one, a really good defense that’s been great statistically, and to a defense that saw you what, six weeks ago, if you can steamroll the browns and keep this thing going, and boy, it’s gonna be tough to look at that schedule and see exactly who’s going to stop this ravens team at this point.

Dennis Koulatsos  05:35

8

The most encouraging part for me, Luke, I know that our fan base gets picked up on his skill position players, the Keaton mix of stories. Thanks. That’s That in itself. It’s a sexy story. But for me, I like the big uglies. I like the trenches, the offensive line, the defensive line. And now, of course, every team has injuries that they have to deal with, but the Browns losing their left tackle this week, big big blow to that offense and maybe Deshaun. Watson is or isn’t, but he’s going to, he’s not going to be the best version of himself not having his starting left tackle in front of him, particularly with the way that the Ravens defensive line is firing off the ball, how the guys refreshed, how McDonald’s keeping them fresh with that rotation.

Luke Jones  06:19

Yeah, and I just spent a few minutes talking about the Ravens offense against the Cleveland defense and just how I’m just intrigued to see how the Ravens do there. And that’s, you know, whether they score 20, or whether they score 30 plus again, but on the flip side, that’s why in this game, I mean, are the Browns gonna be able to function at a higher level than they did with Dorian Thompson Robinson at quarterback back in week four? Yes, I think it was evident for as much as DTR might or might have been a nice story in the preseason. He was completely overwhelmed and me had no business being on the field. I mean, that was kind of organizational malpractice on the Browns part. I imagine that the Browns doing something dumb over the years as they as they often have. But even if they are able to function at a higher level, it’s not as though this Browns offense has been that good. Even with Watson, even with jedrick wills at left tackles. So yeah, I think this Browns team is going to have a lot of difficulty moving the ball consistently against this ravens defense even with Watson who is healthy. He was a full participant on Wednesday, it seems like that shoulder even if it’s not 100% it’s certainly at in a place now where he’s going to play. So again, the Browns offense hasn’t been that good with Watson. So so that’s the big difference in this game. I mean, it’s fun to talk about two great defenses, you know, even though we know they’re not going up against each other directly, but you know who can top whom. I think you look at the Ravens defense going up against this Browns offense that does not have Nick Chubb does not have jedrick wills does not have a Conklin, the right tackle who was lost for the season in week one, even they’re starting right tackle to one Jones, who there’s been some talk about whether he’ll stay at right tackle, which is where he’s been since the beginning of the season, or whether he’ll move over to the left side. He missed practice on Wednesday with a couple of nagging issues, which I don’t not saying that will keep him out of the game, but just adds to the flux that that’s exists with their offensive tackle picture right now. So I think on that in that regard, it’s really, really difficult to envision the Browns doing enough offensively against this ravens defense that has been so good against everyone. I mean, we can talk about the inconsistency of the offense at times, but the defense okay, if you want to call in consistent that Marlon Humphrey gave up one play in Pittsburgh and that cost in the football game. If you want to talk about Arizona moving the ball on in what amounted to Garbage Time in the fourth quarter? I guess I’ll hear that. But you know, they’ve, they’ve been excellent from start to finish this year. And they’ve, they’ve only gotten healthier. You know, they’ve got Marcus Williams, who wasn’t even on the injury report on Wednesday. So it looks like he’s going to be coming back. I’m guessing what we’re going to see is the Ravens use many more three safety looks probably will mean a little bit less of Arthur Mallette at the nickel because I think you’ll see Kyle Hamilton there more, which I love Kyle Hamilton playing closer to the line of scrimmage, I really do. I think that gives them a different element not that he can’t play in coverage as a deeper safety, but I just like him as an X factor in that spot. So I just think this defense is playing at such a high level. And then you’re talking about a Browns team that let’s face it is very much incomplete compared to what it was going to be at the beginning of the year. And even if they were at full strength even if they had Nick Chubb. They if they had both of their Offensive Tackles, I still don’t see that Browns offense. I’m not saying it’s gonna be shut out. Let’s be clear. I’m not you know, I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves in that way. But I have a tough time seeing them moving the ball down the field multiple times and scoring enough points. I against this ravens defense to offset what will be, you know, again, I think an interesting matchup I’m not necessarily expecting the ravens to go out there and hang 30 plus points again against an excellent defense but I certainly liked the Ravens chances of moving the ball against the Browns defense better than I liked the Browns chances of moving the ball against the Ravens defense if that clears it up and makes it a you know, pretty pretty succinct in terms of how I expect this matchup to go on Sunday. All right, let’s

Dennis Koulatsos  10:27

stay with the Ravens defense here for a moment. She knows Gino stone, Patrick clean ro Quan Smith, Karl van Noy David Clowney where the names just keep coming. Right? But Brandon Stevens Lang got a very high level. And I mean, look, had you asked me my weeks ago about the 2024 NFL draft, I would say look, first and second pick for the Ravens cornerback left tackle that and I still may think that way. But Brandon Stevens, his play has been outstanding. And he’s come a long, long way from where he was just one year ago.

