Twelve Ravens thoughts following Week 8 loss to Pittsburgh

0
393

With the Ravens falling to 5-2 after a 28-24 home loss to Pittsburgh, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. I don’t believe losing Ronnie Stanley ruins Baltimore’s Super Bowl hopes, but this isn’t an injury to be downplayed with a “next man up” platitude either. If it is, then why invest a five-year, $98.75 million extension in him? Losing Stanley is truly an awful development for this offense. 

2. That said, the Ravens rushing for a season-high 265 yards against a tough run defense was encouraging despite the game outcome. It’s one of the rare times all season when the offense seemingly imposed its will, especially in the first half.

3. Running remains the identity, but this team won’t be long for January without substantial improvement in the passing game. Going back to Week 3, Lamar Jackson has completed 54.6 percent of his passes and has an 80.2 passer rating. Protection and route concepts must improve along with Jackson himself.

4. I’d be lying if I woke up Sunday expecting Steelers linebackers Robert Spillane and Alex Highsmith to make two of the biggest plays of the game. You never know what to expect in a rivalry in which 19 of the last 25 contests have been decided by one score. 

5. Ben Roethlisberger finding success with empty sets and receiver stacks is sure to be something copied by opponents in the coming weeks. Forcing Wink Martindale to use four cornerbacks put the unproven Terrell Bonds on the field, and that was before Marlon Humphrey tested positive for COVID-19.

6. Jaylon Ferguson played his best game as a pro with a sack, another tackle for a loss, and another quarterback hit in 21 defensive snaps. That was the kind of performance the 2019 third-round pick needed in wake of the Yannick Ngakoue acquisition creating a more crowded outside linebacker room.

7. Ferguson’s emergence was also critical with Matthew Judon being ejected in the second quarter. The contact made with the official wasn’t intentional, but it was a product of losing his head in a situation when a veteran has to know better.

8. No one should bury the injured Mark Ingram by any means, but how can you watch what J.K. Dobbins did Sunday without wanting to give him more touches? Gus Edwards and Ingram remain important cogs, but Dobbins’ athleticism offers something different.

9. Jimmy Smith probably got away with pass interference on the opening drive of the second half, but he’s playing really good football in a secondary that’s needed him more than anticipated. You do worry about a lingering Achilles issue, however. Pro Football Focus has graded him seventh among qualified corners.

10. After only one game in which they committed 100 or more yards in penalties in the previous three seasons combined, the Ravens have now reached that dubious mark in back-to-back games for the first time since 2015. Whine about officiating all you want, but the discipline needs to improve.

11. Marquise Brown’s tweet was a bad look, but John Harbaugh handled it well with a simple text and a public defense that the 2019 first-round pick was likely frustrated after being targeted just twice — two straight plays in the fourth quarter with the second being a touchdown. 

12. Criticize Greg Roman for that or the passing attack, but I didn’t understand accusations of him abandoning the run after 47 rushes. The first nine runs of the second half netted only 17 yards, and he still called nine designed runs — some option pitches included — on the 10-play penultimate drive.