With the Ravens enjoying their bye before returning to work for Week 8, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Some cited Baltimore entering Thursday tied for second in the NFL in sacks and leading in quarterback hits to question the need for Yannick Ngakoue. Do 16 sacks and 41 hits against poor offensive lines these last three weeks trump no sacks and four hits against Kansas City? They shouldn’t.
2. Another reason the Ngakoue trade made sense was the rapidly diminishing depth in the secondary. The Ravens are now one cornerback injury away from depending on someone like Khalil Dorsey or Terrell Bonds playing extensive snaps and the defense not being able to lean as heavily on strong coverage.
3. I had forgotten Ngakoue was selected by Jacksonville one spot before the Ravens took Bronson Kaufusi — and 27 spots after Baltimore grabbed Kamalei Correa — in the 2016 draft. It’s just another reminder how much of a crapshoot the draft remains for even the best of talent evaluators.
4. Signing Dez Bryant to the practice squad would be fine with little risk, but we overuse the “high-reward” part of the label. Almost 32, Bryant was struggling to separate and had just 838 receiving yards on 132 targets in 2017. Danny Woodhead has caught an NFL pass more recently.
5. I’ll restate my opinion that signing Antonio Brown would be an arrogant move for any team in 2020, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work out from a football standpoint. That team signing him would get exactly what it deserves — good or bad.
6. In a perfect world, Eric DeCosta would acquire an above-average right guard by the trade deadline or Marshal Yanda would show up in Owings Mills having regained 65 pounds and wanting a second ring. Otherwise, I’m inclined to stick with rookie Tyre Phillips and hope for improvement.
7. Whether adding a veteran wide receiver or not, the Ravens should continue to give Devin Duvernay more opportunities. Wide receivers coach David Culley said the rookie is feeling more comfortable with the offense, and Miles Boykin just hasn’t taken a step forward despite ample playing time.
8. The wide receiver position garners more attention, but adding a third tight end with some downfield receiving ability could help the Ravens reestablish their 2019 identity that included so many two- and three-tight sets. That might be a better short-term fix.
9. The Ravens are on pace for 32 forced fumbles, making it noteworthy that Ngakoue has forced 16 in his career. Going for the football is hardly a novel concept, of course, but making it a greater point of emphasis makes sense with interceptions declining dramatically over the last decade.
10. While some concerns about the offense are overblown, the Ravens need to be sharper coming out of the bye. Football Outsiders ranked their schedule to this point as the league’s 28th easiest, but four of their next five games come against opponents ranking in the top eight in team efficiency.
11. A little over 4,000 fans won’t make much of a difference, but it’s a step in the right direction. The thought of the Ravens playing Pittsburgh with no spectators in attendance would have been a little too weird in a year full of weirdness.
12. Next Gen Stats revealing that Daniel Jones eclipsed Lamar Jackson’s fastest top speed by a quarterback isn’t important beyond giving me the perfect excuse to share what could be the greatest tweet of all time (below). Enjoy a stress-free weekend of football.