The Bengals and everything that comes afterward

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Luke Jones gets Dennis Koulatsos prepared for Bengals and aftermath of Thanksgiving, Chargers and the bye as the Ravens ward off injuries to Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey and the schedule thickens for the holidays.


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Luke Jones, Dennis Koulatsos

Dennis Koulatsos  00:02

Welcome back leading off as always is my guest Luke Jones, our very own Luke Jones doing great things on bots were positive wn S T. And I was bragging to Luke, just one week ago from today that I was making plans to go to Vegas, I had visions of the Super Bowl. And although they’re still there, they’re just not as prominent as just a few days ago. Luke, what the heck happened to the Ravens this past Sunday? Well,

Luke Jones  00:29

Dennis, unfortunately, I don’t say this to be flippant. It’s what we’ve seen happen to them a number of times the last couple years where and where it’s, you know, this difference between going from good, which they have absolutely been good, they’ve been very good. But the transition from making that jump from very good to great. This is the latest example, where you just you take some pause to your point, everyone was talking about this team as the best in the NFL. At the very least, you certainly looked at it and said no one’s playing better than them. And it looked like they were going to be on their way to that once again on Sunday. But Deshaun Watson, who we have since found out was playing with a broken shoulder, which you know, put aside how you feel about him off the field for just a moment, impressive performance about on his part, impressive performance by Cleveland, really on both sides of the ball the way they played in that second half. But on the flip side, you look at the Ravens. And it’s just another example of not being able to finish off a team, no one being able to make the big play late, you know, maybe adopt AOA, you give him credit for the strip sack, no one could fall on it, but either side of the ball, they just couldn’t make the big play to seal the victory. And you kind of go back to the drawing board in the sense that you don’t think this team is good or very good. Or, you know, you don’t think that this team is one of the more serious contenders in the AFC but it’s just another one of those examples where you just take some pause and you don’t fully trust fully embrace this team as a bonafide, serious Super Bowl contender. I mean, as I pointed out, in my 12 ravens thoughts leading up to this big game with Cincinnati this Thursday night showdown. This This issue has crept up at a time since the Ravens having this reputation this current rendition this Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, Marlon Humphrey, Ronnie Stanley era of ravens football, where they already had a knock of not being a team that had broken through in January and having some shortcomings in the postseason. And now you’ve just added this extra layer of having issues finishing games in the fourth quarter that they should win. I mean, to their credit, they lead in all these games. It’s not as though they’re I joked with Nestor, I was being facetious about it, but maybe, maybe they just need to lose a couple games in regular fashion compared to just these gut wrenching, heartbreaking, excruciating losses. And you wouldn’t view it through the same lens. But at the same time, it’s that it’s it goes back to what I was saying at the beginning, you’re trying to make that jump from really good to great, and they just, they keep stubbing their toes. And not that I think Sunday’s loss will ultimately cost them a playoff spot or anything that extreme. But that’s a perfect example of a game that you might look back and say, you know, what, we could have been playing Kansas City at home. And maybe we’re going to arrowhead instead. And, of course, I’m getting way ahead of our, you know, we’re two months out from talking about that. But these are the kind of losses the last couple years that they make the difference of having a chance to have a first round bye and home field advantage compared to being on the road. And you know, having a much tougher, not much tougher path. Although I will say, you know, they’ve lost some of these games at home. So maybe home field advantage isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. But just a very frustrating situation, because they’re so good to put themselves in these positions. They’re not finishing and it’s really been a team effort in doing that, you know, we’ve seen last year it was really the defense that broke down big time in those fourth quarter a blown leads this year. Now, even though Sunday, I would certainly put a lot of it on the defense and not being able to tackle and allowing Deshaun Watson to extend plays and what have you. But, you know, it’s really, for me, it’s been the offense, it’s kind of turtled up a little bit in some of these fourth quarter blown leads where they play really well and then it just kind of goes away. So now it’s just frustrating because it’s not an indictment on just the fact that they’re seven and three, being seven and three, if someone had told you before the season, if they’re seven and three at this point, I think you’d say okay, I’ll accept that. But it’s just the manner in which it happens because you know, it could be even better than that. And that’s what’s just really frustrating about this football team at this point. And it keeps happening. You know, you can’t keep just brushing it off as as though Well, you know, I’ve seen some people say that these are outliers or this is statistical noise. It’s like, Well, I hope the ravens are taking it more seriously than that because it keeps happening. And that’s what’s so frustrating.

Dennis Koulatsos  05:15

Let me let me I’ve got several questions here and probably going to be out of order. But when you and I talked a week ago, we talked about the browns and the bangles, we talked about the possibility of being nine and two. We didn’t talk about the browns, it was the browns and the bangles and the bagels. I’m sure we’re talking in terms of the Texans and the Ravens. Do you think there’s there’s a chance that both squads, the ravens and the Bengals look past Houston and look past? The Browns, because, all right, you got the Browns coming in, but they’re missing the top three tackles. So we’re thinking the defensive lines are going to phased, right, which they did in some spots to be fair and other spots. They didn’t right. And they allowed. They allowed Deshaun Watson to look like Steve McNair, in a pass breaking. That’s what I said. Right? Yeah, they get too tangled with his legs and whatnot. And so you’re right. So my question is, do you think there’s a chance of not making excuses for him that both squads given the way that they both lost? I mean, Joe burrows, Rose, intercepted the back to back drives. And so it was always the current team and the Thursday night opponent. Yeah,

Luke Jones  06:35

I’ll say this much. Do I think the Ravens went into the game? Feeling that way? No, because to me, I mean, they scored 17 points in the first quarter, they started so fast. However, just a matter PK said it after the game, and I applaud him because it was a very honest answer, because so many times you know, you just, you hear the coach speak, you hear these guys were rehearsed. And he er, coaches them up

