Twelve Ravens Thoughts following Week 15 win at Jacksonville

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With the Ravens winning for the eighth time in nine games to remain atop the AFC with a 23-7 victory at Jacksonville on Sunday night, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The passing game wasn’t firing on all cylinders, but the calm with which Lamar Jackson operated really stood out as he escaped pressure and waited for receivers to get open downfield. More consistent poise and patience in those situations has made a major difference in Jackson’s game this year. 

2. Given Jacksonville’s injuries in the secondary and recent defensive struggles, the passing game looking choppy was mildly disappointing. Much of the concern stems from the offensive tackle situation and whether five-man protections are going to hold up against playoff-caliber defenses. The lack of wide receiver involvement was also surprising.  

3. After questions about his availability, Kyle Hamilton not only played, but he took every defensive snap, registering a team-high seven tackles, one tackle for a loss, and a pass breakup. Though listed as a safety, the versatile Hamilton is already becoming one of the NFL’s best “positionless” defenders. 

4. After an encouraging performance against the Rams, Ronnie Stanley really struggled with Pro Football Focus crediting him with surrendering seven pressures before he exited late in the game to be evaluated for a concussion. It’s a shame to see such a talented lineman impacted by injuries. 

5. We’ll see where Stanley is, but Morgan Moses went from playing all but eight snaps in Week 14 to nearly an even split with Daniel Faalele at right tackle. John Harbaugh said it was a result of Faalele playing well, but you really have to wonder about Moses’ health too. 

6. Credit Mike Macdonald with the call and Roquan Smith for communicating it quickly, but Marcus Williams made one of the game’s key plays with his tackle on the final play of the first half. That said, what an awful decision by Trevor Lawrence to throw that ball to the flat.

7. Questions about the ground game in the wake of the Keaton Mitchell injury are fair, but Baltimore rushing for 204 yards after intermission was quite the halftime pivot from Todd Monken. Still, Gus Edwards has averaged just 3.5 yards per carry since Week 9. It can’t just be Jackson now.

8. After a rough performance in his return against the Rams, Marlon Humphrey rebounded nicely by allowing only three catches for 23 yards on eight targets, per PFF. As Harbaugh suggested last week, concerns about Humphrey were overblown, but the Ravens certainly need him healthy the rest of the way. 

9. Justin Madubuike’s 12 sacks are the most by a Raven since Terrell Suggs collected 12 and Elvis Dumervil finished with a team-record 17 in the 2014 season. He may won’t catch Dumervil, but Madubuike is probably having the biggest contract year in team history by anyone not named Joe Flacco. 

10. Justice Hill is a strong bet to see more opportunities with Mitchell out for the season, and one reason why is his improvement in pass protection. Nobody is replacing Mitchell’s home-run speed, but Hill has more juice than Edwards or Melvin Gordon if he can protect the football.

11. Watching Rashod Bateman make three first-half catches, it struck me how often it feels like his breakout is coming early in a game before he all but disappears again. Bateman has 22 receptions for 250 yards in the first half and five catches for 49 yards after intermission this season. 

12. While many are interested seeing how the MVP race unfolds, Harbaugh saying he and Jackson “couldn’t care less” was the appropriate message. As has been the hard reality since the loss to Tennessee in the 2019 postseason, this team is going to be judged solely on what happens next month. 

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