Luke Jones  11:09

How about six months ago, Dennis? How about four months ago when he began training camp? He was playing safety. I mean, the Ravens had kind of and I think I feel like you and I probably talked about this at some point in the offseason because you know, we spent so much time talking about the Ravens even in the offseason. With you know, I, I had had some thoughts about, you know, I thought he had played well enough at outside corner last year to keep him there. And that didn’t that wasn’t implying that I thought he was going to be this or I thought he was even going to be a starter. I just thought that felt like a place that, hey, you know, outside corners, boundary corners, you know, you can find, you know, you can use different safeties and slot corners interchangeably to kind of handle that position. But outside corners, guys that can really not that the Ravens asked their corners to be on an island as much as they did under wink Martindale, you know, with Mike McDonald, now being the coordinator, but he’s shown an ability to do that. And he’s just taken his game to another level now. Would I say he’s playing at a Pro Bowl level? No, but I think he’s played at a really good level, you know, a solid level to the point where, let’s think about it. Dennis, rocky scene was signed right after the draft with the assumption that he was going to be the starter opposite Marlon Humphrey. Ronald Darby was signed back what the third week of August, with the assumption that he was going to be a starter, at least until Marlin Humphrey came back, right? Neither one of those guys are playing on defense at this point. And that’s not to say that they will, at some point in time, and certainly your one or two injuries away from, you know, that depth not being so not not being so assuring anymore, because that’s just the nature of how this game works. But you have two guys that were brought in with visions at the time of each of their signings of those guys being starters, those guys playing it extensively, and they’re kind of non factors right now in defense, and that’s not even, you know, it’s not that they did anything wrong. You know, in the case that you seen, it didn’t help him obviously, that he missed a lot of training camp with a knee injury, which was part of the, you know, that was part of the that was the catalyst that put Brandon Stevens back at corner. If I remind you then so it really has been incredible in that way. When you just look at Stevens, you look at Geno stone even though you know Cheetos stone showed last year in place a Marcus Williams that there was starter potential there at the very least that’s why I was a little surprised that there wasn’t more interest in him when the Ravens non tendered him as a restricted free agent back in March. But you look at you look at those two, you look at Justin Mata BK, who you didn’t mention that I’m sure we’ll get we’ll talk more in a moment. But you just but you just look at the guys that have taken a step forward this year. It is a credit to the coaching staff. It’s a credit to the scouting department that hey, player development, when you draft a guy, that doesn’t mean that he’s a finished product. Yeah, you draft someone in the top 10. You know, not counting quarterback, but any other position, you draft them in the top 10 Or the first round? Yeah, you expect them to come in and be a starter and be ready to contribute immediately. But in most cases, you’re drafting someone with a projection in mind, you’re envisioning what that player can become. And we’ve seen that so it’s a credit to the front office, to credit to the coaches. I think you look at what they’ve done, not just Mike McDonald, but the entire defensive coaching staff and where they’ve had players take a step forward. At every part of the defense, every position group has at least someone that you would say is distinctly better than they were a year ago. So it’s credit to them and it’s a credit to the players. I mean, ultimately they put in the work right you know, so it really is. It really is so impressive to see the Steve Let’s do what it’s done. Because it’s been a combination of things, you know, draft picks, high priced free agents, in the sense of ro Quan Smith, you acquired him and knew you were gonna have to pay him $100 million. And they did. And also those savvy veteran signings that we’ve seen the Ravens do over and over, whether it’s been the second week of training camp, or in the case of PAL van Noy after the season started, you know, they haven’t batted 1000 But they’ve batted at a very high average in terms of hitting on those guys, those types of guys in recent years. So it really is such an insomnia ensemble effort to put this defense where it is today, which is as good as as I mentioned a little bit earlier, as good as any defense at the Ravens have had since the days of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs and Elodie nada leading the way. I mean, that’s how great this defense is playing and, you know, I joked about it at Baltimore. positive.com. In recent years, we’ve, we’ve grown so accustomed to just saying, Well, it’s a good defense for today’s NFL, knowing what the standard of today’s NFL is, compared to what it was 25 years ago or 40 years ago, but it’s just been really that good period, you know, even taking into account the era. They’ve just been that excellent. And again it guys like Brandon Stevens and Gino stone, have they they’ve made what what injuries the Ravens did have earlier in the season, you know, that kind of made them a nonfactor, which is really a credit to the depth that you have and the work that you’ve put in as an organization to put yourself in that position.

8

Dennis Koulatsos  16:36

I’m glad you mentioned that Justin Mata BK Luke, I had the pleasure of meeting the young man last year at Jimmy’s famous seafood got a couple of pictures with him and I flashback to when they drafted him and the commentary was this was not a body type his belt wasn’t typical of what the Ravens like to draft for their defensive line they like bigger guys. Refrigerator Raider type guys boxy not not twitchy guys like Mata beaky and it’s been a pleasure watching him grow if you were to ask me today and and I don’t know if they have the cap space to do so. If it comes down today to them keeping meta BK Petra Queen Geno’s stone to me by far I would invest my money in meta BK because that pressure up the middle it’s different than edge pressure right that pressure up the middle gets the quarterback right away they can’t slide away from it. And man oh man has he had been like a mini Aaron Donald so far this season.

