Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Twelve Ravens thoughts ahead of Week 3 trip to New England

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

With the Ravens aiming to get back on track after one of the more stunning losses in franchise history and move back above .500 at New England on Sunday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. An uneven start shouldn’t be all that surprising with the truth about Baltimore’s early issues lying somewhere in the middle. There’s work to do beyond simply chalking up the secondary and run game woes to injury absences, but Lamar Jackson playing at an MVP level definitely helps in the meantime. 

2. I’m unsure how much Jason Pierre-Paul will move the needle after an underwhelming 2021 and not being with a team all offseason, but the Ravens are desperate for established edge depth to lighten Justin Houston’s workload and bridge the gap to the return of Tyus Bowser. We’ll see.

3. Four days after not finishing the Miami game because of a groin issue, Marlon Humphrey was back at practice. We saw what the secondary looked like without him — yikes — but you hope he and the Ravens aren’t pushing too hard instead of taking proper time to get him right physically. 

4. That’s not to suggest a trip to Foxborough isn’t challenging, but New England has scored on just four of 19 drives, a percentage better than only Seattle and Indianapolis through two weeks. The Ravens aren’t exactly facing the Dolphins’ passing attack this week, especially with wide receiver Jakobi Meyers ailing. 

5. You can only hear coaches and players describe the ground game struggles as “cleaning up little things” so many times before getting 2013 vibes. It’s not as though opponents just discovered the ability to stack the box. This isn’t as simple as waiting on J.K. Dobbins and Ronnie Stanley.  

6. At the same time, the Ravens rank first in passing efficiency with Jackson leading the league in average depth of target and sporting the second-lowest percentage of throws at or behind the line of scrimmage, according to Sharp Football. You want both, but passing success is more valuable.

7. Mark Andrews’ contract ranks fifth among NFL tight ends in average annual value ($14 million) while Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith are tied for eighth ($12.5 million). The Patriots tight ends have combined for five catches in two games, equaling what Andrews produced in the second half last week.

8. Even first-round picks are going to make mistakes, but it’s perfectly reasonable to want to see more high-end flashes from Kyle Hamilton when he’s been on the field for over 50% of the defensive snaps. He’s admitted he’s thinking too much out there and not playing fast.

9. Odafe Oweh flashed plenty early in his rookie season, but the Ravens are still waiting for him to take the next step. Though he’s seeing quite a few double teams, the start to his second year has been underwhelming, especially considering the great need Baltimore has on the edge. 

10. Much like Miami, New England’s defense will use no shortage of deception at the line of scrimmage to try to confuse Jackson and the offensive line. With Bill Belichick’s reputation for containing what an offense does best, Devin Duvernay and Isaiah Likely will need to make some plays as receivers. 

11. It remains to be seen whether Nick Boyle will be active, but he’ll be returning to the scene of his gruesome knee injury that’s all but derailed his career. The running game could sure use that pre-injury version of Boyle, so we’ll see if he gets an opportunity. 

12. Every New England stat covering the last two decades carries an asterisk with Mac Jones not exactly resembling Tom Brady, but the Patriots have won 17 of their last 20 home openers while the Ravens still haven’t won a regular-season game in Foxborough. John Harbaugh’s team needs to be ready.

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