Dennis Koulatsos  07:02

copies, right, the same script, right? But he flat

Luke Jones  07:05

out said, he said, Look, I’m gonna I’m gonna be honest, when Kyle Hamilton scores the pick six on the second play from scrimmage, and Keith Mitchell scores the touchdown on the on the opening drive for the offense, and you’re up 14, nothing. He said, None of us were thinking you’re gonna lose that game at that point. Now, he didn’t say we started thinking about Cincinnati at that point. I don’t think they started thinking about Cincinnati, right there. And then, but I think what they what does happen? And what you have to ask at this point for me, this is not it’s why when I hear people chalk it up to just coaching. Look, this is a collective thing that’s happening here. There’s there are too many breakdowns and they’ve been across the board, coaching offense, defense, special teams go back to the Indianapolis game and the gaff they had late and regulation there that gave the the clarity of time. Sure. I mean, they’ve just had breakdowns across the board. So for me, it is a mental question at this point in time. And that’s not to say that the ravens are broken. But it does make me question that, does this team get too overconfident? And then they just think, Oh, we’re gonna cruise and this is fine. And then maybe maybe Cincinnati is in the back of their mind at that point in time. But But looking

Dennis Koulatsos  08:20

at human nature, though, at that point, because I tweeted that your things, I tweet out two things, first of the tweet, that was, folks, there’s 55 minutes left in the game, which is an eternity, nevermind the love of minutes in the fourth quarter, and I said they should have the mindset. It’s 00. But it’s much easier said than done. Look, because you can’t relax. When you have 55 Freaking minutes on the clock. The game still wide open, given the officiating the calls, what happens? Unintended consequences, right. So to me, that’s what it looked, I was happy, we’re up 14 And nothing a lot happier than we were. But if it were down 14, and nothing, my tweet would have been the exact same thing. You got 55 minutes to go. Let’s have a zero to zero mindset. But again, and I don’t know if the coaching staff was sending that message on the sideline. I don’t know if the players are talking about it, but that was the point. The step on their neck, and they didn’t do it.

Luke Jones  09:16

Yeah, and that’s what’s really frustrating. That’s, you know, it’s what we’ve seen now when you jump out to the lead they had against Detroit or Seattle, and okay, you know, you’re leading by 30 then chances are you’re probably okay especially by the time you build that 30 point lead it’s late third quarter the fourth quarter like these, but a

Dennis Koulatsos  09:38

too late in the fourth quarter. 11 minutes to go. It’s not a safe lead. It just isn’t. Oh, of course, of course. I

Luke Jones  09:44

mean, it’s great to feel like you can be excited in that moment. But then it’s like okay, you move on the moments over right I mean, that’s the great line in a Bull Durham crash Dave is talking to nuclear loose when they’re in the dugout and nuke is it you know, for Only one I’m talking about the baseball movie Bull Durham for anyone listening who hasn’t watched it, you know, nuclear Lucia is this hotshot young pitching prospect and crash Davis is the veteran catcher and you know, they get back to the dugout after a strong inning and nukes really happy and he’s kind of smelling himself and crashed, then proceeds to go through the two or three things he didn’t like about how nuke was pitching right there. And nuke says to him. Well, can’t you just let me enjoy the moment and what does crash Davis says? That’s the moments over and you know, the the idea there is to compartmentalize, yes, celebrate the touchdown in the moment. You’re excited. You jumped out to a lead, but to your point, there’s a lot of ballgame left. So you asked me about the Ravens. You know, I think we’ve seen that the Bengals, because you asked me about them. And I did not watch that game live, of course, you know, I perused it, I was able to review it like anyone else, but I think was Cincinnati. And I say this as someone who picked the Bengals to win the division going into the season, I think it was very clear. And I don’t think anyone can be dismissive of the calf injury and the impact that had on Joe burrow early in the season. But you know, as much as we complain about how the Ravens have struggled to finish some football games this year. This is a Cincinnati team that’s been really Jekyll and Hyde. And I don’t mean just Joe burrow in the offense. But across the board, I mean, they look like a team, much like the ravens, maybe not quite as emphatically as the ravens, but they had won four games in a row. And they were looking much more like the Super Bowl, deep playoff run caliber bangles that we’ve seen over the last couple years. But they go out Sunday. And let’s be clear, and let’s give CJ Stroud and the Texans some credit. They’re a good football team. And that’s a team that, if they’re going to be at, you know, if we’re talking to mid January, and they’re playing wildcard weekend, that’s not going to stun me at this point in time. Because I think that’s a team that has a lot of talent, they’re young, and you wonder how they’re going to hold up over a full 17 games, but you know, so, so you give them credit, but at the same time, this is a Bengals team that, you know, especially, there’s been a lot of focus on their offense because of burrow. And obviously, they’ve been missing T Higgins now for, you know, he’ll be out again, for this matchup. But, you know, their defense has been very up and down at times, you know, it’s looked like a Luana remote defense that you’d say okay, that, you know, they’re not dominant, but they’re good. And then other times, they’ve looked awful. I mean, they looked really bad against Houston. I mean, they’ve and they’ve, they’ve given up big plays this year, you know, their run defense has been either good or absolutely terrible. So you look at it statistically, and it looks really bad as a result. So, you know, so for me, I don’t know if it’s so much Cincinnati was looking past him, although it wouldn’t shock me whatsoever. Knowing that we’ve talked about the ravens and the importance of this game. I mean, this game is really important for Cincinnati. Let’s let’s look around the league. Let’s look for context. Right now. If Cincinnati drops his game, they fall to five and five, which is the same record as the reeling Buffalo Bills who just fired their offensive coordinator. And oh, yeah, the Bengals playing a much tougher division. And they have a schedule that, depending on the metric, some have said buffalo as a tougher schedule. Some have said Cincinnati, but point is they both have really difficult schedules. So if Cincinnati loses this game, absolutely. Look, there’s still a lot of season left. And I’m not calling this a must win game for either team. It’s too early for that. I mean, we’re not even to Thanksgiving. But is this a very pivotal game for both teams, but especially Cincinnati? There’s no question about it. So was there some looking ahead on their part? Oh, here that although they jumped out to about a an early seven, nothing leads. So I just think there’s something to be said, One, it’s the NFL, and other teams are good. And to your point, you got to play a full 60 minutes. I mean, this isn’t like college football where some FCS rolls in against Georgia or Alabama or whatever, take your pick of what power conference school you want to talk about. And, you know, the the favorite jumps out to a lead and then it’s over. Right, they just cruise after that, you know, it doesn’t work that way in the NFL. But was there a little bit of looking ahead for either one of those teams? When shocked me? And like I said, for the Ravens it wasn’t to kick off the game, they started so fast. But it does make you wonder, and this goes back to the overall theme that’s just been so maddening. of why is this team that is capable of jumping out to these big leads in some of these losses. If they weren’t that good. They wouldn’t do that every week. But why are they not finishing these games? And again, that for me is what’s holding me back from fully embracing this team and saying, Boy, they’re a really serious Super Bowl contender. They are a great football team. They are ready to take on Kansas City. And when this happened, and look, I was getting really close to that point last week, but then this happens again. And now I’m hedging a little bit I don’t think they’re collapsing. I don’t think this has anything to panic about in the sense of where they’re going the rest of the regular season. But in terms of what we’ve talked about now, for the better part of four or five years, this team making the jump this team, not just getting to the playoffs, but then being ready to take that make that deep run and to win three or four games in a row, which is what is required to win a championship. I look at this, and I see this happening. It’s not every week, it’s not every game, but it happens enough that then when you’re going up against really good teams in the playoffs, which is all you’re facing, that’s where I just look at this and say, you know, why is this happening? Why does this keep happening? What is missing here? And I can’t pinpoint it, Dennis. And it’s clear the Ravens can’t pinpoint it, or they would have remedied it by now.