Luke Jones  17:32

He’s been that good. And I’m in full agreement with you and I don’t even think that’s really close. I mean, you look at inside linebacker, you’re not going to have to pay Patrick Queen market value when you are already paid bro Quan Smith, unless you’re going to have a defensive roster or an or a roster in general, that’s going to be a little out of whack over time as Lamar Jackson is making more money because that’s just a cost of doing business with the same thing with Gino stone. Right. Yeah. Right. You Leslie Patrick, you

Dennis Koulatsos  18:04

hope he develops like you’re hoping that he takes a step next year? Yeah. Or

Luke Jones  18:09

8

you draft another inside linebacker somewhere in that similar range in the draft and you see how it shakes out? Same thing with Gino stone, I love Gino stone. I think he’s going to do so well for himself in free agency, and I’m going to be so happy for him because it’s a good kid. It’s worked hard. It’s been through a lot. seventh round pick out of Iowa, all those different factors. But it’s gonna be really tough to get out of, I mean, the Marcus Williams contract. And I know we mentioned it in passing. I mean, you know, even a post June 1 Next year, I mean, there’ll be so much dead money, I just, it’s probably just not going to be plausible. And also, Kyle Hamilton, you know, you’re not going to be extending him yet. But I think he’s the kind of player you’re going to want to extend. So you have to be thinking about that, two, three years down the road. So not to be gay to me, it is so unique. And you just said it. The reason why I think you have to do whatever it takes within reason. And that still might not be enough. I mean, considering what happened, because if you’re him right now, he’d be crazy not to go to market. I mean, you’d be crazy. I mean, you’re talking about you just said it. I mean a poor man’s Aaron Donald and no one should really we emphasize the poor man there because Aaron Donald’s an absolute generational Hall of Fame talent, but it’s seven and a half sacks and nine games. And I think what’s so different and unique about him. I started to think about this the other day, who have been the defensive tackles the interior defensive lineman, whether you want to talk about certainly nose tackle defensive tackle or even a defensive end like a Trevor Price who would move inside a lot. I think Trevor price might be the last one that you could kind of call back to as far as an interior defensive lineman giving the Ravens this kind of an impact and even price at that point in his career when he came to the Ravens was lining up on the edge a lot. So It’s just so unique when you have someone that can bring pressure right into the quarterbacks face without relying on a gap blitzing to do that, right. You know when you can just do it where, and we know the Ravens blitz plenty, you know, that’s a big part of what they do. And we know so much of the pre snap deception that they use. But when you have an interior defensive lineman or defensive tackle, can that can pressure the quarterback the way that matter BK has been doing. I mean, that is just, that is a different factor that is a different element. We talked about that for years, with ways that you tried to slow Tom Brady as much as you possibly could, didn’t mean you stopped him. But one of the best ways to bottle up Brady a little bit better than than otherwise being able to do it was interior pressure getting getting him to moving him off the spot, you know, whether you were bringing him down, or just messing with his feet. And that was such a big factor for him. And that still applies today. I mean, we’ve talked about edge rushers and I there’s such a fascinating debate with Edge rushers in terms of looking at pressures and quarterback hits compared to sacks. And there’s been a lot of debate as far as valuing pressures. But you have some quarterbacks in this league that get rid of the ball so quickly, that even if you get off with, you know, you get off off the edge with an outstanding rush, there is a good chance that quarterback, the ball is still going to come out. And and if it happens to be a timing route that’s really well designed and well executed, probably still gonna be a successful play. But when you’re talking about a defensive tackle, who can wreak havoc, and get to the quarterback, boom, just like that, that is a different, that even upsets the quick game, you know, the quick game timing, passes, that, you know, Joe burrow, and quarterbacks like that, to attend to us in today’s game. So he’s just been so good. Again, I can’t even begin to say what it might cost to sign him. I mean, it’s gonna be a lot. Put it this way, it’s gonna be way, way more than what Broderick Washington signed for back in August. And we knew that at the time, but it’s even Boy, that’s even rings true or true or truer every week. Now, you know, he’s just ringing the cash register every time he hits the quarterback at this point. So great for him, great for the Ravens for at least the rest of this year. But it is going to be fascinating to see how this plays out. I’d say this much he’s played so well that at this point, and I wouldn’t have really, this wouldn’t have been something I probably would have even entertained or even brought up at before the season. But, you know, you’re gonna be talking about potentially the franchise tag at the very least with him, and seeing how that plays out. Now, again, I haven’t looked at those numbers, because the Ravens haven’t had a defensive tackle in recent years to even think what that would cause so not gonna be cheap. But you do, you do wonder. And again, just like anyone else, second half of the season still applies. And you want to see him finish strong and stay healthy and still be that impactful. Because he is he has been someone who’s been a little a little inconsistent in previous seasons, and in terms of playing a full 16 or 17 games at a high level. But if he does, it, it’s going to be fascinating to see just how much he gets it. And whether the Ravens can find a way to make it happen, because boy, you know, third round pick coming into his own. And, and it is a little scary in that regard. You know, a contract here, we’ve seen some ravens players in the past have big contract years, and then they get big money elsewhere. And then they kind of revert to what they had been prior to that big contract here. So you, you have to consider all of that. But boy, you mentioned at the body type, just He’s different. He’s different than what they’ve had on the at the defensive tackle position and a different different, prototype them what they’ve targeted at, as you mentioned, so he’s just he’s been so good for them. But he’d also be the first to tell you he hasn’t done it alone. And again, it’s that collective effort that has made this pass rush, so good that you know, unlike Cleveland on Sunday, who has miles Garrett who is probably playing the best ball of his career, and that’s you know, watch out Ronnie Stanley who hasn’t been as consistent as you’d like but but the difference with the Ravens is it comes from so many different players you know, that pass rushing threat? defensive line tackles or edge guys inside linebackers, you know, Kyle Hamilton or Arthur Mallette come in from the slot. I mean, it’s just that that pass rush comes from any which direction you can kind of imagine on any given snap, and that’s what makes things just so nightmarish for quarterbacks. I mean, the way that the Ravens made Geno Smith look this past Sunday, who hasn’t been as good as he was last year, but it’s still a very competent quarterback and a smart quarterback. The way they laid made him look By the way, they made Jared Goff Look, just a couple of weeks back when the lions came into Baltimore, it’s just been so impressive and how does that translate to potentially playing Patrick mahomes or Joe burrow or Josh Allen or to a tongue of Iowa, you know, some of the, you know, the teams that you view as the elite offensive and the AFC we’ll see, but certainly not gonna be a cakewalk for any of those individuals. When you have a pass rush that is as formidable and as wide ranging as this one. Yeah,

