This Sunday, the Washington Redskins will look to move to 3-2 as they take on the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore. To help preview the week five contest, I reached out to Kyle Barber from Baltimore Beatdown. Enjoy!
The Redskins defense has struggled in the first quarter of this season... primarily against the run. This is due in large part to the team's poor DL play. So my question to you is where are the strengths and weaknesses along the Ravens OL?
Strengths to the Ravens offensive line come along the right side. Tackle Rick Wagner is capable of blocking the edge and also protecting Joe Flacco. If Wagner is ever in trouble his saving grace comes in the form of Marshal Yanda, the four time All-Pro right guard. Yanda has still produced great blocking skill, though the chemistry seems off with him penalized four times so far this season. Last year Yanda only commit four all season.
Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens center, has been getting beat badly in some scenarios but somehow makes up for it with two or three great blocks and last week recovering a fumble.
The left side of the Ravens line is a mess. As of now rookie lineman Ronnie Stanley is still not practicing due to a foot injury. Word is the Ravens will insert Alex Lewis into the left tackle position instead. Lewis has been playing left guard during the season, and so far held his own. Obviously Lewis has experienced some growing pains. Last week he was out with a concussion, which forced James Hurst into the left tackle role. Hurst is not a good player. He ranks one of the worst of all PFF players. Khalil Mack abused him last week. Also, last week the Ravens played Ryan Jensen at the left guard, which produced mediocre play, but salvaging James Hurst was impossible for him to help with.
Overall: Left tackle and guard is a question mark. Center is average, while the right side is a power tandem.
Justin Forsett had a career year just two seasons ago and the Ravens rushing offense is in the bottom half of the league. Was he the scapegoat? Tell us about the Ravens rushing attack. It appears y'all have three fairly promising young RBs still on the roster, yet the running game hasn't been great. Who/what's to blame? Also, who steps up now that Forsett is gone? Are these other guys a definite upgrade?
A Gary Kubiak scheme mixed with top notch players is the reason for Justin Forsett's success. Forsett was obviously very skilled, but the scheme and line in front of him helped.
He was not the scapegoat for the Ravens lack of rushing attack. Forsett's biggest strength is vision, and when there isn't much up front so far this season, he couldn't cut, speed or bully his way through the gap. Meanwhile, Terrance West has done all three with or without holes opening up.
Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon will be the men leading the charge. West has proven himself, even with a very slow start his yards per carry still averages around four. Kenneth Dixon is the rookie tailback from La. Tech, and he's good. Remarkable vision, agility and a knack for disappearing into a pile and blowing through the other side. As of now Kenneth is nursing an MCL sprain from the preseason. Until back, Javorius "Buck" Allen will be the change-of-pace player. Buck excels in the passing game, and also became the better rusher towards the tail end of last season when Justin Forsett broke his arm.
No doubt T-West, Dixon and Buck are upgrades over Forsett.
We should be in for a pretty good match-up watching Josh Norman vs Steve Smith with their experience together in Carolina and what not. How do you feel like that battle is going to go? How much does Smith have left in the tank?
One thing you should never do, underestimate Steve Smith Sr. His skill is still high volume and his passion to win football games is tops in the league. His age is only a number. Last week he bullied his way into a 53 yard touchdown catch, stiff-arm and sprint race. Josh Norman is highly skilled, but I see this match being a dogfight. Smith Sr. will catch a few here and there and Norman will blanket him on the rest. I see Smith Sr.'s statline around seven targets, four catches and 47 yards.
If you could take one player from the Redskins and add him to the Ravens right now, who would it be and why?
Josh Norman. The Ravens biggest weakness is cornerback. Six of seven passing touchdowns have been targets against Shareece Wright. If the Ravens had Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb AND Josh Norman in the secondary they'd be an absolute force.
Who are some of the young up-and-comers on the Ravens roster that 'Skins fans may not know about but should be aware of on Sunday?
Timmy Jernigan comes to mind. A 3-4 DE which through four games produced three sacks and also swatted a few third down passes. His pass rush skill is there, and he's capable of making big plays. Another player worth mentioning is Zachary Orr. He's an undrafted linebacker who rose through the ranks to become a starting player. He's provided great run stopping play and also is useful in coverage.
BONUS: Who wins this game and why? What's your score prediction?
I see the Ravens winning this matchup. They just lost a very close game in which too many mistakes were made. It's at home and Baltimore will look to attack Washington's D-line on the ground hard. They may finally have realized Terrance West can bully through and get yards on the ground. Score prediction:
Thanks again to Kyle for taking the time to answer my questions.