Dennis Koulatsos  15:52

I will tell you, I will tell you in the ravens and a Ravens fan base, what I think it is, and the NFL redzone Scott Hansen always talks about the witching hour, what losses turn into wins and wins turn it the losses. I don’t think it’s a unique and specific that the Ravens now we throw our lenses, that’s how we view it. But in the entire NFL, I mean, how many games, there’s just this past week and went down to the wire. I do think with the rolls. With the favor the offense, if you need a field goal to win if you get the ball as you have a great chance of winning. Not only that, but if you’re down, if you need a touchdown to win, you still have a great chance of winning. So in a parity laden League, that that it’s very hard to build a dam that you can’t buy a team. And then you factor in the officiating, right. I mean, I go back two years ago, and it was Brady against mahomes. When last the year that Brady was with the Patriots and who was Frank Clark was somebody lined up with his hand in the neutral zone and a fourth down play and the ref to the flag of the Patriots got another chance and he won the ballgame. These things factor in heavily. I’m not making excuses for the Ravens. I think all the points you make are valid, very valid. But I do think that in the NFL, the game was designed to go down to the last minute. And a lot of times to me, I go back to 2012 in a Super Bowl, and I’m sitting at the Superdome and you were there as well. And the who was at the the Niners get gotta get a first and go on the five yard line. And you got Crabtree and Macalester hand fighting and we’re holding our breath. If the referee thrown the flag there, yeah, you could have made that argument. But he ate the flag. So to me, that is element of luck that comes down when you win these games get down to the wire. But what’s the talent level being so equal? How could it not blue? So I don’t think it’s just I’m not happy about it. But I don’t think that this thing is unique to the Ravens. I don’t think it’s you know, the the alleged Mike Tomlin folk, which I haven’t seen anywhere where he’s the Ravens don’t play ball in the fourth quarter. I don’t buy that for a second. Yeah.

Luke Jones  17:54

I don’t think it’s as dire as some make it out to be. But I do wonder about their DNA at this point. I mean, I just have to. And that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re a playoff team. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re capable of making a deep run. But when these things continue to happen, to me, there is a cumulative impact on your psyche. I mean, the mental part of the game. And look, I’m I’m saying this is someone who loves football analytics, I look at nerdy stats like DVOA, and EPA and success rate and all the different things that tell you that this is an excellent football team. And I buy into so much of that. But at the same time, there also are intangibles. And for as much as John Harbaugh’s body of work as a head coach, and is what 16th year and he’s got that pedigree as far as being, you know, being a Super Bowl winning coach. And a lot of that success was a long time ago, and this current group of players does not have that to lean on. So there is something to the pedigree part that I do know. And again, these questions started even before the last couple years where now this has been a thing for them. So I do have some concern about that. Again, do I think that means they’re going to collapse or miss the playoffs or anything like that? No, of course not. These are all questions that I have that aren’t going to be answered until January and then that’s the case of the Ravens when the night went out, you know, hypothetically if you do that, not that I think they’re necessarily going to do that. But it is something I wonder about now one thing I want to add and then we can we can look more towards Cincinnati Sunday’s game specifically. I do think a major factor forgetting about the big picture things we were just talking about. I do have some concerns about fatigue for this football team with the way that they did not tackle on Sunday and they’ve tackled so well. This season a couple things to keep in mind. They still have another bye week. You know they’re by week still a couple weeks away here. So and that’s it’s been a later bye week for this is it later By week than they’ve had in a very, very long time, which I think will pay dividends on the other side of that, but you still have to get there. So I look at what happened in Sunday’s game with the defense really faltering late in that football game and having tackling issues and you know people focus on Marcus Williams look, I mean, they’re Patrick queen, Miss tackles Geno’s stone Miss tackles. I mean, there are missed tackles all over the place in Sunday’s game for their defense. So I was a little concerned to see that. Now. Cleveland is a more physical football team than Cincinnati. So I think that’s good. However, I am a little concerned on the short week. They played what seven eight defensive snaps I think it was in Sunday’s game. I do have a little bit of concern there in terms of I they just, they look tired. And we talk and all this is cumulative, right? We talked about the West Coast trip, talked about London trip. All of those things have a cumulative impact even if it doesn’t show up every single Sunday. So I do have a little concern there. However, as I also noted in my 12 ravens thoughts of Baltimore in noting that for the Ravens side, Cincinnati’s defense also played a lot of snaps against Houston on Sunday. So the fatigue factor is a little bit neutralized. You know, if both teams are playing on a Thursday night, it’s a short week, even though it’s a short trip, Cincinnati throat you throw travel in for them. We’ll see. Right? I mean, ideally, from a competitive standpoint, from an entertainment standpoint, I’d love to see these teams playing on Sunday night or Monday night rather than Thursday night. But the familiarity that they have with each other, I still, I expect it to be a good fun game, you know, still, especially relative to what we’d normally see on Thursday night football. But I do want to throw that out there with the way that the Ravens lost that football game Sunday. I do wonder if this is a team that’s a little tired right now. And you really could use that body beacon. That doesn’t mean hey, I’m picking them to win, you know, I’m picking you know, you can check out my prediction at Baltimore I’m picking a 23 to 20 win, which, by the way, you look at my track record of picking games this this year, Ravens fans might not be happy to hear that I’m picking Baltimore tonight. But you know, I do wonder and I do think in this game, much more so than the Pittsburgh game or the Indianapolis game, I do think fatigue was a factor as well, because we just we haven’t seen this team have those kinds of issues tackling this year now, last year, year before year before that, yeah, I think you could see some at some times where the tackling left something to be desired. But this has been a very sound tackling team and knowing how they like to play against Joe burrow with a lot of those too high safety looks and keeping things in front of them and making him throw underneath, you better tackle Well, or that strategy doesn’t work nearly as well. So they definitely need a bounce back performance there. But just wanted to throw that out there that I do wonder if there’s a football team that’s a little tired right now, that’s not not in some Doom doomsday scenario, but just where they are right now, at this point in the season. They also

