Ravens News 11/15: Midseason Notes and More

Five things we learned from the first half of the Ravens’ 2022 season — Childs Walker

Maybe Lamar Jackson really doesn’t need wide receivers.

We say this with open mouths. The Ravens still feel compelled to push two quick guys to the edge of their offense to keep opponents honest, and Jackson still likes to throw the ball down and ranks fourth among current starting quarterbacks in air yards per try.

Think of the last two turning points when general manager Eric DeCosta could have invested in wide receivers. In April, he traded his top incumbent Marquise Brown to avoid dealing with Brown’s personal dissatisfaction with the offense and his upcoming contract demands. Instead of drafting Brown’s backup, DeCosta used his top four picks for a third safety, a starting center, an injured edge rusher, and a defensive tackle. More recently, at the close of trading, DeCosta could have used a pair of picks to chase down a wide receiver like the Houston Texans’ Brandin Cooks or the Denver Broncos’ Jerry Jeudy. He decided the Ravens would be better off with their existing offense and a defense bolstered by one of the game’s best linebackers, Roquan Smith. It didn’t matter that Bateman was close to deciding to have surgery on his foot at the end of the season.

What does that tell us? DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh see no value in devoting their most valuable resources, financial or draft, to pass catchers who might not thrive in Baltimore anyway. They rely on more “heavy” offensive sets than any other team in the league, with only the Atlanta Falcons sharing the same zip code. They believe this formula will take them far given Jackson’s unique influence as a lynchpin in the running game, the quality of her offensive line, and her embarrassment with defensive riches. It’s a bet they ultimately lost after winning many games in 2019 and 2020, but they tripled.

Raven’s Midseason Grades: Good grades on RB and TE, both lines playing well – Jeff Zrebiec

Offensive Linemen

Standing out: There is so much to highlight here. Rookie center Tyler Linderbaum was as advertised. That’s how veteran Morgan Moses got down to business. Right-back Kevin Zeitler was one of the best free-agent signings in team history, and left-back Ben Powers is a much-improved player. But the return of left tackle Ronnie Stanley to the lineup and his ability to quickly reclaim his Pro Bowl form could be the Ravens’ most positive development of the first half.

Needs improvement: The Ravens’ offensive line has improved almost every week. The next step is to just be a little bit more consistent. That means eliminating some of the pre-snap penalties and premature mishaps and just taking care of defense earlier in games. However, that’s nitpicky at this point. If the Ravens make a run, the offensive line will be a big reason.

Mid-season rating: B+

As with the running back, DeCosta also kept his offseason vow to improve the offensive line. The additions of Moses, Linderbaum and even rookie fourth-round pick Daniel Faalele, who wasn’t overwhelmed when called up earlier in the season, have solidified this group. Sixth offensive lineman Patrick Mekari remains one of the most valuable players on the roster. A healthy and dominant Stanley took this group to another level.

Bye Week Roster Evaluation – Defense – Ken McKusick

Young Producers (7): Kyle Hamilton, Justin Madubuike, Odafe Oweh, Patrick Queen, Roquan Smith*, Geno Stone, Broderick Washington

These are players on their first contract who are already (or should be) significant and playing well. A team needs as many of these players as possible in order to continuously exceed the salary cap.

Hamilton, Queen, Smith, Stone and Washington are all new signings since the end of the 2021 season.

Of the group, only Roquan Smith will be UFA at the end of the season.

Development (7): Jalyn Armour-Davis, Malik Harrison, Travis Jones, David Ojabo, Brandon Stephens, Pepe Williams, Josh Ross

These players are all still in their rookie deals, but something is holding them back from consistent performance, a starting role, or both. We hope that most, if not all, of these players will quickly develop into young producers. The truth is that some people are running out of time. By the start of next season, the Ravens need to get younger defensively to make up for big deals that may go to Roquan Smith, Marcus Peters and Lamar Jackson.

Veterans play for market value (10): Tyus Bowser, Calais Campbell, Chuck Clark, Justin Houston*, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters*, Michael Pierce, Jason Pierre-Paul*, Brent Urban*, Marcus Williams

A large chunk of the cap is spent on this group, and these players are (generally) the ones worth it. This group includes 4 players who will be UFAs this off-season.

Ravens Coach: “You wish you could just clone” Marlon Humphrey – Todd Karpovich

“Marlon, you wish you could just clone him and put him all over the field because he’s that type of guy, but he’s playing at a high level right now and playing on the corner,” Hewitt said. “We’re giving him a few more chances to go back in and play some nickel because we see him coming off the ledge as a blitz; that’s something he does really well.”

Humphrey hasn’t conceded a touchdown over 372 snaps this season. He has the second-highest mark in the NFL for man marking behind the Jets’ Sauce Gardner.

Humphrey also ranks third with the Ravens with 35 tackles and is level on points with Marcus Williams for the team lead with five passes defended.

Humphrey also has an interception and earned his first sack in Week 9 against the New Orleans Saints when he flew off the edge.

“He’s got that element there, that toughness inside that you need,” Hewitt said. “I’m definitely happy with Marlon where he is and where he’s going because we need to get better in the second half of the season as well.”

John Harbaugh says Mark Andrews sounds ‘very positive’ about his progress – Clifton Brown

Tight end Mark Andrews (knee/shoulder) and running back Gus Edwards (hamstring) didn’t play against the Saints in Week 9, wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) didn’t play in the second half, while pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul dished out with ankle problems.

Harbaugh said all of those players have a chance to play Sunday when the Ravens host the Carolina Panthers.

“You’re talking to Mark [Andrews], he sounds – obviously – very positive and so do the coaches,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see how it goes for the rest of the week. It will be the same answer for Gus. JPP (Pierre-Paul) was out there today. DeSean, all these guys, we’re just gonna see what they look like on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. You all have a really good chance.”

Two rookies who haven’t played this season are getting closer to game action – outside linebackers David Ojabo (Achilles) and Charlie Kolar (fracture surgery) in the fourth round. However, the Ravens are giving both rookies a chance to step up the ranks.

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