Dennis Koulatsos  25:31

also met a beak I believe he said two or three sacks wipe that due to penalties, sack federal will be even higher. Had that been factored in. But of course, it’s not. The nice thing is look that the team is having fun on both sides of the ball. And it looks like rope one Smith is finding his voice. He’s starting to be more vocal. I know he’s been hanging around with with Ray Lewis. But with that said, I want to flip over to the offensive side of the ball and look at a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. Watching the game Sunday at the stadium early on, you know, I told my friends around, gobbling up 14 catches for the year and we did the math with how much money he’s getting. And it was great to see him get four or five catches, he got the touchdown, but the best thing I think about Odell Beckham Jr. There’s really two great things. Number one, he was a catalyst to getting Lamar Jackson to sign a contract. And number two, he’d been a great teammate. You don’t see him. Brooding. You don’t see him being upsetting not getting targets or looks. It looks like he’s a guy who’s very respectful and appreciative at this stage of his career.

Luke Jones  26:31

Yeah, I mean, I struggle with this one. I mean, look, it’d be tough to look at the signing and say that it’s been a great signing or even a good signing. I mean that because at some point, at the end of the day, the production does have to matter. But you as you astutely pointed out, yes, it was a factor for Lamar Jackson resigning, although I’ll continue to say the Jalen hertz contract, I think still had way more to do with that. But I do think the Beckham, the Beckham signing was a nice olive branch. I think it was. So if you want to call that part of the Lamar tax, and you could even say, hey, that $15 million, just throw that in with what the ravens are given them are fine. I do agree with you that I think for as much as he has shown some freight frustration at times, let’s face it, you know, we saw him a couple weeks ago, throwing his helmet late in the game where the Ravens were up big. And then that wasn’t the best look in the world. But that said, I haven’t gotten any sense whatsoever, that he’s been a problem, or he’s been anything but a positive influence. You know, is He? Is he a dynamic leader on this football team in the way that, as you mentioned, Ro Quan Smith? No, but I think he’s fit in? Well, I think the response that you saw from his teammates when he caught the touchdown, to me, that was indicative of generally speaking, they liked this guy, and you know, he hasn’t been a malcontent or anything like that. So in terms of what he did on Sunday, we’ll see one, because I’ll say, you know, he had the drop on the first drive were Lamar didn’t throw up great pass, but it was certainly catchable. And it’s kind of past that, hey, if you’re trying to get going, you gotta make that play. I mean, just very simple. The fumble was really bad. At the end of the first half. I mean, if not, for the defense doing what they did that could have flipped the game that could have made the game 1410 at halftime, and we’re talking about a much closer football game in the second half. However, one, and this was subtle, but if you go back and look, the Ravens had had Odell Beckham lineup in the slot more than he had at any point over the course of the season. And you wonder if we’re going to start to see that a little bit more. I mean, it could just be that they’re finding that he’s not winning on the outside. Now, problem with that is you got to identify someone who is going to win on the outside. And that’s still something that to be unlocked for this ravens passing game to take the next step. So I don’t think you know, and the other thing, he’s not going to exclusively move to the slot because Mark Andrews is there so much. So, you know, there’s only gonna be so much that you can do there. But I did find it interesting that they moved him around a little bit more than we had seen. And it he did respond with, you know, having a solid football game, aside from, you know, those couple of miscues that I mention, which were big miscues, mind you. So we’ll have to see how it’s gonna play out. I mean, we’ve talked about this, I still think in the big picture sense for this passing game to take the next step. And it’s not a bad passing game by any stretch of the imagination, but for it to take the next step to go from, you know, wherever you’d rank them right now, you know, top half of the league top, you know, 1213, somewhere in that neighborhood, understanding that the volume is not going to be that high because they’re gonna run the ball and when we’ve seen that, but for them to take the next step, they certainly need to find a more reliable, more consistent third option behind Mark Andrews. And even though ze flowers has been quiet on the quiet side, the last week or two, who I’m still putting into that, you know, Andrews is number one because he’s been that guy for four or five years. I mean, he’s true. really still Lamar Jackson’s number one target that you trust when you need to catch and that’s fine Travis Kelce is that for Patrick mahomes ze flowers is that second guy. They need that third guy to emerge. Whether it’s Beckham whether it’s Rashad Bateman who I’ve actually been a little more encouraged with Bateman than even talking about Beckham getting the touchdown, which was good for his psyche. It was good moment. It was garbage time, though. I mean, you know, let’s call it what it was Tyler Huntley through the pass, which I thought was kind of hilarious that it was Huntley. You got back of his first touchdown in that Lamar. But I think for them to really take that next step. As we get deeper into the season and start thinking about what this offense looks like in January knowing the different ways that you need to try to be able to win football games. I do want to see that third option emerge. And you know, whether it is Beckham whether it is Rashad Bateman, whether it’s more of Nelson Aguilar, I mean, who knows what how it’s going to shake out? I do want to see that. But in the meantime, going back to your original question, was good to see that I think if anything, it was good for Beckham, psyche to kind of get that off his back, so to speak. And, you know, we’ll see if it does Springboard him into bigger and better things. But I did find it interesting to see that that subtle change in wasn’t a ton of snaps, let’s be clear, but he was in the slot a little bit more than we had seen in previous weeks and did seem like that, that worked out for him. You know, not that he didn’t do anything from outside. But I thought it was interesting to see him line up there a little more frequently. And just in general, the Ravens ran from 11 personnel more, which they hadn’t, you know, we talked about that a lot before the season, but that’s something they actually hadn’t done a whole lot of under Todd Monken. So it was interesting to see those little wrinkles thrown into that game against Seattle on Sunday.