Dennis Koulatsos  23:06

had up against the 2020 version of the Shaun Watson. In all fairness, yeah. Can we give him credit he the guy was a superstar before his issues and whatnot. He played like, like his old self for the first time that I’ve seen in a long time. But I gotta tell you one thing if I’m an offensive coordinator right now, I design plays where I’m allowing I’m putting two or three offensive linemen behind me running back until they stop it. The play where I think was a 12 yard run. Forget who they’re running back. Was it the plague might have been haunt or the other guy forward, but to push them for 12 yards down the field? Whether it’s a tush push, Luke, I mean, if I’m the NOC, right, I’m designing. I’m putting Gus Edwards out there and putting God behind them and pushing them forward. They’ve got to stop these. These these scrims, these rugby type scrims because if I’m an OC right now, I’m taking full advantage of that fact, Luke.

Luke Jones  24:03

Yeah, sure. I mean, I any runner

Dennis Koulatsos  24:06

to me, it should be disallowed is not played high school and college ball. I’ve never had anybody in my back pushing me forward. Yeah, I could, again, another four or 510 York perhaps had done that. They need to stop that because to me, I don’t want this game that I love to morph into rugby, which and I hate that push push on the goal. And I really do.

Luke Jones  24:26

I will just have to agree to disagree on that. I mean, I I think what we’re seeing now is to me is other teams are starting to take advantage of this. And look, one thing we have said and and you I know you and I have talked about this. We’ve also lamented how the game has become so much more wide open and the focus on the passing game. So maybe some of this stuff is bringing back some balance. Right? Right running. The running game is becoming a little more important again, and we’ve talked about how I found this year. So you know, I find find so much of this Dennis is cyclical. I mean, we talked about this five years ago. When the Ravens were talking about the revolution, right, the evolution of their offense, and it was, and Greg Roman, but the point that was made by so many who are really, you know, X’s and O’s football junkies was Greg Roman was bringing back elements of offensive football that the NFL, were in vogue 50 6070 years ago. And that’s not to say that it’s ever going to go back to the days of leather helmets and single bar face masks or anything crazy like that. But the point is, there are trends, things are cyclical, we are seeing a time now. And we’ve talked about it in passing, but I’ve seen a couple of deep dives on it, where scoring is down. And I think a big reason why is the defenses have finally caught up to the style of offensive football that we were seeing teams play over the last decade. And it’s not just scheme, but also the rule changes being implemented that made put the offense added advantage. So you’re seeing defenses finally adapt. Mike McDonald, being one of those defensive coordinators, doing those types of things. So there are trends, there are ebbs and flows, not just within a season, but year to year, you know, a five year period, a five year period, decade to decade. I mean, that’s why, prior to Sunday’s loss, I had been so impressed with statistically what the Ravens defense had done to this point, because, you know, they were doing things that stacked up pretty favorably to some of the very best defenses that the Ravens had 20 or 20 plus years ago, which was nice, we’ll be talking about a different sport, when you consider a the rule changes and whatnot. So So I hear the point you’re you’re making and I think in some of these cases, sometimes you do kind of question. Okay, what do we need more of a? I know people complained a lot about forward progress and blowing whistles at times, with a being too quick. But now it feels like we’re getting to a point where, you know, maybe they need to blow the whistle on a couple of these players has been involved. We’re seeing

Dennis Koulatsos  27:01

we’re seeing offensive linemen pickup quarterbacks and carry them forward. I mean, that again, you can’t do that. And but until they call it, but you can’t because they’re not calling it right, I’m saying is because you can’t Todd Monken should pay attention. Sure, implement those elements into his own offense, take advantage of it while you can just feel the pain 30 That’s what bothers me is what other teams do it to you and you don’t adapt quick enough and take advantage of the same thing. Yeah,

Luke Jones  27:26

fair enough. Fair enough. You know, I, I think part of the issue, and this is, you know, and I don’t want to dwell on this point too much. But I think part of the issue with you know, with Philly, you know, the brotherly shove, or the tush push, whatever, you know, whatever they, they’re calling it these days, I think part of the problem has been, how exactly do you police that, you know, what’s a blatant push and what’s, you know, where you can kind of go through your ball carrier looking to block somebody, but you’re pushing him forward in the progress. You know what I mean? Like, I think it’s really, I think it’s easier said than done to completely outlaw something like that. But you know, for me, what I just want to see is teams adapt. Defenses adapt, Philadelphia just a couple weeks ago, I mean, they ran a play off that formation, a different play off that formation. So you know, I, in the same way that I remember 15 years ago, when the Tony sparano and the dolphins broke out the Wildcat with Ronnie Brown, right. I mean, that was considered such a big thing at the time. Did that drastically changed football? No. I mean, it was an interesting wrinkle for a little while.

Dennis Koulatsos  28:37

And Ray Lewis said this when he played them and shut him down, he said, it’s still it’s still black. And that exactly the same

Luke Jones  28:43

game. Exactly. So So and I believe me, I hear, you know, some of your concerns there. And I also hear your point, as far as in the meantime, take advantage of it, if there is going to be restrictions on that kind of a play. No. And, and really, let’s, let’s be clear, the couple of times this happened to the Ravens. I mean, it’s not as though those plays started, like Philadelphia at the goal line, how they do it. I mean, it really just kind of evolved into that as the play progressed. And, you know, linemen are, hey, do what you do what you can do to advance the ball carrier and, and on the flip side, if you’re the defense, lucky, you can’t give up. You can’t. You can’t play defense waiting for the whistle to blow. And I think that’s what happens in those cases where guys are accustomed to just holding on and waiting for a whistle where you say, No, you need to just like they’re pumping their legs, you need to pump your legs to it and bring the guy down. So, you know, I It’s definitely it’s been interesting to see this kind of become a talking point for lack of a better term. But definitely I’m in agreement with you, I mean, exploited take advantage of it. There’s no doubt about it. I mean, might as well until the time comes where or if they decide to restrict that but again, And that was another example to me of a Ravens defense that just look tired on Sunday. And again, let’s hope that uh, you know, at the very least bowl teams be are tired Thursday night, so maybe it won’t be quite as magnified. But I do wonder if this is a Ravens team that, you know, at the point where they kind of they need a little bit of rest here and again, that’s any team, every team has a buy, every team is going to go through periods of time where they look tired. This isn’t some indictment or even an excuse to forgive how they played Sunday that was unacceptable. But if you’re trying to, you know, kind of dig down to kind of figure out why it happened. I do wonder if that was part of the equation at work. All right. So

Dennis Koulatsos  30:39

now as we transition our conversation to the Bengals game, and it seems like we’re talking about actually both of these guys almost every week, they’re Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey and man Oh, man, if the Ravens don’t use their first pick in the 2024 draft for left tackle, I will eat my my ravens, my favorite ravens hat and it’s not a lie. It is what it is. I just think that his best foot behind them he’s he’s injured, his legs aren’t what they used to be. He’s a liability. Now I left tackle he can’t anchor. And this does not bode well for the offensive line. A healthy Ronnie Stanley is a big benefit to the offensive line. But it seemed like these injuries have really caught up caught up to him.

Luke Jones  31:18

Yeah, I mean, I don’t think I personally I wouldn’t go as far as to say he’s a liability when he’s been playing. However, he’s certainly not playing like a $20 million tackle. I think that is very evident at this point in time. I agree with you in terms of him having the issues with anchoring compared to how it used to look, and him having more trouble. I’ll point out and we talked about this last week, he has gone up against a couple really good pass rushers last couple weeks, and there are gonna be times where you’re not. You know, I think we even joked and talked about Jonathan Ogden looked mortal against Dwight Freeney, you know, who was another player who was a special talent on the other side of the football. But for me, it just continues to come back to the lack of availability. I mean, this is and look, not even saying this isn’t a question about a guy being soft, or not wanting to play or anything like that. He’s just not on the field enough. He’s not available enough at this point in time. And he’s going to be 30 years old next year. I mean, this isn’t going to get better now as he approaches age 30 and is on the wrong side of 30. So I’m in agreement with you. And look, you would know more certainly more than I would at this point in time. What next year is left tackle draft class looks like we don’t know where the ravens are going to be picking. We don’t know how guys are going to test out so

Dennis Koulatsos  32:38

but there’s talent just the good news is there’s talent there available late in the first Rounders multiple players like yeah, like that would that would be good fit for the Ravens? Yeah,

Luke Jones  32:48

I mean, I think it would be very difficult to sell me on the idea that the ravens, even if it’s not first round, second round, definitely, you know, like somewhere early,

Dennis Koulatsos  32:59

it’s a very good year, it’s gonna it’s a very good year for defensive backs, for cornerback specifically and also left tackles, which to me, it’s one A and one B, we can make arguments about other positions. But again, as we are going to talk about moral Humphrey, they definitely some secondary help, and they need to address those two positions with the first two picks in the draft in my opinion.