Dennis Koulatsos  31:46

Kansas City Chiefs, Luke, they’re, they’re down by five points, and this is Southern NASTRAN. I go back and forth with lately. Chiefs are down by five points. Minute 10 seconds left, get the Boehner 25 yard line you trust Patrick mahomes can go down the field and get a touchdown. You mentioned it this offense is passing officers in particular needs to keep developing so that if they find themselves in that situation, right, they’re down 1813 They actually do have a chance to go down the field and get a touchdown, not a field goal, which they’ll need to win a ballgame.

8

Luke Jones  32:22

Yeah, and I mean, and. And to be clear, it’s not as though the Ravens have an operated effective two minute offense. And I’m not suggesting that you were implying that either. But yeah, I mean, it’s it’s part of it. And as much as people have been dismissive about this, it still goes back to some of the same questions we talked about. Under Greg Roman in terms of, if you do find yourself in a position where a team is containing your running game, bottling up your running game a little bit, you know, are you gonna be able to throw when you have to throw the football, not when you want to which the ravens, and they’ve been really good when they’ve wanted to throw the football even going back to the, to the Greg Roman era. You know, I’ve heard so many people talk that Lamar is playing the best football career this year. Look, I think Bill Maher is playing at a very high level, let’s be very clear about that. I think we’re selling short what they did in 2019. When we say that, go back and look at the numbers we got in lead the NFL, a touchdown passes by accident. I mean, that didn’t happen. That doesn’t happen by some miraculous accident or incidentally. So so But that said, there’s always been that question of, can they throw the ball at a high enough proficiency level when they have to when they have no other choice? Let’s throw a perfect example. Lamar this past Sunday, now he’s fine. But you know, that Bobby Wagner tackle in the fourth and you know, the fourth and short run, tweaked his leg a little bit whether his ankle or his knee. He was limping a little bit. He was you know, Patrick mahomes is dealt you know, we saw him deal with the ankle last postseason if the ravens are in that position with Lamar, where I’m not saying it’s the last year with the PCL, where, you know, he asked to brace it, but if it’s where he’s less than 100%, and he’s not quite as effective as a scrambler, can they operate from the pocket at a higher level? And that’s, that’s just the question. And look, that’s, that’s true of any of these quarterbacks. I mean, we saw this with Joe burrow earlier in the year when, when he was in his mobile, how much Cincinnati struggled I mean, but, you know, in the case of the ravens, you know, Can Can you continue to make strides with your passing game, and it’s not Lamar, it’s everyone, you know, it’s past protection with, you know, with just five, you know, empty backfield and different things of that nature. I mean, you know, I mentioned Ronnie Stanley in passing a few minutes ago. I mean, the Ravens aren’t getting $20 million left tackle play from their $20 million left tackle right now. Let’s just call a spade a spade. So it’s all of those things. And let’s be clear, their passing game is it’s not bad. No, it certainly has done some really good really nice things, especially here recently, but you’re still trying to find how you get to that next level. I mean, the defense at this point, I’m not sure you can expect more from the defense, it’s just gonna be a matter of can you maintain what you’re doing right now. I mean, that’s how dynamic how outstanding they’ve been through the first nine games of the season. In the case of the offense, we’ve seen them hit peaks, where they played at a really, really high level, like Detroit a few weeks ago. But then we saw them in Arizona, where they were sleepwalking for a long, large stretches of that game. And we’ve seen it at different times this year, where it looks like okay, here’s the breakout, but then the following quarter, and not so much. You know, even you know, I think back to the first meeting with the browns, ravens started really slow in that game DTR threw through an interception, Raven scored a touchdown. But, you know, it was really the second quarter was about the only time in that football game where they move the ball there too long touchdown drives, rest of that game they did next to nothing. So hey, it’s gets the great Browns defensive. Let’s point that out. But it’s just for this team to get better. And look, when I say that I say that as a compliment. Because they’re already seven and two, they already have the best point differential in the league. They’re already arguably the best team in the NFL. Whether you or whether you’re holding on to Philly or Kansas City, whatever. There’s no one playing better than them right now, at the very least. But if you’re asking for where they can get better, it is still with their passing game and getting more consistent, and probably should definitely say this. They need to be more explosive down the field. I mean, the downfield passing game is something they still untapped it a couple times here and there. But the deep ball is still something that’s eluded them and you know, especially having say flowers and even Rashad Bateman, that’s where you’d still like to see them. Throw a couple more deep balls down the field where if you can score quickly, you know, they didn’t have a touchdown outside the red zone until keep Mitchell’s touchdown run this past Sunday. We’ll we’ll get to him in a moment. But I think that’s that’s kind of the next step not just beyond just the consistency, it’s to be able to hit on a couple more deep balls. Because if you can do that, and you have to force the safeties to back off even more. I just don’t know how you’re going to stop this offense. If you can start to do a little more of that stuff at a higher level. I think it’s going to be so difficult to stop this offense. It already is difficult to stop this offense. So bone if we’re talking about that, boy, then you are talking about this team, becoming a Super Bowl favorite and being a having the opportunity to to do everything they want to do come January and early February. All