Luke Jones  33:18

Yeah. I’m not quite as concerned with corner although certainly Humphrey going down again with it, which thank goodness, it wasn’t an Achilles, as some of the early fears were, I mean, it’s a calf issue. Yeah, I mean, he was officially doubtful for for this game. I mean, he’s, I can’t tell you the last time the Ravens had a player was doubtful play. You know, maybe he’s back for the Chargers game, which would be nice, Stanley. I’m kind of the thought we probably don’t see him until after the by just based on how history is gone. And this is the same knee that he hurt back in week one. And he missed three games at that point in time. So So you know, I have substantial concerns about the viability of Ronnie continuing to view Ronnie Stanley as Plan A without having a very serious plan be in place for next year with that. Also coupling as a succession plan for Ronnie Stanley, what not saying you definitely move on from next year. But I think at this point in time, you’ve got to be taking a long look there. Corner, I feel in a general sense. Yeah, I mean that you know, it’s been it’s been a number of years now since they’ve been the last time they drafted a corner in the first round was 2017 Marlon Humphrey, that’ll be seven years coming this spring. So probably a good idea to be in that market, you know, first second, third round, but Brandon Stevens is looking like a heck of a pic at this point in time, which we would not have been saying this even three months ago, Dennis so you never really know. So, you know, in the case of Humphrey, he had the foot surgery in August. He missed the first four games I want to see how he comes if he comes back against the Chargers or he’s back after the bye week and plays at a high level the rest of the year, that alleviates some of my concern there other than just saying, hey, we want to add another young corner to the mix because, you know, look what they did this year, offseason wise, raucous scene veteran signing Ronald Darby late training camp signing I mean, then, look, those guys are solid depth, but they’re not long term answers for you. Now it looks like Brandon Stevens could be a long term answer already shaping up that way. Let’s see how he finishes the year. But boy, yeah, I mean, he’s one of the great stories on this football team this year. But you know, for me, I will say this, I think Marlon Humphrey was trending playing really good football, the last two, three weeks was looking more and more like himself didn’t have like a big splash play. But I think he was playing at a high level, where I haven’t seen that consistently from Ronnie Stanley, who, you know, has looked pretty good at times, but has not looked. Certainly the body of work has not resemble the guy we saw pre ankle injury. And I think what was concerning for me is I’m not sure he was even playing quite as well as he did last year when he came back. So I think I think they got they absolutely have to take a long look at their offensive tackle picture keeping in mind, Morgan, Moses, you know, on the opposite side, you know, I mean, you have him so love mCherry from a depth standpoint, Daniel file a lay? Or was he looking like he’s going to become a starter in the NFL? Two years in? I don’t know, you know, I he, to me looks more like just a depth piece rather than a guy that you’re going to pencil when to start for you. So they’ve got to look at that position. There’s no doubt and corner, not so much having big concerns about Marlon Humphrey. But I think just in general, yeah. I mean, that’s one of the premium positions, Dennis, I mean, that’s, that’s the position you should be, depending on your draft capital, depending on where you’re picking, depending on what the talent level of that draft class is at that position in a given year. That’s a position you should be taking swings almost every single year, at some point in the draft. And, you know, it’s been a while since they’ve taken one, early early. So I think that would be it’d be fair to, to at least consider that, especially, especially if Marlin Humphrey comes back and and maybe isn’t playing at a high enough level, as we’re used to seeing, understanding that, okay, it’s not an Achilles but a calf injury for a defensive back that that can also be tricky. And that’s why I think they need to be careful here. Especially with the by coming up, not to push him too hard to come back, risking a setback. And then then you’re starting to worry about him being available for late in the season when things really start to matter. Even more.

Dennis Koulatsos  37:44

Yeah, no question about the look. So they have to shuffle the offensive line out against the bangles? For sure. I’m guessing we’ll see. Patrick mCherry a left tackle. Morgan Moses, is he gonna be available for at right tackle? Because you know, he’s been practicing, but we haven’t seen him on the field. He

Luke Jones  38:02

Yeah, he doesn’t have a game status designation. He said on Tuesday, he was prepared to play. I think, for me, it’s not that I don’t expect him out there. But he’s had this shoulder issue, you know, shoulder chests, you know, like, what? It’s kind of we don’t know specifically what it is. But remember, he hurt that initially in that Cleveland game back in week four, missed week five, came back played a couple of weeks and then late and what the Detroit was at the Detroit game, I’m trying to have all these games run together. We get this late in the season. But the Detroit game he left a little bit early. Or no, I guess it was Arizona. The point is, he’s missed a couple games, you know, missed a little bit of action since then. And, you know, for me, where it was a little bit of a red flag Dennis was he was listed as a full participant in practices last week and still sat out. That to me, in my experience is covering this team and trying to interpret injury reports and try to figure out what’s real and what’s noise and what’s a non issue. That leads me to wonder if he’s dealing with the kind of injury that isn’t going to get better. And he’s just going to be playing through that the rest of the year. And that’s not to say he can’t play at a high enough level, but I will be interested to see how he looks. And certainly the good news, you know, is he he’s not gonna be going up against Sam Hubbert, who’s out with an ankle injury. But Trey Hendrickson is going to play so after a lot of talk about him not playing this week. Macquarie did a very good job against him. Keep in mind Macquarie played left tackle back in week two, because Stanley was out at that point. So he played very well in that matchup, but for me that’s going to be a pivotal matchup because you know, we I mentioned how up and down the Bengals defense has been there, they’re banged up on the edges. To me, that sounds like an opportunity to see if you can get keep Mitchell free on the perimeter a little bit more especially after he played so sparingly in the second half last week, but But in order for that to happen, they need a good performance from Macquarie and Morgan Moses. So yeah, they’re gonna have Macquarie at left tackle. They have Morgan Moses at right tackle and we’ll see how that looks. You know, it’s certainly it did that they did the job in week two against Cincinnati. But that was a long time ago. And this is a Cincinnati team that’s coming in more urgency than the ravens are even feeling for them to get a win. I think you have to look at it that way. If you’re trying to look at it objectively, just as an observer, yeah,

Dennis Koulatsos  40:29

that’s that’s that’s been my number one concern as well. A lot of times where teams are evenly match, you know, we look naturally at who needs the game more bangle did the game more further than the Ravens do but that’s why the Ravens have to bring your A game they have to. They have to, they have to go all out and, and execute and I’ll find somebody how do you see the Ravens attacking the bangles? Well, I

Luke Jones  40:53

think you know, it’s so interesting because back in week two, they were so banged up. Remember they were banged up on the offensive line. They didn’t have Stanley, they didn’t have Linda Baum, Odell Beckham set out that key. You know, they tried to think Bateman may have missed that game, too. I can’t remember off the top of my head. But the point is, they were far less than 100%. You know, I you know, they had already lost JK Dobbins, you know, the week before, for the season. So yeah, they played so much quick game, right. I mean, they, they dropped back, and they threw the ball a lot. And the the ball came out of Lamar Jackson’s hands quickly. And they worked that worked very well for them. I don’t know if we’ll see that again. I think because you’ve seen Cincinnati have some of their issues with stopping the run, you know, to me that lends itself to really trying to run the football and use play action to try to take a couple deep shots, which I know Lamar has missed on in recent weeks. And he has not been throwing a very good deep ball here recently, I think he expressed some of the frustration on some of these deep balls, there hasn’t necessarily been a ton of separation. They flower separated on that one last week. I mean, that should have been six, and Lamar over through a wide opens a flowers. This is a Cincinnati defense that has given up some big plays in the passing game. So I think you’re gonna see a more balanced approach for them. You know, I think back in week two, it was very much a case of come out and play some quick game. And I think there were some questions at that point in time. Certainly with no Dobbins banged up on the O line, no, Gus Edwards at that point and over that there have been some questions and training camp about, you know, where he was physically. I mean, Justice Hill, I mean, so you know, not that they didn’t run the ball well in that game, but I don’t think that was necessarily viewed as the plan for them to do that. So I think you’ll see a little, I think you’ll see them try to run the ball to Thursday night game, you know, generally speaking, speaking, you try to streamline your game plan. That sounds like a good way to streamline your game plan, maybe mix in a few more design runs to Lamar Jackson, you know, we I think when they’ve done that here recently, it’s worked out nicely for them. And doing that. So yeah, but they play action. These, the secondary and the safeties are suspect, you know, we talked about that back in week two, you know, the transition they’ve made losing Jessie Bates. And, you know, I mean, having two new starting safeties back there. So it’s a Bengals defense that, I hesitate to say, it’s bad, collectively, you know, like that. It’s just bad across the board. But statistically, it’s been bad just because of how inconsistent it’s been. I mean, they’ve looked good. And they look like they’re getting on a roll. And then you saw what Houston did against them on Sunday. So if your son can do that, why can’t the Ravens do that, especially playing at home, and Cincinnati, being the road team on a short week, but I think it’s going to involve more running game. And I think you’re going to see play action. And I think they’re going to take, take some shots, whereas that week two was much more, Lamar. Take the ball, throw it, get rid of it quickly. Don’t let Cincinnati pass rush to get to you and with Cincinnati, not having Hubbert and with Trey Hendrickson, who’s playing I mean, he doesn’t even have a game status designation. But I do wonder how close to 100% he is, I think, try to try to force the issue a little bit and try to run right at him, see if that knee is going to hold up. So you know, I definitely want to see them. Keep Mitchell more involved in the process of talking about that run, run game. And look, while I mentioned that just in passing, yes, he needs to play more. There’s no doubt about that. But he also has to show that he can do the other things, pest protection, blitz pickup, things of that nature. Hey, Lamar Jackson. Thoreau wasn’t a perfect pest, but it was a pest that hit him right in the belly in the endzone. I mean, you know,

Dennis Koulatsos  44:41

right. Right, between the three and the four. So right there.

Luke Jones  44:45

So some of that is also he’s an undrafted, rookie. He missed the beginning of the season, in truth and John’s not going to come right out and say this because he doesn’t want to throw the kid under the bus. And also he’s not gonna throw Todd Monken under the bus but I do wonder if that’s So part of that equation was, they don’t think he’s ready for a full workload from, you know, a mental, maybe not even the physical part, although he’s had the hamstring. Also, let’s throw that out there. But maybe physically and mentally, maybe they say, You know what, this is still, we’re gonna keep working him in. But we’re going to spoon feed him a little bit here and there week by week, and we’re going to increase that. But that said, even if you’re going to accept that and say, All right, I’ll accept that even though for offensive snaps in the second half. Come on, that sets to light. Certainly, if you see a similar pattern develop on Thursday night, I think it fans and up anyone that’s watching this game, far less understanding. Because I mean, this kid is not like, he is a sparkplug. He’s electric, and until someone stops him, like really stops him and he’s not breaking off 30 Plus yard plays, you got to keep finding ways to get him the rock as much as you can, you

Dennis Koulatsos  46:02

have to put the ball in his hands, I don’t care if he’s a liability with path protection, I don’t care if the other team knows don’t get in the game, he’s gonna run the ball, he can go left right up the middle, he can got four paths, you still have to defend them. So to me, even if he’s going to get the rock, obviously, when he’s in there, I don’t care. And I’m glad you addressed it. Give him more touches his electric.

Luke Jones  46:23

I’ll even I’ll go a step further. And I agree with that point. Even if he’s not touching the ball on a given play. Sure, having him out there at this point, even as a decoy that does that potentially open things up and spread a defense and stress to defense even more. And that could be the time where Oh, Lamar Jackson takes off with it, then which, by the way, that still works really, really well to you, even if you’ve got Keith Mitchell, where you’ve got ze flowers. So, you know, so I definitely and I and John hit his quote this week, and you can check out my follow me at Baltimore, Luke on Twitter, you can see I even tweeted out the entire quote, that was as close as you’re going to get to an admission that yeah, we’re going to we need to see more of him. wasn’t gonna throw the kid under the bus. And he wasn’t gonna throw Todd Monken under the bus either. So, but that said, if we don’t see more of him in this game, I think, you know, the tone of that question. The tone of some of that criticism is going to turn much more harsh. If there’s a repeat of what we saw last Sunday,

Dennis Koulatsos  47:25

he gives me Chris Johnson vibes Vernors prime time when he played for the Titans. I mean, he’s that explosive that electric you blink and he’s gone and to your point you have to account for him when he’s on the field. Now on the other side of the ball, and they’re gonna have a lot of a lot of homework on the on the Bengals. But I’m guessing T Higgins is still out. Correct?

Luke Jones  47:43

He is. He is no, no t Higgins.

Dennis Koulatsos  47:45

He’s a Ravens killer. He really is. Yeah, I love him. I wish we drafted them. He was one of my draft crushes coming out of Clemson many years ago. But I’d rather I’d rather them go up against that Bengals offense without him in the lineup.