Dennis Koulatsos  37:39

right, and that scene that you brought him up, you started this number 34, which was in my high school and college number at running back. Keaton Mitchell breaks out and what a great story that this has been for this young man as well as his family. Oh,

Luke Jones  37:53

no question about it. I mean, you know, the son of Anthony Mitchell, who I will still say so many people remember Ray Lewis taking the ball away from St. George in that Titans you know, that win in Nashville over the Titans which, which was the true Super Bowl and the 2020. postseason, as we look, look back at it, but for me, it was the blocked field goal what Keith Washington I believe was Keith Washington blocks. Any Mitchell who most even dare I say good Ravens fans, most of them had never heard of Anthony Mitchell because he never played on defense at that point in his ravens career as a rookie. And he was on special teams. That was it. And you suddenly see number 42 running the ball down the field. And suddenly you’re thinking, wow, the ravens are they’re leading in Nashville in the second half against the Titans. And you’re thinking well, they might go to the AFC Championship game, it was that play. So you know, I always have a special place in my heart for Anthony Mitchell as a 17 year old watching that at the time. Excited in my in my dad’s living room. But I think with what we’ve seen from Keith Mitchell, we knew from OTAs you know, even from going back and watching any of his tape from college very fast on the perimeter. I mean, the speed showed up from day one and Owings Mills. I think what was so impressive with what he was able to do on Sunday against Seattle was the yards after contact the physicality with which he ran the the ability to break tackles. I mean, this is not a big guy. He is tiny. It was funny watching him in the postgame interview room going up to the podium and he kind of barely stood over the top of the podium, you know, the the top of the lectern, so it was funny to see that but just the physicality with which he ran was impressive, you know, for a guy his size and let’s be clear, I’m not saying he’s Gus Edwards, but for a guy who is what five foot eight, less than 200 pounds. I mean, he broke multiple tackles and he showed some a physicality that went beyond his frame. So look, it’s one game he He’s a nagging injury away or a fumble or two away from being back to very firmly at the bottom of the totem pole. And we know how that can work, especially with John Harbaugh with young running backs. We know ball security, which has been an issue for the Ravens this year is going to be of the utmost importance. But since we’ve talked about the loss of JK Dobbins and week one, what have we said about this running game? Gus Edwards, he’s giving you exactly what you expect us Edwards to give you which is very valuable, don’t don’t misconstrue Justice Hill has flashed some ability to do this at times, but still not at a level consistent enough. Keep Mitchell, what we saw Sunday, you know, when you break off a 40 yard, your run and a 60 yard run against what was not a lousy as lousy as they played maybe on Sunday, overall, the Seattle defense hasn’t been lousy for him to do that. That is some really intriguing homerun potential that you potentially add to this ravens offense in the same way, I was just talking about the deep ball with the passing game. If you can mix in keep Mitchell and he can do the things he needs to do to continue to build on this and stay healthy, learn the other the other elements of the game and you know, improve as a receiver as a pass blocker, you know, whatever, you know, whenever whatever he’s asked to do when he’s called upon. Just gives you another element. Another area you have to account for with this ravens offense. So it just, you know that they they they lost that perceived upside with Dobbins when he went down in week one. And they were trying to you know, they were in on getting Derrick Henry there, they were interested in someone like a Josh Jacobs or if say Quan Barkley had ever become available, you know, they were certainly talking about that. So it’s not as though they were just resting on their laurels. But it is pretty nice that you come up short and bringing in a running back and Keith Mitchell runs for over 100 yards in his wasn’t his debut, because he, you know, had had a couple of snaps prior to that. But what essentially amounted to his debut for him to do that. I mean, that’s exciting. So no expectations, you know, I’m not expecting him to suddenly become the feature starter starting back it on Sunday. But if he like, like I mentioned about this ravens offense in general, he can do some of those things against this Browns defense. And the ravens, you know, want to be clear credit the offensive line. I mean, Tyler Lindenbaum downfield blocking, John Simpson some of some of his efforts on that play. You know, mCherry, you know, doing what he did filling in for Morgan Moses, Kevin Zeitler, playing at his old level after maybe a slow start to the season. You know, if Keith Mitchell can do some of those things against the browns, then then we are talking about a guy that’s going to be really really interesting and exciting to add into the mix for this ravens offense. So you know, it’s be fun to see how it plays out. But even if it ends up being more of a J Graham kind of story. There’s a name for you in the past J Graham. Anyone who’s listening right now is a little bit on the younger side. Go look up Jay Graham in 1997. Against what the Philadelphia Eagles it was the tie at Memorial Stadium or yeah the big yardage. 150

Dennis Koulatsos  43:09

8

yards I forget which coach on the Ravens said that was the best game ever seen and running back have incredible vision cuts, acceleration power, etc. But you’re right he was Jay Graham was a one hit wonder if it were rendering much after that if he was a song, but I think the nice thing with Keaton Mitchell is he has fresh legs, right? Let’s face it, they’re halfway through the season, a lot of rookies and particularly hit a wall halfway through the season that have you know the rigors of the NFL training camp. But the the pounding of the physicality of the game, the speed of the game take its toll but it’s nice to have fresh legs. And hopefully, this will continue to give the Ravens another element also dress the future at that position. But again, the sample as you would say is way too small at this point. But it’s a great sample.

Luke Jones  43:54

Oh, no question. It was a great enough sample to say I can’t wait to see what he does on Sunday and moving forward. And again, Gus Edwards, his role is entrenched. But if I’m Justice Hill, I’m looking at that I was probably a little concerned in the back of my mind seeing what Keith Mitchell did thinking. If he’s if he’s going to cut into someone snaps probably his but again, that goes back to how does he do as a receiver how’s he doing and blitz pickup other and you know, the intricacies of playing that position that an undrafted rookie probably going to be not equipped to do at this stage. So I think as John Harbaugh said on Monday and I fully buy it, at least for the time being, I think you’re gonna continue to see very much a committee approach but keep Mitchell boy he he certainly maximized his snaps when you look at what he did with his touches compared to how many plays he was on the field, which wasn’t that many more than now. He really his his damage to opportunity ratio was was pretty impressive against Seattle and again, if he can match if he can do anything remotely approaching that even if it’s say 50 or 60 yards against the browns, I think the Ravens gonna be excited to see. But that they might have something here that can give them even more upside make them even more dangerous getting deeper into the season.

Dennis Koulatsos  45:13

I like Justice Hill, but my impression is from the tape that I’ve watched, he’ll have more Jackson’s have trouble at the mesh point. It just Yeah, it’s awkward. It’s never clean. And then I don’t know what the what the prime is. But that’s something that they’ve never been able to really work out in his time here.