Luke Jones  47:59

Yeah, no question about it. I mean, obviously more of an emphasis on Jamar Chase. And I will say this, I think Chase is more of a factor in this game than he was in week two, because Joe burrow is moving around much better. That calf is not an issue. Whereas, you know, I mentioned the Ravens quick game back in week two, I mean, Joe burrow, had to get rid of the ball so quick in that game, because he couldn’t move. And it’s not even that the Ravens put, you know, it’s not like they blitzed him a ton in that game. But it was just you knew he was a statue back there. So I think in the same way, we talked about Lamar Jackson, and extending plays, Joe burrow doesn’t extend plays to take off and run. But he does extend plays to give his receivers more time for scrambled drills and things of that nature. And that’s where you do have a little more concern with Jamar Chase who, you know, had the back issue last week but clearly didn’t impact him too much. And he’s not even on the injury report this week. So I don’t think that’s a factor anymore, but you said it with no t Higgins. Now that makes the Bengals easier, not easy, but easier to defend in the passing game because you have Chase. I don’t want to be disrespectful to Tyler Boyd. I mean, my goodness and Baltimore of all places know that Tyler Boyd can still make plays, but he had a bad drop in that game against Houston. And beyond those two, who are you really looking to that really concerned you from a past catching standpoint? I mean, I think one of the big mistakes for Cincinnati, this offseason wasn’t even so much that to let Hayden Hurst go. I mean, Hayden Hurst is a solid tight end, but he’s nothing special. But Herb Smith has not been a good plan to pivot to. They’ve really missed playmaking elements from from their tight end position that I think in the past when you know whether it was hearse last year, whether it was CJ rosamma. Prior to that, who had some big games against the Ravens in the past. I think that’s an element that they’ve been missing. So, you know, to me, it’s very, very clear cut you need, you cannot let Chase get behind you. You know, it’s easier said than done because he’s great. And you know, every team says that every single week, you know, you’ve got to not let Tyler Boyd hurt you too much from the slot and you know, you would expect Kyle Hamilton is going to be there a lot. So that should help in that regard. And the thing that, you know, we talked about it in passing, and I mentioned the fatigue, but if there’s one area that was once again, we’re reminded of on Sunday, one area, this ravens defense that’s a little bit softer, they’re softer against the run, so you can’t let Joe Mixon break tackles and, and get yards from you. I mean, this isn’t a great Cincinnati running game by any stretch of the imagination. You know, I don’t think Joe Mixon is having an awful year. But the tough guy guys. He’s tough. But he is but he’s not a guy that you’re too worried of running away from you. But you have to tackle and again, this goes back to what I said that was concerning for me was they’re tackling issues against Cleveland. Cincinnati is not nearly as physical, they’re not going to try to play you the that same way. But the way the Ravens want to play is keep everything underneath keep everything in front of you. And that’s great. Assuming you tackle if you don’t tackle then, you know, I mean, such an element. It’s such an elementary part of the defense but you know, they’ve got to do that. And when they’ve had their issues and games this year, you know where they’ve had some of these problems where teams have climbed back in? Yeah, you’ve looked at it. They’ve had some leaks. From a run defense standpoint. I mean, Indianapolis you remember that Zach Moss had a big day against them he did this past week. Arizona, you know what with them that creeping it back into that football game in the fourth quarter mean they were able to run the football well so that’s something that you do have to watch out here for but that said yeah, this is an a Cincinnati offense that is exactly known for running the rock at a high level so that that’s something again, just play sound defense got tackle. It’s that simple. They do that then I think we’ll see them do what they’ve done against the Bengals and Joe burrow here over the last you know, going back to last year, which is not shut them down. But keep them in check. And if you can keep them in check if you can keep them to, I don’t know 20 points, you know, somewhere in that in that neighborhood. I think you give yourself a really good chance to win this football game tonight.

Dennis Koulatsos  52:30

Great stuff as always look, I appreciate your appreciate your thoughts analysis and insight please tell our listeners where they can find you on 1570 Am wn st the web, all the great stuff you do as well as your blog.

Luke Jones  52:44

Absolutely. I encourage everyone to follow us on Twitter at wn st can follow me personally at Baltimore Luke, check out my blog at Baltimore sponsored by coons for the Baltimore right now the latest 12 ravens thoughts complete with a prediction for this Thursday night’s showdown with Cincinnati. The fire no injury report. And certainly if you missed any, you know, because it’s such a quick turnaround you can even check out you know my thoughts on the Cleveland loss. But certainly we’ll have plenty of postgame coverage throughout the weekend at Baltimore You want to be on the wn st Baltimore positive text service sponsored by coons for the Baltimore if you are you got the final injury report telling you that Ronnie Stanley out Thursday night Marlin Humphrey, doubtful and also keep in mind, Devin DuVernay questionable with a hamstring that appeared to creep up during Tuesday’s practice. So we’ll see they’re not a big, not a big ramification there in terms of the offense but special teams that certainly could play a factor. Kyle van Noy, also dealing with a groin issue, although it sounds like he’s going to play but Game Day inactives sent directly to your mobile device 90 minutes prior to kickoff. So if you’re in the parking lots tailgating or going to a local establishment, wherever it might be inactive sent directly to your mobile device. And of course in game updates any other significant local sports news sent directly to your mobile device via the WNYC Baltimore positive tech service sponsored by coons for to Baltimore, and of course, anything throughout the week on am 1570 with Nestor, any ravens players and coaches pregame coverage and of course, postgame Fallout as the Ravens hope to improve eight and three hope to remain in first place as they then go into the weekend for their mini buy. But you can check out all that postgame reaction at Baltimore.

Dennis Koulatsos  54:25

All right. Look, have fun at the game tonight. And this is for Sunday listeners. Of course. By the time you listen to this, the game will have been over with but a lot of fun and that the stadium blackout right Ravens fan when black clothes should be a very festive atmosphere.

Luke Jones  54:40

I’ll leave you with this last point because I didn’t talk about it through all my rambling about the Cleveland loss. I said it to Nestor. I said it right after that game ended. They win this Thursday night game. They’re fine. They’re fine. Now, the big picture questions, play offs, all those different things. I mean, no one can answer that right now. They win this game. Thursday night, they’re fine. They lose. And they’ve lost what two division home games in five days. And they’re no longer in first place because the winner of Cleveland, Pittsburgh is going to be in sole possession of first, then it’s not panic time, but it is take a long look in the mirror time and reevaluate time for this football team that looked so amazing. Just a week and a half ago. So hopefully we’re talking about a win next week and getting ready to for a trip out. I almost said San Diego even a few years later out to LA to play the chargers on Thursday night football be well Dennis Hey, to

Dennis Koulatsos  55:35

your point, Luke. The talk about Mike McDonald being the head coach subsided last week and after this tonight’s game it may take another step forward so big big game for both squads for sure. Week to week league Dennis weekend weeklies day. Well my friend there he goes Luke Jones here in 1570 Am wn st we’ll take a quick break and come back right after this.

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