Luke Jones  45:28

Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s odd, because we, they’ve obviously used the mesh points so much. I mean, they did it so much with Mark Ingram. They don’t they don’t do it quite as much as they used to. I think that would I don’t know that for sure. Just looking at the eyeball test. It feels that way. But yeah, it’s something they have to clean up. And I mean, we’ve kind of talked about it in general, I mean, just the ball security in general. I mean, not all of them have been on him. Like, for example, the strip sack. This past Sunday was absolutely on Ronnie Stanley, you know, you can’t get beat to that degree with someone on the blind side, but Mars gotta protect the football. And that’s the one thing I fully expect the Ravens win. Because like I said, it’s not so much even even the Ravens offense isn’t great against the Browns defense, which you know, it’s gonna be tough to expect them to be great against a defense that statistically is right there with the Ravens defense. But I expect that to be good enough. I don’t think the Browns offense is gonna be able to do a whole lot, you know, against the Ravens defense. But if there’s the factor for me that could potentially flip the game and this goes back to ball security. Or it’s miles Garrett against Ronnie Ronnie Stanley. I mean, the last thing you want is for Garrett to wreck the game. And you know, not just with consistent pressure, which, you know, he had a lot of pressure in that game that the Ravens didn’t throw a whole lot in Cleveland back in week four. I think he had pff credited credited him for five pressures, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you remember that the Ravens only had 22 Drop backs that resulted in a pass attempt or a sack now, Lamar scrambled a couple of times. That’s a pretty high percentage right there. So and that was with Macquarie filling in. But like we’ve said, Ronnie Stanley, you know, it hasn’t been all bad. I think some of the criticism has been maybe a little too harsh in some circles, but he’s certainly not playing it at that proble all pro level and how much of that is the knee from earlier this year, how much of that is the ankle from the last three years, which we know is just part of it. It’s hard to say but they need their best from Ronnie Stanley and probably also going to mean some chipping with tight ends. Patrick Ricard helping out as well. But the the recipe for the Browns to potentially upset the Ravens on Sunday certainly involves miles Garrett getting his hands on a Lamar Jackson passer too and knocking the ball out and suddenly you put a Browns offense that I think is going to really struggle to sustain drives, you put them on a short field and give them a chance where they make one or two plays there in the endzone. I mean, that is how you write the script for the ravens to be upset on Sunday, if if you let miles Garrett wreck the game, but you know, like I said, blocking needs to be there. And they the Ravens need to be on point with their ball security to which they haven’t been. And that’s something that for all the good that we’ve seen with the offense, that’s something that continues to be an issue for them. And they’ve got to clean that up as they get deeper into the season because they’re gonna be going up against good teams. I mean, our got Cincinnati coming in just a few days after Cleveland, you’ll get a little bit of a break, but go look at that December schedule other than the rams and the rams have really kind of fallen off after looking kind of interesting earlier in the year. Other than the Rams. I mean, I expect plenty of ravens wins. But those games are gonna be layups, I mean you can make you can, doesn’t take much to envision a loss in in any of those games on a week to week basis. If especially if you’re not going to be cleaned with the football, which again, the Ravens still need to be better in that department.

8

Dennis Koulatsos  48:57

Great stuff was always Luke, I appreciate you appreciate what you do. Please tell our listeners where they can find you on 15 7am wn st the web, your blog, and all the other wonderful things that you do.

Luke Jones  49:10

Absolutely. I encourage everyone to follow us on Twitter at wn St. You can find me personally at Baltimore, Luke, check out my blog at Baltimore positive.com sponsored by coons for the Baltimore, the latest on the ravens, as I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation for me an interesting test for the Ravens because they’re facing a familiar opponent, a Browns defense Jim Schwartz saw this Todd Monken offense earlier this year. So how does it look the second time around what adjustments have been made on either side in that regard. So I think that’s interesting to see how the Ravens offense is going to fare against really good Browns defense. Want to be on the WNS. C Baltimore positive tech service sponsored by coons for the Baltimore if you are you will get the final injury report on Friday, you will get Game Day and actives 90 minutes prior to kickoff directly to your mobile device. So if you’re tailgating if you’re out at a local establishment, you’ll see Who’s up who’s not does look like a pretty clean injury report. Morgan. Moses was a full go on Wednesday, Marcus Williams, not even on the injury report. So it appears the Ravens very well could. And I emphasize could have their full assortment of 53 players on their current roster available to play which is something that does not happen very often so. But you want to be able to WNS C Baltimore positive text service, any significant news sent directly to your mobile device that is sponsored by coming to Baltimore and of course anything throughout the weekend on am 1570 with Nestor, any ravens players and coaches Sam from Owings Mills, check out all of that at Baltimore positive.com All

Dennis Koulatsos  50:40

right, my friend, always a pleasure. Always fun, always informative and we’ll do this again next week. And hopefully the Ravens come out of this game with no injuries on the way to the Cincinnati game. Yeah,

Luke Jones  50:53

come out of the game with the win you hope not too many injuries but hey, it’s a divisional opponent. Even if it is the Browns you don’t want to take him for granted and that’s a team that like I said really good defense so we’ll see how it plays out. I expect the Ravens win but got to come out and play clean football not turn it over which you know that’s the first thing you can do to open the door for Cleveland point often upset but she’ll be a good one and hey, we’ll have that Cincinnati game to talk about two quick turnaround gonna be a big week here in Baltimore for the Ravens who they get they get on the other side of this at nine and two then people can talk fans not the team because they take it one week at a time fans can start thinking about Super Bowl as much as they want at that point in time if you’re not into so enjoy it gonna be a big week for the Ravens

Dennis Koulatsos  51:37

look I made I made travel arrangements after the game Sunday I I’m all in I bought it. So there you go. Also bought insurance in the event. It doesn’t happen. But I’m being optimistic because you and I have seen Super Bowl teams and this team just has that look that feel that vibe, the energy, the chemistry, as long as they stay healthy. I mean watching that Miami, Kansas City game, Kansas City doesn’t have the receivers Miami does in its totality as our friend Brian Billick would say this team has that look, it really does.

Luke Jones  52:07

Looking good. I’m still gonna give Kansas City they’re just do because they’ve done it for four or five years. But other than that, and I’ll say this much I’ll get back to what I said no one is playing better football than the Baltimore Ravens right now in the National Football League. So long way to go eight games ago. So lots of potential pitfalls, lots of challenges, but boy you have to like where they are right now. There’s no doubt about that. So

Dennis Koulatsos  52:33

says our very own Luke Jones with that we’ll take our next break here in 1570 Am Baltimore positive double yet as the We’ll be back right after this

- Advertisement -